The road to Da Adolfo

Da Adolfo is a beloved hidden gem on the Amalfi Coast — a favorite among locals and travel bloggers who seek fresh ingredients, exclusive beaches, and a story to tell. By some fluke in the universe, though, we got a table during our honeymoon. And this is how you can, too:

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First of all, the place basically never answers their phone, and rumor has it that they only pick up for local numbers, nor do they take online reservations. So your hotel has to call to book your table during a particular window of hours when they do answer the phone, as far in advance as possible, and it’s very competitive. Then, on the morning of your reservation, you take a boat from the main beach in Positano to the beach where Da Adolfo is located, which the restaurant shares only with Le Sirene hotel. Oh, and though the boat ride is free with restaurant reservations, the skippers on board the boat will make sure your name is on the list before letting you board. If — even by a fluke — it isn’t there, they will turn you away. Then, after an admittedly beautiful ride to the Da Adolfo beach, you rent lounge chairs (and umbrellas, if you don’t want to fry in the sun), and wait for your table to come available around lunchtime. That’s…three hoops just to make the call, a literal boat ride and the hope that they remembered to write your name down, money to rent space on the beach, and a few hours waiting.

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But none of that is necessary if you stay at Hotel Pellegrino. If you stay at Hotel Pellegrino, owners Luiggi and Sandra will refuse to call and book you a table because it’s “too hard” (something I initially doubted but now understand to be extremely true). They will, instead, cryptically drive you to a stretch of cliffside highway as early in the day as you’ll let them, point you to an incredibly inconspicuous set of stairs, and wave goodbye. And then down the cliff stairs you go.

So, basically, you have two options: go the insane phone call route and cross your fingers it works, or stay at Hotel Pellegrino and be dropped off at a secret cliffside staricase early enough in the day that it doesn’t matter you don’t have a formal reservation. Also, maybe don’t try to do the latter with a big group, since it’s easier for restaurants to accommodate two surprise guests rather than, say, four or five. Ask nicely if you can get on the waiting list for lunch that day, and then get comfortable with a good book, some sunscreen, and a bathing suit. Tip generously. If you’re lucky, you’ll get seated at a table next to a celebrity chef (hi, Thomas Carter and Danny Meyer) or just your average, run of the mill celebrity like Gwyneth Paltrow.

No matter what route you take to get there, it’s worth the trip. You can read about what (and how) we ordered here.

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I hope this helps at least some of you! Feel free to comment or ping me with any additional questions.

Love, me.

Our honeymoon: part 1, Tuscany

I’m not even going to try and catch you all up on the last 10 months. I couldn’t possibly remember it all and I suck at this blog.

But I will say: wedding was a success, Jake has kicked off his clinical rotations (almost 2 weeks down of family med!), and yes we are still fostering kittens. What I really want to accomplish with this entry is get all my favorite Honeymoon spots from the first half of the trip down in writing. There are a lot of them, so hold tight:

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We kicked things off with a few (maybe four?) nights at Casa Portagioia in Tuscany. The property is breathtaking — views of the country, a clean and refreshing pool, comfortable and luxurious bedrooms, etc. I am so, so glad we started here because it gave us a chance to recover from the chaos of the wedding and 20 hours of travel. The owners — Terry and Marcello — are absolutely fantastic. Upon arrival, they greeted us with a complimentary bottle of champagne as a congratulations, and spent the entire week making us restaurant reservations, chatting with us about American & international politics (largely because of my career), and being otherwise phenomenal hosts. Also, the breakfast buffet is great, but what you really want is for Marcello to make you eggs with tomatoes, even if you think that you don’t like tomatoes. And a caffé latte.

Brief side note: do not drink half a bottle of champagne on a near-empty stomach when you haven’t slept in 2 days unless you want the hangover of a lifetime. 

Fave restaurant from that part of the trip was Antica Pieve. Killer wine, pasta, and patio seating. And reasonably priced! The pasta in the photo is a truffle tortellini, basically. I’ve been trying to track down a similar wine because I loved the pairing so much, but no luck. The whole evening was delightfully romantic and delicious.

Terry and Marcello also sent us on day trips to Castiglione Fiorentino, Arezzo, and Florence. Most of those days consisted of wandering and eating, but the three meals I really wanted to mention are:

The ragu we ate at La Divina Bottega. The place doesn’t look like much; it’s basically a deli with a grocery store in back. But it was literally some of the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life. None of the employees speak English, so prepare to do a lot of gesturing and smiling, which is definitely a part of the charm. I think we had a full lunch for like 15 euros? Anyway, this place is wonderfully authentic, affordable, and yummy.

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In Florence, we went the opposite route and booked a tasting menu dinner at Osteria Personale.  I wish I could remember what we ate. I just know that it was very chic and extremely flavorful! And romantic. This is how happy I was all day:

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Hat from a street vendor, romper from Ann Taylor Loft, crossbody bag from Nordstrom.

Can someone tell me what magic Italy has in the water and air so that my skin can always look this way?

Finally, on our very scenic drive from Tuscany to Rome (that Jake planned himself), we stopped in Orvieto for lunch and another walk. We happened to be there during the lunch hours when most things are closed, but Jake found Le Grotte del Funaro. Good food, pretty outdoor seating, etc. What made this place really interesting was the spiral staircase down to an old grotto and cave underneath the restaurant. Just kind of a cool find.

Jake’s favorite, non-food part of that pit stop was, without a doubt, the breathtaking cathedral we stumbled upon. There are no words to describe how enormous, stunning, and really freaking gold this place of worship is.  We couldn’t figure out why the place wasn’t swarming with people, or how we had missed it while Googling the town. If you are ever nearby, it is truly a sight to behold. I feel very, very lucky to have witnessed it.

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And that was Tuscany. Next post will be quite short since it’s just Rome, and that wasn’t my fave part of the trip, but stay tuned! And, as always, feel free to comment or reach out with any questions. Happy to offer more recs (since these are just my favorites) and rave about our bed and breakfast some more.

Love, me.

The Joys of Food in Florence

As many of you already know, I spent my spring break split between Florence, Italy and the Canary Islands (Fuerteventura and Tenerife), Spain. It was a magnificent 10 days – I don’t think I’ve ever been so overcome with gratitude and joy – filled with new flavors, internationally famed art, and laughter with people I care about. You probably care most about the flavors, though, and I didn’t eat out of the house at all while in the Canaries. So here are my favorite restaurants of Florence, in no particular order:

1. Fratellini in Firenze – This isn’t so much a restaurant as it is a literal hole-in-the-wall sandwich stand. It was recommended to me by the Italian student I sat next to on the plane (while we spoke to each other in broken Spanish), and he did not disappoint. It serves exclusively small sandwiches with stuffings that range from fresh mozzarella to fresh sausage – each boasting an unmatchable freshness. All sandwiches are 2.50 euros, so for the price and size I recommend getting two. I should also mention that they offer glasses of wine for around the same price. Great for a walking snack while exploring the city.

2. Vivoli – Nothing says “Italy” quite like gelato, and this hidden gem has been acknowledged as the best since the 1930s. I am telling you, as someone with a sensitive stomach and aversion to excessive dairy, do not miss this. Portions are great, flavors are better, and the prices are totally reasonable. I split my bowl between scoops of hazelnut and coffe, and honestly had to ask my travel companions for help finishing the whole thing. The only weird thing about the setup is that you pay first for the size you want at a separate counter, and then bring your ticket to the gelato section with your flavor requests.

3. Parione – This is where we had our “nice dinner” out for the weekend, by the recommendation of my friend’s uncle. I can’t say enough good things about the service, food, and wine. After speaking with the owner about the restaurant’s reputation, we were seated in a cozy corner of the downstairs and waited on respectfully and promptly  – despite the fact that we were three 20-somethings on a budget. We split a bottle of deep red wine and tried each other’s entrees – ravioli in a parmesan sauce, some variation on a margherita sauce,  plus an order of wild boar – and finished the meal with two orders of their infamous cheesecake. The whole thing was to die for, and the owner ended up removing the wine charge from our bill. If I’m ever back in Florence, I’ll be back.

4. Zaza – I should start by clarifying that the service was fine at best. Six of us were seated in an area near the outdoor smoking section, so we were slightly bothered by the smell throughout our dinner, but I think we were only seated there due to the size of our group. We also had a hard time initially getting the waitress’ attention for water, bread, etc. That said, I should also mention that the food and prices were outstanding. More pasta, some salad, and more meat. Servings were generous, but not overwhelming, so I recommended splitting two or three between a small group. It’s a great (and pretty well-reviewed) place for a cozy dinner with friends and family.

5. La Proscuiterria – Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a website, so the name is linked to its (excellently reviewed) trip advisor page. It’s another hole in the wall – seemingly attended mainly by Florentine natives and Italian tourists. When you order, you’re essentially ordering sandwiches or platters of meat and cheese. You pay for wine based on how much of a bottle you consume, and the walls are lined with locally made pastas, sauces, and drinks. We had a delicious lunch on our way out of town, and still bought two bags full of peppers, pesto and pasta. Overall: inexpensive, delicious, non-touristy and a great time.

House-made wine

House-made wine

Open-faced sandwiches

Open-faced sandwiches

One of our two courses for lunch

One of our two courses for lunch