It was a day like almost any other in August—in Austin—when I read this….
“Summer in Positano means long days at Bagni Arienzo eating Ada’s gnocchi, boat trips to Capri with a swim in the Grotta Azzurra-Blue Grotto, an aperitivi at dusk among friends and flutes filled with Prosecco.”
In 100 plus degrees, and thousands of miles from the Grotta Azzurra, reading this opening line from a regular email from Cooking Vacations, a culinary travel company that specializes in trips to Italy, was a kind of torture. I got to the second paragraph, felt a distinct ache, and had to stop. The vision this missive created, tantalizing as it was, only reminded me of postponed dreams. And in my least favorite month, when I’m already tender and questioning life decisions that brought me to this big hot state, it was too much.
A while ago now, like a butterfly, I was flexing my wings, making plans to fly away. Where I would go I didn’t know, but I finally lighted on the idea of Italy. It made sense; I love food, I am Italian, I love food. I know I was being more strategic than a butterfly as I dreamed I would cook in Italy, and as I searched the web over I found the enticing Cooking Vacations website. I called and spoke with a wonderful woman, Lauren Birmingham Piscitelli, who runs the company. Before calling her I was drawn to the trip to Positano on the Amalfi Coast as first, who wouldn’t? Second, my husband loves the water and not cooking so much.
She and I began a dialogue. I found out she lives part time in Boston, part time on the Amalfi Coast. In a short phone call she confirmed that we would love Positano and maybe even Capri. That there were lovely ways to enjoy both places and avoid the costly tourist traps that both can be known for. We could maybe even add another destination in Italy. She had great recommendations on airlines, transportation within Italy…everything.
I was salivating, talking my husband into an itinerary that would involve him lounging by the sea and me cooking up scrumptious meals for him, when things took a turn and wishing and hoping was set aside for circumstances that compelled me to stay home.
Now time has passed and things, like they always do, have changed. I am now allowing myself to dream a possible dream. It won’t be this August though. So this year, as the only beauty of August is that it will soon be September, I will console myself with my homemade limoncello, and some Prosecco. Don’t know how the Italians would feel about putting the limoncello in the La Marca, but I like it, even though the La Marca is delicious on it’s own too. Maybe the point is I like Prosecco many ways…
The Bagni d’Arienzo, I gather, is a popular beach club in Positano. You can get a beach chair, some prosciutto and melon, maybe some spaghetti with clams, a glass (or two) of Prosecco; various, yes, awesome things. I’m going, God willing.
In Lauren’s defense, her newsletter isn’t intended to punish, but to allure and inspire, and, of course I did ultimately finish reading it. Knowing, maybe, that many of us can’t make it as soon as we’d like to the Amalfi Coast she always provides seasonal recipes with wine pairing suggestions. That way you can have a little Italy no matter where August finds you. I’ve got everything I need to make the Semifreddo Alla Pesca E Menta (Peach Mint Ice Cream Cake). I’ll let you know how it turns out.