The Italian Diaries – Amalfi

*I’ve asked my husband, Pete, to write another guest post to give his perspective of our trip to Amalfi*

I can’t even tell you how many times Maria has mentioned that the town of Amalfi is her favorite place on Earth. And as we rode along the winding coastline and looked out over the water with Positano in the distance, I started to understand why.

Look, I’m no world traveler, but I have to imagine the drive from Positano to Amalfi is one of the most breathtaking (and sometimes frightening) trips you can ever take.


When we finally arrived in town, we quickly learned that it’s not easy to find a suitable parking spot for a minivan in a seaside town full of Fiats and Vespas. But we (eventually) made it happen.

Shops, restaurants, and gelaterias lined the streets, and limoncello was everywhere (that’s not a complaint). We spent some time browsing around and sat down to eat at a little cafe in Piazza del Duomo, the main town square.


Then finally, after years of preparing for the moment, I had a chance to practice my Italian in my first true one-on-one chat with a local shopowner.

Me: [holding up a hat] Quanto costa? (How much does it cost?)
Shopowner: Dodici (twelve)

…90 seconds later…

Of course, if you’ve ever been to Amalfi, you know the most memorable part of the Piazza del Duomo is the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.

What I found most amazing is that a towering cathedral, originally built in the 9th century, sits right in the middle of a fairly small town (around 5500 people) and somehow doesn’t seem out of place. It was truly a masterpiece.

We ended the visit with a round of gelato at Pasticceria Savoia and headed back over to the car for the drive back.

Next stop…Pompeii.



The Italian Diaries – Sorrento


When I close my eyes, I can still see it. I can still hear it.

When we first walked onto the streets of Sorrento, Pete said, “This is exactly what I pictured Italy to be like.”

Picture a narrow alleyway. You see people up ahead, so you follow. All of a sudden, that alleyway opens up into a long avenue filled with shops. Overhead are flags of various countries flying proudly.


Every store sells limoncello and every store owner is inviting you in to have a sip. It’s really no wonder, as the lemon trees grow wild – in some places, right over your head.


We sit down at an outdoor café and order a few pizzas. Al fresco. It is the most amazing thing you will ever eat. Nothing can now ever compare to this pizza you’ve eaten.


Everyone is friendly and wants to learn about where you are from, your background, and what brings you to their great city.


Peek down any of the hundreds of side streets to be greeted with a beautiful site. An old church. A bountiful garden. You never know what you’ll find tucked away.

Church in Sorrento

The lemons are sold in crates on the street and are triple the size of American lemons. No wonder the limoncello is so flavorful. And potent. And everywhere.

Lemons of Sorrento to Make Limoncello

At night the streets come alive with vendors and artists. Spray painters draw the biggest crowds, making creations that only they can envision while they play house music to inspire them.

Street Artist in Sorrento

Stop by Parrucchiano for dinner. You really can’t go wrong with your order.

PicMonkey Collage

Cannelloni on the left. Gnocchi on the right. In the center is what I’ll claim to be the best appetizer on earth. Only…I can’t remember what it is called. Imagine a fried dough, like a zeppole but without the sugar. And inside a sweet, pink tomato cream sauce. It’s heavenly.

Watch out, Parrucchiano. 10 year anniversary – we’re coming to you for our vow renewal.

Spending the Day in Sorrento

Don’t forget to stop for gelato before you leave! You’ll have no trouble finding gelaterias along the streets.

Gelato in Sorrento


Next stop…Capri!

When Life Gives You Lemons



Just a teaser pic because the limoncello won’t be ready until mid-September, but I promise to share the recipe then when I can show step-by-step pictures.

However, the process of making limoncello requires 7 lemons, in which you only need the lemon peels. I was not about to let the rest of the lemon go to waste, so I made a couple of things…Lemon Butter Cookies and Homemade Lemonade! See the recipes for both below!

Lemon Butter Cookies (source)


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting


  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  2. In a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Beat in the egg.
  4. Add lemon zest and lemon juice.
  5. Gradually mix in the flour until incorporated.
  6. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  7. Using the tines of a fork, cross marks in the cookies to slightly flatten them.IMG_3409
  8. Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until cookies are set on top and slightly golden on bottom.
  9. Immediately dust with powdered sugar (sugar will melt into cookies from the remaining heat).
  10. Once completely cool, dust cookies again with powdered sugar.

*Some notes: I cut this recipe in half and yielded 17 cookies. I also felt that the lemon was too subtle and I would use much more lemon juice should I make these again.

Since the cookies only required a few teaspoons of lemon juice, I used the rest to make homemade lemonade. I used my lemon squeezer, which was a Christmas gift from my mama (thanks, mom!) to squeeze the juice from all of the lemons.


It yielded 1 cup of lemon juice. I then made a simple syrup using 1/2 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar over the stove heat until the sugar dissolved. Pour that into a pitcher with the lemon juice and 8 cups of cold water. Stir well and serve over ice.