Thursday, 12 November 2015

Sorrento: Fanning the Flames of Formaggio Fixation

Sorrento, Italy (Sorrento, Italia) 
Despite being firmly located along the tourist trail, Sorrento somehow manages to remain genuine and extremely Italian - old men gesticulate at each other outside every corner shop, and moped riders stop in the middle of the street to have a chat, an argument or to fall in love (sometimes all in one encounter). And is the driving any less chaotic? Don't think it for a second. The roundabouts alone have been known to reduce some people to tears. 
Yet for all its craziness, there were a few spots in the city that were pleasant and (dare I say it?) calm. Our visit was broken up by excursions to the Amalfi Coast, but when we did explore Sorrento we wandered the streets and gazed out across the sea. 
In the cloister of the Chiesa di San Francesco we found seclusion amid vines and blossoms. The vines didn't produce kiwi fruit, but we did find some Kiwis anyway - stopping at an ATM we saw that the three girls in front of us had Cash Passports. We struck up a conversation about where they were from (Auckland), the awesomeness of Croatia and the apparent difficulty that hiring a car in Naples brings, before parting ways, never to see them again. It's a small world, and even smaller when you're from New Zealand!
What we hadn't expected to be in the heart of the city was the Valley of the Mills, where down in a chasm lay the overgrown ruins of mills that were situated on the flowing river. Seriously, this was one block away from the main road! 
You may be wondering where we ate for the two nights we stayed in the city. Funilly enough, we liked the first place we visited so much that we returned the next night! 
Bufalito Inn specialises in all things buffalo: both cheeses (hello mozzarella bufala!) and meats. What you see above is their special cheese fondue, Fonduta Sorrentina, which is a gorgeously melty melange of mozzarella, tomato, and basil. The tomato cut through the cheesiness, which helped keep it less gluggy than all-cheese fondues and that is what made it the best I've had. Yannick states that it was the second best thing that had ever happened to him. Add Prosecco and garlicky pizza bread to the meal and you've got a winner! We stumbled back up the hill to our camping, which was handily located and took about fifteen minutes to reach on foot.
On the way I saw this. The photo needs no further explanation aside from that it is the most Italian bin I've seen. (I hope you appreciate this because on either side of the bin were benches filled with judgemental elderly men waiting for a bus and they stared at me like I was taking a picture of a...well...an overflowing bin I guess.)
Saying our goodbyes to Sorrento, we drove down the coast and stopped for a few hours at a beach as the weather was clear and warm. It was crowded, like any beach near the Amalfi Coast, but we found a good spot and watched firefighting helicopters fill up their orange buckets in the sea for a good long while. Turns out it's not just Italian women who are fiery, but so is the landscape!