Wonderfully unspectacular: Salento
NUsually it is unwise to sound out an insider tip at this point, because if everyone knows about the charms of Salento, the secret will be revealed. But times are not normal, and the southern tip of the Italian hoe – that is exactly the Salento – is large enough that a few more visitors will be able to cope with in post-Corona times.
Not everyone has to go to Santa Maria al Bagno at the same time, this enchanting town with its Art Nouveau villas and bathing bay, which reaches deep into the town like a private pool. You could also go for a swim on the sandy beach of Campomarino or lie on the stones at Lido Pizzo south of Gallipoli, where the Ionian Sea glows Caribbean-turquoise and has bathing temperature until October.
Gallipoli’s old town, founded by the ancient Greeks, is an island, from afar it looks like a white stone ship. Here and in the baroque pregnant provincial capital Lecce it is full, at least in the high season.
Otherwise, the Salento is free of highlights – and pleasantly empty. The really great thing about the area is that everyday life here is still “real” Italian; not as folklore for tourists, but because people here still live similarly to generations ago.
From morning to evening there is life in every place in the piazza, except during the siesta – between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. dead trousers are everywhere. In every village, no matter how small, there is a coffee bar, where the strong local “Quarta” espresso is usually served, 80 cents a cup.
Behind inconspicuous facades you will find the best ice cream shops in the world, for example “Dolce Arte” in Cutrofiano, where you can buy three types of chocolate ice cream, including a fantastic raven black. The greengrocers crackle through the villages with their Ape tricycles and sell tomatoes from the loading area that still taste like tomatoes.
Italian groceries and dusty pope figures are available in grocery stores. The cobbler parks his Fiat 500 in the middle of his workshop because the alley in front of the shop is too narrow. At the wine dealer next door you can have the house wine filled into your canisters or bottles.
The baker’s wife recognizes you after a year (“You were here last September!”) And donates a round of almond biscuits, and the pastor is also happy about German tourists who made it to his church.
The Salento looks almost nowhere like picture-perfect Italy, the landscape is too unspectacular for that. You don’t come here because of Instagram scenery, but because of the friendly people, the good cuisine, the relaxed nature of everyday life.
And of course to take home a few bottles of the best olive oil in the world. Mine will last until autumn at the most, then I want to finally come back, by then the virus must have gone far. Sönke Kruger
Catwalk with sea views: Amalfi Coast
Of course, the Amalfi Coast is the most beautiful coast in Italy. Oh what: the world! Villages throw themselves up the slopes, here a steep staircase, there a pine tree spreads its umbrella roof, there a squeaky yellow lemon hangs over a dry stone wall.
The Costiera Amalfitana stretches forty kilometers by road between Positano and Vietri sul Mare, past Amalfi, Ravello, Atrani. The place names alone make you want to travel!
There are hardly any streets in Positano, only steep alleys and stairs. On the Amalfi Cathedral Square, there is an impromptu theater every day, you throw yourself in a bowl and pose, the large staircase as a catwalk, bridal couples from all over the world like to be photographed here in normal times.
On the little tables in front of the cafes and bars, a sunset-colored sprinkle shines, along with a bowl of salty, two bruschette, a few anchovies and olives – how can you have so much longing for these everyday holiday moments?
When overtourism was still the dominant theme, the Amalfi Coast was too beautiful not to go there; but also too crowded to go there a second time. But now you can hardly wait to cruise again along the coastal road, which nestles into every bay, dares out onto every rock spur.
If you sit in the front of the bus, you can catch your breath. This dream road is adventurously curvy and narrow, cars, buses squeeze past columns of racing cyclists, the scooter riders between everyone in the slalom, and you can see espresso cup-sized eyes in the oncoming holiday-car because of oncoming traffic. But like captains through rough seas, the bus drivers steer past their unrest with patience and sunglasses.
At the end of the Amalfi Coast, in Vietri, lies the little hotel “Palazzo Suriano”, the view from the terrace flies over the sea. Now it is closed, but the hotelier still places a gramophone on the terrace when the weather is nice. He then puts on a shellac record, turns the crank, music blows out.
On Facebook you can see the sea with him, while Enrico Caruso sings “E lucevan le stelle” in the background. And then you dream of the stars shining until you can finally drive yourself there again. Tornerò. Barbara Schaefer
If you want to read more: The author has published the book “Amalfi / Cilento. Where the red sun really sinks into the sea ”, publisher Picus, 14.90 euros
Art and delicacies: Emilia-Romagna
Parma ham and parmesan, sangiovese and lambrusco, balsamic vinegar, tortellini and a universally beloved meat sauce, which is not only called Bolognese here – we only owe Emilia-Romagna more culinary than we can give it back through so many visits.
Not to mention the works of creative residents such as Giuseppe Verdi, Federico Fellini and Luciano Pavarotti. And as if that weren’t enough, it also has a lot of historic cities and is inhabited by people whose ability to enjoy the moment is particularly pronounced even by Italian standards.
Between the river Po, the Adriatic and the Apennines extends the region, whose name is much less known to us than the wonderful places that lie behind it: Rimini, home of the filmmaker Fellini and an early longing destination of the Germans, with wide beaches and a charming old town that many holidaymakers never get into.
It is not only the oldest surviving triumphal arch in Italy that deserves a look. In the evening Rimini’s air is heavy with the scent of jasmine flowers, the cafes are full, slot machines are beeping, everything is walking, passeggiata with the family is the order of the day.
Or Cesenatico with its fine sandy beaches and the harbor canal, which was designed according to plans by Leonardo da Vinci: historic sailors on the water, activity and delicious fragrance in the “Pippo” restaurant. The last time I visited, I ate delicious seafood that was auctioned across the street in the morning in the auction hall – ingredients for an evening of pure happiness.
Only half an hour’s drive from here, Ravenna formed the navel of the world at the end of antiquity. Due to the silting up, the former port city is now nine kilometers from the sea, but without a detour there, no Adriatic coast tour is complete.
Look at mosaics of unimaginable beauty in churches and mausoleums from the 5th and 6th centuries, then eat a Piadina Romagnola filled with Parma ham, arugula and Squacquerone cheese: I’m already looking forward to that.
If necessary, it is also possible without the sea. This proves Modena, which seems to have a monopoly on Italian export hits: Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, the foaming red Lambrusco, the famous Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena – they all have their roots here; also over tenor Pavarotti.
It is fantastic to stroll through the shady arcades with boutiques, cafés and – of course – delicatessens, down to the ensemble of almost a thousand-year-old Romanesque cathedral and bell tower on Piazza Grande. Of course, Unesco counts it as a World Heritage Site.
Parma, home of parmesan and parma ham, is also magnificent. Sure, there is also a millennial cathedral here, plus a pink marble baptistery with three ornate portals and an octagonal baptismal font inside.
Despite these treasures, it was always the most beautiful thing for me to sit on the Piazza Garibaldi with an Aperol Spritz and to look at the easily babbling, carefree life. Here, in the middle of Parma, like in any other place in Emilia-Romagna, you can tell that a summer without a holiday in Italy is completely unthinkable. Stefanie Bisping
The world is beautiful: Rome and Milan
The light over Rome has a special sheen. It is warm and sparkling at the same time and still bathes the shabbiest corners in beauty. You take the few steps out of the Roma Termini train station and it is there.
It lies on the pine trees, which span the square in front of the station as cheerfully as if we were already at the sea. Lights up in the small bars where you can rattle with espresso cups. Shines on ancient Roman temple remains and hungry cats, the Chinese textile traders from Esquilino and the Roman women with their huge Fendi sunglasses, Bernini’s baroque fountain and the cracked facades of the old working-class suburb of Garbatella.
Even the mountains of rubbish that rot in front of the patrician palaces and tenements, because the waste management in Rome is obviously as difficult to organize as public transport, begin to shimmer gently in this light. Roman light carries a message. “Relax,” it calls to us. “Whatever happens – the world is beautiful!”
A nice dose of Roman light would be just right in these difficult times. Unfortunately there is only Roman light in Rome. Even the northern lights from Milan have to admit that, who otherwise always feel a little superior to their capital.
I also like Milan very much. This brisk activity. How people here do business quickly, jump in carsharing cars, drop their espresso on the bar counter in less than a minute and still look outrageously good.
In Milan, they have recently been building sensational skyscrapers. Otherwise they seem to see the future above all as something positive that can be designed in a chic and progressive manner.
To end the working day with an aperitivo and a few thick green olives. Because it was invented in Milan in the 19th century – in a bar called “Campari”.
Only the light is of no use in Milan. A pale haze that rises from the Po Valley and makes you completely forget that the Alps are only a stone’s throw away. Good for work, I assume.
The light in Rome, however, is bad for the work ethic. Very bad. There is an urge to do nothing, everyone wants to bathe in their luscious glow and forget all their duties and worries – preferably with an ice cream in hand, in the street café or stretched out in the meadows of Villa Borghese, the large city park.
Unfortunately, Rome is very far away right now. As a consolation, I stream “La Grande Bellezza”, the indulgent cinema film by Paolo Sorrentino from 2013. It not only captured the Roman way of life. But also the light. Annette turnip seeds
Batman and master chef: Sicily
My farewell three weeks ago was without melancholy: I had bathed in the sea (fresh but feasible), had successfully processed and eaten various fish, sawed my left index finger while cutting olive trees, made friends with the neighboring donkeys and lightly sang my ear while lighting a fire. In other words: I was fortunate in the form of vitamin B (sea bass) and D (March sun).
The next visit was already planned. Sicily has now moved into an unreachable distance. Those who travel frequently to the same place develop routines and become lazy. In my daydreams about Sicily, I therefore take on the things and places that I have wanted to do for years.
The cathedral in Palermo, where Norman and Moorish influences show that multiculturalism is an ancient concept and has worked. The Cappella Palatina in the Palazzo dei Normanni is said to be even more breathtaking, where eastern and western iconography are interwoven like a crossword puzzle.
Even if it is a tired cliché: When looking at the railway stations in Sicily, one must inevitably think of “The Godfather”. They all look the same, only the stages of decay differ. And at the time, Francis Ford Coppola guaranteed activated one for the shooting.
One line that is still active is the Circumetnea, which circles the mighty cone of Mount Etna. The fertile volcanic earth has grown this region into a lush tropical garden. Of the mongibello is both a threat and a giver of life.
The name Ciccio Sultano sounds like from a fairy tale. It feels similar when you sit in front of your trattoria “I Banchi” in the two-hill town of Ragusa in the midday sun and enjoy intelligent, but not pretentiously modernized Sicilian dishes, such as tartare with fried egg and porcini sauce. Before ordering the third bottle of wine, you should draw who will return.
I just skipped his two-star restaurant “Duomo” just for reasons of time. But the Ravioli Modicano, filled with kids and spring herbs, are waiting for me.
Everywhere in Sicily, pottery is thrown away, either bowls painted with lemons or vases in the shape of heads. I am convinced that a large part of it comes from the same factory.
In the ceramic city of Caltagirone there are also workshops with more special preferences, such as a vase in the form of a Batman mask. I will track down such quirks next time. Or maybe the time after next. Adriano Sack
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