In Naples, Schwartz Sleeps Here
Costantinopoli 104 is a small hotel in the heart of the city, just steps from Spaccanapoli, the oldest quarter. It is on a lovely street, Via S. Maria di Costantinopoli, where the city’s famous art school is, plus several fine antique shops, and print shops. Down the street is the excavation where you can see the ancient Greek walls of the city, in the Piazza Bellini, and Bellini restaurant, where I eat excellent pizza, their house specialty of spaghetti with seafood baked in parchment, and great grilled fish, among other delicious things.
The hotel is a restored private villa with modernized, very nicely decorated rooms, plus the only outdoor swimming pool in Naples. Even if you never swim in it, its amoeba shape adds to the atmosphere of the courtyard. The villa is in a private courtyard behind another private courtyard, and there is only a discrete sign on the street to let you know it’s there. In short, it is a tranquil oasis in the center of a chaotic city.
Only drawback: There is no elevator in the three-story building. However, there are ground-level rooms around the swimming pool/garden courtyard. If your room is on the top floor, though, you are rewarded with a small table and chairs outside your door, and the communal roof deck with lounges at your disposal. Bonus for everyone: Free internet access in a small computer room. With a nice buffet breakfast, the cost is 210 euro a night for a double.
via S. Maria di Costantinopoli 104
This is the new website for my friend Giovanna Raffone's bed and
breakfast in Naples. She lives in an apartment house in Posillipo, an affluent,
modern neighborhood overlooking the bay of Naples. The apartment has terraces
and beautiful furnishings. An animated "character," she is
passionate about both her home city and its food. She was featured in Tyler
Florence's "Ultimate" series on the Food Network where
she showed Tyler how to make pizza in her kitchen. Perfectly fluent in
English, she's married to an Englishman, Al Coward, who is also a
gracious host and a city guide. She has only one beautiful guest room with
a double bed. Giovanna is also available to cook dinner for you, whether
you stay with her or not, and she can give cooking lessons in her beautiful
and well-equipped apartment kitchen. There are other bed and breakfasts
listed on the site, including the rooms offered by her sisters. See discover
naples, following, for one of these.
Giovanna's nephew, Mimo Mazzella, created this website to showcase
his family and friends' bed and breakfasts and guide services. Mimo
is a professional art restorer, and his parents, both artists, live in
the center of Naples, very close to the Duomo, in a 16th century building
that was once a convent. You may get nervous when you see how decrepit
the building is, but once inside the apartment you will be amazed at is
old beauty and contemporary comforts. There are several rooms, all with
private baths. The kitchen and sitting rooms are a total delight –
filled with art and beautiful furnishings.
World-Class Wine and Food in Avellino
Feudi di San Gregorio is perhaps the largest winery in Campania. The wines
are readily available in the New York market, and include the classic whites
and reds of the region – Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina,
Taurasi – as well as many proprietary blends. Their new visitors'
facility, nestled in the hills of Avellino, is breathtaking. They offer
tours with an English-speaking guide, and they have a truly fabulous contemporary
restaurant featuring a very refined and stylish take on the local cuisine,
using only ingredients grown in the region. This is a not-to-be-missed
visit if you go to Avellino, which is only an hour's ride from the
center of Naples.
Cecilia's Places in Paestum
By now, you all know Cecilia, my dear friend and owner of this agriturismo
(farm-inn) in Paestum, 30 minutes south of the Amalfi Coast. This is where
my Cook at Seliano Culinary Vacations
are based. By visiting her website, you can see many photos of her beautiful
estate, a great place to stay if you travel through Campania, and a great
place to eat dinner (on weekends) if you are staying on the Amalfi Coast
and want to take a ride in the country. The ancient Greek temples of Paestum
are right down the road (don't miss the museum across the street,
either), and the area is chock-o-block with buffalo mozzarella factories.
Once you've had the cheese fresh from the vat, you will never be
able to eat it again in the states. It's that different, and that
This is the second agriturismo that Cecilia runs just three kilometers
down the road from Seliano. It is open for guests in the busy summer season.
My Mamma in Ravello
My friend Chiara Lima, who is the reservation manager at Ravello's super-luxe
Palazzo Sasso, made this website for her mother... or... mamma. Mamma Agata
is a charming woman who will give you and your friends cooking lessons.
She'll also prepare a typical meal and serve it on her stunning terrace
overlooking the Mediterranean. This is an experience you won't forget.
Restoration in the Cilento
Domus Laeta is the seventeenth century country estate of my friends Camilla
and Giuseppi Giannuzzi Savelli. It dominates the beautiful hillside town
of Giungàno in the national park of Cilento in the province of Salerno
in Campania – only 15 to 20 minutes from my cooking school in Paestum.
From the several terraces you can see the entire Sele plain and the sea,
as far as Capri. Perfectly restored and open as a bed & breakfast,
the house is furnished with gorgeous antiques and the many collections
and artwork of the family – which boasts two popes. In summer there
is a beautiful infinity pool which seems to float over the gently-sloping
hill. Check out the website for rates, booking information, and lots of
Rooms with Views in Ravello
Punta Civita is an elegant bed and breakfast on the winding mountain road between the town of Amalfi and the town of Ravello. The view from here is spectacular and every room, all simply but beautifully decorated with vintage furniture, has a sea view, access to a terrace, a private bathroom with shower or bath, air conditioning, heating, and a TV. One room even has a whirlpool bath. Another has a shower with multiple sprays. The only downside is that you have to climb 30 steps to get from the rooms to the main entrance. Listen, I can see not budging from the property for days – relaxing, reading, napping -- although you will most likely want to go out and explore, or at least go out for dinner. There is a public bus that goes up the hill to Ravello or down the hill to Amalfi, both in about only 10 minutes.
To top it off, Punta Civita is amazingly inexpensive at 110 euros for a double room, slightly less off season. (There is a five euro extra charge for parking, if you have a car.) Breakfast is in a homey, but large kitchen-dining room or served on the terrace with views of Atrani and the sea. Ask for Roberto Lucibello. He’s the very charming and accommodating owner and he speaks perfect English. Tell Roberto that Schwartz sent you.
House for Rent in Ravello
Al Borgo Torello is a recently restored house facing the sea in a small sub-section of Ravello called Torello, for its small tower (torre). It has four bedrooms, sleeping at least eight, although one room has a trundle bed that would be great for two children – a total of 10. Two rooms have sea views. One has a balcony, too. All have flat-panel TVs, air-conditioning, beautiful bathrooms with showers, contemporary furniture, very comfortable beds, and nice art. The beautiful and large kitchen is well-equipped, with pots, pans, an espresso machine, oven and stove, plus flatware and dishes for 10. It even has a breakfast table that seats six. The dining area, also with a sea view and a small balcony, has a table that expands to seat 10.
The interior is brand new, spotless, and beautifully decorated with sea blue ceramic tile floors. Perhaps best of all, there is a large garden terrace overlooking the sea and with a stone barbecue and oven (under construction as of my visit in March). This is the perfect place for four couples to rent, or a family group. As of now, it is available only on a weekly basis only – 2,800 euros a week for 10 people, 2,600 euros a week for eight people, which includes bath and bed linens, electricity, even a weekly visit from a maid.
The house is not in the center of Ravello, but a series of staircases takes you to the main square, where you will find the Duomo and the Villa Rufolo gardens (5 euro entry), as well as paths that lead to all the other sections of Ravello. There are 32 ancient stone steps from the road to the door of the house (there is parking on the street), and three of the four rooms are up one flight of stairs.
For more information, contact my friend Chiara Lima, who is the property manager. Her website is MammaAgata.com. You can contact her through the website, using her email address, .
Cooking in Ravello
Mamma Agata is Chiara’s mother, a woman my age, and she gives private demonstration cooking lessons in her home in Ravello, followed by a lunch of the dishes she’s cooked. Her new kitchen, beautifully tiled and accessorized, and with a view of the sea, is one of my favorite places on earth. No joke. No exaggeration. Agata doesn’t speak English, but Chiara is fluent and stands by to translate. This only means that you get the company of two fabulous women at once.
You can find out more about Agata’s classes by going to Mamma Agata, a Hidden Treasure.
If you don’t care to cook with Agata, but would love to eat her food, she also prepares delicious meals on her terrace overlooking the sea, and in her dining room should weather force you indoors. This is very expensive for just two, but not so for, say, a group of six or eight. You can learn more about that on the web site, too.
All of Agata’s food is made with products raised or grown on the family’s terraced property, stepping down from and in view of the dining terrace. Agata’s husband, Salvatore, Chiara’s father, tends the vegetable gardens, the fruit trees, and raises the chickens and rabbits. Meanwhile, Gennaro, Chiara’s husband, is both a master sommelier and cheese expert, and he is always very happy to plan tastings of both.
Make sure to say Schwartz sent you. The Lima family is like my own family. Indeed, Chiara’s adorable six-year-old son, Mario, calls me Zio Arturo, Uncle Arthur.
A Driver for the Amalfi Coast
Claudio Lucibello has been my wonderful driver on the Amalfi Coast. I can’t recommend him highly enough: He is careful and cautious, which you have to be on these winding roads. He speaks enough English to communicate well, although don’t count on him being an English-fluent guide. He is a classy man, and handsome and well-dressed to boot. As a native of Ravello, he knows every inch of these roads. Whatever his price quote, it will likely be less than other drivers. His white taxi is spacious and comfortable, with plenty of room for those of you who travel with too many suitcases. Check out his website. Contact him through the following email, or call. You will need to reserve him ahead of your trip as he is very popular. He will work locally, but is also available to take you off the costiera Amalfitana to, for instance, Pompeii, Paestum, Naples, etc.
Cell: 339-7028395 and 333-4527057
My #1 Thing to Know in Rome
Iris Carulli, as many of you will remember, was my personal assistant for
nearly eight years. She is now a guide in Rome. Her website is still under
construction, but it should be finished soon. Meanwhile, you can reach
Iris through the email link there (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Iris offers unparalleled tours of Rome. She seamlessly incorporates her
deep love and knowledge of history, art, and food. Last year, Gourmet magazine
called her one of "the 100+ things to know about Rome." She
will, of course, customize a tour to your interests.
Chic Sleeps in the Historic Center
This is one stylish B & B. That because it's owned by some very
classy Roman friends of mine. With her husband Carmine, Giulia Barela,
offers guests a chance to stay in seven gorgeous rooms near the Forum and
Colisseum. The rooms are small, but beautifully decorated, and with TV,
great air-conditioning (a luxury in Rome in the summer), and modern private
baths. See for yourself on the website. There is also one suite, with a
bedroom, bath, living room/dining room and small kitchen. It has a sofa
bed in the living area, but also an optional second bedroom. To top it
all off, it has a view of the ancient Forum. For breakfast, Giulia serves
some of the best bread in Rome from a wonderful artisinal bakery located
near the Campo dei Fiori, and her staff will take very good care of you.
There is even a communal living room that, along with the hallways, features
some of the Barela's contemporary art collection. It's like
staying in someone's home, but not. The building is at the edge of
a residential area, but also well-located for sightseeing. You can walk
to the Piazza Navona at night.
There's a Small Hotel...
This charming little hotel is in a great neighborhood, Prati; what I like
to think of as the "Upper West Side" of Rome. Lots of comfortably
upscale shops, bars and restaurants line the streets. It's just
a short walk over the Tiber River to the historic center of Rome or the
Piazza de Popolo. The Vatican is just down the street. The rooms offer
all modern conveniences including a mini-bar, safe, TV, and marble baths.
I really liked staying here because, besides the accommodating staff, moderate
price, and charming rooms, you get a good feel for the real Rome in this
area, as opposed to touristic Rome.