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American in Italy

American in Italy


From fashion to food, interiors to exterior landmarks; an opulent tour of Italy’s finest.  By Robert Edgerly. Photographed by Robert Edgerly.


I touched down in Roma late morning on a clear and crisp Wednesday in October. Mario, my twenty-something-year-old native driver and tour guide, greeted me eagerly near baggage claim. We whisked off in his immaculate black Mercedes for a quick lunch and an abridged tour of the capital’s highlights.  Rome, steeped with rich history and vestiges, reminds me of Manhattan, right down to the influx of wandering tourists.  After a short stop at the Trevi Fountain, a favorite of mine featured in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), and a drive-by past several other landmarks, we began our scenic three-hour drive to the famed Amalfi Coast.


We arrived in Sorrento, where I would stay for the week.  I chose Sorrento because of its manageability.  You can walk to the harbor for the boat to Capri, or ride the Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii and Naples, and to all of the restaurants, shops, maze of streets, and sites in the town itself.


La Minervetta seemed to be carved into the rocky landscape, having to take an elevator down from the street level to the lobby.  If I had a brief encounter with heaven, then Hotel La Minervetta was it.  The peacock-tiled floors were strewn with inviting furniture, vintage tables, and antique cabinets filled with artifacts indicative of the region.  The terrace, an extension to the lobby, which ran the length of the hotel, felt like it hovered over the crystal coast.  Mount Vesuvius stood as a vast silent overseer of this romantic and picturesque private haven.


On one stroll down into town for a late lunch and proper martini christening to the beginning of my vacation, I began studying the local fashion more closely.  It is no surprise that Italians are chic in their approach to fashion.  There was a casual elegance and consistency that was so refreshing to me.  There were no Juicy Couture comfort sets and rarely a sneaker to be seen.  Jeans of all washes were the staple for men and women, despite the generation.  A cashmere sweater or crisp woven shirt accompanied the ensemble, and Italians are not afraid of wearing color! The men layered with impeccable outerwear or a perfectly tailored sports coat.  The women chose scarves and wraps, styled with understated simplicity that seemed effortless.  One thing was undoubtedly evident, the Italians wear good shoes.


Mario returned on a slightly overcast day for a drive to the outlying towns and insider tour.  The black Mercedes meandered through the glamorous winding coast, first to Positano, then to Ravello, and finally Amalfi, the namesake of the coast.  Positano was like a painting, a landscape of salmon, mustard, and brick red homes stacked into the cliffs.  Amalfi was narrow with high-sided streets and alleyways, and a 13th century Duomo di Amalfi in the town’s central piazza.  The place that resonated with me the most in this millionaire’s playground was the mystical town of Ravello.


Villa Rufolo, a garden estate that abuts the rambling coastline, boasts a double-tiered Moorish cloister that was not tampered with over the centuries. The geometric flower-beds overlooking the turquoise waters were nothing short of magical. Mario introduced me to one of the most sought after, authentic ceramic shops in Italy and a hidden trattoria called Cumpa’ Cosimo.  “Mama,” in her long skirt, floral top, and white apron came to our table and described what she would be preparing for lunch. I was politely agreeable, as I soon realized that it was like going to someone’s home for dinner.  It was a feast of the most fresh and incredible handmade Italian pasta that I will not forget.  Mario dropped me off back at the hotel, and ended our day exclaiming “Ciao” and “Mamma Mia.” I guess they really do say that.


My time in the Amalfi Coast was nothing short of epic.  The people were warm and accommodating.  The food was exquisite, and the fashion did not disappoint.  Italy is a country robust with cities as diverse as the people who visit. The coast was and will remain in my top five most memorable destinations.  Until next time : heart + style = La Dolce Vita. 

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