1950s Archive

A Gastronomic Tour of Italy: Campania

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As for restaurants, there is a spanking new one on the western outskirts of Sorrento which merits your attention. It is called the MINERVETTA. You park your car on the street-level roof of this welcoming place, and walk down marble steps to a gay, airy salon, decorated in gold and white, with picture windows opening out on a terrace. The old fishing village lies below; Ischia, Naples and Vesuvius silhouette themselves in the distance. There couldn't be a moreinspiring view. Even if the food doesn't measure up to the vista, it is acceptable. The menu is simple, the wines are good. the prices reasonable. There is no extra charge for one of the most brilliant settings in Italy.


This brilliant, overpublicized island is not likely to yield its full charms to the traveler unless he avoids the tourist path and strikes out for himself. Trim little steamers bring him from Naples and Sorrento to the island of the Blue Grotto, the Villa San Michele and Gracie Fields' night club. From the time he lands at the Grande Marina, a gesticulating succession of hack, cab, and bus drivers offers him a guided tour (“Bargaining necessary,” as Baedeker used to say!). Hotel porters with gold letters on their caps plead with him, sausage and cheese shops offer him a short cut to lunch.

The middle town of Capri is set in a sort of saddle astride the island, and it can be reached by funicular, if you can dissuade the taxi men. Here you are in the midst of everything-coral, tortoise shell, mother-of-pearl, straw hats, silk scarves, ballet slippers. In short, it's the Capri of fiction, and quite an enticing one if you are in a shopping mood. Commercialism has laid a heavy hand on this charmed spot, but the contemplative soul has only to walk a few steps from the beaten path to be in a different world. As for the venturing voluptuary, the prospects are dim. There are plenty of restaurants tucked in these close-packed streets but they arc geared to the one-time tourist couple due to take the next bow back to Naples. Those who spend more time in Capri will find several excellent hotels, unhurried and civilized. The tripper must take his chances. So take your pick for luncheon, from the Gatto Bianco to Tip-Top, and count upon a soulful guitarist to go with the dessert.


Just below the Amalfi peninsula is Salerno and (he wide beach head which will always be recorded in Anglo-American naval and military annals. Contrary to prevalent opinion. Salerno is not a shambles, although its outskirts took a beating. There arc several military cemeteries, however, to serve as poignant reminders of those days of intense fighting in 1943.

The invasion of this coast spared a priceless relic from the days of early Greece, the flat, abandoned site of Paestum. established in the seventh century B.C. This will prove to be the ultimate treasure of Campania for many a visitor. There is a majesty, a melancholy grandeur, and a wealth of sun-baked color about these three Greek temples which is good for the soul. The Temple of Neptune, last of the three, is Greek Doric in its purest form, and the best example outside the Parthenon. A few hours spent wandering over these silent gliosis of Greek greatness will never be forgotten. There are no guides to pester you here, no slick salesmen, no gaping children. Paestum is all yours to enjoy, and it is a heartening experience. The custodians don't mind if you bring in a picnic lunch, and (here couldn't be a more idyllic place to enjoy it. However, there is a worthy little restaurant near the ancient town walls, in case you didn't bring a hamper. It is called the NETTUNO, and it has several rooms for overnight visitors who find a few hours insufficient to explore this extinct city, as beautiful as anything in Italy.

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