Sunday, May 19, 2013

Views of Amalfi and the Joys of La Festa Della Patata

From Skyscrapers to Lemon Groves: Part 2 -
Enjoying priceless surroundings and the delight of potatoes!
I dive head first into the sea and open my eyes, swimming toward the silence and nothingness, through the contrasting hues of dark and light blue, as the sun’s rays transpire down, down, down. I keep swimming underwater until I can’t hold my breath any longer. When I finally pop to the surface, I spin around to see the panorama of Amalfi behind me, brightly colored orange and blue umbrellas scattering the beach, the forefront of this ancient town. It is well known that the view of Amalfi from the sea is the most magnificent view there is.  I float for a minute and take it all in before swimming back to shore. I climb out of the water and back into the thick heat, to my sunbed, letting the salt cover my skin. I like the feeling of the salt on my skin and don’t want to wash it off just yet. I also let it dry in my hair, forming almost perfect curls. This is summer. This is Amalfi.
The sun is starting to set behind the mountains, casting a red tint over the town, and it’s time for me to head back home. I hitch a ride on the back of a vespa and careen around the curves, until I reach my front door. It is time to get ready for the “Festa Della Patata”, which is a festival in a small town called Tovere, located just above Amalfi.

Looking down on Amalfi from Tovere
A few hours later, with the salt washed out of my hair and off my skin, I am with a group of excited and laughing friends, some of us piled into a little Fiat, others on vespas, all of us heading to the festival.
Ten Euros will allow us to walk around the festival and eat anything and everything made out of potatoes from different stands; Potato salad, gnocchi, pasta and potatoes, potato croquets, French fries, and potato zeppole (like a donut). I have never eaten so many potatoes in my life…and they are AMAZING!
An overload of carbohydrates doesn’t seem to be a concern for anyone as the town swarms with hungry Italians. A small band of local boys plays classic Neapolitan songs and we greet other friends and family that we see along the stradone, or main road.  The road is lined with vendors coming from Naples to sell their wares…bancarelle they are called in Neapolitan dialect. They sell everything from toys to fresh sliced coconut, to small animals like bunnies and chicks.

Feeding my cousin gnocchi with tomato sauce at the festival
After we have had our fill of potatoes, we make our way back down to Amalfi and meet friends and familiar faces on the lungomare, the main street bordering the town and the sea. We sit and drink wine or espresso, listening to music and debating on what potato dish was the best and why. Tomorrow, we say, we will only eat fruit!

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