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Sep 7, 2010 08:46 AM

Where to dine while staying in Ravello and Sinalunga?

My finacee and I will be spending our honeymoon in Ravello (4 days), and then Sinalunga (4 days), with one day stops in Rome and Florence in between. I feel like I have a solid list of reccomended lunch and dinner spots in the two major cities via other threads on this board (e.g. "Going to Rome in September"). I would however love to get some reccomendations for dining in or near Ravello, as well as reccomendations for food and wine destinations on our day trips from Sinalunga. Our trip begins in one week.

So far this is what I have in mind as definite plans:

While staying in Ravello - dinner at Quattro Passi (Marina del Cantone), dinner on Capri at Paolino

While staying in Sinalunga - day trip to Siena, day trip to Cortona, day trip to vineyards (Banfi is a thought, will that feel just like the large wineries in Napa?)

We are really looking forward to exploring the Tuscan countryside (we will have a rental car) and finding places off the beaten path, but since we are not experienced Italy travelers it would be great to hear about amazing places that others have found in case we have difficulty. Ideally our trip will be filled with a mixture of no-frills hidden gems, and some fancier places for fine dining.

Thank you in advance for any reccomendations!

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  1. Here is a list of places in Ravello.

    there have been several recent and very good discussions on this Board on dining in Ravello and on the Amalfi Coast which you will find if you search.

    I am wondering about how you are planning to get around - by car, bus or boat. I would think that Quattro Passi would be better for a day visit since its quite a ways away from Ravello. Capri likewise - assuming the boats are running there may be an issue getting back at night, getting a taxi, bus up to Ravello etc., the boats along the coast dont run all year long or late at night if you are considering that alternative. Have you looked at that aspect? Metro del Mare runs boats around the Coast, Alicost I believe to Capri from Amalfi,

    Fall schedules, which are reduced are coming on soon. A forum like Fodors will better serve you if you need travel logistics assistance. In any event, there are quite a number of romantic, beautiful places to go and eat seafood on the Amalfi Coast itself, if you cant easily travel off the coast. I also recommend walking the hill trails, where you exeprience breathtaking scenery and have a nice lunch in a hillside village, or for example walking down from Ravello to Atrani (A'Paranza) or to Minori where there are several little places.

    For Tuscany, there is a lot of discussion on the site - a search will pull up much info on tuscan destinations. There is also a lot of info now on the Restaurant page, with its mapping function which could help you find nearby places - there are quite a few near to Sinalunga and in popular wine and food destinations areas like Montalcino, Montepulciano, Chianti and Pienza.

    Here are some near Sinalunga

    If you click the search on map box and move curser so the map moves, other restaurants will appear.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jen kalb

      Thank you very much for the resopnse. For the day trips from Ravello my plan was to take the bus or hire a car from our hotel to the neighboring towns. I was going to figure out the best way to get to and from Capri once we arrived in Ravello. Perhaps lunch will be our only option on Capri.

      In Tuscany we will have a car. I did serach for discussions on Sinalunga, and most of what I found was posted 12 months ago or more. I was hoping for more recent reccomendations if possible, but perhaps the best chow locations change less frequently in Tuscany than where I live. Do you know how the results of the mapping function are populated? It appears that the map is a general listing, and not based on reviews or opinions from this board. I guess I can search for discussions on each to see what people have to say about them.

      Thanks again for the response. If there are any places you consider "must visit" dining/drinking within a short drive from Sinalunga I would love to hear about them.

      1. re: charlestown_matt

        re Tuscany, things dont change all that quickly. You may or may not want to drive far from your base at night - that depends on you. Therestaurant database and map for this area is being populated based on recommendations in the Slowfood Guide (my personal favorite source), and to a lesser degree, Gambero Rosso, Michelin, Cadogan, personal experience and references on the Board. As you note, there are not linkages to discussions in most instances, since this feature has not been automated yet - some of these places have been discussed previously here, some not. Practical info is up to date to the extent guidebook/website info ever is, it can be less predictable on the ground as you will see.You can click on the discussion link at the bottom of the restaurant page and it will pull some stuff up but the search feature that generates the info in that feature is buggy - I cant promise it will all be relevant. I think you can also use the tabs to move from Restaurants to Discussion.

        Re Ravello you have to take the bus down the hill to Amalfi and change to the bus that runs along the coast. I dont know about the frequency of these buses at night. when we stayed in Ravello a couple of years back, we stayed there in the evenings and toured in the daytime. There are several worthwhile restaurants in Ravello itself, including places for light meals. You will see them if you search. Ive heard local taxis can be prohibitive, but on your honeymoon, that should not be a problem for you. Its only a few minutes down to Amalfi or Atrani or across the valley to one of the hamlets there and your restaurant or hotel can phone one up..

    2. You can eat very well at Cumpa Cosimo in Ravello. There is no view and no romantic ambience, but the food is solid, as far as I can tell based on only one visit.

      Agree that Marina del Cantone is not within reasonable dinner distance, unless you have a car and even then, you need to be fearless.

      1 Reply
      1. re: erica

        agree with Erica re Cumpa Cosimo - it was a favorite of ours. land cuisine - good vegetable apps and pastas, friendly and tasty. well priced.

      2. In Revello I highly recommend Cumpa Cosimo. Its a family run local place with excellent local Italian food served by a family in a warm restaurant. Not very fancy but welcoming and nice. The pasta, meats and desert are great. Home made wine out of barrels in the back of the restaurant. Grandma comes out of the kitchen and gives you the best Tiramisu you ever tasted on the house for desert. If you go to the town of Amalfi I highly recommend Eolo for a romantic and wonderful meal. Small 6 table upscale resturant overlooking the Almafi harbor (ask for a table under the arches with a view) with great food, winelist and service. One of my favorate restaurants in Italy. We had the chief tasting menu which was great! Also good in Amalfi is da Gemma a seafood restaurant with good food service and outdoor patio to dine in if the weather's nice.
        Tuscany is big with lots of choices. I enjoyed stopping at the Cassanova di Neri winery just outside the town of Montelcino. The wines are world class, the people at the winery very friendly and will poor you some great tasting of their wines. I purchased two cases that they shpped back to the U.S. In terms of restaurants I would recommend La Grotta in Montipulciano. It is very good, warm friendly, excellent service and great wines. If you go to Florence, my favorate is La Giostra where I suggest aking for the chef's suggestions and get ready for a memorable experience of great food, wine and atmosphire. One of my favorate restaurants in Itay. It's a romantic restaurant with candles, small lights and interesting music. In Rome, Antico Arco is excellent. Its very local with no tourists and great food.
        General advise is stay away from the tourist spots and seek to dine in the local restaurants to get the best food and a true Italian experience. I hope you have a great trip.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jfrao

          Thank you. These recommendations sound fantastic. Cumpa Cosimo sounds exactly like the type of place that we can't wait to eat at.

          The trip to Marina del Cantone is going to be a treat for dinner one night; a friend recently ate at Quattro Passi and said it was incredible. I was thinking that a car arranged at the hotel would be able to provide transportation. I don't mind overpaying for transportation for one night, especially on our honeymoon, but if anyone disagrees on the experience at Quattro Passi I would love to hear why.

          1. re: charlestown_matt

            Quattro Passi sounds terrific - I might if I were you consider staying there for one of your nights - it would probably be cheaper (factoring in the transportation) and more relaxed. Id also consider lunch over dinner since you would see more of the place as well as your drive along the coast - but its largely because we find eating long, midday meals involving plenty of good wine as one of the most civilized and pleasant aspects of a visit to Italy.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Thank you. Lunch does sound like a good strategy for the trips from Ravello. Looking at the map a bit closer it does seem like Marine del Cantone is pretty far. Quatro Passi may end up being quite difficult to reach. We shall see.

              Would you say that advance reservations are necessary at the places you reccomend in Amalfi (e.g. Eolo) and Tuscany? Specifically, what about Antico Arco in Rome on a Tuesday night? I looked at their website and the restaurant looks perfect for our first night in Italy. Lastly, I've read in a lot of other threads that people eat dinner rather late in Italy. Is a 10pm dinner normal, or considered late?

              1. re: charlestown_matt

                In the quality of "gems well known by Italians but overlooked by American/British tourists" you can put at least two, of three well-known, restaurants in the fishing village of Cetara, on the Amalfi Coast SE of Amalfi. If you are truly hungering for local sea-based cuisine (especially the anchovies for which the town is celebrated) at prices that are much lower than those of the more touristed towns, you cannot beat this food mecca.

                Again this is intended to be a lunch suggestion, although you can (we did) access the town by local SITA bus which runs late enough to accommodate diners after the evening meal. If this interests you, you can find more info in my report (I ate at two restaurants in town; both SlowFood members, as is the third place that we did not have a chance to try.)

                1. re: charlestown_matt

                  I definately recommend making reservations at Eolo and Antico Arco. These are relatively small and are usually booked in advance. In general, I would ecco that advice for any but the most casual restaurants in Italy as it is customary to make a reservation in advance. Many will not take walk inns. Enjoy!

                  1. re: jfrao

                    Thank you to all for your comments and recommendations. We had a fantastic time on our honeymoon trip. Here is a rundown of the meals we ate during the first half of the trip:

                    Day 1 - Rome

                    L'Isola della Pizza - Lunch near the Vatican. Any port in a storm after being up for over 24 hours on our first day. We split the Antipasto that had delicious ricotta and broccoli rabe, but was otherwise lackluster. Margherita pizza was edible, but nothing special. Expectations were low, and expectations were met.

                    Antico Arco - delicious dinner, charming service. Stars of the show were the Porcini salad with Parmesan Reggiano gelato (amazing!), the spaghettoni with pecorino, pepper, and zucchini flowers, as well as the tagletelle with pork crumbs.

                    Day 2 - Napoli, Ravello

                    Pizzeria Di Michelle (Napoli) - incredible margherita pizza. We were there at 10:45am so it was not crowded at all. The sauce was so sweet, and the crust was soft but not flimsy. Great way to start the day.

                    Pool Bar at Hotel Caruso - Spaghetti with tomatoes and basil was sweet and tasty. Antipasto salad bar was pricey at 25 euros, but on a positive note they let you serve yourself if you prefer, so I loaded up on Bufala Mozzarella, sardines, and roasted vegetables. The Peach Belini were so good too. The view simply can't be beat. We also had a pizza from the pool bar later in the trip and thought it was quite good.

                    Cumpa Cosimo - Our dinner experience here was just OK. Expectations may have been a little too high based on the many postings I read. Fruitti di mare was fine, as was Veal marsala. The tiramisu was incredible. Otherwise I found the restaurant more bland than quaint. In hindsight we probably should have chosen it as a location for lunch later in the trip.

                    Day 3 - Positano, Maiori

                    Max (Positano) - Fantastic lunch. Fried Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and salami was delicious. Eggplant parm with no breading that was actually light, and Quattro Pesce (4 pastas, 4 ways with diff seafood) that was so good we took pictures of it. A bottle of Falanghina, and a wild strawberry tart made for a great lunch. The setting is a bit upscale (it's a quasi art gallery too), but we ate on the patio and were practically alone. We loved it.

                    Torre Normmana - Disappointing meal. Our plan had been for A'Paranza, but we were told that it was closed after the rain and flooding carried 70 cars into the Ocean in Atrani a few days earlier. So, we ended up being referred to Torre Normanna by a shop worker in Ravello. It felt like a place that was past it's prime but didn't realize it. The prices are high and the food was just OK, nothing memorable, and the cab ride round trip cost about 80 euro from Ravello. Unless you are in Maiori already and want to go for the view, I suggest skipping this place.

                    Day 4 - Amalfi

                    La Caravella - We had a great meal here. It's a little stiff, and not cheap (120 euro +), but the food was awesome. The stars were Swordfish grilled in lemon leaves, a Sea Bass that was so tender and delicious, and squid ink ravioli with Lobster. Also, the Lemon profiteroles and chocolate covered aubergine were fantastic. There is also a world class ceramic store and museum at the restaurant, if you are into that sort of thing.

                    Day 5 - Nerano, Ravello

                    La Conca del Sogno - The website says they are located in Nerano, but in reality the restaurant seemed to only be accessible by sea. It's located just East of Marine del Cantone, maybe 8 miles West along the coast from Positano. Luckily we had a boat that dropped us here for lunch. What a fun experience. The Antipasto was enormous, with cheese, various tomatoes, fried baby squid, sardines, zucchini flowers, shellfish, etc. The specialty pasta of the house is spaghetti with zucchini and parmesan, which was very tasty. The linguini with clams (big and little clams) was also delicious. If you can get there, I highly recommend this place for a memorable lunch.

                    Hotel Caruso - Since we were staying at the Caruso we decided to save it for our final meal on the Amalfi Coast. I loved this hotel overall, and highly recommend it for a special occasion trip, but the restaurant was just OK. For the money I definitely think the food should be better. The view is fantastic though if you can sit outside, and the service is very good.

                    I will post our dining experiences from the second half of the trip later.