The third week of September found us in Minori, Italy, an Amalfi coast town a boat ride away from Capri. It certainly a study-abroad style trip: last minute, enthusiastically planned and, even more so, anticipated. And, like our first travels, it was certainly an adventure: not much went according to plan, and it was wonderful.
Perhaps the first clue this would be an unexpected journey was when our Florence bus broke down past Poggibonsi. With backpacks, and snack bags (with bread, cheese, and far too many grapes), we finally made our way onto the Salerno bound train. After a train ride playing card games, we arrived in Salerno with just enough time to grab a drink and jump on a Minori-bound bus.
By the wonders of airbnb, the best place for group housing, the five of us found a rental apartment. And arriving in Minori we met the owner, Ana Maria. She became our sort of Minori fairy god mother: greeting us straight off the bus with bear hugs and an invitation to Sunday lunch.
With only one full day on the coast, we made a snap decision to boat to Capri on Saturday. The ride, and destination, was much more expensive than anticipated, so instead of shelling out more to move further inland we settled for a day at the beach. This was a typical Italian beach, with pebbles versus sand, but atypical otherwise: swimming out into the clear waters we had an amazing view of the Capri cliffs and coastline. Another group of friends, staying in Amalfi, hiked over from the opposite Capri port to meet us. Who would have though a semester in Siena would give us a lazy day swimming in the Tyrrhenian Sea?
Our plan for dinner was a lemon farm on the top of a hill overlooking Minori. Setting out late, Italian style, we hiked up (and up) to find amazing views, as well as the restaurant closed for the night. We caught the chef driving home, who pointed us in a better direction downhill: a system of steep stairs and alleys. We picked our way down tot dinner among the white-washed buildings of Minori, built into and up the steep valley hill.
Then our Sunday planes fell through. We checked out early , and to our disappointment canceled lunch plans with Ana Maria in favor of finding a bus home. But for once, we lucked out, and found an afternoon bus to Salerno. With more time on our hands, we called Ana Maria back.
And so we wound up with our best meal (and afternoon) yet. Their house hugged the side of the Minori hillside among lemon and garden terraces. It was the last thing we expected to see, and the best: endless views, of Minori below and the sea in the distance. Many peeled potatoes, cut tomatoes and picked lemons later, we sat down with Ana Maria and family for lunch.
Lemons can be, and are, used for everything. Bug Bites, perfume, burns: rub it on. The patio fire was stoked with lemon branches to smoke out mosquitos and the lunch meat wrapped in their leaves. Our many course meal ended with sweet espressos made with lemon peel, one of the best treats of the trip. We may have missed our train in Salerno, and ended up back in Siena far too early in the morning, but our Minori weekend was worth it.
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<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Caeli Smith is a junior at Connecticut College and majors in English and Art with a minor in Italian and is part of an international studies program. She likes nothing more than heading out on a travel adventure - to sightsee, try new food, wander, and get a little bit lost.</span></div>