Many of you will want to make your culinary vacation into a larger
trip to Italy. Because Paestum is near the Amalfi Coast, perhaps
you just want to perch yourself on these picturesque terraced cliffs,
stare out at the sea, and take it easy. The towns of Positano, Amalfi,
and Ravello in particular offer many hotel choices, from some of
the most luxurious in the world to humble bed and breakfasts. Considered
at the very top level are the hotels San Pietro and Le Sirenuse
in Positano, and the Palazzo Sasso in Ravello. From the Amalfi Coast
you can make day trips to the ancient Roman ruins of Pompeii and
Herculaneum, but there is even easier access to them, and also to
the island of Capri, from Sorrento.
Sorrento is on the Naples side of the Sorrentine peninsula, while
Amalfi is on the Salerno side. Sorrento is a seriously charming
small city with excellent shopping. Among Arthurs favorite
souvenirs of Sorrento are the beautiful table and bath linens, although
he has to admit he has a soft spot, too, for the inlaid wooden music
boxes that seem to be, after lemons, the major industry of the place.
Naples is an incredible city, the third largest in Italy, and although
you will get a taste of it with the Cook At Seliano group, you will
merely scratch the surface in one day. There are luxury hotels,
and plenty of comfortable mid-level hotels, but Arthur recommends
staying at a bed and breakfast in an apartment with a Neapolitan
family. He can recommend several to you, and he is also willing
to help you plan a stay in his favorite city (after Brooklyn).
From Naples, there are ferries that take you to Capri and Ischia,
and both are good for day trips or longer stays. Capri has glamorous
people, an international set, and expensive shops. Ischia has spas
with curative waters, mud and other health and beauty treatments,
not to mention vineyards, excellent rustic restaurants, and one
of the regions best pastry and gelato shops.
Rome is always an enticement, a grand and gorgeous city that would
take a lifetime to fully explore. These days, Arthur loves to fly
into Rome and stay there a few days, or at least one, before taking
the train to Naples and Salerno and other points south. The trains
are a dream in Italy fast and comfortable and the
train from Rome can get you within a few miles of Tenuta Seliano
(see Getting to Paestum). Of course, you can do the opposite: You
can take the train from Salerno to Rome and spend some time in Rome
after Cook At Seliano.
If neither resorts nor cities are your vacation cup of tea. If you
like to get into a car and explore, there is plenty to see and do
south of Paestum. (And driving in Italy is not scary, as some people
say.) The regions of Basilicata, Puglia, and Calabria are relatively
untraveled by tourists and full of archaeological, cultural, and
gastronomic interest. Not to mention that they are physically beautiful
and inhabited by very welcoming people.
A drive around the provinces surrounding Naples can also be interesting.
Avellino has wineries that can be visited, as well as Montevirgine,
a cathedral-sized church that houses a painting of the Holy Mother
that is said to have curative powers. Beside the fascinating dedications
and ex voto plaques to the Virgin Mary, the complex, on the top
of a hill reached by car or funicular railway, also houses a museum
of Christmas nativity scenes called presepi in Neapolitan.
Casserta, north of Naples, has a Bourbon royal palace that vies
with Versailles in grandeur, while its outdoor sculpture and gardens
surpass the French. In Capua, there is a museum of Oscan culture,
the Oscans being the pre-Hellenic contemporaries of the Etruscans,
and the arena where Sparticus started the Roman revolution. In Benevento,
there is wine everywhere you look.