Massalubrense: the Town at the Edge of the Amalfi Coast

I live in Rome with my Filipino wife, but I was born in Southern Italy, in a place situated at the edge of the famous tourist spot known as the Amalfi Coast.

My birthplace is the village of Termini, in the municipality of Massalubrense, and Termini is the very last village of the peninsula, the one situated at the very edge of it, only 3 km away from Punta Campanella, the tip of the peninsula that separates the Bay of Naples (or the Sorrento Coast) from the Bay of Salerno (the Amalfi Coast) and faces the world famous Capri Island.

Why should you visit this area?

Because it’s the only sort of off-the-beaten-track spot in the entire region.

Beautiful though it may be, the area gets extremely crowded in summer, while the very tip of the peninsula is (relatively) still kind of unspoiled and, on top of that it’s a nature reserve.

TOP PLACES IN MASSALUBRENSE

Monte di San Costanzo

Monte di San Costanzo: the best vantage point in the area, right in front of it is Capri Island
A view of the Amalfi Coast from Monte di San Costanzo
Naples’ Bay and the islands of Ischia and Procida from Monte di San Costanzo

Punta Campanella

There are two ways to get to Punta Campanella: one is by walking down via Campanella from Termini, while a much more scenic one is hiking on a trail from Monte di San Costanzo

Capri Island from the trail that leads to Punta Campanella from Monte di San Costanzo
Ieranto Bay from the trail to Punta Campanella
Nearing Punta Campanella
The lighthouse and the medieval watchtower in Punta Campanella

There is no beach in Punta Campanella and the sea gets very deep almost immediately, so stay away from Punta Campanella if you can’t swim

Baia di Ieranto

Baia di Ieranto is the core of the natural reserve of Punta Campanella and both fishing and motor boats are strictly forbidden.

You can get to the Baia di Ieranto from Termini itself, by way of a trail that leads to the village of Nerano first and then leads to the bay, or you can take a bus to Nerano and take the trail directly from there (easier option).

Cala di Mitigliano

And, last but not least, another nice place to visit is the Cala di Mitigliano.

So, this is my village in a nutshell.

Please visit!

Bitten by a Freshwater Eel!

Recently I spent a long weekend in my parents’ village in Southern Italy.

The name of the village is Termini di Massalubrense, situated between Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.

The village is situated on the top of a hill and there are several bays there that can only be reached on foot.

One of those is called Baia di Ieranto and it takes about 1,5 hours to get there on foot.

Baia di Ieranto

As I got close to the beach, I spotted a lot of people standing on an old pier, and there was no one in the water. How come?

I kept walking and, when I got to the pier, I jumped into the water without any hesitancy and…..guess what? Jellyfish! The water was infested with jellyfish. That’s how come….

It felt like being shot with a machine gun!

I had no choice but to hike back under the scorching sun.

That is why my recent swims have only taken place in the various lakes we have around Rome.

And the reason is because the lake is safer than the sea, right? There are no sharks, no barracudas and no jellyfish in the lake, so the lake is safer, right?

Wrong!!!!

Few days ago, while I was basking in the waters of Lake Bracciano, about 10 km away from the outskirts of Rome, not far from where I work, something bit me.

Yes I got bitten in the lake!

What was it?

Because the place where the incident took place is called Anguillara Sabazia, and, because the town is named after the Anguilla, the Italian term for freshwater eels, I assume that the thing that bit me was a freshwater eel.

I guess that the only safe place is a swimming pool….or better yet my wife’s loving arms….

Lake Bracciano in Anguillara Sabazia

Where to Eat on a Budget around Rome

As I have said before, although my blog is about my experience as an Italian husband of a Filipina, sometimes I like to deflect and talk about interesting places to visit and things to do, not only in the Philippines but even here in my country.

Italy is an amazing country but tourist spots can get rather crowded and, quite honestly, pretty expensive.

There are alternative ways to visit this country that are no less interesting than going where everyone else is going.

And, sure enough, there are alternative ways to taste real Italian food.

A rule of thumb to follow if you want to eat well and on a budget around Rome is the following: you rent a car, or take a bus or a train, and head inland (a great area to experience Italy very off-the-beaten-track is the region surrounding the town of Rieti).

Once you get to the first village that looks like a God-forgotten place, or, in other words, a village situated in the middle of nowhere, nowhen and nohow (and there are many in that region), you ask the first local you encounter the following question: “dove posso trovare un ristorantino molto ignorante?”, literally meaning “where can I find a very informal place to eat? (Romans sometimes use the word “ignorante” or “ignorant” not to mean “illiterate” but, rather, to mean something or someone very informal.

Chances are that you will find one of those typical super-rustic Italian trattoria where old and fat waitresses wearing an apron almost throw huge amounts of food at you, where belching in front of everyone is socially-acceptable and wine showers from the sky in very large amounts.

Yesterday we were at Lago del Turano, near Rieti. To say that that place is off-the-beaten-track is an understatement.

I actually decided to go there after reading a blog post by a British blogger based in Ireland who is married to an Italian.

She seems to know a lot of off-the-beaten-track spots in the Rome region and she has a post about this lake that I barely knew that it even existed. I had been there maybe 30 years ago or something but had forgotten all about it.

Anyway, we visited the lake, actually a dam, and the place is quite interesting because it is surrounded by mountains and there are a few villages perched on the surrounding hills that look over the dam.

Once there I started to vividly remember visiting this lake some 30 years ago and, after that, stumbling upon a fanta-super-mega-ignorant (in the Roman sense of the word) restaurant where, for something like 25 euros per person, they fed us the whole world.

I went back to that restaurant last year without first visiting the lake: we headed straight to the restaurant from Rome.

They started out with “some” (just “some”) antipasti or starters

This too was part of the “antipasti”

Then came the first dishes: the waitress asked whether we wanted one type of pasta or five assaggini (meaning little “samples” of different kinds of pasta).

We went for the assaggini and it turned out to be five dishes like this per person (just to “sample” different types of food):

“assaggino”

After that we tried to ask for the bill, but the waitress said: “we haven’t finished yet”, at which I got knocked down on my knees and begged her to stop bringing more food…but to no avail.

She kept bringing more and more assaggini of various second, third, fourth, fifth…100th dishes and then tiramisù, ice cream, grappa, limoncello…you name it, until we got to the point that we needed some drain cleaner, some sodium hydroxide, like the one plumbers use to free the drains from stuff that clogs them, to digest….

Yes, if you want to experience eating around Rome on a budget, rent a car and go get lost in some God-forgotten village in the inland areas of the Rome region.

You will eat with satisfaction and belch in dolby-surround stereo and the echo of your belch will fill the air in an area of 100 square miles…I promise you

Lago del Turano
The village of Paganico Sabino perched on a hill overlooking the lake

Walking Across the Border: One of the Most Interesting Travelling Experiences

One of the reasons why I am in a multiethnic marriage is because I love to travel and to interact with other cultures.

This has been an hallmark trait of my personality for many decades.

The very first time I visited a foreign country I crossed the border on foot, and, to this very day, walking across an international border remains my favourite travelling experience.

Here in Europe we have the gargantuan advantage of living in a continent where countries are relatively small and people can drive, take a train or even walk to get to another country while my wife comes from an island nation where the only option they have to see another country is by taking a plane.

There are a couple of borders that I find particularly interesting, because when you walk across those, you are not just entering another country, rather you are stepping into another world.

One is the Italian-Swiss border in Como and the other is the Italian-Austrian border in Tarvisio.

I have crossed all the borders between Italy and its neighboring countries, but, generally speaking, the Italian-French border and the border between Italy and Slovenia don’t quite give me that special feeling that I am abruptly stepping into a totally different world.

On the other hand when I cross the border between Italy and Switzerland or the one between Italy and Austria I get that unique sensation that things suddenly and abruptly change: on one side of the border line there is the Latin and the Mediterranean world with its romance, as well as its inefficiencies and imperfections, while, only few meters apart, there is the Swiss or the Germanic world and their precision and efficiency that they almost slap in the face of someone who is coming from Italy.

Here are some examples

This is the Italian side on the Italian-Swiss border in Como (a city that is well known for its lake and that, perhaps, is less known for being a border town).

As you can see there are some (typically Italian) cracks on the asphalt and the manholes are not perfectly leveled with the pavement.

Here in Italy we do have pretty good infrastructures (generally speaking) but, sometimes local roads lack proper maintainance.

When I cross the Italian-Swiss border I get Swiss precision in my face immediately after I cross it: the very first thing I notice is the perfectly paved road, the manholes that are perfectly leveled with the pavement and a perfectly working phone boot (while on the other side you barely spot a phone boot and if you do see one it’s full of graffiti and it, almost certainly, doesn’t work.

Swiss precision in your face immediately after crossing the border
Perfectly paved Swiss road

But even more striking is the contrast between the town of Tarvisio, in the region of Friuli Venezia Giulia (which is part of an area that straddles three countries being Italy, Slovenia and Austria) and the Austrian side of the border.

When you cross the Italian-Swiss border in Como people still speak Italian, while when you cross the Italian-Austrian you don’t just spot the differences in terms of cleanliness and efficiency but even the language changes in few meters.

The border town of Tarvisio: some houses have a nicely painted facade while many don’t
The Austrian side: all houses are painted, there is a perfectly working phone boot and the road is perfectly paved…and there is a speed trap few meters ahead waiting for Italian unruly drivers

I love how the world changes in few meters when I cross an international border…

Visit Italy!

My blog is mainly about my relationship with a Filipina, the Filipino culture and mentality and the mindset that I have adopted to successfully deal with culture-shock. I share what I have learned by reading books on relationships, and not just multi-ethnic ones, because the psychology of a healthy relationship is the same whether you are in an interracial marriage or in a “normal” one.

And I also talk about the Tagalog language and I have published posts about places to see in the Philippines.

In my post https://italpinoy1967.com/2020/04/02/is-the-philippines-an-asian-country/
I have mentioned a number of good reasons why the Philippines deserves to be visited.

But what about my country?

Italy is well known as a world-class tourist spot but, because tourism has massively been impacted in a negative way by the Covid-19 crisis, Italy will need plenty of tourists once this crisis is completely over.

In this post I simply want to share a few pictures of my country to kind of entice you to consider visiting it, if you haven’t done it yet.

What I like about this country, apart from it’s history and culture (that would require a separate blog to talk about), is the incredible variety of landscapes we have. We have got pretty much everything: lakes, mountains, an amazing coastline, historic sites and, probably, the best food (even though I consume it in moderation because I am into healthy eating).

Take a look at the following pictures (I have got a lot more pictures stored on various computers and devices but these are some of the ones I have on the one I am using to write this post) and make up your mind…

Lakes

Lake Como in Northern Italy
Lago di Vico near Rome
Trevignano Romano by Lake Bracciano, near Rome
Lago Trasimeno in Umbria

The Sea

The Amalfi Coast
Clear waters in Southern Italy
Sabaudia near Rome
Capri Island
View from a trail in the Amalfi Coast

Food and Drinks

Mountains

Gran Sasso d’Italia, about 100 km East of Rome

Backdrop view of Mount Vesuvius from the cable car to Monte Faito near Naples

Ancient Cities and Towns

Arezzo, Tuscany

The Spanish Steps in Rome
Parco degli Acquedotti in Rome

What else?…..

When Filipinos See Snow for the First Time

The Philippines is a tropical country and, although in the Philippines there are areas where the weather can get rather cold, like the Cordillera Mountains around Baguio City, snow is nowhere to be found in the Philippines.

So one of the things Filipinos, who are new here in Italy, get excited about is seeing the snow for the first time in their life.

Here in Rome it snows pretty rarely but very close to Rome there are plenty of ski resorts and high mountains that are full of snow for several months a year.

The highest peak in Central Italy is the Gran Sasso d’Italia, whose summit is 2914 mt above sea level, and it is about 1,5 hour drive from Rome.

What’s interesting about the Gran Sasso is that on it’s summit there is the Southernmost glacier in Europe.

We recently organized a bus trip to Mount Gran Sasso with a group of Filipinos who had never seen the snow in their lives and all of them behaved like little children for one day…

On the road to the Gran Sasso d’Italia
Gran Sasso d’Italia

Gran Sasso d’Italia
Snow in Rome (3 years ago)

Similarities Between my Country and my Wife’s-Italy Off the Beaten Track: the Tip of the Sorrento Peninsula

My wife’s country (the Philippines) and mine have one thing in common: they offer way more than crowded tourist spots. Both countries actually offer countless opportunities to travel off the beaten track.

In this blog I have already touched on how my wife’s birthplace in the Philippines offers amazing off the beaten track places such as the underground river of barangay Bulusukan and, more in general, the Sierra Madre area which is partly almost uncharted and unexplored and definitely off the radar of mass tourism (http://buildingfilipinowesternbridges.com/2019/10/26/the-underground-river-of-bulacan/).

Backdrop view of Capri Island from my parents’s house in Termini

My birthplace is definitely not part of an uncharted and unexplored area. On the contrary, it is part of one of the most popular and crowded tourist spots in the world, namely the Sorrento Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast.

Monte di San Costanzo


However, there is a corner of the peninsula (my birthplace), which is right at the end of it, and is located at the edge of mass tourism flows and which, for this very reason, has a particular charm: I’m talking about Termini, part of the municipality of Massalubrense which is located on the extreme tip of the Sorrento peninsula and acts as a “watershed” between the two gulfs of Naples and Salerno.


Even in mid-August, when the Amalfi coast is blocked by traffic and all the beaches accessible by car are more crowded than a shopping mall, Termini offers the possibility of lonely excursions and solitary swims.


Some corners of the fraction of Termini are particularly suitable for solitary hikers: at the tip of the peninsula (known as Punta Campanella) there are very few people who venture into the “pertuso”, a sort of canyon that leads to the deep waters of the tip, and there are even fewer people who, instead of reaching the tip from the main path (via Campanella), choose the much more rugged path that starts from the mountain of San Costanzo.

If you are planning on visiting the Amalfi Coast check my birthplace out, I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Monte di San Costanzo

The trail to Punta Campanella
The trail to Punta Campanella
The “Pertuso”
The deep waters of Punta Campanella