Ristorante da Zurro, Stromboli. June, 2015
Friday, 7 April 2017
Dinner at the Ristorante da Zurro, just above the beach. Zurro’s real name is Filippo Utano and he looks like an old hippy. His bearded face peers out from a bonfire of wiry grey hair that’s kept out of his eyes by a chef’s toque that looks like a pancake, brilliantly decorated with tomatoes, chillies and flowers. He wears an orange chef’s jacket with the arms ripped off and baggy trousers with…
Capri: June, 2015
Monday, 3 April 2017
It’s evening and I settle down to a first Campari soda at the Bar Tiberio on the Piazzetta (in reality, the Piazza Umberto), surrounded by a herd of Aperol spritzer drinkers surrounded by a herd of Aperol spritzer drinkers.
At a table just down from mine, a goaty man of middle years, with a face the colour of putty and mycelium hair, is holding court. He’s wearing a canary-yellow…
The fabled cave rabbit; Ischia; July 2014
Monday, 13 March 2017
Silvia d’Ambra, Riccardo d’Ambra’s daughter, and I crouch above a pit about 2 metres deep, which is topped by a wire fence. Silvia is even more dedicated to the cause of Ischian food than her father, if that’s possible. A hole — the cave — in the hillside opens into it. Actually, the cave is less of a cave than a hillside burrow, in part man-made and in part rabbit-made. Silvia throws a branch with…
Siniscola, Sardinia, June 2014
Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Unfortunately, Il Talismano is shut that day, but a young man cleaning the dining room suggests I try the Trattoria da Bovore on the other side of the road. It’s nondescript to the point of invisibility. Without the young man’s advice, I’m not sure I’d go in.
It turns out to be one of a disappearing breed; a modest, family-run trattoria. The walls are white, dotted with photos and pictures in…
Dinner with Francesco, Giglio
Friday, 17 February 2017
Before he starts cooking in the smallest kitchen in the world, Francesco brings up a couple of 2-litre bottles of his wine, Ansonaco. It’s the colour of winter sunshine. We drink it at cellar temperature, as he prefers. Chilling it, he says, reduces its distinctive flavours.
’It’s from the bottom of the container,’ says Francesco. ‘It's — how do you say? — better than the clear wine. It has…
Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Suddenly there’s Gorgona, a smudge, a shape, a 3-D isosceles triangle rising abruptly from the cobalt sea. The precision of its shape is blurred by trees around the slopes. Little by little it takes on greater definition: the 17th-century Medici castle keep jutting out from a cliff; the silhouette of the old abbey on the apex of the triangle; the village of Gorgona shovelled up a V-shaped incline…
The Pattern of Islands
Monday, 16 January 2017
'There’s something particular and fascinating about islands; about the very notion of islands. They lie scattered like crumbs across a vast blue tablecloth. It’s easy to hold each in the mind’s eye and in the imagination. Each is a discrete entity, identifiable and comprehensible and filled with possibility, each a world in itself, and yet connected by history, trade, inter-migration and by sea.…
Return to the Islands
Thursday, 9 April 2015
Well, dear, patient subscribers, on 15th June I’ll be heading back to Ischia to reclaim Nicoletta and start off once again on my island odyssey. One Summer in the Islands will become Two Summers in the the Islands, and, while this might not be in keeping with my original dream, perhaps it may make for a more interesting journey in the round.
When he picked me up from Gatwick Airport, my brother…
The story so far
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Dear Supporters, Subscribers, Friends & Family,
‘Sometimes I have thought it would have been better to have made this journey when I was 27 or 37 rather than 67. Now I am profoundly glad, not that I didn’t do it then, but that I’m doing it at this age. Every ripple, on the sea, every flicker of sunlight on the waves sparks another memory, another sense of sweetness, of pleasure of gladness of the…