Hotel Highlights! Monastero Santa Rosa on the Amalfi Coast in Conca dei Marini

As I traveled with five other travel agents on a JDB Fam trip we were introduced to a fabulous 5 star hotel in the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast with beautiful views of the Bay of Salerno.

Monastero Santa Rosa was once a monastery.  It was here, in the 1600s, that the famous Italian sfogiatella was born.  the nuns that lived and worked at this monastery created this special recipe.  I thank them every time I eat one of these delicate and delicious desserts.

After our tour, which included viewing all the different room categories, spa, garden, infinity pool and the outside gym, we were treated to the most delicious lunch on the terrace.  The food was exceptional.  By chance, I sat next to the manager, director of the hotel and he enlightened me about the chef's credentials.

The executive chef: Christoph Bob has worked in many top restaurants throughout Europe before coming to Monastero Santa Rosa. Some of his restaurants include: Relais Blu Villa Hotel in Massa Lubrense on the Sorrento coast, a Michelin one star restaurant in Gragnano, a three star Michelin star in Paris, Naples and many more.  He also has worked with Alain Ducasse and Heinz Beck.  He uses only the freshest local ingredients. His dishes are a work of art!  And so flavorful!  A real culinary experience!

This 20-room hotel has an extensive wine list and spa so if you so desire a peaceful and quiet stay this is the place for you.  Let me mention that no children under the age of 16 are permitted to stay at this hotel.


Infinity Pool

Infinity Pool

Other amenities include: bocce court, infinity pool, outdoor gym, wine cellar and spa, which includes: a sauna, steam room, and hydro pool.  Relax after a day of sightseeing at the bar or library while sipping your cocktail. Other amenities include:  Air conditioning flat screen TV, Minibars in all rooms, and spectacular sea views from every room! 

Put this hotel on your bucket list!

Villa Cappuccino Convento on the Amalfi Coast

Recently I had a devoted client of mine stay at this beautifully appointed apartment overlooking the Amalfi Coast.  When he returned he told me he had the most wonderful stay in this part of Italy and at this apartment.  The owner became his best friend! 

The rural farmhouse was bought in 1970 and is still owned and maintained by the original owner.  It  is positioned 200 meters above sea level so your views from the balcony are spectacular.  It is beautifully furnished with antiques.  There are two bedrooms each with a private bath, a living room and kitchen.  The kitchen is equipped with washing machine and dishwasher.

If you think staying at an apartment during your travels in Italy you may want to consider this apartment which has an ideal location.

IMG_2703 (2).jpg

For more information please visit

Biking the Amalfi Coast by Elana Iaciofano


Recently, I took a trip with my triathlon team, Full Throttle Endurance, to the Campania region of Italy for four days of intense cycling. The goal was to cover about 250 miles with assorted daily elevations ranging from 4,000 to 7,000 feet. No small feat, to be sure, but we're FULL THROTTLE AND WE'RE HERE TO TRAIN!!!

Or at least that was the "joke" of the trip as we all attempted to win vacation.

I decided to document the trip from the food perspective. What did we eat? What DIDN'T we eat would be a simpler question, as we certainly left no stone unturned in our search for calories. Luckily, Italians as a people are incredibly accommodating about feeding their guests. So accommodating, in fact, that I'm sure we all made up for our expended calories.

By far, my favorite meal of the trip was our accidental lunch at Hotel Parsifal in Ravello.

Having just swished down the curving pathways of the Amalfi Drive and eeked ourselves up the 5 kilometer climb to Ravello, we were hungry. Famished. "Abbiamo fame", as they say in Italian. We stood doubtfully by some road signs momentarily and contemplated where to go. 

Luckily, one member of our group – Benji – took the proverbial bull by the horns and conversed with the natives to get the low-down on what was happening for lunch. He insisted that we go to Hotel Parsifal where we would be assured impeccable and copious amounts of local fare, expansive views and friendly waitstaff. 

Could nine people in sweaty spandex impose upon such an establishment to partake in all these wonderful enticements? They sure can. And did!

The staff at the Hotel Parsifal was incredibly accommodating and tolerant of our questionable hygiene. We sat on the porch (to air out AND take advantage of the view) while we dined on a specially prepared sample menu prepared by the kitchen staff.

Note: Our server suggested we have the "light" menu because we were cycling. We insisted on the "heavy" menu, as we had no desire to count calories and wanted to stuff ourselves as full as possible in order to propel ourselves back down the mountain all the quicker.

We began with a pasta sampler of housemade ravioli stuffed with porcini mushrooms and a pasta topped with local pesto, made with sun dried tomatoes instead of basil. Both pastas were freshly made and cooked to perfect al-dente proportions. More than that, they seemed light as feathers, melting in your mouth with every forkful.

The stand-out pasta for me was the fresh tagliatelle seafood pasta. The mix of muscles, octopus, clams and shrimp had just been wrangled out of the ocean that day, and the pepper tagliatelle circled it all in a salty, brothy web. I felt I was eating right from the fisherman's net.

Following that we were served platters of meat which included veal, sausage and beef, and a fish sampler featuring giant prawns, lake fish and the most flavorful tuna steaks known to man-kind. I jest you not. I thanked them profusely for whatever they did to that tuna (grazie mille!). Buttery, well seasoned and perfectly rare – both in tenderness and likelihood of me tasting such a thing again.

Unless I go back to Hotel Parsifal..


Tastes of the Amalfi Coast and Rome with Cooking at Mamma Agata's Home

This spring Gourmet Getaways will be hosting an exclusive tour of the Amalfi Coast and Rome in April 2011.  Although this tour is sold out I thought you might be interested in reading about it. Dates:  April 2- 10 2011

Highlights of the trip include:

  • Accommodations at the Excelsior Victoria Hotel in Sorrento and Hotel St. George in Rome
  • Private transfers
  • Pizza demonstration in Sorrento at the Excelsior Victoria hotel by chef Vincenzo Galano
  • Free time to explore Capri
  • Tour of Naples
  • Wine tasting in Rome with a private guide, Katie Parla
  • Private tour in Rome
  • Visit to a limoncello factory
  • Mozzarella demonstration follwed by lunch
  • Cooking class with Mamma Agata followed by lunch


$4200.00 per person based on double occupancy

Single Supplement:$1130.00

Not Included:

  • Travel Insurance - highly recommended!
  • Airfare
  • Personal expenses at the hotels: beverages, wine, laundry, room service etc.
  • Tips for guides
  • Other incidental costs:  entrances into museums, finicular to the top of Capri, ferry ride to Capri

There may be an adjustment to the final cost because of the fluctuating euro.

For more details please call:  973 644 0906


Mamma Agata at the Bernards Inn this November.

 Join Gourmet Getaways on November 1 at the Bernards Inn for an evening of Italian wine, food and travel.  Chiara, Mamma Agata's daughter from Ravello Italy, will be doing a book signing.  Chiara has published an extraordinary collection of Mamma Agata's recipes that have been in the family for many years. This long awaited cookbook reveals Mamma's culinary secrets. It is a cookbook that will be cherished by all food lovers especially those that have taken her cooking class on the Amalfi Coast.  Don't be left out!  The cost of this wonderful cookbook is only $50.00
Gourmet Getaways will be presenting a special travel opportunity to the Amalfi Coast featuring Mamma Agata for September 2011.
There will be over 150 wine vendors from Italy and the chef at the Bernards Inn will be presenting some of Mamma's favorite antipasti recipes.
It is sure to be a fun filled evening so please make your reservations by calling the Bernards Inn at 908 766 7300 ext. 155 and ask for Traci.  The cost of the event is $60.00 which entitles you to wine and food!
Hope to see you there! Mark your calendar for November 1, 2010.  The event begins at 6:30pm and lasts until 8:30pm!
See you there !