By the time we reach Ravello, something has become abundantly clear. Everything is five minutes and nothing is five minutes. It’s always just five minutes, but it’s never just five minutes. There is a chasm between the interpretation of imagined time and real time, but no matter, there is no need to rush. Our driver stops at the foot of a cobblestone walkway going up, up and up, and I begin the climb. Eventually, I collapse in the big easy chairs of the lounge in the Villa Maria Hotel. A popular hotel, what it lacks in opulence, it makes up for in a beautiful outdoor terrace, conviviality and a splendid view.
Back in Ravello, I recommend Cumpa Cosima. Not only for the food, which is unpretentious, fresh and delicious, but also for the affection of the owners, Netta Bottone and her brother. It’s not unusual that in 1929 children stopped their education to work. Pasta is homemade, meat comes from her father’s butcher shop next door, and herbs and vegetables are home grown. In her cheerful green plaid pinafore and a big blue flower clip holding up her black hair, Netta embraces us and serves us all with love. At dinner, a whole Orata is boned and served with lemon and olive oil; at lunch, luscious eggplant parmigiano and earthy boiled artichokes are served at room temp. I love the simple lemon cake and a half etrog filled with lemon sorbet. Netta does not let us leave Ravello without giving us a bag of cheese, bread and fruit for our next morning’s train.