Jolly Pizza

We trudged back up the hill to upper Praiano, making a complete, elevated circle. As we plodded along Via Umberto, nearing our little pathway that would return us to the villa, we passed a tiny pizzeria.

Pizzeria Rosticceria Da Asporto Jolly, fondly known as Jolly Pizza

Peeking our heads in to have a look, we grabbed a menu to bring back to the others. Little did we know that Pizzeria Rosticceria Da Asporto Jolly would soon become Tony’s home away from home.

Back at the villa, some of the group were clearly well-ensconced in villa-based activities: splashing in the pool and drinking that delicious white wine from Tutto Per Tutti.

The promise of pizza was the only thing that would lure
Nichole, Gino, and Kris out of that pool.

After learning about the little pizza place just down the road, everyone agreed this would be perfect. No one wanted to venture any farther out this evening. We’d bring pizza home and eat it right here on the veranda.

A pizza for everyone!

Later we walked en masse down to Jolly’s Pizza. Jolly’s list of pizzas was impressive, and they were open late every night. Tony announced to the workers that they would be seeing him often, promising to return every day during our time in Praiano. And he kept that promise, but for one day.

Allie was jolly just thinking about that pizza

Jolly Pizza even offered pizza with patate fritte on top!

"I can't believe I ate the whole thing!"

Breakfast of champions!

Tired from travel and a busy, exciting day, we all turned in fairly early. That night around 11:00 we were all woken up by loud popping noises.

I bolted from bed, staggering to our little balcony to see what was happening. Still half-asleep, I banged into the closed glass doors, luckily not breaking anything. I leaned out our bedroom balcony, saw fireworks crackling in the sky, and fell back into bed.

The next day we found out that the wedding party we had seen on Piazza San Gennaro the day before had had a late night celebration on the rooftop terrace of nearby Hotel Margherita, culminating in a festive display of fireworks.

Now it was our turn to visit Hotel Margherita.

Praiano in Miniature

The road entered a short tunnel which we dashed through, not wanting to meet any oncoming cars while inside. As we emerged, I was delighted to find a miniature scene of Praiano that someone had meticulously carved and placed into the hillside next to the road.

This was, in fact, the very scene that Gino and I had admired eight years ago during our first trip to the Amalfi Coast. It had been my 50th birthday, and we had hired a driver to take us through the Amalfi Coast. As we passed by this spot, our driver had pulled off to the side to point it out.


Now here I was again standing before it. It was just as compelling years later.

Piazza San Gennaro

Farther down, we came upon the middle of town.  Bar Sole, serving drinks, caffé and gelato, faced the sea.  Little shops, a sprinkling of restaurants, and Tourist Information lined the road nearby.  A quirky, but pretty pond sat in the middle of it all.

Since we were ostensibly on the lookout for a potential place where we could all eat dinner later that night, we walked over to a trattoria with an outdoor terrace overlooking a church and town square. We peered over the edge and gazed down upon Piazza San Gennaro, the main piazza of lower Praiano.

Piazza San Gennaro

This square is decorated with a gigantic majolica design.

At the edge of it stands the Chiesa di San Gennaro.  The cupola of this church is itself an amazing work of art.  Encrusted with gleaming yellow and blue tiles, the rounded, sunny spire pierced the vivid blue of the sky.

La Chiesa di San Gennaro

The facade of Chiesa di San Gennaro

Originally built in 1589, this sunlit Renaissance-style church is dedicated to
San Gennaro, Bishop of Benevento.

Waiting for the bride to emerge from the Chiesa di San Gennaro

We paused a moment to watch a wedding party at the door of  the church.  (Take note of the kids playing soccer close by.)

Here she comes!

We also spied a sign attached to a wall next to the piazza. It proclaimed that soccer playing is prohibited in the square. We laughed as a soccer ball whizzed past the sign, kicked by children playing blissfully in the sun.

Smiling, we continued our search for a place where we could eat dinner later on.

Who’s The Prettiest of Them All?

Although Praiano may be a less known Amalfi coast town, it is certainly as beautiful as its more famous neighbors on either side.  Some may think even more so.  See what you think.

 




Niches like these can be found all around Praiano,
lovingly adorned with offerings to the saints.

This little guy sure looks content to call Praiano his home.

But make no bones about it —
Praiano is pristine clean.

Exploring Praiano

With the afternoon free of plans, a few of us wanted to explore Praiano a bit.  With a sight like this before you, who could resist?

Even before descending the stone stairs outside Villa Giampa, the wall of this building and the sea beyond gave us a clue as to the treasures we were about to find.

Around a bend, we peered down onto the road below.

The walk towards it was full of surprises.

Upper Praiano

For transportation you can choose between a motorino...

Or a mule!

A clever way to avoid a parking ticket

There was no lack of pathways and intriguing alleys.

I wanted to explore them all!

My favorite thing: exploring.

Looking at this photo makes me want to jump right into it and dash up those stairs!

So many stairs, so little time...

No matter which way you turn, beauty abounds.

Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista

Just around the bend from Tutto Per Tutti, we peered over the edge of the road, spying a tiny path that looked enticing.  We scuttled down, eager to see where it would lead.

My motto: "Let no path go unexplored." I think my son Kris has the same belief.

It's hard to imagine this church is from the 11th and 12th centuries.

A small church was tucked at the end of it. We paused to read an artfully crafted ceramic sign engraved with its name: Antica Parrocchiale di San Giovanni Battista XI-XII Sec. This was the Ancient Parish of Saint John the Baptist from the 11th-12th century.  The door was unlocked,  so in we went.

Inside, it was silent and cool.  Although the church was small, it was brilliantly decorated.  The floors, especially, were dazzling, covered in fabulous swirling designs of colorful Majolica tile.

I found it hard to step on such beauty.

Kris climbed a set of wooden stairs and stepped into a rather rickety looking pulpit, pretending to preach from above while we giggled below.

Kris always makes me laugh!

After admiring this little treasure, we wrote our names in the visitors’ book, took a prayer card, and dropped a coin into the donation box.

Tutto Per Tutti — Everything For Everyone

The last of our merry group to arrive were Aunt Sharon and Uncle Dan who were driving in from Portofino. We had expected them much earlier in the day, but they finally called to let us know they had gotten lost…in Praiano.  No wonder, since their GPS had directed them straight into the sea!

As we had already discovered, they would have to arrive by pedestrian pathway, no cars allowed.  Not even a Vespa would make it up the steps of Via Ruocco.

After circling around for an hour without finding the road or the villa, Sharon and Dan had stopped at Tutto Per Tutti, a little grocery store just down the way, to ask where the villa was located.

Tutto Per Tutti, the compact alimentari just down Via Umberto, would become our favorite (and only!) spot for buying anything and everything we needed during the week.

And it was here at Tutto Per Tutti where our group first made the acquaintance of infamous Angelo Cinque, who would provide much entertainment for us in the days to come. It had been Angelo, the owner of the little grocery store, who let Sharon use his telefonino to call the villa when they were lost. (More about Angelo later.)

We needed to stock up on a few provisions, so we reluctantly pulled ourselves away from the dreamy villa and struck out to make our first visit to Tutto Per Tutti.

What goes down must eventually come up, even all those bags of wine we bought at Tutto Per Tutti.

Down the stairs to the green gate, down the stone stairway to the narrow path, down the path to the small road. And at the elbow, where the road continued its downward spiral, we found it.

This crusty Cinque Cento was always parked outside
Tutto Per Tutti. I loved it.

 

Tutto per Tutti means Everything for Everyone.  And it certainly lived up to its name. It was one of those charming Italian alimentari — essentially, a supermarket in absolute miniature. It had a little of everything: fresh fruits and vegetables, bottled water, laundry soap, a full meat and cheese deli counter, suntan lotion, sea salt, even my favorite Italian soft drink, Crodino.

"Melinda" apples were very popular!

But the most impressive part of this little store could be found down the steep flight of steps on the lower level: a dimly lit cantina packed with local wines, prosecco, limoncello, and hard liquor. Over the course of the coming week, we would do our best to sample them all.

Since we had to carry any purchases back up all of those same pathways and stairs, our forays into Tutto per Tutti usually included three or more people — especially since the bulk of our purchases seemed to always consist of several bottles of some kind of alcohol.

Wait! Where are the vegetables?

More than once I wondered what the clerks must have thought of this cheerful group of Californians swarming their little store on a daily basis, then walking out laden with bags stretched to their limit with drink.

But they always met us with smiles and a hearty “Buongiorno!”