Born and Raised in Castellammare
What was it like growing up in Castellammare di Stabia?
I think I had a happy childhood in Castellammare. I was lucky to be born by the sea, and - as you know - when you find yourself living in a city far from the sea you realise how lucky you were to have had that wider space around you. I also feel very proud and lucky to have grown up in the south of Italy, where cultural identity is particularly strong, and distinct from other countries.
What are your fondest memories of your home region?
I would have to say visiting Villa Comunale, a seafront stretch of about 2 kilometers, full of nature and unique monuments like the Cassa Armonica (a decorative
kiosk) and the Medieval Castle. I really enjoy getting out of the house and within a few minutes, being in these places that are full of beauty.
What do you miss about Castellammare?
I miss the slow way of life. We are a small town, where we more or less all know each other. This gives me a sense of familiarity and community, which is very difficult to have in a big city.
Could you describe your favourite place in Campania?
Every time I come back to Italy, I get in the car and drive to the Panoramica. It’s a high panoramic spot, where you can admire a beautiful view on the other side all of Naples and the Vesuvio.
What is the most beautiful sight people should see in Campania?
Costiera Amalfitana is 20 minutes away from my place, and I think it is really gorgeous. It is here you can visit the beautiful town of Positano, nestled in between mountains and surrounded by nature. This is a lovely spot for a light walk downhill to the main square, Piazza Generale.
What is your favourite food, or food memory from Castellammare?
When we go out in the summertime, we always eat in the characteristic and small family-owned restaurants we refer to as “chalet”. They usually have a metre square kitchen, many outside tables that spill out onto the street. The menu is always small, and features traditional dishes. My favourite is Spaghetti with clams, mussels, and pecorino cheese - yum!
What are the famous foods or drinks from your region?
Parmigiana is a tradition here; imagine a typical lasagna dish, but one that uses aubergines instead of pasta. In terms of drinks, I must say Limoncello, which is a digestive drink to be sipped after the meal, made of native lemons.
Are there any local traditions or facts?
The 8th of December is the Immacolata (Immaculate Conception), a Christian holiday that we celebrate by creating a 10 metre-high bonfire at midnight. This is preceded by 2 weeks of celebration, where we dance and sing into the early hours of the morning, around 3-4 am, around smaller fires formed in the streets by the so-called brothers and sisters of the Virgin Mary. These figures count the 12 stars around the Virgin’s head and sing hymns to her at dawn.
Tell us a regional expression from Campania
"O purpo se coce dint all'acqua soia", meaning 'the octopus cooks in its own water.' This is a culinary expression used to describe a situation where someone has been warned of danger, and yet they ignore the warnings or good advice.
What is the number one reason people should visit?
Castellammare is a town that is still frozen in time. People should visit to fill their eyes with beauty.
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