Me at Villa Maria in Minori Lemons



Me & Vincenzo

Villa Maria , Minori

I flew into Napoli direct from JFK New York. I stayed at a hotel in Napoli for one day before heading off to Minori and Villa Maria Agriturismo Lemon Farm. So I had a littel breakfast at the hotel, and I headed over to the train station to catch the Circumvesuviano local train that runs from Napoli to Sorrento and makes stops at Pompeii, Castelamre di Stabia, and all the coastal towns along the way.

It took about one hour and the train arrived at Sorrento where I would catch a bus from here to Amalfi, the end of the line. I would then have to take another bus for a short 15 minute ride from AMalfi to the center of Minori.

The bus arrive in Minori, I got off and went to the nearest and best caffe in town, the Pasticceria Cagge Gamberadella. I asked the lady if I can make a telephone call to the place I was staying. I told her I was going to Villa Maria, and the lady said, “ah Vincenzo!” She was very kind and she made the call to Villa Maria and told then I was at the caffe. The lady hung up the phone and told me that someone would be down to pick me up in 15 minutes. I thanked the lady profusely for making the call from me, and she said, “niente,” meaning no problem, it’s nothing.

I got a gelato (Crema di Limone e Pistachio) and sat around waiting for my ride. About 20 minutes later, Mr Vincenzo Manzo arrived in his little white Fiat Panda Station-wagon to bring me up to Villa Maria. We threw my bags in the car and it was off to Villa Maria. The ride was a little scary, but I’ll get to that at another time.

So we made it up to the Lemon Farm and Vincenzo brought me to the dining room to meet his wife Maria, his son, and daughter Nadia who I was emailing back and forth and she made the reservation for me to stay there for 3 days. Vincenzo gave me a picture of Lemonade that I was dreaming of ever since I say the video on Youtube where I luckily mde the discovery of Agriturismo Villa Maria two weeks prior when I was just looking at videos to get me excited for my upcoming trip to Sicily and the Amalfi Coast. I came across the wonderful video that David Rocco had made of Maria Vincenzo and Villa Maria . I savored my Lemonde, we chit-chatted for about 15 minutes then Vincenzo asked me if I wanted to go to my room. I did, and Nadia brought me there and showed me everything. It was a gorgeous little room, and I just loved it.

I started unpacking some clothes and then took a nice refreshing shower. I got dressed then when out on to my private terrace to look at the view and take everything in. Needless to say, the view was spectacular, looking to the sea and the town of Minori below and the town of Ravello up and to my right as gazed out onto the Tryyhenian Sea ahead. The Lemon Farm of Villa Maria is up in the hills of Minori a t its highest point, and the land is a natural amphitheater. The slopes are lined with terraces of the many thousands of Lemon Trees that make up a large part of the farm but not all of it. Vincenzo has Olive Trees nd naturally makes his own olive oil, as well as having grape vines by which he makes his own red and white wine. They have Peach and Apricot Trees by which the make fresh Jam, and of course they grow all sorts of other fruits and vegetables that are part of your breakfast, lunch and dinner.

So I gave out over the farm, out to the seam to Ravello and the town of Minori below. everything was wonderful, and I felt quite lucky to be there. After enjoying the beautiful scene before me I walked back toward the restaurant area. Vincenzo spotted me and asked me if I would like something to eat. Hell Yeah, I thought but didn’t say that, but replied, “Yes Please.” Vincenzo asked me if I wanted some Pasta.  This statement was part question and part command, if you know what I mean when someone ask you a question in that way.  Again I said yes. He didn’t  say what kind of pasta, and I didn’t ask, no need to, I knew it would be good. Vincenzo pointed to a table out on the terrace if I’d like to sit there, and so I did. 

I made myself comfy and Vincenzo asked if I’d like some wine, “yes,” again. “Red or White,” he retorted. I told him I’d have some white wine. A minute later Vincenzo brought me over a bottle of his Villa Maria Rosso local red wine. Then a picture of water. I poured myself some wine, sat back and enjoyed the beautiful view as I waited for my plate of pasta.    

When I say that I knew the pasta would be good,  that was the understatement of the decade. The pasta was Great with a capital G. Reading my diary of this trip, it says “I just ate the Best Pasta of my life! I kid you not.” Yes, Vincenzo’s wife Maria made me what may very well be the best pasta dishes I’d ever had in my life. The pasta in question was a plate of Paccheri al Frutta di Mare (Seafood Pasta). Paccheri are a favorite pasta of the area, they are big short tubular maccheroni that are perfect for catching all the tasty little buts of shellfish, including Shrimp, Mussels, and Clams with little bits of fresh Cherry Tomatoes from the garden. Wow, the pasta was perfect and the Vincenzo’s wine wasn’t bad either. It was without question one of the best lunches in my entire life, why wouldn’t it be, with such elements as # 1 me being in Minori on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. I’m at one of the most fabulous places anyone could dream of, in Villa Maria a working Lemon Farm on the Amalfi Coast, not only one of the most beautiful spots on Earth, but also, thee number one best spot for growing lemons in the world, and here I am on a lemon farm in that area, with one of the coolest loveliest person you could ever want to meet, and I’m here having Vincenzo have his wife making me the most incredible Pasta Dish Ever, (Recipe ) and I’m sitting at a table up on the Amalfi Coast, sipping wine that Vincenzo made right here on this farm, and I’m looking down upon the lemon farm, and down to the lovely town of Minori and out onto the sea beyond, with Ravello off in the near distance. I ask you all, what could possibly be better than all this. Not really much in my book.

These was just the beginning of a wonderful 3 day stay at Villa Maria. It all started off with the affable Vincenzo Manzo picking me up at Caffe Gambradella, taking me on a slightly harrowing ride up to his property, giving me a pitcher of fresh Lemonade made with the World’s finest lemons from his lemon farm, introducing me to his family, and having his wife make me the World’s Best Plate of Seafood Pasta on God Good Earth and all this was in the first 3 hours of a three day stay at Villa Maria.

After my unforgettable lunch of Paccheri di Mare, I went back to my room for a few minutes to get my little travel bad together with my camera, diary, pens, and what-not and I was headed down into the town below. I walked down to the center of Minori walking partly on the road, side walks, and alleyways. Along the way with the view changing as I walked, I took about a 100 pictures as I made my down from Vincenzo’s farm up in the highest part of Minori and down to the center of town, to the sea at sea level below. There were lots of wonderful things to see along the way, like little shrines of Jesus, or the Virgin Mary or both, all the little homes, Olive Tree and Lemon Groves, Ravello above, and the sea below. It was wonderful. 

I reached the town, and began to explore, looking at little shops selling the famous local Ceramics, antiques, clothing, and what-not. I checked out the local caffes and restaurants to see where I might want to go during my 3 day stay in Minori. I went into the towns main church, the Basilica of San Trofimena. 

Even though I had that tasty plate of pasta that Maria made me, after all the walking I was still just a bit hungry, so I bopped into a nice little salumeria (Italian Deli) that I came upon. I went in, and asked if I could get a panino. I asked the girl for some local Salame, and pointed to the Provala Affumicato that I spotted. She sliced a little of both and put it onto a nice panino roll and gave it to me. This was quite a discovery I can tell you. That tasty Salame combined with delicious local Smaked Provolone (Provala Affumicata) was a combination that just blew me away. I was smitten. Smitten by a simple little Italian sandwich. But it was the simplicity and fine quality of the Salame, bread, and cheese that mde for one of the most wonderful sandwiches of my life, and a sandwich that after tasting this one, I would order several more of this same combination at salumerias in Positano, Amalfi, Capri, and Sorrento. 

So I had a nice little time exploring the town of Minori, but it was now almost 6:30 and I needed to catch the little town bus up to Villa Maria to get ready for dinner, at 8:00 .. I took the little mini-bus that leaves from the Municpal Hall across from the Basilica, and the bus left me off right by Villa Maria. From the road it’s a shor little walk up hill to the main house and my room at Villa Maria.  I said hello to everyone as I got back, and Vincenzo asked me to confirm if I was having dinner. Of course, this was one of the main reasons I came here, to eat 4 course dinners of dishes made with products from their farm.  I went back to my room to freshen up, take a shower, and get dressed for dinner, and so I did.

All dressed for dinner, I left my room and walked from my room and 50 feet along the terrace pass the 5 other  rooms until I came to the terrazzo of the restaurant. The tables were outside on the terrace, but I would learn on my stay here 3 years later that it can be slightly cold sometimes in May, and that time Vincenzo had us eating inside on the 2 days I stayed at Villa Maria in 2018. More on that for another time, this is May 2015. Vincenzo pointed out my table out on the terrace, overlooking the farm, the town, and the sea below. Again, quite the gorgeous spot, and as I had my lunch out in the bright Mediterranean Sunshine, it was now twilight time and the Sun would soon be going down.

I sat down and Vincenzo brought over my un-finished bottle of wine from lunch. The six lovely rooms at Villa Maria all have names not numbers, and my bottle of wine had a name tag of my my room, a nice little touch.  I poured some of the wine into my glass and took a sip of it. A few minutes later, Vincenzo’s son brought me my antipasto course. It was an Antipaso Misti consisting of; Caciatorini (Salami), Vincenzo’s homemade Prosciutto, grilled Zucchini, homemade Cheese, and marinated Eggplant. Needless to say the antipasto was excellent, made with Vincenzo’s homemade Salami, Prsociutto, and Cheese, and vegetables grown on his farm. And oh yes, his own olive oil as well, let’s not forget that.

The antipasto was excellent, and Vincenzo’s homemade wine was going down quite nicely, when Vincenzo brought me a plate of Fried Zucchini Flowers, a specialty of the region, they were stuffed with some of Vincenzo’s homemade Provala and they were superb. As I ate them, I thought of my good friend Pat Parotta, I had written in my travel diary, that knowing Pat and enjoying many meals with him, I knew this was one of favorite dishes, I I knew he would love to eat these here at Villa Maria on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.

Vincenzo Jr. said his mother Maria made some homemade Ravioli and that would be next. “Yumm,” I thought to myself silently. The Ravioli came, ad you know they were delicious. They were filled with eggplant puree and cheese and dressed with fresh Sugo di Pomodoro (tomato sauce) with tomatoes from their farm and cubes of fresh made Mozzarella sprinkled on top. Yes, my previous thoughts of “Yumm,” were spot-on,and I kept sipping the tasty local wine, “Farm o Table Dining doesn’t get any better or fresher than this.

I ran out of wine so I asked Vincenzo to bring me a bottle of Vino Rosso. He did. Vincenzo’s red wine is quite tasty, made of a local grape called Piedirosso. After these three dishes, I had a grilled Pork Chop served with a Salad of Lettuce & Fennel, it was quite nice. 

After the main-course they brought me the tastiest Fruit Salad that I’d ever had. It was made of the freshest Cherries, Watermelon, and Kiwi. Dam it was good. As I ate this, probably the best Fruit Salad I’d ever eaten, I thought that if all the catering halls in America served  fruit salad like this one, the dish would not be so maligned as having the bad reputation that fruit salads have at so many wedding all over America.

As I sat there eating the tastiest fruit salad ever, Vincenzo came over and asked if I wanted some Limoncello. Well I sat there thinking to myself, how could anyone ever come here to this gorgeous lemon farm, in the World Capital of Lemons, and not get the homemade house Limoncello? The answer to Vincenzo’s question was a solid, “Yes.” of course.

Now, if I didn’t have enough “Best Ever’s'” already on this trip, the next morning another was about to occur. I got up, took a shower, ad made my way to the breakfast room (same as dinner). I put my diary, pad, and guide books on my table and walked over to the breakfast buffet table, and “Wow!” The table was filled with fresh fruit, coffee, juices, toast and about 6 different homemde Fruit Jams, and a enticing array of sweets, including the local favorite pastry Sfogliatelle, and Maria’s homemade Lemon Cake. Did I say “wow!” Yes I did. I dug in and I wasn’t shy, I got my coffee and fresh OJ, and I filled up two plates with pastries and the Lemon Cake, with toast, Cherries and Apricots. I took everything to my table, and guess what? I was once again in “7th Heaven,” for this was without a doubt, easily the most wonderful Breakfast in my entire life. Again, there’s the view and just being here on the Amalfi Coast, with my Cornetto, Coffee, Maria Lemon Cake, and Sfogliatelle, “My God,” what did I do to deserve this? I guess I’ve been a good boy, and God was rewarding me no doubt. To say the least I was loving every minute of it, and didn’t want this breakfast to end. I went back and got seconds, even making myself a tiny little Panino with the Salame and Fresh Cheese on the table. 

 I sat there savoring my coffee and all the goodies on my plates. I read my books and plotted the day ahead, taking notes of the ferry timetable and places I wanted to check out. After and hour and a half, I finally and oh so reluctantly I left the table.

Excerpted from my forthcoming book, POSITANO – Capri Napoli The Amalfi Coast.

This excerpt may not be reproduced or used in any manner without the permission of the author – Daniel Bellino Zwicke …


This story to be continued in, “A Day in Positano.”  CLICK HERE !

by Daniel Bellino Zwicke










My Bottle of Wine

And a partial View from The Terrace, looking to RAVELLO






View from TERRAZZA


That’s RAVELLO in Upper Right Corner








MY 1st Lunch at Villa Maria










On The Via Pastea

My 4th of 5 Trips so Far

June 2015

I first visited Positano in the Summer of 1985, and was blown away by its beauty. I was just 23, and when you are a young man, everything is magnified, and you can get completely enthralled as I did in first Rome, then Florence, Spain, The South of France (Nice & Monaco) and finally Positano , on my final leg of a month long vacation to Italy and other parts of Southern Europe and the Mediterranean .

I will never forget that first time on the Amalfi Coast and how the region completely captivated and charmed me. I got off of the Circumvesuviano Train that take you from Naples to Sorrento and stops at all the towns in-between on the Sorrentine Coast. I was told to get off the train at Meta to catch the Blue Bus that would take me to Positano, and so I did. I had to wait a half hour for the bus, so I got an Apricot Juice and some Gelato (new Favorite Thing 85) at the little caffe at the station.

I ate my tasty gelato and waited. The bus finally came, I hopped on to take what would be the most enchantingly gorgeous bus ride of my entire life. The bus road along that famous road the Amalfi Drive and I was just blown away by such beauty as I had never seen. The views from the bus were spectacular, whetherlloking down to glistening Azur Sea, or up the sheer cliff that sprung from the sea to the heights were The Path of The God lay. It was incredible, and again I will say, “I was completely enthralled and captivated.

After a few miles going along this spectacular road, Positano appeared in the not too far distance. Wow, it was absolutely and positively beautiful, and again, I was captivated by it all.

I got off the bus at the Bar International. I went into the bar to freshen up and have another cold drink, before making my way down to my hotel Villa Maria Antonietta, a place my friend, the poet Rene Ricard recommended I stay at. I finished my Lemon Granita, grabbed my bags and lugged them down some of the many stairs and the alley ways the town is also famous for. Yes many stairs. I was in Positano and having the most charmed time of my life, and all was blissful and fine.


Excerpted from my forthcoming book,  POSITANO – Capri The Amalfi Coast

Due to be released for Publication some time in 2019 …

In the mean time, for more on Positano, visit my website Positano The Amalfi Coast 

for stories, articles, and guidance to the magiacal coast of Amalfi, the city of Naples, and the islands of Ischia, Capri, and Procida.

For BOOKS : Visit my Author Page on



The Beautiful Town of POSITANO














“So GOOD” !!!

A Readers Review on



My Instagram – March 12 – 2019





Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke

March 12 , 2019



Pictures : JAZZ BAND Spuro Gyra at The BLUE NOT Jazz Club GREENWICH VILLAGE …

Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke having Lunch at GALTORIRE’S , New Orleans LA,

DOMILSE’S famous Poboy Shop NEW ORLEANS , a painting of The FlatIron Building NEW YORK …


The Famous WHITE HORSE TAVERN where Poet Dylan Thomas drank himself to death on too many WHISKIES .. 

The CORNER BISTRO (Burgers) … West 4th Street, GREENWICH VILLAGE , New York

Movie Poster of FRANK SINATRA at The QUAD CINEMA , Greenwich Village ..

A CORTADO Coffee in Greenwich Village NEW YORK …

OUR LADY of POMPEII Catholic Church CARMINE STREET in Greenwich Village ….

A BILLBOARD on Bleecker Street, stating , “THE EASY PART of GETTING HOME SHOULDN’T BE a FIFTH FLOOR WALK-UP”  …. Greenwich Village NYC




Me and My Buds




Summer 2017

Da Vincenzo POSITANO

When it was just a Alimentari 
(Italian Grocery Store)

My Favorite Restaurant Since 1985
My 1st Trip to POSITANO
My Buddy Victor
Da Vincenzo
Best Selling Italian Cookbook Author
Daniel Bellino Zwicke
“My Favorite Restaurant in Positano”
May 2015
View from the outside of Da Vincenzo





On The Grand Canal


Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke




Me & Cousin Joe

Prosseco in a Venetian Wine Bar

Venice, Italy 2003



Me & Arturo

aka “IL LUPO”

IL LUPO The Famus Venetian Gondoliere

Arturo and I are Drinking some Local Italian Wine

At  Osteria Vivaldi




I had read a little article in The New York Times about Venice, that mention the Bacari (Wine Bars) of Venice, and that’s all it took. Just a little mention (one Paragraph) of these particular type of wine bars of Venice sparked my interest, and I just had to go to Venice and find out as much as I could about them, for I instantly felt that I wanted to open one in New York (which I did).











Books by  #DanielBellinoZwicke







I Learn How to Cook Italian



John at JOHN’S of 12th Street


Best Selling Italian Cookbook Author Daniel Bellino Zwicke has quite a strong connection to DeRobertis, Lanza’s, and especially John’s of East 12th Street where Daniel worked as a waiter / bartender for 7 years in the 1980s .. Daniel lived just a few blocks away from the infamous Mafia Hot Spots / Italian Eateries … He lived on Avenue A at the corner of Saint Marks Place for 11 years from 1982 to 1994.

Daniel was a young man in his early 20s, working hard in the restaurant business. His main goals were two-fold, to become a Chef and to own his own restaurant one day ( Bar Cichetti  ). Prior to moving to the East Village of New York’s LES, Daniel attended New York Technical College in the schools Hotel Restaurant Management Program, with his main interest in the Culinary Classes which  were highly renowned. At the time, Daniel was actually more interested in learning and perfecting his talents in French Cuisine of the Culinary Arts and not of the Italian genre, which he would later move into. 

Daniel worked in some of New York’s op French Restaurants of the day, including; The Palace Restaurant with Chef Michel Fitoussi, Lutece with Chef Andre Soltner, and The Odeon and Cafe Louxenbourg with the late great Chef Patrick Clarke, who like Daniel went to New York Technical College as well.

At the time, working in the kitchens of these restaurants, a prep or line cook could only make about $300 a week, which was not enough for Daniel. Luckily he serendipitously made the acquaintance of Myron Weiner who was one of the two partners of the old red sauce joint John’s of 12th Street. They met while having Italian Ices at a Street Fair on University Place in 1981. Myron told Daniel he owned John’s, and Daniel asked if they were looking for any waiters as he was looking for some part-time employment. Daniel started working at John’s and the rest is history. He would cook 4 lunch shifts and one dinner shift a week, and work at John’s 3 nights a week, mostly waiting tables, and once a week tending bar. In those 3 nights, Daniel made more than 5 days work in the kitchen, and it afforded him the ability to pay all his bills; Rent, Food, Con Ed, Phone Bill, etc.. And because of John’s, Daniel had plenty of money to buy the nice clothes he liked, go out to eat in restaurants, and take a nice vacation to Paris or Italy every year. This suited Daniel fine. He waited tables and had a good time at John’s, meeting celebrities along with the funky East Village characters of the day. 

Daniel worked hard and played hard, chased the ladies and sewed some wild oats. Part of his socializing and enjoying life including, going out to eat at various restaurants, as well as a but of clubbin (Night Clubs), cafe and bar hopping. Two of Daniel’s favorite places for Cappucino and Italia pastries were a couple venerable old Italian Pastry Shops nearby in Veniero’s (Since 1892) and DeRobertis on Second Avenue, just about 100 feet from Veniero’s. Next to DeRoberti’s was Lanza’s an old school Italian Restaurant that was in operation since 1904 . There was a stretch of time in the early 90s when Daniel, his girlfriend Dante, and their friends John and Jorge would have lunch many a Saturday at Lanza’s before heading to work at Les Halles where they all worked at the time. They also loved going for Cappuccino and Cannoli or Sfogliatelle at DeRobertis all the time and sit in the back room with the old Subway Tiles and 1920 Silver Dollar imbedded into the tile floor. There was nothing better, and Daniel says it saddens him terribly that both Lanza’s and DeRobertis where he had countless good times, are now closed down. Daniel says, “It’s a Sin,” and it is. He also misses terribly his old friend Vinny’s place, La Focacceria, also on 1st Avenue as well as Brunetta on 1st Avenue, one block up from Lanza’s and DeRoberti’s on the block between East 11th and East 12th Street. The first location of La Focacceria was on this block as well, but they moved to First Avenue between East 7th Street and St Marks Place sometime in the early 80s . 

La Focacceria was were Daniel first learned of one of his ancestral Sicilian dishes called Vasteddi (Pane Muesa), along with real Sicilian Pizza known as Sfingione. Both dishes along with Aracini (Rice Balls) are dishes of the Sicilian Capital City of Palermo where, along with Lercara Friddi are where Daniel’s maternal grandparents Giuseppina Salamei and Fillipo Bellino were born and immigrated from, to come to New York in 1904 ..

Not long after Daniel moved to the East Village neighborhood of athe East Village that was not now, but once-upo-a-time a Sicilian-American stronghold neighborhood. By this time in the 1980s the East Village had a strong Ukranian and Eastern European contingency, but remnants of the old Sicilian Neighborhood remained in the form of John’s of East 12th Street, Lanza’s, La Focacceria and Brunetta’s, the DeRoberti’s were from Puglia in Southern Italy.

So Daniel had a good time, and learned a thing or two along the way. After going to Italy for the first time in 1985, and falling head over heals in love with Italy and Italian Culture (his own) Daniel decided he wanted not to continue his pursuit of the French Culinary Arts, but authentic Italian Cuisine instead. And thus he set out to start working in an Italian Kitchen to learn from and Italian Chef. Daniel got a job as a line cook at Caio Bella Restaurant and learned from Pasquale, a very talented Chef from Brindisi, Italy. Daniel worked at Caio Bella and learned how to make the “World’s Best Bolognese,” Pasta Fagioli, Risotto, Frittata, and all the great regional dishes of Italy. He also embellished his learning, by eating at Italian restaurant in New York, but more so in Italy on his yearly travels to his mother country. Daniel bought every good Italian Cookbook he could get his hands on, he read the books, cooked many dishes and would eventually start writing his own. This is how you learn, read, watch, gain experience and grow. The education of Daniel Bellino Zwicke.