My children have always loved those little three-wheeled Piaggio Ape trucks which you see all over Italy. Last time we went to Sicily to see the in-laws we had a lively family discussion in the back streets of Cefalù where the kids hatched a plan to import one of the mini trucks to England for them to drive to school when they were old enough for the required scooter licence. They had plans to pile all of their friends into the back and give them a lift, but my husband and I had to explain why that was never going to happen.
So when the eldest and I had the chance to actually ride in one of these vehicles during our recent trip to the Bay of Naples, we had to take it. Camera e Cucina is a cool, new restaurant in Sorrento where the food and interior are modern Italian. Inside it’s all black and white with dashes of red and photographic ephemera. Outside is a beautiful, shiny, blue, upholstered Piaggio Ape. With its white leather, seat belts and polished chrome this machine is as far removed from its dusty, rusty peers as a Phillip Treacy creation is from a builder’s hard hat. As soon as we saw it the eldest and I couldn’t wait to go in it.
We didn’t have to wait long. The restaurant offers cooking classes where they start by shuttling you in the three-wheeler to their mozzarella supplier on the other side of town. We signed up for the class, along with the rest of the teenagers in our tour group, on one of our free days. The eldest bagged the front seat in the Ape and we whizzed to the cheese shop. The ride was over all too soon, but it was fun. There we filed into the back room to see how the cheese is produced and taste some which had been made from cows’ milk that day. (It was very good, but not as good as fresh buffalo mozzarella, which is wonderful). After a stroll back through town via the greengrocer which supplies the restaurant with locally sourced ingredients, we put on our chef’s hats and aprons and were ready to cook. The staff seemed surprised that the kids had all signed-up for the class, but I told them about all of the cooking programmes and celebrity chefs on TV in the UK. It was great that they welcomed everyone – they claim to have no age limit.
We made three courses: parmigiana, a baked aubergine, tomato and cheese dish; spinach and ricotta ravioli; and grandmother’s cake, a traditional sweet pie from the area. The kitchen staff had prepared the ingredients so that we just had to put it all together. The kids all enjoyed themselves and were keen to mark which dish was whose. I liked making ravioli with a special cutter, but the best part of all was that we then sat down and ate what we’d made. Mine was all very tasty, probably because the chef had helped me quite a lot. I couldn’t eat my pie, so it was wrapped in foil for me and I took it to Capri for our picnic the following day.
Family travel lowdown: Camera & Cucina, Sorrento offer cooking classes from €50 per person.