sight: brightly striped umbrellas, stacked pastel homes, winding hairpin turns in the UNESCO clifflside drive
sound: romantic guitar + mandolin duo, crashing waves, soft meows from stray kittens
taste: eclectic seafood pasta, Napoli-style wood fired pizza, tart limoncello
touch: clumps of fresh paint on canvas, hand-woven linen, glazed hand-painted ceramics
smell: fresh-squeezed lemons, salty sea air, rich leather
My absolute favorite place on earth, the Amalfi Coast is dotted with the most delightful landscapes known to man. It hosts some pretty charming local creations as well. We began our short stay in Positano, whose marriage of land and sea is one of the most recognizable scenes to all. Pale Italian buildings are stacked in clusters along a terraced hill, and a mosaic-clad basilica stands proudly amidst a sea of pink, white and green.
These decorative homes (and luxury hotels) are enhanced by stone walkways canopied with green. But you’re truly swept away by the unmistakeable scent of lemon that permeates the air. Shops are simply pouring with candles, juices, candies, and of course hand-blown glasses inspired by this citrusy muse. We stayed at La Caravella – cozy apartments situated right on the beach. It was just fine for our stay, but if we had planned further in advance, Le Sirenuse, Hotel Poseidon, Il San Pietro (short drive from main part of Positano), and even the more affordable La Perla are fantastic options.
Back story: this trip was my Dad’s first real introduction to Europe, and there was never a doubt in my mind I needed to make this painterly corner of the world the kick off. And what better way to commence our Grand European Tour than with a boujie dinner at La Sponda. Yep, you know the one. Tiled floors shining in teal, eggshell colored walls with ivy trailing from floor to ceiling and an unbeatable view of the city below. We arrived just in time for sunset and were lucky enough to snag a table by the window. (If you come here, reservations are a must!) The dinner was impeccable, but the service was the real star. It’s no joke that waiting is an art, and every stage of our 3 hour meal was like a beautifully choreographed dance. Especially with the charming guitar + mandolin duo serenading each and every table with Italian classics like “Volare” and “That’s Amore!” With twinkling lights from the city below and surprise cuisine treats from the staff, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Here’s the part where I talk about how important it is to be flexible with your travel plans. You may be as surprised as I was to learn that the 2 days we’d be spending in the Amalfi Coast would be the only 2 days of rain, rain and more rain in the foreseeable future. It’s literally so rare in this part of Italy that it made the national news. So we quickly came to terms that our trip to Positano would not be a normal one. Luckily I was able to soak up a few rays before the impending storm our first morning.
Pro tip: beach umbrellas at Spiagga Grande – the main beach – cost 15 euros/person from the 3rd row back, but get there early! Better yet, trek the extra 10 minutes to Fornillo Beach which is much quieter.
Th afternoon involved prosciutto pizza from Le Tre Sorrelle, hand-made leather kicks from Safari Sandals, spontaneous linen fashion shows, and (gasp!) a really good book. Right before dinner, we made the trek up the hill towards Ceramica Assunta and Ceramiche Parlato, where I splurged on a few additions to my collection of signature Amalfi dinnerware. And how could I resist with these cute little animals in all shapes and colors?! In case you were wondering, porcupine in Italian is “porcuspino.” I’m sure you’ll use that a lot, so you’re welcome.
For dinner, we ventured towards the opposite side of Positano for a hearty dinner at Da Vincenzo. From the zucchini blossoms to beef ragu pasta to a heaping tiramisu dolci, this place was well worth the walk. Make a reservation if you can!
Sigh, the weather made our last day impossible. Determined not to stay cooped up in our rooms, we hired a taxi in hopes of exploring the nearby towns of Ravello and Amalfi. Our driver turned out to be one really cool guy. To say Vincenzo is an expert in this region is an understatement. He went beyond the contracted transportation service, and gave us a personalized tour of these cliffside villages and even the most notable sights along the hairpin turns. Check out this intricate roadside nativity scene that decorates one of the bends!
Once we reached Ravello, Vincenzo took us straight inside his favorite restaurant and got us a table straight away. Cumpa Coscimo was truly a delight with a fettuccini bolognese that caused me to lick my plate clean. And where else can you receive a fresh pear with your check? I’m sure Ravello was a dreamy, but sadly it was pouring too hard for us to really see anything. We attempted to tour Villa Ruffolo, but really, you just need the sun. We even had plans to stop in Amalfi on our way down but, you guessed it, thwarted by the weather.
Though the rain was unforgiving, and we really drove 1 hr each direction for good food and even better conversation, experiences like this are further proof that some of the best moments go unplanned. Sure, I was a little bummed by not relaxing on a boat in Capri, sailing through the Blue Grotto or even hiking the path of the gods, but Amalfi will always be there and it’s best to just ride the wave. After all, wouldn’t you rather be a traveler than a tourist, gaining unique adventures from unexpected turns?
‘Till next time, Positano!