Friday, 5 September 2014

The Amalfi Coast Travel Diary: Part 3 - Positano

In this part of my travel diary for Southern Italy, part 3, I will tell a tale of another exploration day where we stumbled on the absolutely stunning town of Positano. Positano is a small, colourful and photogenic town with multiple local restaurants and hotels in the Province of Salerno. It's only a tiny bit bigger than Ravello but with 4,000 inhabitants it's a lot busier. 

Although we were technically in Positano, we were on the hill above the main town and even though it would have been amazing to visit the town itself, there was a break in the major winding road where there was a restaurant bar and a couple of stalls including a stall with beautifully vibrant fruits and vegetables including chillis (I can never help myself when I see a fresh fruit/veg stalls! Y U M), a granita stall and an ice cream van (with PROPER Italian gelato, not the crappy 'Fabs' - although I do love a good fab every once in a while). We managed to grab a great little parking space (there's not many so beware if you're planning on visit) and got an ice cold fresh lemon granita and then looked over the side of the hill. As I said, we weren't in the main town but the best thing about that was that we could overlook the town and we got the best view of everything! According to John Steinbeck, the "houses climb a hill so steep it would be a cliff except that stairs are cut in it" and "The small curving bay of unbelievably blue and green water laps gently on a beach of small pebbles" and that is the perfect description of the incredible view I was able to experience from the granita stand. 

To take the words out of Steinbeck (again), "You will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it" but fortunately, unlike with the fair majority of coastal towns in popular areas, Positano has not been totally poisoned with the disadvantages of tourists. When I went, there was a large amount of Japanese tourists due to a cruise tour with a huge bus but they left promptly as there really wasn't enough room for them and after they left it was left crowded and a little bit more pleasant. 

As there was a lot more to see along the Amalfi coast, we decided to make a move and drove along more windy roads to Sorrento with lots of stops on the way, mainly for my dad to calm down after getting irritated at the Italian drivers and scooter-drivers who he vowed whipped around him so fast that he "wouldn't surprised if we saw them later, squished into the ground"... he is so pleasant. When we finally arrived into the outskirts of Sorrento, we decided to park up and walk into the main square so that we could discover the back streets and the local areas before getting to the more touristic area. On our way in, we found a lovely gelateria, with the smoothest, creamiest ice cream, which doubled as a location which makes and sells its very own lemoncello (my favourite liquor) - can you all see why this was my favourite gelateria of the whole holiday! The gelateria had a very rustic feel to it and we relaxed there for quite a while until we entered into the heart of Sorrento. The main streets of Sorrento were like a chaotic market place stall with almost every single shop selling anything lemoncello related - lemoncello bowls, lemoncello mugs, lemoncello soap, lemoncello shot glasses, lemon cream, lemoncello itself, honestly you name it, they had it (did I say lemoncello enough times?). However, every so often, there was a beautiful little restaurant or bar hidden away from the bustle of the main streets. If we hadn't already had dinner reservations, we definitely would have eaten in Sorrento (possibly at the beautiful Bellevue Syrene, which has the most beautiful view of the sea and Mount Vesuvius!) Unfortunately, due to our dinner reservations, we were in a rush to get back to the apartment to change and get ready and so, thankfully we planned on returning to Sorrento later on in the trip, before we left the Amalfi coast. 

We got to the restaurant, Ciccio, at dusk which was perfect timing as it's my favourite time of day and we were able to see the beautiful sea landscape with the beautiful light pastel coral and purple sky. When we sat at our table, a couple of metres away from the terrace, the lovely and friendly waiter (who also owned a 1/3rd of the business) came over and explained to us a little about the menu. Elliot chose the smoked chicken breast whilst I ordered the clam spaghetti cooked in parchment paper (I had never tried clams before, but they're delicious). Even though the waiter refused to change the ingredients in my meal after explicitly explaining to me why the ingredients are chosen so specifically as they compliment each other, the meal was absolutely gorgeous and I can see why he didn't change them. These men (the 3 brothers who own, and work there - one as a chef, one as a waiter and one as the wine expert. You can see them in the pictures on TripAdvisor) know a lot about their food and they do their job to an immaculate standard whilst keeping cheery and helpful, at all times. My parents ordered the tasting menu (which I helped eat, because my mum couldn't eat it all - yey) which consisted of 5 courses: a mixed seafood salad, a sea food plater, the first course which was the clam spaghetti, a white fish fillet on a lemon and mash potato base and then lastly, dessert which was rumbaba and a lemon profiterol. My meal was so filling and they brought out palette cleansers such as a gnochi type shell filled with racotta cheese with a tomato puree sauce and then after the main meals, a little lemon mousse with raspberry coolee (courtesy of Stefano, the man in charge of our apartment, as he organised the reservation for us) which was very tasty and was a great way of removing the sea food taste from within your mouth, so creamy and subtle too. We finished with shots of Amalfi coast's infamous Lemoncello and an equally lovely coconut liquor. 

sorry about the quality of some of these pictures, some are taken on my iPhone. 

G xxx

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