AMALFI COAST & CAPRI, ITALY
The Tyrrhrian Sea's navy blue, turquoise and green waters sparkle and slap the sailboats, fishing boats and motorboats as the handsome grinning hired driver of our tiny car makes the "I can't believe this is a two way road" hairpin turns along the unguarded cliffside roads of the Amalfi Coast. From the road, this scenic, albeit 007 dangerously alluring highway, seems to move on its own at an unsustainable pace. Everything passing appears locked in the burst mode of a digital camera. Pastel houses cling to the cliffs, olive and lemon groves speckle the hillside, and bright orange beach umbrellas smile in the sands. Stopped curbside outside the IL SAN PIETRO DI POSITANO HOTEL, passenger heartbeats return to normal levels, and through the doors the world turns into something off a movie set. The people are beautiful, the surroundings are beautiful, the food is extraordinary. At once the world seems so unreal that it just could be a figment of the imagination, or at least the set of the latest James Bond thriller complete with academy award winning soundtrack.
Safely suspended between the sea and the embrace of the Lattari Mountains, life slows down in a hurry. It takes time to adjust to the all at once and from every direction sensory stimulation. A faint salty, lemony scent perfumes the air. The sky is a Van Gogh palette blue, and the sea a glittering mythological aegean blue. Coarse, multi-trunked branches of the the tobacco trees root themselves into the craggy rocks of the surrounding cliffs. The city bustles, but the sound nothing more than murmurs, as if loud noises might break the magic spell cast by the surrounding natural beauty.
Journey to Positano with time to linger and explore. Turn a corner and discover a tiny staircase. Climb it and find artisanal dress makers, family-owned eateries, gelato, and jewelry designers. Then descend another blink and you may miss it stair cliff and begin again. Book dinner at a table as close to sea as possible in the 400 candle lit romantic Michelin star dining room of La Sponda in the Syrenuse Hotel. Drink champagne with abandon.
As tempting as it may be to stay forever in this enchanting coastal village, day trips beckon. In 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the ancient city of Pompeii for hundreds of years. A half-day PRIVATE GUIDED TOUR of the preserved frescoes, baths, bakeries, and houses of ill repute explains this built by prosperous Romans centuries ago archeological site.
If you find yourself wandering the streets of Sorrento, duck into Confetti & Agrumetti. The shop keeper will croon Italian love songs as he roasts almonds, dips them into white chocolate and then glazes them with a colored candy coating. An Italian wedding tradition, each color represents wealth, health, longevity, happiness and fertility.
A hillside escape to the quaint medieval village of Ravello charms visitors with its flawlessly manicured gardens. The 13th century Moorish style Villa Rufolo boasts the most spectacular views from its cliffside gardens.
The GARGUILO farmhouse estate in the Hills of Sorrento, takes guests through its olive groves and the stone mill built in 1849. While learning the ancient and modern techniques of olive oil pressing, taste sweet, buttery, extra virgin olive oils made to compliment the orange and lemon tastes of the cuisine of the Sorrento Peninsula.
A tour of the Sorrentino Vineyard, famous for producing the wine Lacryma Crhista (Christ's Tears), and a hike through to the top of Mt. Vesuvius is worth the trek. No wine tastes better with pizza!
While leaving Positano behind may seem insane, The Island of Dreams, AKA Capri, extends the magic of the Amalfi Coast. A gorgeous 40 minute ferry boat ride from Sorrento docks you across the street from the funicular that takes you straight up a rugged cliff to La Piazzetta where the glamour and people watching begins. Stroll leisurely through the streets ducking into shops that still boast hand made in front of you boutiques. It is a right of passage for visitors to design a pair of leather capri sandals at Da Costanzo. While waiting for the artisan to complete your footwear, sip a glass of limoncello. Early in the morning, hire a private boat and visit the Blue Grotto before the crowds of day trippers arrive. Continue the by sea sight seeing with a stop at the sea caves of the Green Grotto. Jump in and the captain can meet you on the other side of the cave. Early on a summer's day you may have this natural wonder to yourself. Hungry now? La Fontelina Beach Club provides the ultimate in rustic elegance. Beneath a seaside straw roof pergola that has been destroyed by violent weather a dozen times and rebuilt, dine on just caught from the sea fish grilled on an open fire. After lunch, take your rented beach mattress or deck chair, bathing suit clad (or not!) body down to sea level for spectacular views of the Faraglioni rock formations. This day may just prove the quintessential Amalfi Coast experience.
POMPEII GUIDED TOUR
CUSTOM MADE SHOES AT DA COSTANZO
Via Roma 49, 80073 Capri NA, Italy
RISTORANTE LA FONTELINA (BEACH CLUB)
Via Faraglioni, 80073 Capri NA, Italy
PRIVATE BOAT TOUR SIREN'S ROCK, BLUE GROTTO, GREEN GROTTO, LA FARAGLIONI ROCK FORMATIONS & THE FONTELINA BEACH CLUB
Piazza Duomo, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
Olive oil tasting
Via Nastro D'Argento, Sant'Agnello NA, Italy
Via S. Cesareo, 51
BAR TIBERIO -- Piazza Umberto 8, 80073 Capri, Island of Capri, Italy
DA VICENZO -- Via Pasitea, 172/178, 84017, Positano, Italy
TAVERNA DEL CAPITANO -- Piazza delle Sirene, 10, 80061 Nerano NA, Italy
BUCA DI BACCO -- Via Rampa Teglia, 4, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
L'OLIVO -- Via Capodimonte, 14, 80071 Anacapri, Isola di Capri NA, Italy
GELATERIA DAVIDE IL GELATO SORRENTO -- Via Padre Reginaldo Giuliani, 41, 80067 Sorrento NA, Italy
NEXT2 -- Viale Pasitea, 242, Positano SA, Italy
LA SPONDA AT LE SIRENUSE -- Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
DON ALFONSO -- Corso Sant'Agata, 11, Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi NA, Italy
RISTORANTE DONNA ROSA -- Via Montepertuso, 97-99, 84017 Positano SA, Italy