The Blue Sita Bus pulled into Positano sometime in mid-afternoon and stopped in front of the Bar International. Boy was I excited, “Positano at long last.” It was the end of the line for me. I hopped off the bus and got my bags and headed into the bar. I needed to use the bathroom, throw some water on my face, and then get a small bite to eat. I got a Prosciutto & Provala Panino and a glass of fresh squeezed OJ. I sat down to relax before heading down to the Villa Maria Antonietta. It was a good long walk down many stairs and through alleyways as I navigated further down to the lower part of town, always moving toward the Sea. I was carrying two pieces of luggage, and the going wasn’t that easy, except that I was a strong young man of just 23, and so it really wasn’t a problem. Nowadays at nearly 60, the same trip would be significantly harder, but I could still do it. I’d have to go slower though. Anyway, I finally made it to the spot somewhere near the area called Mulini and asked someone for directions. A man told me exactly where the little pensione was, and so I headed over. It wasn’t far at all, and in no time flat, there I was at Villa Maria Antonietta. I asked the lady if she had any rooms available. She did, so I checked in, but not before showing her the Letter of Introduction from Rene Ricard. She took a quick glance and then brought me to my room. Once inside, I took a hot shower and unpacked some of my clothes before heading out to explore this new town. Positano.
I left my little hotel and made my way down towards the sea. As I walked, I looked around in astonishment, spellbound with every step. Everything I had heard about Positano it seemed was true. Yes it was beautiful, magical, and invigorating. Nothing was exaggerated. I felt like a kid on Christmas Day. I was filled with that kid of euphoria. “Do you know what I mean?”
Yes, no one had overstated their thoughts of this enchanting little town. Everyone’s descriptions were true, and if anything, they had been understated, Positano was totally amazing, and for me, “It was Love at first sight.”
The houses and hotels in Positano were stacked one atop the other as they straddled and rose up the hills that make up the special characteristics that the town is known for. Down where I was, there were all sorts of cute shops and charming little boutiques, including; ceramic-shops, Custom Sandal-Maker Shops, caffes (bars), and restaurants. Of course there were hotels, locals homes, and private villas as well. There were outdoor markets, salumerias, and all sorts of fun things to see and do. The Blue Tyrrhenian Sea was just a few hundred feet away, and so off I went.
I walked down to the sea to look around. The water was quite lovely and there was all sorts of activity going on with people swimming, and lounging on the beach. Boats were arriving and departing from town. From down here as you look to the sea, there is a little beach at the center, with the town's main boat-dock on the right, which is right next to the Cove dei Saraceni Hotel. Here you can catch ferry boats going to; Amalfi, Capri, Ischia, Naples, Sorrento, Salerno, and all points along the Amalfi Coast. From this spot the best beaches are off to the left or right of this center area from the little free beach which is not as nice as the two other beaches off to the far-left and far-right. There are a number of restaurants and bars down by the beach, including the famous Chez Black where they make Heart Shaped Pizza. There’s also Buca di Bacco with their beautiful terraced restaurant and bar, and the always welcoming Trattoria La Cambusa. If you turn your back to the Sea, you will see that the town of Positano just springs up out of the Sea, with the famous hill of a million pictures on your left, with houses stacked one-on top-of-the-other, they creep up toward the small hamlets of Montepertuso and Nocelle high above the sea. The same can be said for the hill to your right and the one directly in front of you, Positano rises from the sea and there it is smack dab in front of you, it seems as though Positano sours straight up to the Heavens. In fact, there is a famous path that is a popular place to hike, and the trail is known as “The Path of The Gods.”
Most of the town is sort of a large natural amphitheater. It’s quite an amazing sight to see, and it is just one reason that people have been flocking to this little town for years. They come from every corner of the world.
After walking around the lowest part of town by the sea, I made my way back towards the center and found myself at the Caffe Zagara for some Gelato in their lovely little garden. La Zagara is in the Mulino area of town, and it’s smack-dab in the middle of Positano. Again, I was in 7th Heaven. I sat back with my gelato, and just aimlessly did nothing. I took it all in. The setting here is as magical as is any place in all of Positano, no matter which part of town you are in, Positano is always enchanting. Positano, there’s no escaping its beauty.
After my gelato at La Zagaro, I headed down to the La Scogliera Beach Club to swim, relax, and just do nothing. “Now this is pure Bliss.” They have a snackbar / restaurant at this beach club, and I’d have a little something to eat for lunch or just a small snack. The rest of my time at La Scogliera Beach Club, is spent swimming, reclining on my chaise lounge, and sipping my Campari. I’d close my eyes and listen to those special beach sounds. You know those wonderful beach sounds don’t you? It’s the sound of Seagulls, waves crashing on rocks, music coming from the radios of those lying on the beach, the chatter of people talking, and it all blends together to make that very special kind of sound. Beach Sounds, I guess you could say. “You know what I mean, don’t you?” It’s especially nice when I just lie there with my eyes closed as if I were sleeping, but I’m not. I’m just relaxing and listening to the sounds of the sea, and all that goes with it.
After the beach, it would be up to Bar DeMartino for my late afternoon aperitivo, before heading back to my room for a nice two-hour nap. After my little nap, it was off to dinner at Da Vincenzo’s. I’d have some Octopus or Mussels (Cozze) then, as Rene told me, I’d eat a plate of the Worlds best Spaghetti Vongole, and again I’m in 7th Heaven all over again. After dinner at Da Vincenzo, it was back to Bar DeMartino to hangout and have a couple night-time cocktails (Campari) before going back to my hotel, sleeping the night away. And I always sleep quite well in Positano, with the fresh sea air making its way through the slatted shutters of my room at Maria Antoniette. The following year it would be at the Hotel Casa Albertina, right behind Da Vincenzo’s.
The next day, I’d do it all over again, and so I did for 3 glorious days on my first trip to Positano, in the Summer of 85. The next Summer, I’d spend four days in Positano, after 3 splendid days on the Isle of Capri. After 3 glorious days on Capri, I took a boat from Capri to Positano. I was looking for a new hotel this time. I liked Villa Maria Antoniette that first time but wanted something a little bit nicer this time around. So, when I poked my head into the reception area at Casa Albertina, Lorenzo was there to greet me. He was very nice, and he said he’d make me a special “young person’s price,” and so he did. I paid $79 a night that first time at Casa Albertina in 1986. Casa Albertina is a beautiful little family run hotel, where you get luxury at a lower price. The guest rooms are very nice, and the public areas, including the sitting room, dining room, and bar area are all beautifully appointed. I stayed at Casa Albertina for four days, then I also took two days exploring la Bella Napoli. I’d do the same in the Summer of 1988, with two days in Rome, before heading down to Capri and the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and one more night in Rome before flying home the next day to JFK.
I bought my first pair of Espadrilles on that first trip, as well as a great hand-made pair of “Positano Style” men’s casual pants that I wore every Summer for several years, and always bringing those pants back to Positano each year. Positano is famous for it’s Positano Style Clothing, especially women’s dresses and blouses, but they make shirts and a few things for the men as well, thus my Positano Pants.
I started my collection of local Amalfi Coast ceramics on that first trip. In the town of Vietri Sul Mare they make beautiful ceramic plates, and all sorts of ceramic objects that are typical of the area. I bought two beautiful plates in one of the ceramic shops in Positano on that first trip in 1985. I really loved those plates, and made some spaghetti that I ate on them as soon as I got back home. I ate on those plates all year long, and I’d buy a couple more the following year. But it wasn’t until 1988, when on my third trip to Positano, I discovered that the plates were made in the coastal town of Vietri Sul Mare, at the most southern point of the Amalfi Coast.
On that third trip (1988) to the Amalfi Coast, I rented a car one day to go to Pompeii for the first time, and also took a drive over to Vietri Sul Mare to buy some of the local ceramics. I bought; plates, a water picture, and decorative ceramic pieces that included a Virgin Mary for my mother Lucia. I also got some creature’s of the sea wall decoration as well. I went to Vietri with a couple of ladies that I had met in Capri. We had a wonderful day visiting the ancient Roman Ruins of Pompeii, going to Vietri to buy ceramics, and having dinner in Minori. After dinner, we hopped in the car and back onto the Amalfi Drive. We didn’t get very far, as when we drove into the town of Amalfi, we decided to stop and see what was going on. I parked the car and we went to an outdoor caffe for some evening cocktails. After Limoncello Cocktails we strolled around Amalfi. It was The Feast of Santa Anna and the Piazza del Duomo was abuzz with music and activity of tourists and local revelers. It was happy and festive, and the girls and I had a nice little time there.
This was the first time I ever drove the famed Amalfi Drive, known as one of the World’s great driving-roads. And it certainly is, with its unmatched beauty, and its famed hairpin and horseshoe turns. The Amalfi Drive is quite the road to drive. I surely savored the chance to drive it, taking all those crazy turns, and marveling at the beauty of it all. It was a wonderful experience, and being such a young man, I enjoyed it all the more. It’s a day I shall never forget.
On my second visit to Positano (1986), I was lucky in that I was staying at Casa Albertino during the time when the hotel holds its annual cocktail / dinner party for their guests, and that’s when I met my sweet friend Nicoletta. The party was wonderful. There was a big buffet table with wonderful treats from the Hotel’s Chef, The buffet table included : Prosciutto, Provola, Croquettes, delicious Arancini, Gnocchi, Ravioli, and other culinary delights. I drank Campari and Biancolella local wine, it was all quite wonderful. At the party, I met and chatted with several other hotel guests, and we all had a delightful evening. All courtesy of the Cinque family of Casa Albertina.
EXCERPTED From - POSITANO The AMALFI COAST COOKBOOK / TRAVEL GUIDE
November 28th 2020 on
Copyright 2020 Daniel Bellino Zwicke