Amalfi Coast (and Naples)

We began our journey to southern Italy with an early morning cappuccino and Nutella croissant at the train station. Yes, even the train stations have delectable treats.2015-05-19 10.06.14 We took the train to Rome, and after running through the train station, missing our connecting train, and stilted conversations in Italian, we were off to Naples. We just did a quick stop in Naples before taking the local train to Sorrento, where we’d catch a bus to our final destination of Positano. As they say, the Amalfi Coast is not easy to get to, but it’s worth it. During the long travel day I started thinking of alternative routes, more on that to come. Our stop in Naples was perfect for eating the famed Napoli pizza. We went to Pizzeria Da Michele, known around the world for their pizza and featured in movies like Eat, Pray, Love. We each got our own margherita pizza, and it was mouthwatering. The dough is chewy with wood oven charred bits, the tomato sauce is very simple, and the whole thing is studded with fresh Napoli mozzarella, with a little sprig of basil in the middle for show.2015-05-19 15.37.31-1 2015-05-19 15.39.04 2015-05-19 20.42.15

After a hot train ride to Sorrento we hopped on the next bus to Positano, and the drive is quite an adventure. There are stunning views of the coastline as you dash around hairpin curves. We met Roberto on the bus, who narrated the drive and gave us tips on restaurants and sites in the area. It was challenging to get good pictures from the bus, but here are a few. 2015-05-19 19.39.28 2015-05-19 19.44.50

2015-05-19 20.03.48Finally in Positano!2015-05-19 20.02.04-1

Our hotel had beautiful views of the mountain and the sea. Our breakfast vista:2015-05-20 09.28.23

Since we only had two full days in Positano and the second day called for rain, we packed a lot into our first day. An early morning breakfast, then a trek down and up many stairs to reach the dock. I downed dramamine and we hopped on the ferry to Capri. 2015-05-20 10.21.07-1It was a gorgeous ferry ride to the island. 2015-05-20 11.04.01When we arrived we hopped on a smaller boat to drive around the entire island (and I downed more dramamine). The boat ride around the island was spectacular and such a treat.2015-05-20 11.41.47 Our boat stopped at the blue grotto, where we waited in boat line to get on much smaller boats to go into the grotto, a cave into the cliffside with emerald blue water. It was quite the process. Ang, Adena and I carefully transferred from the larger boat to the little boat and Vincenzo led the way into the grotto. 2015-05-20 12.48.16You lay down flat in the boat in order to get through the small entryway, with Vincenzo laying down as well, using a rope to pull the boat through. The space opens up and the blue water from the trickling sunlight is glorious. 2015-05-20 12.52.55Vincenzo kept encouraging us to jump in and swim, and I couldn’t tell whether or not he was kidding, as Italian men are wont to do. Guess how many other people were swimming in the grotto? Yeah, zero. I decided to go for it and figured he’d stop me before I jumped in if he really was kidding. He didn’t stop me. The frigid water took my breath away, and it was exhilarating! It’s illegal to swim in the grotto (which I knew in advance) and I’m usually a strict rule follower. Hence the exhilaration. Vincenzo yelled for me to swim towards the blue light, and Adena snapped this fun picture. 2015-05-21 00.04.00 (1)

Getting back in the boat was a challenge, and I have the bruises to show for it. 2015-05-21 00.04.07We were the last ones back on the bigger boat, and I climbed aboard dripping wet to a sea of eyes staring at me. No one else had taken the plunge.

Back in Capri we took the tram to the top of the island for lunch on a terrace. 2015-05-20 13.59.32 2015-05-20 13.59.12The Amalfi Coast is known for its lemons, for good reason. 2015-05-20 15.58.13We took the ferry back to Positano, freshened up, and then took a taxi to the next town over, Praiano. We went to the rooftop bar of Hotel Le Fioriere, thanks to Roberto’s recommendation. They were tickled that we’d come from Positano to their hotel. It was a cloudy evening so the sunset was obscured, but the location, people, food and drinks were amazing. One of my favorite evenings in Italy. 2015-05-20 20.02.352015-05-20 23.58.55 2015-05-20 23.58.54We ordered apertifs, and I asked our server what I would be ordering if I was an Italian. He said a bellini or a bellini rosso, so I ordered the bellini rosso and was rewarded with a strawberry flower. It’s the little things in life. 2015-05-20 20.16.38-22015-05-21 00.07.43Just a complimentary snack to go with your drinks.2015-05-20 20.06.08We had a lovely dinner and Costa d’Amalfi wine. I failed to take a picture, but we had lemon tiramisu for dessert and it was splendid. It’s on my long list of “to attempt to make at home.” It was almost midnight by the time we finished our leisurely dinner, and the hotel concierge called a taxi for us. In small towns in Italy, it turns out, it’s challenging to get a taxi late at night. We waited about 30 minutes, and then the concierge calmly announced that our taxi arrived. We walked outside to see a party bus. For 30 people. We were the only passengers. The bus was so large that it couldn’t make many of the turns on the trip back to Positano and had to consistently do three point turns along the way.

The next day dawned rainy and chilly, so we walked around the shops and enjoyed the spectacular views. “Melody, it doesn’t look rainy to me! Look at those blue skies!” I didn’t separate out the pics by day. 2015-05-22 11.08.49 2015-05-22 12.04.11 2015-05-22 11.23.24 2015-05-22 11.08.522015-05-21 16.00.242015-05-20 17.22.012015-05-19 20.14.302015-05-19 20.06.55Pictures simply cannot do justice to the beauty. We loved where we stayed at Hotel Vittoria – view from our balcony!2015-05-20 19.02.22Narrow streets, cars and tables share the road.2015-05-19 23.18.20The next day we ignored the advice of guidebooks and our hotel concierge and took the ferry to Salerno, going in the wrong direction to head north, and then the train from Salerno to Rome, then to Cortona. Success! It was a quicker, smoother, more comfortable trip which worked out perfectly for all involved, especially me because I was quite sick that day. Move over Rick Steves! If we’d had additional days in the Amalfi Coast I would have liked to spend time in the other little towns, but we got a view of Amalfi from the ferry.2015-05-22 12.18.42  2015-05-22 12.53.07 2015-05-22 12.48.22Salerno.2015-05-22 13.33.04Enzo generously picked us up from the train station. We went next door to La Tufa for dinner after a long day, and Angela had the “Melody” pizza. 2015-05-22 20.54.49I sipped water. Let me pause on that note and say I’ve been highlighting the highlights, focusing on the good stuff of my trip. It was not perfect – trips, and life, never are. I haven’t focused on the days I couldn’t keep down lunch, or the getting lost, or the hearing sad news from home, or the moments of loneliness, or the times when the gelato just wasn’t up to snuff (tragedy, I know). I’m not trying to filter out the hard stuff, I just want to remember and be grateful for the good stuff. Trips, and life, don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.

About couchcuisine

I like traveling, cooking and eating...especially with friends.
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