Positano was the perfect starting point for our exploration of the Amalfi coast; a beautiful, little beach town famous for its colorful buildings, excellent restaurants and steep stairways. Our morning view from the hotel window was breathtaking—rising from the landscape was the blue and yellow tiled dome of Santa Maria Assunta; a regal sentinel that bares witness to the rich history of Positano and commands the attention of all who are near. Below us, the rocky cliffs dropped into the deep blue waters of Marina Grande beach. Candy colored umbrellas and chairs peppered the sand. Above us, colorful stucco houses and bougainvillea vines, clung to the steep mountains and every plot of land was cultivated with lemon and olive trees. Household gardens teemed with fresh basil, tomatoes, artichokes, beans, butter lettuce, melons and colorful berries. The air was filled with the garden scent.
Our traditional Italian breakfast consisted of steaming hot caffe lattes served in locally made ceramic mugs, a treasure of this area, along with freshly baked Italian pastries also served on colorfully designed Positano ceramic plates. Italians believe in the adage that one “Lives to eat” instead of eating to live and thus presentation is very important. The breakfast table was set like a work of art with the vibrant ceramic pieces all laid out on beautiful table linen with Murano glass glasses and a pitcher for our juice and water. The inside world is a reflection of the outside beauty, it all works in harmony with each other.
Stepping out of our hotel we walked down the Via Cristoforo Colombo; a steep, narrow descent to the centro storico, the ancient center square. The homes lining the street displayed richly lacquered, ornately carved, arched wooden doors, their walls painted in pastel colors of sunflower yellow and burnt sienna. The view offered visual richness to a simple stroll. In the distance rugged cliffs and a crisp blue sky mirrored the motifs painted on ornamental terra cotta pots overflowing with bright pink geranium blossoms. Winding our way along the Viale Pasitea our olfactory senses were commandeered by aromas of garlic roasting, tomato sauces simmering, and soups with the local catch of the day emanating from the open restaurant kitchen doors. Getting a peek inside we could see chefs in white jackets putting their final touches on the dishes they would be serving to the eagerly awaiting patrons. The nearby farmers market with its baskets of freshly picked basil, fennel and bell peppers offered additional flavors to savor.
Restaurant and bar menus had posted the day’s specials. Buca di Bacco offered Branzino, a sea bass caught fresh that morning, as well as the slow cooked Osso Bucco with Polenta. In the pasta category there was homemade Gnocci with funghi. The tables were beautifully set with ironed linens and ceramic plates and bowls.
Each table was a collection of patterns and colors with each plate offered a contemporary painting of a recognizable animal in a unique color. The colors enchanted us, and the whimsical depictions of simple animals scattered together without rigid attention to balance were both childlike and sophisticated.
Tratatorria Capricci with its lush surroundings of cascading ivy, boasted a vast selection of excellent sandwiches, salads, and appetizers: there was traditional pizzas, fried pizzas, o battilocchio “, “cuoppi”of fried fish, pizza rolls, “crocchè” with potatoes, “arancini” as well as fried rice, “supplì” and eggplant “parmigiana”. But we kept our focus on what lay just ahead: The beach! The tantalizing cool water, and the shushing sounds of the waves lapping at the shoreline, were irresistible.
As the late morning sun warmed the sand under our feet we dipped our toes in the ocean’s wonder, watching intently as it gently washed up against our ankles. Anticipating the occasional abandoned sea shell, our eyes diverted to so many small oddly shaped shards of pottery, their brightly colored glazes mixing in with the natural pebbles and sand. Each of the shards were painted with colorful patterns and had smooth rounded edges worn away by the sand and the surf.
We collected what we could, each small piece telling its own story,
perhaps a bowl of steaming hot pasta with rich tomato sauce, inadvertently slipped from the cook’s hands, while traveling from stove top in a small Italian kitchen, to table, or a small, hand painted Italian cup, ideal for the local wine, knocked off a balcony while the slightly tipsy guest admired the setting sun over the Amalfi coast line. Like the abundance of worn sea glass found around the glass blowers shops in Murano and Venice, pottery shards were everywhere along the Amalfi coast, where ceramicists with the occasional misfire or dropped vase, found the ocean the perfect graveyard for lost art.
Our pockets full of these small treasures we continued our stroll toward Caffe Zagara, at the Piazza dei Mulini, for a refreshing wine wine spritzer served in the most beautiful Murano Glass Starburst Wine Glass. A perfect day so far!