Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ti va` un Cappuccino ?

The bars in Positano are the living room for the locals. When the beach season comes to a close at the end of summer, Positano is hard up for things to do. A stroll to the bar becomes a habit interrupting the daily shopping or to simply recharge before facing the stairs again.

A bar in Positano that I was very sorry to see the demise of quite a few years ago now, was Bar DeMartino or Da Ciro at Punta Reginella. The bar was run by the sweetest man you could want to meet. Ciro was not from Positano but from Praiano, a neighbouring village and was always full of smiles when he saw us. We would often go for a breakfast treat there with the children when they were young, and sit on the umbrellas on the road side, the view of Positano beach spread out before us. Locals would ride past on their Vespas and stop to chat and have a coffee. It was the place to sit and watch the world go by. If I ever strolled past myself, Ciro would call out and offer me a coffee, a granita or some Chupa Chups for the kids.





In the evenings, locals or habitues of Positano would be all found there. Artists, poets, and personalities mingled with their local friends. There was no food served. It was a simple bar with pastries. But everyone knew each other. Guitars would come out and there would be spontaneous singing. It was the real dolce vita.


Ciro was eventually forced to leave by the owners of the bar , who caught on to the commercial value of such a central location. He's not seen easily at Positano anymore. The soul of Positano was transformed into a trendy cafe`/restaurant for tourists. It has none of the atmosphere that Bar DeMartino had. The tables on the roadside have smart tables with large white umbrellas to which the tourists flock because of the view. But you will be hard up to find locals sitting there any longer.


Another bar which is particularly appreciated by myself and other Positanese, is Bar Internazionale at the top entrance to the town. It's been run by Mimi` and his wife Virginia for many years now. In fact I remember arriving in Positano for the first time as a tourist over twenty years ago and being instructed by my friend Sergio to call him from the phone in the bar (Mobiles weren't invented yet!). The name stuck in my head. My first taste of local pastries like la sfogliatella, and la zeppola were in this bar. Mimi` and Virginia always have a smile and friendly word for all. If you want to bump into someone local, this is the place to go.

Apparently Mimi` will no longer be selling daily newspapers in the bar. No longer will we be able to linger at the table reading news while we wait for someone. No longer will we have the excuse of 'Just popping out to get the paper' and disappearing for hours on end because we found someone at the bar to chat to. The pastries and coffees on offer in the bar will always be a good excuse to go though. As will be the fruit shop nearby and the mini-market.
Oh, and the post-office...

3 comments:

Annika said...

Is Mimi the guy in Bar Internazionale that looks like Dr House (Hugh Laurie) from House M.D.?

Nicki mentioned this to me when we were there and I haven't been able to watch House M.D. without thinking about Bar Internazionale and Positano since!

Scintilla said...

I never thought of him that way! His face is masked by the beard...
Now you've done it! I'll be thinking of Dr. House every time I see him !

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

As a tourist I don;t want to see "trendy bars/restaurants" We love the old type just as you have described, what a shame...

We like to get amongst the local people and experience the culture.