Friday, December 24, 2010

All I want for Christmas…



Is that your families and friends are safe and sound, and hopefully where they want to be.


Most of Europe has been in turmoil with snowfalls playing havoc on transport systems just when the season was at its very busiest meaning that travelers were left stranded for days or having to choose longwinded means of reaching their homes. Luxembourg was also hit by blizzards and the heaviest snowfall ever, closing schools for the first time and leaving me without use of the car for days.


I watched the airport timetables anxiously as my husband arrived truly late in the night from Positano laden with fruit from our garden and  delicious homemade ‘struffoli’ pressed upon him by our taxi driver.


My children were able to return to their flats when their flights were cancelled unlike many who slept at airports and arrived home with only two days delay. We were lucky. I hope you are too.


Thank you for following my sporadic posts this year.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Buon Natale e Buon Anno Nuovo!

Monday, November 01, 2010

All Souls Day.


P1000723 Remembering those in Positano.

                                                                                                                                          Especially Giovanna.


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Sea’s Side of Positano

Our little boat chugged along the lake-like sea hugging the rugged coastline between Positano and Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. It was the first days of September and the climate was ostentatiously spoiling us with a soft gentle sunshine and deep crisp colours. I could well imagine this lazy rocking in the sea being called the Dolce Vita now that the noise and traffic from the motor boats and ferries had diminished, a legacy of the paradise that Positano once was.

Letting  my hands languish through the silky water, we passed inlet after inlet of tiny pebbled beaches leaving behind cliffs tinted in varying shades of blue on the horizon. We’d left home early with the intention of taking one last boat ride before putting the little boat away for the winter and hopefully using up the last of the petrol in the egg beater sized motor, when we thought we might drop by for coffee at Laurito beach before heading back to Fornillo.

My husband accosted the wooden pier and let us out before dropping anchor offshore and diving into the sea to reach the beach in a few strokes.
The restaurant Da Adolfo, little more than a stone wall filled with pebbles on which rustic wooden tables were set  under a canopied roof, was much closer to the sea than I remembered it, the tides haven eaten away most of the beach over the years. A couple of rows of deck chairs were set out for the clients arriving on the official boat but so far I could only see locals around, some of whom had reached the beach from the stairs.

A clinking sound caught my attention.
A local owner of another restaurant at Positano was tapping sharply on the rock in the water while holding a sloshing plastic zip locked bag in her other hand.
She was obviously gathering what are known in Naples as ‘patelle’  from along the cliff faces with which to make a pasta sauce.
In fact a common summer pastime in these parts, though you’d be hard put to find it on a menu in the area, is foraging along rock pools and cliff faces for limpets. You’ll see many a local diver with a sharp knife or armed with an appropriately shaped rock in do-it-yourself style, returning with small rattling bags of  mollusks.
When foraging for patelle, the smaller the shell is, the better the taste will be as the  shellfish inside is more tender. I have been told (as I’ve never tried them) that the taste is something between the delicate clam and a heartier mussel.
Our friend had whipped up a sauce in five minutes using patelle, a few small crabs found in rock pools and a handful of cherry tomatoes in between preparing other things for her restaurant and had sent this plate of much appreciated spaghetti with a boy to her husband, who runs a seafood restaurant a few doors down from hers. She was intending to do the same that night.

In real Italian style, our late morning coffee transformed itself into a leisurely lunch as we were unable to resist the lure of the enchanting view right down to Capri nor the choice from the  blackboard menu which heavily featured local fish dishes. By midday, the restaurant was bustling as the boat unloaded tourists from Positano.
Dripping sea water from our swim  and chatting at our ‘Positanesi’  table, we enjoyed mozzarella grilled on lemon leaves - a Da Adolfo original dish, grilled shrimps and  Carpaccio di tonno (fresh tuna finely sliced) for our antipasto, then ‘mpepata di cozze (mussels sprinkled in black pepper), spaghetti with zucca e vongole (clam and pumpkin sauce) and tonno fresco con paccheri  (fresh tuna sauce with pasta).
We made our way back to town in our little boat slowly, ever so slowly, drawing out the best September had on offer.
Da Adolfo Laurito Beach, Positano.

Top story featured on Tomorrow is Today in Italy, The Top-Bloggers-in-Italy Daily ,The Travel Blog Round Up and The Internet Villa Hols Daily

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pink Pink Pink Day today for Breast Cancer prevention! And a very special recipe…


A heavy family history of Breast Cancer in my home makes this a cause close to my heart.


October has seen the Pink Ribbon Campaign against Breast Cancer come into full swing remembering those who have died, those who are suffering but also the survivors of this insidious disease.


Prevention is perhaps too optimistic a word but there are healthy changes that you can make to make your body stronger to fight the disease should it rear its ugly head.

Eat food containing antioxidants, exercise


and of course get your breasts checked regularly at any age.

Sculpture by Juanita Aiello-Pansini

A full list of risk factors can be found on the Breast Cancer Campaign Organization site.
Please click here to fund free mammograms for underprivileged woman. It will cost you nothing but mean so much to another.

My mother, an exceptional cook, died of Breast Cancer just under two and a half years ago.
I would like to share her very special recipe for Brandied Lemon Ricotta Cheese cake with you in her honour.

Brandied Lemon Ricotta Cheese Cake:
Sponge layer or Savoiardi biscuits
500gms Ricotta cheese (a fresh Italian soft cheese similar in consistency to Cottage Cheese)
125gms of castor sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla
2 teaspoons of grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons of gelatin
1/2 cup of water
1 1/4 cups of cream
2 tablespoons of brandy
Line a 23cm spring form pan with paper and cut sponge or biscuits to fit in single layer.
Beat eggs and sugar till thickened. In a separate bowl, beat ricotta cheese, lemon rind & juice, vanilla & brandy together. Dissolve gelatin in the 1/2 cup of water over a very gentle heat. Beat it into the ricotta mix a little at a time.
Whip cream until semi-whipped. Fold cream, egg mixture & ricotta mixture together. Mix well. Pour over the sponge/biscuit layer. Refrigerate several hours until set. Decorate with fruit of choice just before serving.

TORTA DI RICOTTA AL BRANDY E LIMONE (per le amiche Italiane)
Savoiardi oppure Pan di Spagna
500gm di Ricotta
125gm di zucchero semolato
2 uova
2 cucchiaini di vaniglia
2 cucchiaini di buccia di limone grattugiato
2 cucchiai di succo di limone
1 1/2 cucchai di gelatina
1/2 bicchere d’acqua
1 1/4 bicchiere di panna
2 cucchiai di Brandy
Ricoprite la base di una teglia per torte di 23cm (con il lato apribile) con i Savoiardi oppure con un sottile stratto di pan di Spagna
Montate le uova con lo zucchero. Sbattete insieme la ricotta, la scorza di limone, il succo, la vaniglia e il Brandy. Sciogliete la gelatina nell’acqua al fuoco basso e poi agguingetela un po` alla volta alla ricotta sbattendola bene.
Montate la panna finche` non si sia addensata a meta`.
Mescolate insieme alla ricotta, la panna e le uova in modo che ogni elemento si  amalgami perfettamente.
Versate il composto nella teglia e mettetela al frigo per un paio di ore.
Ricopritela con frutta al momento di servirla.

Today we have come together with other Italian bloggers in the Blogosphere to bring the Anti-Breast Cancer campaign our solidarity by painting the internet pink:
Linda - News From Italy
Anne - Anne from Oxfordshire
Laura - Ciao Amalfi
Cherrye - My Bella Vita
Lucy - On my way 2 work and Other Stuff
Donna - Maremma Guide
Lauren - Mamaquest
Veronika - Modenus Blog
Eleonora - Aglio Olio e Peperoncino
JoAnne - Frutto della Passione and contest!
Michelle-Bleeding Espresso
Pat - Sicily Scene
a full list of almost 300 participating bloggers can be found here at Mamma Felice.
Grazie! Do go visit the others!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Capricious Capri


Capri.  The most clicked on Island in Italy.

Websites abound with passionate descriptions of picturesque alleys and piazzettas, churches and azure waters don’t they?  So when you send two beautiful twenty year old Italian girls to Capri  for a day trip, and you advise them where to go and what to see, you don’t expect them to return to Positano with a list of what not to do:

What not to do in a trip to Capri:

Don’t go to the ferry kiosk in Positano and ask for the resident ferry ticket fee to Capri of 15 Euros. Unless you can prove it in writing, you’ll need to fork out 30 Euros for the trip. If you are a tourist, be  suitably outraged.



Don’t bring your beach gear and hope for a quick dip in the azure waters. Unless you go to the Marina Piccola on the other side of the island,  you’ll have no chance of getting across the sea of bodies to the water’s edge.


Don’t expect to see the famous Piazzetta (Umberto 1) in Capri in one visit in the months from April to November. Unless you are walking on stilts, you will have a good view of the upper floors above the mass of tourists, but that is all.


Beware of any restaurant that hocks for trade.

Behind all the rigorously non-Italian waiters in Capri, is an owner who incites the employees to lure tourist groups in by literally saying ‘Pigliali pigliali!’ (pronounced Pee-lya-lee) in Italian dialect as they approach. What does it mean? ‘Grab them!’   A real tourist trap!


Don’t get excited when you see an illegal drug offered in a praline. If you expected to get high on the Cannabis in the chocolate, you’ll be disappointed. The only thing you’ll  get a kick out of, is it’s  sugar content.


Don’t catch the chairlift up to the top of Capri and expect it to last more than a few minutes. In true Disneyland style, the queues are longer than the ride.


Don’t gesticulate Italian style ( wildly) while holding a 2 litre bottle of water and admiring the steep drop in this view. It will quickly become part of the scenery.


Do visit the Villa San Michele - Axel Munthe at Anacapri. But then, don’t expect to be alone here either.


And at the end of the day, when you are approaching your beloved Positano weary, disheveled, hot and dirty, don’t assume that you won’t bump into anyone you know, as everyone should have gone home by then.

Rather do take time to straighten your appearance because the odds are on it that the whole town will be down at the main dock on your arrival that day to celebrate yet another religious Festival!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Following the Linguine Trail…

The cat scooted out over the restaurant’s window trellis, skirting the purple bougainvillea that gripped the iron work. Totally deaf, it wasn’t an alley cat for nothing and could tell when it wasn’t wanted.  Daniele the waiter, having dealt with the cat before, let out a few mild expletives under his breathe in Italian. Slinking amongst the tables, the white gatto  been attracting admiring ‘ohhs’ and ‘ahhs’ from the American tourists but alas, no food tidbits.  Then as Daniele proceeded to lead our party of six to a table chatting amicably, my husband pointed out a waiter, J., that I hadn’t met yet, knowing that he was from Australia like myself.
J. turned out to be waiting at our table. Decked out maitre d’ style with a formally placed napkin over his left arm, J. had been coming to Positano for a few years and lived the enviable life of six months here, six months in Australia. Having a British passport, he had no trouble with work permits and aside from other duties in town, he helped out at the restaurant in summer a couple of days per week.
My husband asked him if he spoke Italian assuming that with the position he was in, he must.
‘Solo un poco’ (just a little) was his answer. So I spoke to him in English and we chose our meal. The orders were put in quickly as most of my family chose pizza, but I soon put a ball in the works by ordering ‘Frittura di Paranza’.
J. looked at me blankly and asked me to repeat it. I did and then gave him the English translation for it – ‘Fried local fish’.
‘Is it on the menu?’ he queried.
‘Yes’, I said.
‘Can you point to it with your finger please? I don’t know how to write it.’    It’s just that people usually order pasta or pizza here…so I’ve never come across it before.’
He then accompanied a loud party of Italian tourists to their table alongside ours and distributed menus.
My husband, all ears when it comes to nosing out an authentic local meal, overheard the chef Vincenzo talking about a dish he was preparing from freshly arrived local squid. ‘Vincenzo,’ he called out, ‘can you make it for me too?’ 
‘Senz’altro’ replied Vincenzo.
So I called J. over and told him that we needed to change the order. One pizza less, and ‘totani and tubetti’ in it’s place.
‘Is it on the menu?’
‘No, but the chef can prepare it’.
‘Ok, then. What is it again?
Totani e tubetti’
‘Could you spell that please?’
‘T-O-T-A-N-I  &  T-U-B-E-T-T-I’
Later, while eating our meal, I saw J. at the Italian’s table trying to take orders and looking decidedly red- faced and flustered. He suddenly turned away from them and found Daniele to serve in his place.
I remarked on it when he returned to our table to have the dessert orders put through and the simpatico J. admitted that in August they had a lot of Italians come in for meals who never stuck to the menu but wanted variations of the food.
‘Then they all talk at once in Italian and I can’t follow the orders!’
Aspiring waiters be warned.
Il Saraceno d’Oro: a family run restaurant in Fornillo.
No ‘sea view’ but plenty of friendly atmosphere and great food. Speaking English can be a bonus…

Saturday, September 11, 2010

This is why I don´t go out if it rains in Positano:

except with a shovel to clear the single drain where all of the neighbourhood´s rain water is channelled, of the mud and debris.

But when the Fornillo storm water drains alongside our house look like this:

you can hardly blame it for not coping. 

I only hope that the gardens below don´t give way into a repetition of  the tragedy at Atrani.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Their Big Fat Italian Wedding or how the locals get married on the Amalfi Coast

As the bride in her long cream dress and the  attired groom  in his spanking new suit walked back down the aisle, ladies held platefuls of flower petals mingling mimosa, bougainvillea, roses and orange blossom with the rice and young men hid handfuls of sugar coated almonds in tight fists and coat pockets waiting to be hurled at the newly wed couple. The trepidation of the newly married was tangible and as they reached the door they raised their arms to protect themselves from the energetic launch of confetti candy. A traditional prerogative of Italian guests, it was a ritual which signaled the beginning of the Festa part of the wedding party  and boy do Italians know how to throw a wedding.
It was a winter wedding. The only free time that Positano locals have to get married and take a honeymoon in. Strictly out of season, Positanesi  leave the brighter months to admiring the board walk foreign brides found around every corner of town in the Amalfi Coast and instead take their wedding custom  further afield to the neighboring town of Praiano or St.Agata in Sorrento. P1020200 P1020193
Definitely better value for money, Il Tramonto D’Oro Hotel  in Vettica di Praiano features heavily in the local’s choice for wedding venues. The name meaning Golden Sunset promises magical red skies all through late September to November and in February on a certain day, the sun sets right in the hole visible of the Capri Faraglione (Capri rock formations in the sea). And then, if there’s one thing Italians won’t do, that’s compromise on the taste buds, so when excellent food is thrown together with a magnificent view all the way to Capri for much less than what you would pay for a similar reception in Positano, you sure have the winning combination.
But don’t expect to be in and out in a few hours.  Food abounds at these weddings. For Italians, hospitality means mounds of food. Not counting the aperitifs and wedding cake at the reception I went to, there were 14 courses with seconds for whoever wanted it.
A sea themed wedding, my friend’s wedding featured dishes with whimsical names like ‘Abbraccio di Gamberone con speck’ (King prawns embraced in Italian bacon) Ventaglio di Frutta di Mare gratinati ( a fan of Seafood  toasted in breadcrumbs) or Cuore di Pasta fresca con ricotta e spinaci which really was heart shaped pasta ravioli filled with ricotta cheese and spinaci. Romantic names for truely great food.
Loud music, singing (not only on the part of the band) and dancing naturally help digest between delicious morsels as did the frequent visits to the spectacular terrace views for some sea air, glass of wine in hand.

The groom kept returning to the main table handing his father wedding gifts in envelopes that his guest would press upon him on their rounds of the tables. His father evidently hadn’t thought this part out and his pockets were soon stuffed full. The bride and groom even spent a good ten minutes with a bundle of ‘Scratch and win’ lottery tickets that a friend had given them as his quota of gift.
The hours flew by and eventually the reception which had started at 1pm drew into nightfall and the fireworks lit next to the hotel in Piazza San Gennaro signaled the drawing to a close of the reception. P1020198
Going back into the reception room after having had our dessert, well, actually three desserts, a waft of garlic hit my nostrils. The traditional ‘pasta aglio e olio’ was being served to finish the meal. After literally having eaten all day, I skipped this dish but the men all happily tucked in. The light sponge and Italian cream wedding cake followed and the wedding guests began to leave. It was 9pm. Which made an eight hour meal!
Brides from the Amalfi coast do all the arrangements themselves looking after details, wedding favours and decorations but many foreign brides booking far ahead manage to organize the events too without too many problems.
My recommendations are (they do a great job with less expenses):
Tramonto D’Oro for receptions. They also have a pool on the top terrace for summer events with buffet style catering.
Art, Color Fashion for hairdressers,
Aldo for flowers,
Bar Internazionale for the cake.
There are also a few blogs around from Amalfi Coast brides where you can get tips in or try sites like Trip advisor for discussions centering around weddings.

or see
Italofile for Susan Van Allen’s tips on Italian weddings.

What about you?  Have any of you married or had your honeymoon on the Coast?
If you have, share your experience and leave your tips on the good and bad services encountered in this post’s comments for future brides!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Contest Winners…

CONGRATULATIONS to the random generated number winners…


   (drum roll…) 


who won  Susan Van Allen’s ‘100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go’ book.

Please email me so that I can get your address! I’m sure that you’ll love it.

The runners up were:

Leanne in Italy who wins Travelers' Tales Italy- True Stories of Life on the Road  

Leanne incidentally, from Australia to Italy Blog just offered me an award -my ten favourite things on the Amalfi coast are coming up!

Breetsuts who wins Travelers' Tales Tuscany- True Stories   

She a talented photographer. Just look at her pretty blog!

Cathy who wins 30 Days in Italy- True Stories of Escape to the Good Life       

Cathy, another expat Australian in Italy has her  musings on life on the Chocolate Brick.


Thank you to all who participated and to all your generous comments. I really appreciate the feedback!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

‘100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go’ CONTEST!!!!



Susan Van Allen is taking the travel book industry by storm.

Her new book 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go  full of beguiling tales and magical places as seen from a feminine perspective,  add richness to any trip to Italy. The practical information combined with intriguing details are a must have for those who are hunting for the hidden gems d’Italia. 

See for yourselves….





The following is an extract from her book on “Positano – Amalfi Coast :

Thanks to Pasitea an irresistible nymph who  lured in Poseidon, the dreamy seaside village of Positano was discovered. It has six beaches to choose from. There’s the large, busy Spiaggia Grande, where you can watch handsome fisherman glide in and out. A short walk away is the quieter Fornillo beach, where you can enjoy drinks on the porch of Il Pupetto.

But for the feel of discovering your own private hideaway and a delicious lunch, head to Arienzo. It’s a small cove bordered with giant rocks, with views of fishing boats bobbing along the horizon, ferries headed for Capri and, in the distance, the Li Galli islands. Legend says these islands were once mermaids whom Ulysses turned to stone so they’d stop trying to seduce him off his course.

I’m not talking great sand. It’s volcanic and coarse with lots of black pebbles. But like almost everything you touch around here, Positano’s black pebbles have a story behind them. If you find one with a hole in it, it means the BVM passed through it, and it’s blessed. You’ll see many Positanesi wearing necklaces of these black pebbles.

The sand situation means you should bring along beach shoes and rent an umbrella and lounge chair. Then get totally comfy, lie back and get lulled by the lapping of the calm water.



Melody, an American who’s lived in Positano for years tipped me off that Ada’s gnocchi at Arienzo is famous in these parts. As you approach the beach you’ll see Ada, a fifty-some-thing-year-old signora with a radiant smile, bustling about in her walk-in-closet-sized kitchen.

The beach snack bar is set up on stilts, looking like something Thurston Howell III would have built on Gilligan’s Island, perched to take in the view with eight inviting tables. A blackboard lists the day’s specials, which along with Ada’s gnocchi may feature spaghetti with clams, Caprese salad, fish caught that morning and granita—flavored ices made from Positano lemons and whatever else is in season.

P1010543Around noon, locals start arriving on foot or pulling up on boats to enjoy Ada’s lunch. Her gnocchi is light and beautifully textured, served with a delicate tomato sauce. The house red is rich and lively. On a visit there one warm October day, for dessert Ada served me a plate of ripe figs picked from a nearby tree, and poured me a glass of home-made limoncello.


Even if you don’t find a pebble with a hole blown through it, at Arienzo Beach you’ll feel blessed.

Arienzo Beach: To get here you can catch a small boat from Spiaggia Grande or walk down a zigzag path of steps from the Arienzo bus stop.

Golden Day: Arienzo Beach and Ada’s gnocchi for lunch. Stay at Maliosa di Arienzo (, a B&B nearby, with your private sea view terrace. Arrange for complimentary car service to Mediterraneo ristorante ( for a dinner of fantastic seafood and a Neapolitan guitar who strums classics.”


Celebrating my Second Blog Anniversary,  I’m offering all of you an opportunity to win not only Susan Van Allen’s          

100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go book 

but am also drawing winners for another three travel titles

Travelers' Tales Italy- True Stories of Life on the Road

Travelers' Tales Tuscany- True Stories

30 Days in Italy- True Stories of Escape to the Good Life

All you need to do is leave a comment here (with your email address, if you are not a blogger), so that I can contact you if you win. This contest is open to everyone regardless of where you live.

I will be drawing the four winners on the 6th of June, so spread the word and get your friends to enter too!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Positano hiking– Teetering on the Brink of a Mountain

‘Get up you lot, we’re going mountain climbing!’
My sleepy family was coerced into getting out of bed at 9:00am on a school holiday and amidst grumbles and more importantly, cries of ‘where are we going to eat?’,  I managed to have everyone on the Montepertuso bus for 10:20.
Unlike my husband who had often visited Santa Maria Del Castello, a small village at the tip of the mountain, with his aunt and company armed full of homemade food and wine, we had only brought water for the dog.  An elderly lady (my taxi driver’s mother) kindly pointed out the right stairs to take on Via Corvo just above Chiesa Nuova and we set off under a beautiful cloudless blue sky in early April.
The steps and paths were steep and twisting upon themselves so that we were weaving in a vertical direction up one side of the mountain. Scrawny plants of thyme crushed underfoot on the wilder trails and large rosemary bushes dotted the cliff faces ready to burst into flower.
My husband’s childhood stories of  breaking into song with his uncles and aunt in the regular hiking excursions to this village as part of their Sunday entertainment, became less credible  as I stumbled on the loose stones under the hot sun.
How could someone sing and climb on a path so steep?  Would the vino have helped?
None-the–less, we kept up a steady pace and my family managed to chatter in allegria while plodding along. Every breathtaking turn was an opportunity to stop and take another photo of the cliffs falling all the way down to the sea.                            
‘Guarda che vista!’,  (look at those views!) became the leitmotiv of the walk.


Halfway there I couldn’t believe how high we’d come, nor how far we still had to go. But there was no turning back. My greatest concern was that returning down the roughly hewn steps would be even more difficult than going up.

Are we there already? Where is this place?  P1020387
My husband recounted that his primary school teacher in Positano came from Santa Maria del Castello on the mountain but somehow I imagine that she would have found herself a room in Positano for the week rather than do this trail every day. It’s true that crossing over the mountains by foot or mule was once common place in these parts but going up and down daily, rain or shine, while not impossible, would have been draining. 
P1020381 Punta Amalfitana
After an hour and a quarter of climbing, we finally rounded a bend,and came across the first houses in the village. A burst of cheering from a nearby field alerted us to a boys football match supervised by a priest and blocking our way were  Carabinieri (police) who had stopped a nervous young driver and were examining  his documents. It was a real country scene with burgeoning fertile vegetable gardens, flowering almonds and barking dogs but with the mod cons of cars going up and down a narrow two-way country lane just wide enough for one car at a time. As there was only one way to go, we turned right and followed the cars to the best trattoria and main attraction in town – Zi’ Pepe.
Santa Maria del Castello                                                                                                                Castel Sant’Angelo – view from the Trattoria

Naturally, Zi’ Pepe which had always been a rustic trattoria in Santa Maria Dell’ Castello had with the years, been refurbished into a large room but the food had remained as genuine as it had ever been. This is not the tourist style restaurant that you’ll find in Positano. I didn’t hear one word of English spoken the whole time that we were there. Even Italian was the second language as Neapolitan dialect flowed more freely than the wine. This is a real restaurant for Italians and they are not anxious to share it either.
We ordered antipasti for my two eldest sons (we are a family of six) from the Richard Gere lookalike waiter and he brought a abundant spread of fried tidbits (eggplant and potatoes croquettes, tiny arancini, fried stuffed olives) homemade salami, three types of prosciutto, fresh mozzarellas ( the mozzarella man was still there, talking to local diners), fried zucchini, roasted peppers, marinated anchovies, calamari salads… it seemed to be never ending. It was all too much even between the six of us, so our dog under the table got the treats we couldn’t eat.
It was difficult choosing first and second courses  not so much for the variety but for the guaranteed quality of the food at very modest prices of not more than 5 Euros a dish. Pasta con sugo di cinghiale (sauce made from wild boar) or porcini mushrooms was our pick followed by a parmigiana di carciofi because the artichokes were in season. It was all washed down with a good vino rosso di casa  (house red) at 3 Euros a bottle.  When Richard Gere offered coffee and Limoncello, I wisely declined thinking of the epic journey back to Positano ahead of us. Any more spirit and I’d be staggering back or sleeping it off.
Surprisingly, or rather, unsurprisingly, the restaurant was full of nattily dressed locals from Positano. Most had arrived by car but some friends had hiked up just before us  and were returning via Montepertuso. Our friend stopped to pick up his walking stick he’d left propped outside the trattoria, and we joined them rather than take the same trail down.
The Islands of Ischia and Procida
Our friends led us on a scenic path which dipped steeply into the valley at the throat of Positano only to rise sharply again on the other side of the mountain. Perched at the top before descending towards Montepertuso we were treated to a view of Ischia and Procida across the top of the mountain into the Gulf of Naples. This was a beautifully shaded walk in cool pine forests and under pencil slim cypress trees. Our tiny dog ran ahead trying to anticipate the path’s direction poking and prodding in every hole he came across.
We rose so high at one point that I was sure that he’d taken the wrong turn somewhere. But the path started zigzagging all of a sudden, down, down, down through people’s picnic points, hunter-gathers of wild asparagus and bonfires grilling sausages for a belated Pasquetta (Easter) picnic. It wasn’t an easy path to come down through on account of the high steps full of loose stones. A twisted ankle would be a probable scenario and I had time to ruminate on how the hell I’d get down in the event of a misplaced foot. I also made a mental note to bring my hiking boots to Positano rather than just wear trainers.

P1020415The valley of Positano far below.

But we did make it down safely to Montepertuso Village roadside in Positano, level with the stairs that end at  La Selvatella bus stop. Already we had plans to come back next year at Easter because of the incredible feeling that teetering on the brink of that mountain had given us. We’d do it in the opposite direction next time and naturally stop by to be served by Richard Gere at Zi’ Pepes’ for our pit stop.

Any takers?