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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Italy (Day 7) Beach Day in Positano Paradise


☀️BEACH Day in Positano Paradise, Amalfi Coast. Our planned unplanned (see what I did there) day turned into sun, beach, and relaxation! Postcard Perfection ๐Ÿ™Œ.

Good morning, Positano!
   
I had left this "buffer" day flexible for exploring Positano on our own. Looking at my notes, I saw that I had jotted down Walk with the Gods. Somehow, we ended up doing nothing, but relaxing and enjoying our immediate surroundings basking in the beauty of this beach-side oasis.  It was really nice to have this spare day for some extra beach time.

Where is everybody? Shhh, still sleeping!

You have probably seen plenty of posts about the summer crowds at the beach in Positano.  Those iconic photo shots of all those beach chairs lined up perfectly certainly conjures images of over-packed lounging.  It does definitely get busier especially during the midday, but we never saw it at the capacity of those pics meant to scare you away and we were there at the August peak.  We wandered over periodically, took many pics and then happily returned to our secluded area.


 

This is why we absolutely recommend staying at the Marincanto with its private beach access.  There is another option which is La Scogliera, the private beach club next to Marincanto.  It sits directly on the beach.  It is certainly a $ pricey option, but I think if you are not staying in Positano and come over for a beach day, it is well worth the splurge.  We went over to inquire about getting chairs/umbrellas just to get 10 steps down to the water (yes, we are THAT lazy) but promptly returned to our deck-level when quoted roughly $400 for the day.   



Anybody can certainly enjoy this section of beach here. You just aren't allowed to set any towels down if you are not a paying customer of the club.  This includes putting towels on the rocks to lean on.  Ask me how I know (haha).
 


There is no beach service on Marincanto's beach deck, but the staff member taking care of towels and such on the deck does stock cold beers in a fridge for guests. 


I made the trek all the way back up to the pool level for a real drink. Whew, that was a bit of an effort.


And then, I stumbled upon the bar at the beach club!  Yes, please :) such a friendly bartender with a real talent for scrumptious cocktails. 


I made the same trek several times and each drink was served in a unique cup.  It's definitely worth a wander over here!



 
We super loved the convenience of the mid-level pool service from the restaurant and the food was delicious! So good that we ordered the same seafood dish over and over. Then, we ordered it again.
 



You know what is mind boggling? The beach completely empties at sunset. Whaaat?! I know, right?! Sunrise and sunset are the BEST time to be on the beach and it is completely empty.
  


In the evening, we left the kids in the hotel with room service and strolled the quaint alleyways upside to arrive at a romantic ❤️ dinner with plenty of ๐Ÿท and delicious local foods. 


Beautiful shops line the cliff-side village.  I couldn't resist making a few purchases.  Ok, maybe more than a few. 
 

This is a lovely village to stroll. The street is quite narrow as is the pedestrian walkway and we found ourselves stepping into the street at times, but it's just so pretty that we didn't mind the closeness of the vehicles. Besides, it's not like cars could pick up any speed coming through this busy time.

Ristorante Max is a fantastic restaurant.  It has an inviting entrance into a beautiful setting.  We didn't have reservations, but managed to get a seat at a shared 4-person table with another couple.  No biggie since the food is so darn delicious (in fact, we later learned that this restaurant is considered the best upscale restaurant in Positano).  We loved the food and had fantastic service from start to finish!
  

Oh my ❤️ I don't think we can leave this paradise. What do you think - should we add an extra day of beach or move on? Decisions!


Up Next: Picturesque Positano - Village Wandering

Monday, September 30, 2019

Italy (Day 6) The Famous Amalfi Drive



Today we were guests of our new friend Roberto (Amalfi Coast Destination) who greeted us in the morning and took special care of us all day showing us his PARADISE.  Stunning views, local foods, and lots of culture in the the coastal villages of the Amalfi Drive made this Bucket List must-do a winner. 


We were so excited to explore the many villages and take in the local experience.  Roberto arrived at 9am, so we had plenty of time to enjoy another delightful breakfast at Marincanto before we were off.  Our itinerary was to be a full day of exploring "Simply The Best of Amalfi Coast" with planned long stops to soak up the amazing vibe in the towns of Amalfi and Ravello.

Roberto got us on the Amalfi Drive, the famous windy 163 Coastal road and described his plan to take us south east towards Amalfi passing by other fishing villages of the area such as Praiano, Furore and Conca Dei Marini where it would be possible the visit to the Emerald Grotto, the Amalfi Coast version of Capri’s Blue Grotto.

Let me tell you, our first stop was a stunner (as were all the others)!  The landscape is incredible and Roberto pulled over frequently to show it to us.


 

We even pulled over for sights off the beaten path that we would never have noticed on our own like this really neat miniature replica of the town in the hillside of the curvy road.



We proceeded through the legendary Dragon Valley to visit Ravello, a rural village un-spoilt by tourism, perched on top of the mountain cliff above Amalfi and Minori.  This is such a magical and unique setting of the Amalfi Coast. 

Ravello was founded in the 5th century as a shelter place against the barbarian invasions which marked the end of the Western Roman Empire.  In modern times, Ravello has been a famous destination for artists, writers and musicians, like M.C Escher, Richard Wagner, Greta Garbo, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Leonard Bernstein and Virginia Woolf.  It is known as the "City of Music" with a world famous summer musical festival.


It was raining when we arrived, but that did not dampen our spirits and off we went to explore this quaint village. 
 



 

We came upon the open square and spotted a delightful outdoor snack bar.  Of course, we made a stop.




Properly fuel with delicious cocoa and coffee, we donned our ponchos and found ourselves wandering a nearly empty village in refreshing mist while the other tourists remained under cover. The main square sits in front of the duomo and we had it all to ourselves! Don't mind our outfits ๐Ÿ˜‚


Find my tourists ๐Ÿ˜‚


Loved exploring the narrow alleyways and admiring Ravello's famous ceramic shops.  Sternly told the kids not to touch anything.  Whew - we didn't break anything!
   



For some reason, they continued to wear the stifling ponchos even after the sun emerged.



Want to drive? We found ourselves in a hysterical bottle-neck.  Both ends of the manually controlled light signal must have given the green light. Drivers in the oncoming lane asked, "Was it green for you?" "Yes, it was green for us," we answered.  We joked that the officials purposely mess with the traffic to make it more fun.
   
Behind us!

In front of us!

If Rob was driving, we would still be trying to make a narrow hairpin turn around a tour bus ๐Ÿ˜‚ but because we were in good hands, we got to absolutely enjoy the crazy, curvy, zigzagging world-famous SPECTACULAR road.

Once in Amalfi, Roberto parked the car and invited us to stroll around the central square ( Piazza Duomo ) dominated by St. Andrew’s Cathedral, historical buildings nowadays hotels, the fountain, plus on the waterfront, the statue of Flavio Gioia considered the inventor of the sea compass for navigation, the rocky beaches, the port area, the ancient dockyards plus a front view of the Gulf of Salerno.



Amalfi's main square in front of 9th century St. Andrew cathedral. 
  

The view of the piazza looking across from the top of the steps of St. Andrews.


My favorite part of the day (besides lunch, of course) was entering the monumental complex of St. Andrews.
   

There is a beautiful garden full of palm trees and flowers known as Paradise Cloister to stroll before you enter the duomo.
  

Here you will see many outstanding relics of the times past including remains of a Byzantine period pulpit from the Duomo (dating from 1174 – 1202), featuring inlaid mosaics.
    

You will also see several sarcophagi, including two intact examples dating from the first half of the 2nd century.
    

Paradise Cloister was used as a cemetery for the nobility of Amalfi.


Beautiful frescoes are still visible.


 

9th century Basilica of the Crucifix is where you will find the steps leading down into the crypt.


 
The crypt is the real heart of the Amalfi - it keeps the relics of the body of St. Andrew - the 1st disciple of Jesus. Beneath the altar is a crystal ampule that collects a substance called "Manna" - dense liquid that sweats out from the tomb of the Apostle and has been occurring for 750 years. A "sign" for the local people inspiring deep spirituality.

  


Climbing the steps from the crypt takes you to the stunning cathedral.


The back of the skull of St. Andrew is kept here in the Reconciliation Chapel so it can be venerated by the faithful.
  






We really enjoyed strolling around a bit after touring St. Andrews. Such a lovely coastal village.  Amalfi was once the seat of the Amalfi Maritime Republic, one of the 12th century’s great naval powers.
  


Next, it was time for an awesome off-the-beaten-path lunch at Le Bonta del Capo in the lovely Conca dei Marini, a tiny secluded village.

Roberto was very excited to take us to this friendly family-run restaurant off the beaten path where just the locals go and it was spot on!
 

We were delighted with the local gastronomy, wine and limoncello all according to the typical, delicious, healthy & exquisite Mediterranean diet & flavors while being surrounded by a magical and relaxing atmosphere.  Our view was stunning and we were treated very well by the chef and staff!






If you are in the area, try to find this restaurant and enjoy a fabulous meal in a most perfect setting!
   


After lunch, we made way to our boat ride at the Grotto dello Smeraldo (Emerald Grotto) a cave flooded with natural brilliant blue-emerald light from the sea. 


At the grotto, an internal boat ride offers the possibility to see many stalactites and stalagmites, a submersed nativity scene, but the highlight is the view all around of intense green color, which is available thanks to the natural sun light reflecting on the water that filters through an underwater cavity.


First, we took an elevator down into the cave. We were then instructed to join and fill a boat to capacity. We didn't don life vests and that clued us in that we weren't really going to be going anywhere.


The glowing effect is pretty neat, but it is only visible in a small section of the cave.
 



Baby Jesus in Nativity scene below the water that some divers set up.
  

We were paddled around a bit (less than 15 minutes) and serenaded to the entire time for tips by our oarsman.


It was a very short boat experience on a cramped boat and while we thought it fun for very little effort, I wouldn't recommend going out of your way to do this.  I actually found the exterior scenery more enjoyable.
   



We wrapped up our full day with the drive along the coastline leading southwest back to Marincanto.  The Amalfi Coast is made up of 13 enchanting villages.  We barely scratched the surface, but remain quite content with our decision to focus our coastal 5 nights in Positano.

UNESCO recognized the entire Amalfi Coast as an outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape and designated it a place on the World Heritage List. It retains its old charm and awaits you- are you on your way?   
 
 
Amalfi Coast Destination Private Tour

"Simply The Best of The Amalfi Coast"
The Amalfi Drive | Amalfi | Ravello | Time for lunch off the beaten.
Full day Private Tour 8 Hours.
Meeting time @09.00am in the hotel lobby.
Total cost for the day €340 excluding lunch and entrance fees.



Back to our breathtaking view of Positano.  I've heard people say that Positano is too touristy, too crowded, and way overpriced.  Those are not any of the thoughts I have when I think of Positano.  It is absolutely stunning and the cliffside village captured in the light of different times of the day and night is a sight I'll never forget.  Staying in Positano will give you lifetime memories of spectacular sunrises and sunsets as well as 8,487,383 pictures of the same famous cliffside beach shot.  Yes, it is a splurge but, it is a worthwhile once in a lifetime (if not more) destination.


After our full day, we decided to order in from Marincanto's restaurant and have dinner off our balconies.  This would have been a romantic sunset dinner of dreams except we had a couple of clowns on the adjacent balcony - bwahahahaha.
    

Up Next: Exploring Positano