Pompei, Panzella in Positano, Shopping in Sorrento, Capri and Ya Gotta Have Friends…
Updated: Nov 25, 2020
Dear Family and Friends,
Greetings from the land of lemons- Sorrento Italy! Wow do I love it here; the only thing I don’t like is the height of it all. The Amalfi Coast is super scenic, but super far off the ground too with lots of twists and turns. Unless you are a Formula One driver, I highly recommend taking a boat, bus, cab, or train to get you to and from your destinations.
The first night was dinner at the Foreigner’s Club. Perched high above the rooftops I arrived to breathtaking views of the Gulf of Naples and Capri, waiters in tuxedos, and a mini orchestra playing Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick in The Head.” I felt like anytime soon Cary Grant and Grace Kelly were going to step out of their 1965 Alfa Romeo, waltz in, and start doing the foxtrot.
To say I did a little shopping in Sorrento would be the understatement of the year. Thank goodness for my American Express Platinum Card. You know, the card with no limit that you are only supposed to use for emergencies? Well, I declared it a personal emergency that I could not decide which of the four gorgeous hand stitched Linen Dresses I found at Vanity Linens should be put back on the hanger; so, I bought all of them.
Our first day included a tour of Pompei. This has been on my bucket list and I was not disappointed. The tour was through Viator and we had a very knowledgeable and humorous guide named Maria. Maria has been doing tours for 10 years, so she had lots of knowledge, plus some fun facts about a city that back in the day was once full of 20,000 people, and a very busy brothel.
Along the way I managed to sneak in a visit to Positano and meet up with my good friend Colorado Kasey. You may remember Kasey from my NZ trip; still travelling the world, Kasey arranged to meet me in Positano- what a great friend! The two of us spent a lovely, leisurely afternoon lunching at Trattoria La Tagliata. Perched high on a mountain top, with a million-dollar view, dining at La Tagliata is a must. The restaurant has been owned and operated by the same local family for over 30 years and Mama, who is in her 70’s now, still does all the cooking.
There is no set menu at La Tagliata because dining there is like a box of chocolates; you sit down to seven courses Mama has cooked fresh that morning. During our visit we dined on Fried Mozzarella with Cannelli Beans, four different kinds of homemade pasta, Meatballs and Fennel Sausage, Zucchini Parmigiana, Peasant Salad, and gorgeous Grandma Cake and Tiramisu. Afterwards Mama and manager Tony, were kind enough to let us look around the property where they grow all their own produce and raise their own livestock, on the side of a cliff.
After a reluctant, “its not goodbye its bon voyage,” to Kasey I hopped on the local bus back to Sorrento. A big shout out to Mike from Wales for ensuring I got a seat on the last bus out of town. I had been patiently waiting when suddenly it seemed like the entire village of Positano was at the bus stop too. Mike, a captain in the Welsh armed forces, saw me getting jostled out of line, and very firmly insisted to the crowd I was getting on the bus first, he even got me a seat too; manners maketh the man! On the bus-ride home I managed to carry on an actual conversation in broken Italian with some locales about either the price of seafood, or socks, (I’m not sure which), but it felt great to practice the Italian I had been working on with my tutor Zora.
On my last day I had a marvellous boat trip to Capri and night in Marina Grande. On the way to dinner I ran into (literally), the balloon animal guy. Now I don’t know about you, but I LOVE balloon animals- always have. He saw me walking and very kindly made me a friend to take to dinner at Soul and Fish. Soul and Fish is a fantastic seafood restaurant at the water’s edge with great jazz music and within walking distance of Sorrento. There, my cheerful waiter Cheeto, (yes, just like the chip), taught me how to choose a Big Ugly Fish (BUF), for dinner. Cheeto was fantastic; a fun waiter in a fun place serving delicious food with great service. Oh, BTW, you can learn to choose a BUF for dinner too and make a balloon animal; just click below for the videos. Grazie Cheeto and Mohammed!
What a great visit! I am so grateful for this wonderful adventure, with lots of friendly faces along the way. It is a reminder to me that if we treat others with kindness and gratitude, it will always come back to you in spades.
Yikes look at the time; I need to finish packing for my weekend in Rome! Thanks for hanging in there with me…Ciao for now!
Stay, Play, Dine and Shop on the Amalfi Coast!
Via degli Aranci, 108 Sorrento, NA
My friend Nina found us a fabulous mid priced hotel within walking distance of the town centre, the Grande Hotel Cesare Sorrento. We were able to walk almost everywhere and felt safe doing so. The hotel had a lovely garden, relaxing rooftop terrace, and breakfast was included. The hotel staff were very professional and eager to help us arrange any activities or reservations we required. Nothing was too much trouble and the staff had great recommendations. Moderately priced this hotel was very well managed and great value. I would recommend using it as a home base for side trips to Capri, Amalfi, Ravello, or Positano if required.
We did a day long excursion to Capri, but there are also tours that go in the evening and include more extensive sightseeing or hydrofoil options. The sky is really the limit here, but in order to get what you want you should consider booking in advance. Private or group tours are available and getyourguide.com is a good place to start your search.
As previously mentioned, a must do in Positano! However, if you want to eat here you are best to make a reservation. Very moderately priced and incredible Italian cuisine made with love from Mama.
Marina Grande -Sorrento NA Italy
Stupendous seafood and lovely ambiance with delicious creative cuisine and great wine pairings. A must stop in Marina Grande and reservations are recommended.
Located in the historical district of Sorrento and famous for their Tereazza delle Sirene overlooking the Gulf of Naples, the Foreigner’s club is both a popular restaurant and wedding destination. Make sure you check out the Tereazza for the incredible views, lunch or dinner, and great entertainment. I got lucky and was able to catch the fireworks across the gulf in Capri. For both day and nighttime views, I would recommend arriving about 730pm, catching the sunset, and of course the orchestra playing Volare by Dean Martin. If you want a great date place, this is the spot to go!
Although I did not write about it extensively, I had a fabulous tasting dinner with wine pairings at the Hotel Continental rooftop dining room. A high- end property with elegant rooms, this hotel also offers a beautiful rooftop bar and restaurant, Terrazzo Vittoria. A fabulous place for a drink and appetizers before dinner, or lovely fine dining experience.
Sorrento & Positano
Mama Mia; so many shopping choices I don’t know where to start! I loved shopping in Sorrento, Positano and Capri. Each was unique in that Sorrento had the most variety and selection, Capri the most exclusive, and Positano the most eclectic and more artsy. You can’t go wrong shopping in any of these towns. Googling shopping on the Amalfi Coast will yield you a plethora of leads. Because there are so many beautiful boutiques to choose from, I would recommend allowing time at each destination for browsing.
For a bit of nostalgia, you can check out La Parisienne, the local shop since 1906 specializing in custom made Capri pants that was a favourite of Jackie Onassis and Audrey Hepburn. Custom pants in silks with solids or prints start at £498.00. The shop is colourful, eclectic, and worth a visit. Capri also has a long history of perfume making dating back to the 15th Century when monks starting using abundant flowers on the island to create scents. Carthusia is the crown jewel of perfume shops and has been making perfumes since 1681. I was fortunate enough to explore this lovely shop and would highly recommend a stop here.