The Mediterranean Sea Gem 

Positano, Italy is one of the most visited cities in the southern part of the Italian west coast.  It had been eight years since I'd been there, and I could not wait to return.  Although I don't recommend it, we rented a car in Rome and drove the three hour scenic roads to the Amalfi Coast, just south of Naples.  A wrong turn resulted in driving the narrow winding streets of a lovely little town that was fortunately resting during the traditional siesta time of day, around 2:00.  Thankfully, our cellphone directed us back on the road to Positano where we met up with giant tour buses and numerous motorcyclists anxious to get to Positano.  The road is very winding, but views of the Mediterranean Sea are breathtaking.  

Once arriving near the city, we found our hotel, Monte Mare, which hangs high above the city with terraces and ocean views from the rooms (most of the rooms).  The shop, homes and restaurants of the city are connected with stone staircases that wind up and down.  We counted 355 stairs and a few hills from the beach up to our hotel and the main road, which certainly helped us burn some calories from the delicious food we had been eating.  

I took a cooking class from the company, Cooking Vacations, and enjoyed a small class for advanced cooks.   We made homemade pasta farfalle with salmon cream sauce, sea bass cooked with olives and cherry tomatoes over puréed eggplant, prawns and grilled escarole, and espresso chocolate mousse.  

The area is know for their delicious lemons, which makes marvelous lemoncello, the aperitif served at most restaurants after the meal.  Of course, fish is the main food choice in restaurants, but many dishes with lemons are also served, including pasta with lemon sauce and lemon meatballs.  

Our favorite meal in Positano was at Ristorante Casa Mele, where Chef Raffaele made the most beautiful and tasty food we had on the entire trip in Italy.  His preparation of sea bass, red mullet, pork (3 ways), fried beef tenderloin, seafood risotto, and seafood ravioli with lemon sauce was perfect and left us all completely satisfied and eager to take the long walk back to the hotel for rest.

If you go to Positano, you really must take the ferry to the nearby Isle of Capri where the tourists scramble to shop, and the rich and famous live quietly in their beautiful mansions in the hills.  The ceramic shops were my favorite, and I managed to find a gorgeous 13-piece serving dish in the shape of a fish.  I was thrilled the shop was able to ship it to the U.S. for a reasonable price.  I also found a shop, Eco Capri, where they sell dresses and scarves made from fabrics with designs that were formerly wallpaper art of the Isle of Capri back in the 1950's.  

We splurged and hired the driver of a convertible, which is common on the island.   The cars are built to carry four or five people and the top is either open, closed or covered with a canvas.  It was so much fun to ride to the top of the island and see the gorgeous views.  We went to the area of the famous Blue Grotto and ate at Ill Riccio where we had seafood pasta, salads and grilled fish skewers.  They have a terrace with sun beds to rest after a tasty meal.  That day the sea was too rough for a boat ride around the island.  On our previous visit years ago, we hired a private boat to go around the island and it was lovely.  We agreed the ride in the convertible was equally as enjoyable.  

We spent only three days near the Amalfi Coast, and it's likely we won't return anytime soon.  There are so many tourists and the traffic and crowds got to be a little too much for us.  The weather was perfect, and the views were spectacular, but apparently the rest of the world has discovered this formerly hidden gem.

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