Sicily ended on a high note as we would love to go back to go to the places we did not see. We got on the plane in Catania to fly to Naples. The weather was a bit weird but we thought nothing of it until we landed in Naples on what felt like two wheels. It was the wind which threw the plane off track. We were one of the last planes flying that night. The storm was terrible.
There was flooding as we drove to Positano and water rushing through the streets. Thank God we were not driving as there were cars stranded everywhere. The mayor of Naples likened it to a volcanic eruption of the atmosphere. The next day, the sun came up like nothing happened. The cars were covered in dust which turned out to be sand as the storm started in North Africa. It was quite the experience.
We walked all over Positano which is built into the Campanian hills. So stunningly beautiful. The houses are different colours which gives it a fairytale look. There is lots of fresh fish pulled right out of the sea and grilled. The al dente pasta is lovely, the speciality here being very wide, short tubes of noodles called paccheri. It’s served with zucchini and lots of provolone cheese made right in the neighbourhood.
We went on the Walk of the Gods which is supposed to be the most beautiful hike in Italy, if not the world. I must admit to my failure in finishing it. It was so difficult with crumbling stone steps going up and down, up and down. I quit and Bruce hates heights. This was over the top of the mountain so we were a pair of cripples. But we celebrated our failure with some good local wine and a dish of local pasta at a trattoria in Nocera. It had the typical sweet yellow cherry tomatoes and lots of provolone cheese.
Apart from fish, the specialties here are buffalo mozzarella and the creamiest ricotta. It is the quality of the milk, which all comes from grass-fed cows, that makes the difference. Don’t turn down a plate of buffalo mozzarella or burrata when you see them. They’re much richer than our homegrown varieties. You can also taste it in the butteriness of the pastries. I never was a big fan of Italian bread but in this area and Sicily too they are using ancient grains to make spectacular bread.
Cetara is a fishing village devoted to the making of salted anchovies and colatura which is the juice of the anchovies which forms after salting and pressing. A few drops on a dish give it a heady anchovy flavour. Their specialty is a kind of pizza with buffalo mozzarella and salted anchovies. It’s outstanding.
Ravello is another must-visit on the coast. High in the hills, it features a spectacular music festival all summer. The stage is built out from the cliff over the sea on steel rafters and you sit in the gardens listening to the music or seeing dance lulled by a faint breeze. You could believe you were in heaven.
It rained heavily while we were in Positano which is unusual as it closes a lot of the industry. Fishermen can’t get out, ferries don’t run and we could not get to Capri which is a popular day trip from Positano, nor take the ferry to Amalfi, the largest town on the coast.
Where to eat on the Amalfi Coast
We stayed at the Villa Franca in Positano which is a charming small hotel with a superb restaurant, Li Galli. It was by far the best food we had in that area. There are lots of Airbnbs as well as cheaper hotels, but in July and August, the town is so packed that accommodations and restaurants are always full. It’s better to go in the shoulder season.
We found most of the food to be just OK. Touristy-type restaurants abound and the menus are all the same. Here are our picks for something at least a little better.
For less expensive eating try any of the three beach fish restaurants that do fresh fish. Ask what fish they have and have it grilled for you.
There is good pizza in several casual restaurants which are slightly out of town. They will send a car for you. Mama Rosa and La Tagliata are casual and fun serving local food made with produce from their own gardens.
Da Vincenzo is fun, hosting large families and celebrations with good food and local wine. It has the kind of atmosphere you might imagine an Italian restaurant should have. The seafood platter was large and tasty, but the pastas were especially good.