Sunday, July 1, 2012


As lovely as it is in Cervinara, we are always happy to have to opportunity to get away to visit new spots or revisit favorites from the past.  This week, with the arrival of my sister and her husband, we were able to get away for a nice time in Sorrento, just south of Napoli.  While I've been to Sorrento many times in the past, it is always a treat to see the beautiful old town, the gorgeous scenery and the lemon trees.
I booked a couple of rooms in the Ulisse Deluxe Hostel, just outside of the old city center.  At our ages, we don't usually consider hostels as an appropriate lodging solution, but I trusted Rick Steves' recommendation and went with it....a very wise decision.  We had lovely rooms (no views, no balconies, but spotlessly clean and comfortable), very large bathrooms, and a good hearty breakfast included for 70 euros per room per night.  Parking was available and we were a very short walk to all the action.
Our first day was spent strolling around this beautiful old town, tasting limoncello samples, gazing across the bay to Vesuvius, and checking out the many vendors of overpriced souvenirs.  We enjoyed some quiet moments in the 12th century St. Francis cloister just off the Villa Communale.  Our first meal consisted of mozzarella di buffala sandwiches made in our bathroom!  Supper was a search for some fresh sardines for the fellows.  After a couple of false starts, the sardine restaurant was located and everyone was happy.
The next day we were picked up at our hotel at 8:30 am and were escorted to a port in Massa Lubrense for a daylong tour along the Amalfi Coast.  We have driven the Amalfi Coast highway a couple of times before, but it's never fun for the driver, so we decided to go for a boat cruise to see the sights from the water.  For 35 Euros we had door to door service, stops in Amalfi and Positano and some lovely views from the boat.  Our stop in Amalfi lasted for 3 hours, time for us to settle in on the beach for a nice long swim, then enjoy the sandwiches we had packed for lunch.  It was very hot, so our rental umbrellas and beach "beds" were most welcome.  For 10 euros we had a changing area, umbrella, two cots, and a shower for as long as we wanted.  The water was warm and limpid, although unfortunately littered with the occasional apple core or cigarette butt.
After a nice time on the beach we moved back onto our boat for the 45 minute trip to Positano.  This is a jewel of a town, with no streets and no cars allowed.  Dropped off at the water front, we walked up and down the alleyways and stairs, window-shopping and looking for gelato shops.  Bill found a great shop where they packed up a nice Styrofoam box for us to enjoy.  Peach and pistachio were an inspired mixture!  We enjoyed a sit-down at a shady spot and made short work of that gelato!
After a couple of hours in Positano, we reboarded the boat and headed back to Massa Lubrense for our trek back to the hotel.  A quick shower to cool off was all that was needed before we headed out again, this time for dinner.  We had made reservations at a little waterfront restaurant and by the time we were back in the hotel lobby the shuttle car was waiting for us.
This little restaurant, called La Tavernetta, was in an idyllic spot.  The shuttle service is necessary because it is near impossible to get to the restaurant without it!  To get from the highland areas of Sorrento down to the waterfront of Marina di Puolo required a hair-raising trip down narrow little streets with very tight switchbacks.  One of the turns is so tight that it was impossible to manoeuvre and we had to go down that stretch in reverse!  The shuttle car was a tiny little Fiat that the four of us could squeeze into, and it certainly wasn't a comfortable ride, but it was a far cry better than trying to get there ourselves!  The ride was worth it, because we shortly found ourselves in a semi-deserted little seaside town, with a couple of restaurants on the beach and a very short board walk.  The food was spectacular, with seafood antipasto, seafood pasta, pear and ricotta desserts, and some very good wine, all for a most reasonable price.  The crowning moment was the limoncello accompanied by a cutting board full of lots of dark chocolate.  The lemon and chocolate combination, while unusual, was surprisingly delicious.  Bill wanted a souvenir of the restaurant and the waiter satisfied him with the gift of two limoncello shot glasses, accompanied by more liqueur and another platter of chocolate!
Our dinner was memorable for so many reasons; the view, the food, the fun chatting with our waiter Tonino, and of course the ride home!  If you find yourselves in Sorrento, you must visit this quaint spot.  It was like something out of a cheesy, romantic movie, complete with pink sunset, little boys splashing in the calm sea, sailboats in the distance, and Italian music playing softly in the background.

So, if we hadn't had the opportunity to share this spot with my sister, we never would have found this quiet corner of very busy Sorrento, and we wouldn't have these wonderful memories to stay with us.  I am looking forward to the possibility of bringing other folks here, and am glad to have been able to share this with Mary and Bill.

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