A TALE OF TWO CITIES: Contrasts and Perspectives

Sunday, April 1, 2012

written by Janet

I don’t know if we can adequately describe the feeling of “fortunateness” we feel for being together on the gorgeous Amalfi Coast. We discuss it constantly. As we wander throughout the town of Praiano, we see our villa from various angles and never fail to be awed. We even see it in various publications . . . more on one in particular when the Monday blog is posted.

 The view from one of our terrazos looking West into the town.

We already think of Marina di Praia as our own. Since it is “off season”, it is a sleepy little slice of Heaven that we simply adore.

We have a loose schedule today that consists of (hopefully) catching a bus into Positano, one of the larger cities on the Amalfi Coast, alighting in the middle of town, looking around a bit, then hoofing it about 20 minutes back to the outskirts of Positano for lunch at a special place, Al Barilloto del Nonno.

First order of business is to obtain bus tickets and caffeinate. We do both just outside of Praiano.

We’ve read various horror stories about the bus schedules being “a work of fiction”. Nonetheless, we hopefully await our chariot.

Ah . . . we spy our bus coming around the corner with our villa in the background. And right on schedule!

We hop aboard for the short ride into Positano. The view from the front seat of the bus of Positano in the distance is breathtaking.

We exit the bus and find ourselves among a mass of humanity.

Aargggg . . . this is a far cry from the serenity offered by Praiano. Regardless, we brave the crowds (made worse by the fact that church has just let out on Palm Sunday) and venture deep in to the center of town. We traverse down many, many steps, almost to the sea and quickly decide we need to get out of there and back to tranquility. While we’re sure many people would enjoy this atmosphere, it’s not for us . . . at least not at this time . . . so we traipse back up the many, many stairs and begin heading out of town.

 We discover that we prefer Positano from afar.

We enjoy our peaceful walk back out of Positano and stop to enjoy some beautiful scenery.

 Many homes look like they simply rose out of the rock.

 A lovely, unexpected waterfall.

We arrive at our destination . . . Al Barilotto del Nonno. This is way outside of Positano proper, and it is a “destination restaurant” . . . meaning you don’t just happen upon it and decide to dine there. Because we called ahead yesterday and told Giovanni we would be there around 1:00, he has reserved the primo table for us.

We enjoy our conversation with Giovanni and put ourselves in his hands to design our lunch. Linda and I are both craving meat, even though seafood is clearly the specialty. We tell Giovanni we would like to share our dishes, and after discussion we agree on clams and mussels over pasta, gnocchi, and pasta Phillipo (a spicy dish named for the chef). We start with the complementary bruschetta.

It doesn’t occur to us until our food is delivered that we didn’t actually get any meat or that we would be on carbo overload with 3 pasta dishes! Nevertheless, the food is marvelous. I’ve never been a big fan of gnocchi, but these were little pillows of flavor that were so incredible that I’ve been converted.

We feel the need for something to “cut through” the richness of the pasta and request grilled vegetables. Giovanni says he will “come up with something” and brings us a beautiful plate of grilled eggplant and zucchini that hit the mark.

We are stuffed. BUT we’ve heard we simply must try the chocolate cake NO MATTER WHAT. Mario, a friend of Gianni’s, shows us the two available cakes, and we quickly order the chocolate, please.

Oh my! Simply divine. It was so rich and cakey yet gooey. A textural masterpiece. A great way to satisfy a sweet tooth.

While we have been enjoying our lunch, an older couple comes in and sits at the table behind us. Food begins to magically appear without them ordering. They are clearly regulars, as Gianni and the chef take great care of them. Linda insisted on getting a photo of them, so she surreptitiously captured them while getting a photo of Janel.

The SHL have, once again, thoroughly enjoyed an excellent meal together.

Now we must wait for the bus to take us back to Praiano. We don’t really know the bus schedule but do know we should wait at the Fermata Sita sign and one should be along within a half hour or so.

Janel is a carbo-coma.

While we are waiting, a taxi drives by, spots us, and backs up. He speaks no English, and we (Janel, that is), speaks a little Italian. We manage to communicate that we are waiting for the Sita bus to Priano. He is going to Praiano and offers us a ride and will take the bus tickets as compensation. Yes, please, and thank you very much! He drops us just outside our villa. Ahhhh.

We rest for a while, catching up on blogging and reading. Evening comes and are not hungry but do definitely want to get out of our villa. A trip into our Marina di Praia seems order, and we go in search of Prosecco. We have noticed a restaurant around the bend from our favories that seems to have activity and head for it. It is Hotel Onde Verde, and we agree to sit outside and enjoy a bottle of Prosecco. It doesn’t give off the vibe we want, so we finish the Prosecco and move to Bar Mare, where we will be much more comfortable. They are clearly about to close for the evening because there are no patrons there. We ask if we could sit and have a jug of wine, and are warmly assured that we can.

Salvatore even brings us slivers of cake to go with our wine.

Yes, this is more our style, and we spend the rest of the evening deep in conversation.

Today’s blog is about contrasts and perspectives. We were happy to visit Positano, but we were just as happy to leave. We seem to fit in well with the locals in Praiano. As we wander through the town, we’ve seen and been waved to by Giovanni (our driver from the Naples airport) and Armando from Armandino. We’re sure the SHL are being discussed by those we meet, just as we are discussing them!

There were two encounters today that happened too quickly to capture in photos, but that we laughed about several times. The first was when we arrived in Positano. We were walking down the sidewalk when a dog came barrelling up the sidewalk. A second glance showed his owner on a motorized scooter in the street, urging the dog on. A unique way to walk the dog! The second encounter was when we were sitting at Barilotto. We saw a teenaged boy pedalling his bicycle up the hill in front of us. He was followed by his father on a motorized scooter. We envisioned the father saying “Pedal, Junior, pedal! The Tour de France is only 3 months away!” We’ve laughed about both of those events many times and only wish we could have captured them pictorially.

We received tokens of good fortune for Palm Sunday from both Momma at Bar Mare and Giovanni from Barilotto.

One final picture demonstrating contrasts/perspectives.


2 thoughts on “A TALE OF TWO CITIES: Contrasts and Perspectives

  1. I didn’t see “written by Janet” up front, and immediately took the writing to be from my lovely wife. Finally figured it out about half way through. You two must be cut from the same piece of cloth. Fancy that.

    Your observations are great. I’m with you – Praiano sounds more my speed too. Excellent pics and writeup.

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