Sunday, March 29, 2009

Positano and the wine of memory

Bill and I woke to our final morning in Piano di Sorrento to the sound of children's voice emanating from a small school one block away: the Scuola Via della Acacha -- A public elementary school with a choir of little ones that sang like angels.

As if the Pied Piper were leading a group of singing children down the streets of the town, I felt the pull of that music. The children were still singing as we pulled away from the Maison de Titty and began our trip to Positano.

I know it sounds extreme, but Positano holds the wine of my most potent memories. It was there, many years ago, that the sight of small school children dressed in blue smocks and pinafores skipping home for lunch, brought an ache to my heart. There where we ate freshly caught fish on the beach and bought baskets of strawberries and wine. There in a hotel overlooking the sea --where the bougainvillea-covered patio shielded us from the sun as we ate breakfast, where in a room filled with the scent of blossoming lemon trees and soft afternoon breezes -- that we made love for the first time.

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As in all the towns along the Amalfi Coast, one does a lot of climbing in Positano. Cars cannot negotiate the town proper and we considered ourselves lucky to find a parking space way, way, above the town. We descended via a narrow stair-and alleyway down the cliffside, arriving at Fornillo's Spiaggia, a beachside hotel where Bill drank espresso and I sipped a frosted glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (which one finds all over Italy, even at highway rest-stops) under a lovely open gallery.

I was surprised by the number of tourist in the town proper. By October the crowds have usually thinned. Thirty-five years ago, if my memory serves, there were no crowds. It was just a small fishing town clinging to the Amalfi Coast. High-end shops didn't cluster under its arcades, and I remember only a few small restaurants. But as then, the town was radiant with flowers cascading from every balcony and terrace and adorning windows and stairways.

No longer there, was the plaque on the wall outside the cathedral telling the story of the miraculous statue that had washed up on the beach, but within the Cathedral, behind iron gates a statue of the virgin stood to the left of a side altar. I'd never seen the statue. When Vittorio and I were there the cathedral was closed, so I can't verify the statue's existence behind those gates.

When Bill and I sought a place to eat lunch, none resembled the simple trattoria where Vittorio and I had eaten. We had a fine meal, though, at a restaurant called La Cambusa where we sat on under a bright orange awning above the beach and watched the artists below at work. I had mixed feelings about having to leave the town so soon after lunch. I wanted to do more exploring, but more of the gorgeous Amalfi Drive lay ahead of us and one doesn't want to miss one curve or one view by driving in the dark.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Missing Gather

In an era when the internet spawned networking communities like geysers in a desert, was one of the first to appear. When it was ...