Italy Part 4: Positano

IMG_3588As I’m sitting down to write this post, it occurs to me that this is less a post about Positano than a love letter to Le Sirenuse. Oh, how I love this hotel!

We arrived via boat to the view you see below. You can recognize Le Sirenuse as the red hotel, trimmed in white, just to the right of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, above Marina Grande Beach. It is quite a sight! Bustling, busy and full of life, this is the heart of Positano. A porter came to get our bags and we were off on the winding paths and staircases that led to our hotel. It was a wondeerful way to arrive, as we immediately got a feel for this quaint, seaside town.

Le Sirenuse just “gets” details. Everything from the ashtrays to the towels has their signature mermaids. Upon arrival, we enjoyed a delightful lunch on the poolside terrace, overlooking this view. Then, we were by the lemon tree lined pool. Mind you, it’s not a large pool, but it was a delightful temperature and the staff takes care of every need.

Shopping was not huge on my list, as we had done a little of that in Ravello and Capri, but I had to make a stop at the highly regarded Emporio Le Sirenuse. The designer and creative mind behind this trio of shops (one for men, one for women, one for home) is Carla Sersale, part of the owning family of Le Sirenuse. She has curated and designed a beautiful line of clothing and brought in accessories that you won’t see everywhere. Of course, I wanted everything!

Our welcome was incredible. From the warm greeting at the front desk and the refreshing welcome drink (lemon, of course)… to the champagne and gourmet goodies waiting in our room. We ate at their restaurants both nights – originally out of convenience and because we wanted to try both the formal dining and the Champagne & Lobster bar (no surprise there, right?). Every meal was amazing.

We ventured off on Day 2 on one of the hotel’s boats to the island of Nerano for lunch at the famed Conca del Sogno. Mentioned in an earlier post, this is the spot that 2 friends said we could not miss and I’m so glad we didn’t. Arriving by boat is half the fun and the zucchini spaghetti was out of this world! You can sunbathe if you like, but we just enjoyed lunch, so you could easily go just for that.IMG_3562IMG_3580IMG_3581 IMG_3607 IMG_3632IMG_3604 IMG_3610

IMG_3623 IMG_3612positanoIMG_3619IMG_3628 IMG_3733 IMG_3729IMG_3630IMG_3698IMG_3716IMG_3719We didn’t get to everything that we had hoped to. Which is a wonderful reason to return some day (which my husband says he might consider!). Here are the places that were highly recommended, but will have to wait on another visit.

Chez Black (for dinner), Restaurant Max (for dinner), Il San Pietro (for drinks or to stay) and Da Adolfo (for lunch).

Huge thanks go to my wonderful friend and travel advisor, Sandy Grodsky. I have no doubt that certain elements of our trip were made better because of her personal attention to detail! You can follow her love of travel at @youmaybewandering!

Positano, two days weren’t enough….we were just getting to know one another. I hope that we will meet again and get better acquainted!

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Italy Part 3: La Fontelina Beach Club


IMG_3370Come. Sit. And, let me tell you about THE beach club in Capri….La Fontelina.

Originally founded in 1949 on a rocky spot, right by the Faraglioni rocks, La Fontelina has been host to numerous sun worshipers over the years, including many famous faces. You might wonder what makes a beach club set on a bunch of rocks so special. Is there sand? No…there’s no sand. Is it easy to get to? No, not really. Do people go for the food? No, not really…but it’s very good. That’s not why people come here.

People go to La Fontelina for the view and the vibe. It is a family business that has endured storms and destruction. There is a resilience in this beautiful spot. They’re protective of this space and it has become a beacon to those who visit Capri.

We spent two of our days here and it gave us a chance to see it from different vantage points. On the first day, we made the long trek down (and back up at the end of the day) a steep, winding path, so we were rewarded with the aerial view of all those blue and white umbrellas. On the second day, we arrived by boat (which was much more enjoyable) and left the same way. If you have a choice….I say…go by boat!
DSC_0337IMG_3884La Fontelina is run the old school way. Reservations, which are a MUST, are written down in a big book. They are most definitely not on Open Table. And, there is a pecking order. There are regulars who go multiple times a week, year over year. They will get priority. But, you might get lucky. We did on the second day. It most likely had to do with a request from our hotel. But, I think it helps to go more than once.

That said, there are a number of cool locations to get set up with a sunbed or chairs and umbrella. They have everything, including towels, so you can just bring your sunscreen and your favorite book.DSC_0338 DSC_0339DSC_0366 IMG_3366The sangria. What can I say? It really is THAT good. We weren’t sure if we would order it, but we knew someone there who went every year and when we saw they ordered it, we followed suit. Good call. It was light, delicious and refreshing. Definitely give it a try!IMG_3377IMG_3378DSC_0343DSC_0367 IMG_3363IMG_3368DSC_0365IMG_3371Sometimes a place just defies explanation. La Fontelina is just such a place. It’s a magical little spot, atop some rocks above the Mediterranean with a million dollar, make that a 10 million dollar view. If you ever have the chance to go, I hope you’ll love it!

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Italy Part 2: Capri

DSC_0365Ahhhh….Capri.

I’ve been dreaming of visiting this island for many years and the rest of the itinerary was built around our time here. We took a private boat from Amalfi to Capri for a 4 hour tour along the Amalfi Coast, through and around the famous Faraglioni rocks and a complete tour of Capri and its many grottos.

The White Grotto was one of my favorites (pictured below, along with the Green Grotto), but alas the Blue Grotto was closed on the day we had planned to see it. I guess we’ll just have to go back! This was a great way to get our bearings, understand where various beach clubs (such as La Fontelina, pictured above) were located on the island and was a fun way to bridge the time between check out at our first hotel and check in at the next.
DSC_0379 DSC_0362 DSC_0368DSC_0372IMG_3276IMG_3259A dream within the dream was staying at JK Place Capri, as we had previously stayed at JK Place in Florence and JK Roma. We were not disappointed!!! Designed by Michele Bonan, the chic, JK style enhances the stunning circa 1875 mansion, containing just 22 rooms,  overlooking the Mediterranean.

JK is located above Marina Grande, which gives great access to the boats. Not being in town may be seen as a detraction to some…but we felt it was a plus. The hotel will drive you the 10 minutes to town or take you to the docks in their little electric cart to catch a boat. During the daylight hours, visitors coming just for the day flood the small town, so we found it an asset to be at one of the beach clubs, by our pool or on a boat at this time. Early evening is a perfect time to return to town for an apertif and some shopping before dinner.IMG_3320IMG_3543IMG_3292IMG_3308IMG_3309 IMG_3316IMG_3312IMG_3356 IMG_3299 IMG_3344IMG_3342DSC_0381IMG_3315 IMG_3531Where to Stay:

Getting a reservation at JK is half the challenge. My best advice is to plan early. A year in advance if possible. Other hotels that you might consider (or prefer if you want to be closer to the action) are Quisisana, La Scalinatella (same owner, but smaller and no children) or Tiberio Palace. If you don’t stay at JK, it is the perfect spot for lunch or a sunset cocktail.

Restaurants:

Da Paolina-have dinner in a fragrant lemon grove

Da Giorgio-amazing pizza in a casual setting with beautiful views (filled with locals)

Villa Verde – open air, lively and fun

Al Grottino – recommended but we ran out of nights

Beach Clubs:

La Fontelina: there is so much to say about this one that I’m doing an entire post on it for Monday.

Il Riccio: We loved it! It is right next to the Blue Grotto, so you can combine seeing it and then stop in for sunbathing and a leisurely, lavish lunch. Known for its food, we think it was one of our best meals. Make a reservation for both lunch and the sunbathing. This is KEY!

Lido Faro: This beach club is one recommended by our hotel, but one we never had the chance to try. It is located at the lighthouse, which is still working. It is known for its amazing sunsets, so visitors are known to stay late in the day.

Conca de Sogno: Recommended by friends who said it was the best meal they’ve ever had. It is also where you find bold faced names and can enjoy one of the most delicious zucchini pastas ever! Like most of the clubs, a smaller boat from the club will come pick you up from your boat and bring you ashore. That is half the fun! It is equal distance from Capri and Positano, so you can get their from either one. We used one of our days in Positano to go there (and used their boat).IMG_3322DSC_0376IMG_3323 IMG_3333IMG_3331One of the most fun ways to get around is in the colorful taxis. Each has a different interior color and cover. Of course, my husband flagged down the pink one for us!

Shopping along Via Camerelle, which is filled with numerous shops (Hermes, Pucci, Eres, Gucci, etc…) is also home to Canfora Sandals where you can get a custom pair (I got 2!) , just like Jackie O, and has a storied Roman past. It is also the road that links the Quisisana hotel to the pathway leading down to La Fontelina. I just loved it was covered in pink bouganvilla!IMG_3428IMG_3337Many people think that Capri is perfect for a day trip and that’s what I originally planned. But, a chance meeting with someone influenced me to extend our stay and it was the best advice! We were there for 4 nights and it was not too long. We met numerous people who go every year, typically bouncing between their favorite beach clubs and restaurants each day.

I’m dreaming of my return trip already! Next up on the blog….La Fontelina and then Positano.

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