No chance of a cold shoulder
Oh, the joys of off-season travel. The tourism industry, including airlines, talk of “shoulder seasons”, those bridesmaid months that fall both sides of summer and winter. So basically this means March-April-May or September-October-November, and thus spring or autumn, depending on the hemisphere.
The shoulders are particularly worth considering when visiting top European destinations such as France, Spain and Italy.
I was on the Amalfi Coast in early May and although the magnet towns of Positano and Sorrento were hardly underpopulated with tourists, the crowds were manageable, prices still reflected the low season and good tables for lunch on restaurant terraces could be secured on the spot if you (or I) arrived at the pip of noon. This doesn’t mean the operatic Italian way of doing things was held in check.
Oh, bella signora, you have not the reservation? Um, no, I confess as the silver-fox waiter and I survey an acreage of empty tables.
He looks very sad on my behalf. Perhaps Signora wants just the set menu and an espresso? Perhaps Signora will not take long? I nod agreeably. Si, per favore. I am installed at just about the best table, with the bluest views imaginable reaching across the Mediterranean and on and up to heaven. The very good food arrives promptly and I eat it hurriedly, imagining that at any moment a juggernaut of reservation-bearing tourists will appear and I will be turfed out.
The silver fox waiter passes by to clear my pasta plate and suggests a dish of lemon gelati and perhaps biscotti with my espresso.
A dozen tables have now filled. I ask him if there’s time for dessert. Signora is in a hurry? No, but ... the table? You need it surely? A broad, foxy smile. Take your time, enjoy the view.
My tip is so over-generous that I have probably paid peak-season rates. He kisses my hand, strokes my shoulder as I leave. Some moments are priceless.