No chance of a cold shoul­der

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SUSAN KUROSAWA

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.

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