POSI­TANO:

Italy's hid­den hill­side gem

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - @PLAY - SARAH DUFF @trav­el­ling­duff

Words

‘POSI­TANO BITES DEEP. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and be­comes beck­on­ingly real af­ter you have gone,’ wrote au­thor John Stein­beck in 1953. Stein­beck may have fallen in love with the Ital­ian vil­lage more than six decades ago, but its charm hasn’t faded since.

The magic of the sea­side vil­lage cap­ti­vates you be­fore you even get there, as you drive south from Naples along one of Europe’s most beau­ti­ful stretches of coast­line. The road winds around hair­pin bends, through deep gorges, past cliff-hug­ging lemon or­chards and grapevines. Along the way, there are stands with peo­ple sell­ing strings of dried chill­ies like pre­cious jewels, anked by ver­tig­i­nous drops down into the lu­mi­nous Mediter­ranean Sea, hun­dreds of me­tres be­low.

On reach­ing Posi­tano, you are met with pink, yel­low, peach, ter­ra­cotta and white houses.Vil­las are stacked on top of one an­other like puz­zle pieces cling­ing to the steep slopes that tum­ble down to a peb­bly beach and gen­tly curv­ing bay dot­ted with shing boats and yachts. Draped with bougainvil­lea and wis­te­ria and anked by bou­tiques, ge­la­te­ria and el­e­gant ho­tels are nar­row pedes­trian-only streets that run through the vil­lage. Restau­rants with ter­races that make the most of the views serve seafood feasts lob­ster risotto, fried oc­to­pus, grilled sh, lin­guine with clams and chilli – ac­com­pa­nied by wines made with grapes from the tiny vine­yards along the coast and shots of the strong lemon liqueur limon­cello. As dusk falls, Posi­tano is pure ro­mance: the sky turns a bruised dark blue and the sea be­comes a mir­ror re ect­ing the twin­kling vil­lage lights. It’s easy to see why this is a pop­u­lar spot to get mar­ried – and to hon­ey­moon. Ev­ery year scores of cou­ples from around the world tie the knot in Posi­tano’s 900-year-old paste­lyel­low Santa Maria As­sunta church.

The only down­side to this coastal par­adise is that the beach is packed dur­ing the sum­mer months.So if you’re not into sar­dine-like beach­ing, the best way to es­cape the lounger-and-um­brella crowds is by rent­ing a boat to cruise along the coast­line. Stop off at se­cluded lit­tle beaches, dive off to oat in the warm wa­ter and ex­plore turquoise grot­toes. You’ll also be able to catch a glimpse of Ital­ian ac­tor Sophia Loren’s for­mer villa high up on the cliff near the vil­lage of Amal , and for a long lazy lunch, dock at a jetty of one of the many beach restau­rants that dot the coast. At th­ese rus­tic sand-be­tween-your-toes eater­ies, the fare is sim­ple but de­li­cious – fresh catch of the day, tomato-laden br­uschetta, gar­licky mus­sels, home­made pasta, lemon cream desserts and chilled white wine. With your deckchair si­esta spot and the crys­tal-clear sea steps away, la dolce vita doesn’t get bet­ter than this. mc

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