Over the last week or so blog posts have been infrequent – so infrequent that there haven’t been any actually. The reason is simply because we’ve had visitors – from New Zealand and the UK. We have been busy – a complete novelty after 3 months of doing, well, nothing.
In addition to Charmaine, Mike and little James we’ve had Danny Malone a mate from KiwiRail arrive on his latest European trip and Gill, Andre and Josh and Jordan jet in from the UK.
In the last few days we’ve been sightseeing in Pisa, Florence, Siena, San Gimignano and Volterra. We’ve eaten out in cafe’s, our local pizza restaurant and a restaurant with a carpark that turns into seating at night. We’ve laid by the pool, we’ve made a dent in the national stock levels of Chianti and Birra and generally had a great time.
A mixed assortment of pictures follow.
Charmaine, Mike and James at that tower
The Duomo in Firenze
Jordan in front of Florentine tapestries
Souvenirs of Firenze
Artist at work in Firenze
Piazza delle Signoria in Firenze
Firenze carriage driver taking a break
Graeme and Daisy on church steps in Castellina in Chianti
Today Jean’s sister, brother-in-law and their wee baby arrive in Positano. Charmaine, Mike and James have been in Europe for the last 2 weeks visiting London and Paris. They should be well acclimatised and ready to tackle the frantic pace of life that is Positano.
This is their first trip to Italy and we are really excited to have the chance to show them around.
They fly into Naples airport later this afternoon (Wednesday) and we have arranged for a car and driver to pick them up and bring them over the hill to Positano. We’ve already asked them not to judge Italy by what they see during the drive. While there are parts of Naples that are beautiful the parts you pass through on the way to the Amalfi peninsula are not those ones. I’ve never really experienced the third world but I imagine it’s a bit like southern Naples.
The Amalfi Coast with the coast road cut into the cliffs - look closely and you'll spot it
The good news is that all that is forgotten when you crest the backbone of the peninsular and the view is the blue sea with the thin ribbon of road winding along the coast cut precariously into the cliffs and with small villages hanging to the cliffs in seemingly impossible places.
We’ve also warned them about the width of the roads (or lack thereof) and the propensity of Italians driving everything from scooters to tour buses to overtake or undertake or to do u-turns or simply stop for no reason at all.
Thankfully the limousine drivers are experts at negotiating these roads however I do recall one occasion a few years ago when almost all the luxury Mercedes car that we started the trip in made it to the end.
It had a wing mirror removed by a passing car that got a little too close. All I remember was the sound of tearing metal and smashing glass, and the sight of the mirror flying past the side window of the car. No one stopped but we did learn a few choice Italian phrases that we could use if we found ourselves in a similar situation.
There is a constantly changing parade of superyachts mooring off Positano. Every day some arrive and some leave. The most we have seen at one time is 11 and on average there would be 5 or 6 in each day.
Thanks to a long camera lense we can usually name them. The shots below are of the Christina O – the private yacht built by Aristotle Onassis and a group of 4 superyachts which includes Arctic P, a research vessel that was converted into a luxury cruiser by Kerry Packer and is now owned by his son James Packer.
From the top clockwise – Arctic P, Siran, Casino Royale and Mosaique
Ok, so I’ve got the luxury of time on my hands. And what better way to spend it than brushing up my PhotoShop skills and then boring everyone with the results.
In particular a process called “tilt shift” photography which makes a photo appear to be “model-like”. The purist approach to this involves special camera lenses and vast amounts of setup time. But good old PhotoShop can emulate the look with quite impressive results.
I’ve taken a shot of the local beach and had a wee play.
We have been in Positano for a week or so and life has settled into a comfortable, simple routine.
Our days start late at the villa and after a leisurely walk to the hotel we spend the hottest part of the day around the hotel pool.
Late evening in Positano
In the cool of the evening we either return to Villa Greta and enjoy a drink on the terrace or we walk down into the village for shopping, eating or just wandering and exploring.
We’ve been to dinner at Chez Black on the beach and had dinner on the Eden Roc terrace overlooking the bay. All in all I think we’ve perfected ‘il dolce far niente” as the Italians call it – the sweet art of doing nothing.
Never let it be said that Toscanakiwi doesn’t respond to it’s readers comments. The recent post about our day at the beach raised a number of questions.
Here, we answer them.
I didn’t have a photograph of the Ferrari yesterday but “Tina of Texas” wanted to see the car. Today I wandered up the road to take a shot and, being Italy, the car was still there. In fact it hadn’t moved an inch.
What you can’t see from the photo is the steepness of the drive the car is parked on. Clearly the car’s owner doesn’t trust the handbrake and has used what I assume is a Ferrari aftermarket accessory to ensure the car stays put.
Obviously it must be a Ferrari branded brick although I couldn’t get close enough to confirm this.
The turntable is covered in a very stylish faux grass finish. Not really sure the logic of this but I guess it’s an Italian thing.
Geoffman asked about the makeup of the beach. Asienzo beach is mostly a pebble beach. There is a small area of sand but from where we were it was a stony walk to the water.
Also the stones were incredibly hot so part of the entertainment was watching people do a funny little dance when a stone or two worked it’s way into their shoes or sandals. From experience I can say – ouch.
Today we went to the beach. We walked down the 239 steps to Arienzo Beach and paid €9 each for a lounger, an umbrella and a spot on the private part of the beach.
After an hour of tanning and swimming we adjourned to the Arienzo Beach Club for a pasta lunch, beer and Gin & Tonic. The beach club is a restaurant and bar built on the beach and consists of poles, canvas, chairs and tables. It’s amazing they can produce good food but based on our choices for lunch, they can. What’s more, anything to do with seafood is fresh – caught that morning, in fact.
After another hour in the 32 degree sun we headed up the steps. – all 239 of them. The walk up takes you past some of the most expensive villas in Positano and at the leisurely pace we were walking we got to see them in detail. I was most impressed by the one with the brand new Ferrari out front and, to allow the car to turn around, a turntable at the end of the drive.
I’m sure the Ferrari driver was equally impressed by the two hot, sweaty, smelly, gasping tourists staring at his car and his turntable.
Arienzo Beach – the private and public parts
Prawn, zucchini and tomato pasta – and a beer at Arienzo Beach
Those of you who have stayed at Eden Roc Hotel will know Tony and the experience of breakfast. When we were staying in the hotel, we would stumble down to breakast – usually late – and be met by Tony’s smiling greeting across the restaurant and cups of his famous Cappuccino.
I am not a coffee drinker except for Eden Roc and only because of Tony. My record is 3 cups by which time I was bouncing off the walls.
When we booked the villa we were told we would have full use of all the hotel facilities – including the ability to pop down for breakfast. While this has proved to be the case we were a little nervous as we wandered down the road to the hotel the first morning.
We needn’t have worried. When we arrived Tony was nowhere to be seen but within a minute we heard his traditional greeting “good morning sir and lady” across the restaurant and he arrived at our table with two cups of his famous cappuccino.
He then proceeded to ply us with croissants (the last two kept just for us), watermelon (fresh from the Eden Roc garden), toast (toasted both sides – past guests please note) and slices of breakfast pizza/quiche all prepared especially for us.
We don’t normally eat breakfast so working through the mountain of food that arrived required concentration and complete disregard for the effect on our waistlines.
Today the girls got their first taste of Positano with a walk from our villa to Eden Roc Hotel and back.
The stop at the hotel was an excellent chance for a drink and to catch up with Carlo who manages the bar and restaurant. As always he had some great tips for places to eat in and around Positano although tomorrow evening we will be enjoying his hospitality with dinner on the terrace overlooking the bay.
On the way back to the villa Jean and the girls posed for the classic Positano photo.