Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Lost My Heart in Positano

On a slow, boring night at Whole Foods last spring I went around asking everyone where the coolest place they'd been was. Many listed places that I had been to, but my boss listed someplace I had never heard of. That place was Positano, Italy.

Our trip to Positano has been a bit of a whim. Since that conversation with Rob, I've had this town on my list of places to visit, but I wasn't sure how to get there, where to stay, or what there would be to even do there. However, on a particularly rough afternoon of chestnut picking, Jacob and I decided to take the plunge and make our reservation. The first hurdle (and blessing) we ran into was that November is the low season. This means that although many places are closed, those that stay open have lower rates in order to attract business. Our least expensive option was an Agrotourismo called Rifugio Degli Dei and after looking at the pictures for a solid 5 seconds, we were booked. The price was 40 Euro per person, per night bringing our total to 160 Euro. This might make you feel a bit hurt in the wallet, but you must understand two facts. 1. This is the same price we paid at the cheapest hotel in Paris where we were relatively afraid to go out at night and 2. This place is more beautiful than anyplace I have seen in my life, and therefore more than worth the money.

I have a problem with motion sickness when not appropriately medicated for the ride, which was incredibly evident during our ride from Sorrento to Positano. Our bus had to drive along roads that were wrapped all the way up and down a mountain in order for us to reach our destination. It's not a long ride, though, maybe about half an hour. However, if you even get the slightest bit queazy on a Disney World ride, I whole heartedly recommend you take a mighty dose of Dramamine before this ride. After arriving in Positano, myself and Jake both covered in my early-morning croissant (round 2), Jake made a call to the "hotel" to see if we could be picked up. It would be quite the walk because we had gotten off the bus at the wrong stop (mostly so I could get some air), and we weren't entirely sure that I could walk at that point. The man said no problem, and within five minutes he had arrived. Even post-puke I was in love with Positano. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and even the most beautiful pictures didn't do it justice. As we arrived at our destination, we were greeted by a set of 250 stairs (which they give you ample warning about on the website) and began climbing.

Weak and sick, these stairs were no problem. The stone walls were covered in flowering vines, quick lizards, set next to tiny houses with fresh fruits hanging overhead. We arrived at the top and were welcomed by a black sheep with a small bell around it's neck. A few steps more and we were offered a seat where our host brought us water and let us rest. A small kitten and it's mother ran to us and began making us at home- the kitten played with an olive as the mother invited herself into Jake's lap, purring incessantly. A moment later, a small, round dog appeared. She was clearly pregnant and beyond adorable. Dumbfounded by our surroundings of hanging vegetables, pomegranate trees, and nearby goats, we were led to our "room." I use quotes so often when describing this place because it is unlike anyplace you have ever stayed. Our "room" has a full kitchen and living room, large bathroom, and separate bedroom with a king sized bed. In addition, we have a patio with lawn chairs and table set under an olive tree and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Our stay at Rifugio Degli Dei has easily been our best experience since arriving in Europe- we give it 5 stars!

The food in Positano is very expensive. About equal to Paris, but certainly more than Napoli. For this reason, we decided to take full advantage of our cooking skills and our gorgeous kitchen by making our own lunch and dinner the second day. I'm sure many would be appalled by the fact that we are not indulging in local fare, but what they fail to realize that we are. Are ingredients are fresh, local, handmade Italian ingredients that are merely assembled by our American hands. Plus, we have been learning to cook from an old-Italian couple in the hills of Montefalcione, so I think we are making the right call here. However, all of these ingredients can be found at home, so if you would like to have "Italian Night" sometime, I'll give you the recipe for our lunch today.

2 pkg. Fresh Tortellini (this can be found in the refrigerated aisle at Whole Foods and most other grocers- you may use another pasta if you'd like, but I recommend ravioli or tortellini as it is stuffed)
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil (regular will do as well)
1 lg can Whole Tomatoes
1/4 lb. Salami (thinly sliced)
2 lg. Green Onions (sliced)
Salt to Taste

In a saute pan, heat oil slightly. Add green onions and salami. Cook until green onions are soft, then add full can of tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes while stirring (they don't need to be fully broken, just enough for them to become smaller), and cover. Allow to heat, stirring occasionally. Be sure to season and taste.

While sauce is heating, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt to boiling water until it "tastes like the ocean." Add pasta and allow to cook until it floats. Drain pasta, and return to pot. Add heated sauce, and serve while hot.

We enjoyed our meal with a glass of Peroni (beer) although a nice wine may be better in this case.

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