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Positano, A familiar perch

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A familiar perch

Up and down in style, annually

POSITANO, Italy — We have been going to Positano for seven years , and plan on going back this year and the next, as well. We stay at the same bed-and-breakfast, La Fenice, in the exact same room, sleeping in the exact same bed.

We watch the sun come up over one group of mountains, and at cocktail hour, drinking local wine and eating the world’s best mozzarella cheese, we watch the sun set over another.

Located about a half-mile from Positano proper, La Fenice’s rooms sprawl down the mountainside, tucked into nooks and crannies. Go down a flight of steps and you are at one room. Go down two more and you are at another. The rooms are all white on the outside and basic but charming on the inside. No fancy soaps, just standard hotel- issue skin-drying bars.

We always meet friends in Positano. We say we are going to be there and then we go. Sometimes the same friends come, sometimes new ones.

One reason is Costantino Mandara. He and his wife, Angela, own La Fenice and make returning feel like a family reunion. Dressed in oddly matched shirt and checkered shorts, Mandara nonetheless has many attributes of a concierge at a five-star hotel. He makes dinner reservations for guests, gives travel advice on trips to the Roman ruins at Pompeii (an hour’s drive away) and classical concerts in the beautiful hill town of Ravello (an hour in the other direction).

Then there is the food. We basically go to the same restaurant, La Cambusa, and order from the same waiter, Mario Petrucci, every day. He never lets us down.

Another reason we return is that Positano, simply put, is spectacular looking. In the town itself, pastel-colored buildings tumble down the moutainside almost into the Mediterranean Sea. Every vantage point is different and is usually framed by fragrant bougainvillea .

There is no room for cars in central Positano. Most of the streets are just alleyways and many of them have steps. You are either going up or going down. In Positano, you are going to get a workout, whether you want it or not.

We have never rented a car, because you can get everywhere by boat, bus, or taxi. The main road, the Amalfi Coast Highway, is two lanes. On one side you have a cliff that goes up, on the other side, a cliff that falls away dramatically, and in between you have a series of hairpin turns.

On our first visit, our friend Dagmar, who was living in Frankfurt, met us in Naples. When we arrived at La Fenice, Mandara took us down many steps to our room and deposited us on a patio with orange and blue tiles overlooking the rocky coast. To our left, we looked down on a pool with a waterfall. Beyond that was a cliff that is home to at least two goats.Continued…



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