Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Snug as a Bug

The snails are enjoying the wet weather this year, even if the locals aren't.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Just a mundane walk to the shops.

Walk with me on my daily shop at Positano.

I no longer go to the Deli nearby for personal reasons, but prefer to shop at the mini market right at the very top of Positano. The walk is a trek up steep stairs but they're preferable to darting in between parked cars to avoid being hit by buses and vans on the narrow road.
There are no sidewalks in Positano, not real ones.

I start off by going downhill in Via Lepanto in a twisting lane that follows the curve of the road. I am always horrified at the rubble and rubbish dumped into the stream here as it ends up directly on the beach. This is where your beach glass and tiles originates from. On my way up to the road, I find that a local has dumped their computer, the screen and the printer in a niche next to a cactus plant. What would it have taken them to bring it the extra few metres to the road and have the council pick it up?

My first flight of stairs has me panting at the finish, but I cross the road and attack the next lot with determination. If I stop, I'm likely not to want to continue!

Legs-a-wobbling, we are finally in the air conditioning of the mini-market. The whole store is probably smaller than my kitchen with tiny trolleys in its four baby isles of goods. If things are not on the shelves they are likely to have them at the back because of lack of storage space. I am only a seasonal shopper there, but they always remember me and my address down to the number, for delivery.

Stepping outside the shop, two orange specks on the mountainside attract my attention.
Are they rock climbers?

But no! On closer look, there's not two but four...and they're tying chicken wire to the cliff-face to prevent rock slides.

After a stop at the bar and fruit shop, its downhill all the way.

I can't help taking a peek through ironwork into enchanting courtyards.

But other than that, I have to watch my steps and hold on to bannister's in some places. Those stairwells are vertical !

A cactus and lemon courtyard.

As I hit Via Lepanto again, a white Pekingese dog wandering in the lane follows me all the way back to our neighbourhood. A lady is sitting on the step just outside our gate. She doesn't move on our approach. Imagining that she is probably a tourist, I ask if I can help her.

'I'm fine', she answers in a English accent. 'I was just admiring your view.'

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Fruit Shop

The fruit shop where I go to in Positano, is little more than a hole in the wall where the poor lady stands weighing vegetables and cashing in. A great deal of dexterity is needed, to cross over bulging bags of fruit to customers without knocking over displays of oil, mozzarella and canned dog food. Even more is required to actually step out of the shop with these bags, as there is always a line of customers with their own bulging plastic in hand, filling the doorway and spilling out onto the street. Any domestic argument between the lady and her husband becomes forcibly public.
Most of the vegetables line the road in cases, picking up car fumes from the busiest street corner of Positano. I try to go on days when I know that the vegetables have arrived fresh from the market and am a very hands on person in choosing the best.

The prices of vegetables at the store, are exactly half of what I pay in Luxembourg. No prices are displayed on the perishable vegetables, as the supply changes each day. The fruit has little more than a corner of torn cardboard thrown into it's box, with a hand-written number in pencil. I need to ask the owner for the price of vegetables as even the boys helping out don't have an inkling of what he charges. He rattles off the price at seemingly the top of his head.
If you like it, you buy it.

When I was in Positano for Easter, I went overboard on the seasonal vegetable front. I'd buy bags of Broccoli Rape to have with the local sausages, lots of fennel and artichokes too. Even the red capiscum were much less expensive than in our Luxembourg summer prices.
Sometimes, there is a pensioner who likes to help out at the shop, rather than sit on the wailing wall at the entrance to the town with the other pensioners and unemployed. He's been nicknamed the Americano probably due to the stint he did in the States.
As soon as I approach, he comes forth, plastic bag in hand, ready to serve me.
Naturally I tell him that I want to have a look first and then start helping myself.
That day I had 'stuffed artichokes' in mind for lunch. Finding out that the price was obviously lacking in zeros, and was still in cents (!), I picked up a bag and chose the firm round ones having being assured, by my other half, that they were tenderer.
L'Americano wanted to strip their foilage and clean them there and then, but I have a composter at home so I said to leave it. Seeing that the bag was full, he then asked how many I'd picked.
I answered six.
'Ma che brutto numero!!! (What an awful number!!), he screeched.
' I carciofi si comprono sempre in numeri dispari ! ( Artichokes are always bought in odd numbers!).
I replied that 'We are six in the family so what could I do about it!'
I wasn't prepared to cook one for the dog. Nor was I going to create a bridal bouquet out of them. So six was fine.
He trotted away disgusted. I can just see the thought bubble. 'These stranieri non capiscono niente! - foreigners are clueless people! '
L'Americano should know...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Rhapsody in Blue

I'm just back from two weeks in paradise. I baulk when I see my brown face in the mirror having become so used to my pale winter skin. I've absorbed the sunshine in the shade.

My garden was singing the blues for me when I arrived in Positano.
It was all so pretty, so fresh, so calm and quiet apart from the sea and the birdsong that I was moved to tears.

The Dutch irises and the bearded irises flowered simultaneously and their light scent mingled with that of the orange and lemon blossom everywhere.

Bees were all a buzz over the wisteria. We spent the warm days walking along the beach, the mountains or simply playing Scrabble and Rummikub with the kids under the pergola. Occasionally we had to retrieve a tile from the gardens below, flipped there by my over-enthusiastic youngest. All our meals were in the open as the weather was positively balmy. It was always fresh seasonal food and I added sage to any thing I could, given the size of the plant.

In the evenings, the gardens surrounding the house came alight with the twinkle of fireflies. It was the magical first time my youngest had ever seen them.

A perfect break.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Basta !

Basta! I've had enough. I read on the Positano News today that a iron pergola has been mounted along the road to shade customers at Cafe Positano.

This corner of paradise, formally Bar De Martino, had already been disfigured from the simple local bar/hangout for locals and artists into a trendy restaurant for tourists. I say for tourists because since Ciro lost his lease on the bar, the locals, out of loyalty to Ciro I imagine, have changed direction. I wrote about him here.

Now Cafe Positano have abandoned their fashionable umbrellas and erected a permanent structure in its place. Permission to build anything outside on the Amalfi Coast is almost impossible to get. Yet they did. For tourism. Who do they know at the Town Hall? They obviously have friends in high places. Local parents have been pushing to get the slippery stairs leading to the local school a few metres away covered for some time to no avail.
Permission not granted.

Its election time soon in Positano. I'll be there this week and Mr. Mayor, I'm coming knocking at your door!
In the meantime I'll have to avert my eyes when walking past Cafe Positano.