Country Images Magazine North Edition November 2017 - Page 10

On a sunny day the views from there are astounding. We had decided to stay outside Amalfi at the Excelsior Hotel that clings to the hillside aff ording outstanding views of the coastline from its elevated position. It’s a traditional hotel, recently refurbished and as the crow fl ies, about a mile and a half from town but then being the Amalfi coast it can’t be that simple as the mesmerising road zigzags its way up the hill occasionally bringing the hotel within touching distance and then leaving it tantalisingly behind to get onto the next road level. You are rewarded by amazing panoramic views from the terrace. Th e village of Pogerola, which isn’t pronounced how it looks, as I found out whilst tying to buy a bus ticket, was a 25 minute walk from our hotel and our choice for evening meals. Pogerola with its compact centre complete with church and medieval buildings sits perched high on the hill and originally boasted a castle. I’m not too sure how you come to lose a castle but there must be an explanation somewhere. As a lookout town to ward off invaders it obviously failed at some point! It was a delight to fi nd that, aft er our 25 year absence, the Restaurant Pizzeria La Capannina was still being run by the Talarico family serving exquisite traditional Italian cuisine including pizza cooked in a log fi red oven and fresh green lip mussels from the bay. Th e large undercover panoramic terrace aff ords views down the valley towards the sea. Prices in this area vary enormously. If you’re in the square in Amalfi they are higher but it’s a ‘must do’ just for the experience. Th e evenings however must be reserved for the little village restaurants, where there isn’t a care in the world, the waiters have time to proudly explain their menu and how they make their own wine which is especially bottled for them. Th e price for this beautifully cooked and presented food is unbeatable. Regardless of budget, these places are the best ones to eat at. As I don’t speak Italian and they don’t speak English it makes for a fun evening out. Fortunately Peroni and pizza are the same in both languages so ordering was easy for me! 10 | The Amalfi effect Amalfi itself, once away from the seafront and through the arch into the square is a labyrinth of small passages up which are tucked family run shops and restaurants plus goodness knows whatelse. Whilst walking around one day we were greeted by donkeys, laden with large metal crates full of soil, emerging through a narrow passage and down the steep steps into a small square. Th at’s the diffi culty in Amalfi with any property renovation, it is impossible to get vehicles anywhere near, so the donkey is the answer as it has been for many years before cars, tractors and diggers were invented. Before we condemn the misuse of animals I have to say that they were the healthiest donkeys I’ve seen for a while.