Positano’s Classy Ristorante La Sponda

A touch of elegance at the Ristorante La Sponda in Positano
A touch of class at the Ristorante La Sponda in Positano

Perched on the hillside amidst Positano’s tumbling pastel villas and shops, the spacious Hotel Le Sirenuse stands out in the crowd. A deep ruby-red color edged in white, it presents an elegant facade. Originally a summer home for the Neapolitan Sersale family, it was converted into a luxury hotel in 1951. The hotel contains 58 rooms.

My two friends and I, fellow Italy travel writers, arrived for lunch and were met with a warm and generous welcome by the staff. The classy furnishings and elegant design of the hotel caught my attention instantly. Well ordered and extravagant, it was a pleasure to soak up the ambiance.

Le Sirenuse Hotel, Positano

Le Sirenuse Hotel, Positano

A terrace photo from Ristorante La Sponda in Positano
A terrace shot of us in front of our table just before dining~left to right are Victoria DeMaio, Myself, and Margie Miklas

We were ushered into the dining area of the Ristorante La Sponda by our maitre ‘d Vincenzo and seated at a table with a stunning view of the sparkling blue Mediterranean. The scenery was rimmed with climbing vines and potted trees. I learned that at night-time, over 400 candles are lit on the dining terrace, creating a romantic atmosphere.

View of Positano and the Mediterranean from our seats at Ristorante La Sponda
View of Positano and the Mediterranean from our seats at Ristorante La Sponda

Our waiter, Saverio, served a bottle of sparkling cool prosecco followed by a delicious asparagus cream soup embellished with buffalo ricotta and a good splash of local olive oil. It was rich and velvety. The ingredients used by the chefs in the kitchen were fresh and locally grown to provide the diner with a variety of authentic Mediterranean flavors.

Asparagus soup at Ristorante La Sponda in Positano
We begin with a delicious asparagus soup

The lovely hand-painted plates were locally made with traditional designs, making the various dishes appear even more colorful. A Caprese Salad made with succulent sun-ripened tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella balls sprinkled with basil soon appeared.

Succulent Capresse Salad at Ristorante La Sponda in Positano

Our sommelier brought a bottle of Costa D’Amalfi DOC Tenuta San Francesco white wine to the table. The Tenuta winery is located only 18 miles from the restaurant in Tramonti. Founded in 2004, the winery grows local and rare grape varieties. The per Eva is a blend of three grapes and has a strong aroma of fresh flowers and honey with a nut like finish.

A fine local white wine to accompany our meal.

My entrée was Paccheri pasta with a medley of seafood and small tomatoes tossed in a light wine sauce tucked inside each pasta, creating a seafood lovers heaven.

A Seafood Lover's Heaven ~ wide macaroni stuffed with shrimp, muscles and white fish tossed in a light sauce that embellished a hearty taste of the sea at Ristorante La Sponda in Positano
A Seafood Lover’s Heaven ~ wide macaroni stuffed with shrimp, muscles and white fish tossed in a light wine sauce.

Next, a plate of freshly caught white anchovies soaked in olive oil with a splash of lemon.

Local anchovies and olive oil at Ristorante La Sponda in Positano

A delicate white fish, flaky and moist, decorated with bits of calamari and seasoned just right.

Plate of freshly caught white fish at Ristorante La Sponda in Positano
Freshly caught white fish

A Piece of Art! Italy reigns supreme in the art world, especially when it comes to food. This is a fresh ravioli dish with pesto and pomodoro sauces poured over the top, making the color of the Italian flag.

A Piece of Art! Italy reigns supreme in the art world, especially when it comes to food. This is a ravioli dish with sauces on top the color of the Italian flag. At Ristorante La Sponda in Positano

The meal was followed up a steaming cup of fresh espresso and a small glass of locally made limoncello.

Our young waiter introduced a bottle of locally produced limoncello

Cafe and dessert of chocolate cake with gelato and berries comes afterwards

Dessert consisted of a moist chocolate cake and a plate of cookies with biscotti. Every detail throughout the entire meal was attended to.

Margie Miklas presents with her book. Victoria De Maio smiles brightly in the center

We were introduced to Giovanni Ciccone, the Director of Operations. Margie presented him with her new book of lovely photos of Italy while Victoria flashed a beautiful smile.

Ristorante La Sponda is more than a meal…it is an experience. I found the service to be outstanding with graciousness and finesse. Thank you Hotel Le Sirenuse and Ristorante La Sponda for a lovely dining experience.

+39 089 875066
I’m delightfully surrounded by our hosts!
The luxurious Hotel Le Sirenuse


View of Positano from the outdoor terrace ~
Outdoor pool and view of the Mediterranean

Positano’s L’arte della Ceramica ~ An Art Lovers Dream

Lisa stands in front of her shop at L'arte della ceramica in Positano
Lisa stands in front of her shop at L’arte della Ceramica in Positano

While just recently in Positano on the Amalfi Coast, I completely fell in love with the art of ceramica that I noticed displayed so decoratively all about the village. Plates and bowls painted with pastel houses, vibrant lemons, soft village scenes and active sea life reflected the warm feeling of being in a Mediterranean environment. I wanted to bring them home with me and decorate my entire house. I resolved to begin the process by finding four dinner plates that were special to me.

I met Lisa Cinque toward the upper part of the village of Positano. Her little shop, L’arte della Ceramica, looked out toward the sparkling blue Mediterranean. Attractive from the outside, I decided to see what she had for sale. After scoping out several ceramic shops prior, Lisa’s shop stood out to me as a bit different. Her art was unique. Not only did she have the typical designs of classic Amalfi Coast ceramics, but there were original contemporary pieces with limited compositions as well.

L'Arte Della Ceramica
Photo courtesy of L’arte della Ceramica

Lisa welcomed me immediately with a big smile and soft manners. Her artwork is her pride and joy, and she spoke fondly of each piece. As she took me around, I learned that she fashions and paints each one. These were all her creations. Her deep love for art was evident in the different styles and variety of colors. She uses materials that are unusual and different, such as engobe (white or colored slip), glass and mother of pearl.

L'Arte Della Ceramica 2
Photo courtesy of L’arte della Ceramica
Photo courtesy of L’arte della Ceramica
Photo courtesy of L’arte della Ceramica

Lisa graduated with a degree in Applied Arts at the Art Institute of Sorrento. She went on to further her training in art and is recognized by the European Union at the Centro Studi Arti Vietri (Center for Art Studies in Vietri) as well as studying with master potter Alfonso Cassetta and Erika Rossi. From them she learned “the techniques of shaping and decorating as well as deepening my knowledge of the historical and cultural implications of the antique tradition of ceramics.”

Positano is the perfect place to find inspiration. There is beauty from every angle. IMG_3816

Lisa is a true artist and shares her heart freely. “I am continuing my creative journey in my pottery workshop, a place where I find the perfect concentration to give life to my works. Works that draw their greatest inspiration from the essential elements of life: fire, earth air and water.”

An artist in her own right, Lisa is a seeker of mood and emotion from the past as well as the present and future. Not one to follow the crowd, she has created and fashioned her own world of artistic designs that fascinate. Each one is original and unique.

IMG_3980 I did find my four plates in Lisa’s shop and I now have them hanging on my dining room wall. They are a joy to me and each time I stand back to look at them, i’m reminded of Lisa and her beautiful shop, of the Amalfi Coast and enduring Mediterranean environment. It’s my own little bit of paradise.  

My 4 lovely plates created and hand painted by Lisa
My plates are the subject of conversation with dinner guests.
Positano water’s edge….endearing beauty

Please do visit Lisa in her shop if you find yourself in Positano. You can find her at L’arte della Ceramica, 147 Cristoforo Colombo, which is the main street in Positano, just 100 meters from the main square.

Kayak Italy’s ‘Island of the Sirens’

Kayak along the Italian Riviera
Kayak along the Amalfi Coast

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

Observing a kayak on glowing amber waters off the coast of Amalfi one evening made me think of Homer, Greece’s epic poet of antiquity. He described the Mediterranean as having wine-dark seas, but he was also blind. This evening, however, the usual cool blue waters gave way to a brilliant, fiery orange.

Paddling over the often-visual underwater ruins of ancient Roman and Greek civilizations is enough to excite anyone. Words often fail to express a kayaking day over the Bay of Naples, down the Amalfi Coast, or the many other crystalline waters off the shores of Italy.

Amalfi coast Italy 1
Amalfi with a sprinkling of boats in the Mediterranean

This September, I will be exploring the wonders of Italy again for three weeks. Sea Kayaking is on my must-do list. Drifting by hidden grottos, dipping into caves, paddling through volcanic archways and observing castles and fortresses on the rocky mainland as I drift by is an experience I just can’t pass up. To see Italy from the water will be like getting to know it all over again.

the Siren
Siren of the Archipelago

The Island of the Sirens (la Sireneuses) is an archipelago of tiny islands off the Amalfi Coast of Italy between the Isle of Capri and 6 miles SW of Positano. Kayaking throughout these ancient mythical islands is breathtaking. Made up of three main islands, mythical sirens are believed to have inhabited them. They sang or played the lyre and flute, and bedeviled anyone happening to hear them. Strabo, a 1st century BC geographer, would warn you to plug your ears and avoid crashing your kayak on the rocky coast. Go ahead and explore their secret hideaways along magical shores, but be careful!

Explore the coastline by kayak between Portofino and Cinque Terre on the turquoise Ligurian Sea. The subtle play of light on the colors of the landscape is spellbinding. Harbors of bobbing boats, homes that cling to rugged cliffs, vineyards and olive trees that dot the terraced hillsides envelope you as your kayak glides by. Coves and promontories provide enticing exploration moments. Sunlight gives way to the shadows of rocky outcrops.

Tofino Expeditions offers kayaking tours from the Italian Riviera and Cinque Terre. Top-rated by National Geographic Adventure and an established sea-kayaking outfitter for 25 years, they also offer an 11 day excursion by kayak combined with some great on-land adventures.

Amalfi Kayak provides excellent local knowledge and insight into the area along with Kayak rentals and expeditions. If you like to support local business, as I do, this is a great option. They offer customized itineraries based upon your interests, time available and level of skill. 

Italy Kayak Tours offers expeditions around the Island of the Sirens.

“At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much.”
– Robin Lee Graham

Alassio is a small but elegant seaside resort ...
Welcoming waters on the Italian Riviera

Five Jewels of the Amalfi Coast

Welcome to the Amalfi Coast, considered one of the worlds most exotic and breathtaking coastlines. The sight of whitewashed villas tumbling down the vertical hillside to the ocean’s edge is enough to delight any tourist. Yet there are gems to be explored and worthy of a visit that you won’t want to miss.

Sun Worshipping on the Amafi Beach
Sun Worshipping on the Amafi Beach

There are many sandy beaches offering ocean frolics, umbrella’s, and tasty refreshments. No matter which way you look, you are surrounded by Italy’s coastal treasures.

St. Andrews Cathedral, Amalfi
St. Andrews Cathedral, Amalfi

Rising majestically off the Piazza del Duomo, St. Andrews Cathedral was built in the 1200’s on the site of an older cathedral, which was built on the remains of a previous temple. A flight of steep stairs takes you up to the Arab- inspired facade. An older basilica with the famed Cloister of Paradise resides next to it. St. Andrews’ remains, which were brought over from Constantinople during the 4th crusade, are kept inside the crypt of the Cathedral. A 13th century wooden crucifix, medieval frescoes by Andrea del’Asta and Egyptian granite columns add to provide an engaging atmosphere.

Grotta dello Smeraldo in neighboring Ravello
Grotta dello Smeraldo in neighboring Ravello

Flooded with translucent blue and emerald light, the Grotta della Smeraldo can be reached by boat. Discovered by a local fisherman in 1932, this grotto had remained virtually untouched for many years. The cavern roof is 24 meters above water level, hosting dramatic rock formations.

Terrace of Infinity at Villa Cimbrone, Ravello
Terrace of Infinity at Villa Cimbrone, Ravello

Originating in the 11th century, the Terrace of Infinity, also known as the belvedere of the Villa Cimbrone has predominately remained in custody of families of nobility. As the historian Ferdinand Gregorovius stated after a visit to the Villa,….“incomparable…..where the most beautiful flowers you can imagine flourished, coming from numerous plants of the South….redesigned and enriched with countless….ornamental features, small temples, pavilions, bronze and stone statues.” Truly not to be missed.

My Brochure of Amalfi with the Mystery Tower

There are actually 30 towers like this one down the coast, originating from as early as the 12th century. Saracens were known to pirate the waters often, so when they were sighted, fires were built on top as a signal to the inhabitants of pirate activity. At this warning, they would all leave the beach and literally ‘head for the hills.’

Amalfi is an excursion into the senses, filling your mind with exotic images and dramatic landscapes. My thoughts are never far from it, and still the scent of lemons on the ocean air brings me close to heaven.

Amalfi Coast vs. Cinque Terre: Deciding Between Italy’s Most Popular Coast Lines