When The Amalfi Coast Gives You Lemons, Make Limoncello!

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Thanks to Rick Steves and Elliott’s Grandfather, we’d long heard about the wonders of the Amalfi Coast. Though we were pretty sure we wouldn’t be able to recreate Papa’s tour decades ago, we were hoping for a romantic drive with views of the sea and sun-dappled lemon orchards. Unfortunately, the long-predicted rain storms finally caught up with us and our one full day in Positano was dark and rainy and we even experienced a couple of thunder storms.

As the rain pelted the hillside of postcard-perfect Positano, disappointment was dripping from the eyes of our fellow hotel guests. We were trapped, with barely-usable wi-fi and ‘nothing’ to do. For months Elliott had been planning to walk the Path of the Gods, a 5 mile stretch perched high above the cliffs with spectacular (so we’ve heard) views of the Mediterranean and beyond. While we can usually brave the mild Seattle rain for hiking and running, this thunderstorm was getting us nowhere fast.

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After a serendipitous restaurant recommendation from our concierge, we headed to Il Ritrovo, a ristorante in the neighboring town of Montepertuso in the hills above Positano. We saw in the menu that they offered cooking classes and like lightning, we signed up for one the following afternoon. When life gives you lemons, make limoncello!

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Our 5 hour cooking class started at 3pm and ran all the way into dinnertime, the perfect antidote to our rainy predicament. Along with two honeymooners from Canada and two girlfriends on a workcation (they call their far-flung adventures together ‘mini-moons’), we learned how to make stuffed zucchini flowers, fresh ravioli with four kinds of cheese, fish with white wine, and steak with balsamic vinegar (though the class thought that ‘scalloped meat’ was really scallops). For dessert we made delicate almond cookies that could be topped with candied cherries, chocolate or white sugar sprinkles. Delicious!

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For our last day in Positano, the skies opened up for the shots we’d been waiting for and we set off on our seemingly easy (and economical) bus transfer to the hill-town of Ravello. Since the storm had cancelled all ferry boats, we instead had to bum-rush several already full buses along with every other tourist heading out of town. The line of vintage Alfa Romeos pictured below seemed to taunt us with their freedom!

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After several failed attempts and all taxis full, we headed to our next best option: Le Sirenuse, a five star hotel just down the hill. We explained our predicament and within five minutes, we had a Mercedes and a handsome Italian in an Armani suit to drive us to Ravello in style. What could have been a very long, frustrating day, turned into one of our most enjoyable drives along the Coast.

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Once we arrived in Ravello, we were treated to one breathtaking view after another. Though this view is from Villa Rufolo, our balcony view at our small (and cheap!) hotel, Auditorium Rooms, was just as stunning. After dinner, we stumbled upon this pick-up soccer game taking place at a local school (the players seemed totally oblivious to the incredible sunset taking place behind them), which has to be on one of the most picturesque fields in the world.

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On our last day in Amalfi, we headed to the train station in Salerno for our final trip up to Rome. We knew we were in trouble when our driver was late and saw the look on his face when he learned our train left at 12:30. Though Salerno is only about 10 miles away from Ravello, the windy, cliff-side roads and oversize tour buses make for very slow progress. Our driver was determined to get us there on time, so we ‘enjoyed’ our own Italian version of ‘Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.’ Little did we know that we’d still have time for two espressos and a chat, for our train was late by 30 minutes!

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