Unexpected Perfection on the Amalfi Coast

Early yesterday, my friends and I set off for day of sea, sun and relaxing. We turned off the main road of the Sorrento Peninsula onto an even narrower way that led through olive groves down a steep slope into the beach village of Marina Del Cantone. (We had other plans, but my friends pointed out the Taverna del Capitano, which has a Michelin Star.)

We chose among the various boat rental operators (Masticiello) then, set off down the coast toward Positano. After a 45 minute ride, Positano peeked out from around the corner. We skimmed along in front of the beach then turned back.

Our lunch destination Conca del Sogno was actually just a short walk over the hill from Marina del Cantone (or a quick boat ride that can be arranged through the restaurant). The name literally means “Protected Valley of a Dream” and, in Italian, gives the sense of a place found only in a dream. It felt very much that way.

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It appeared in front of us, tucked among pristine, green hillsides sloping down to the sea.

In front of the restaurant is a small bay with perfectly clear water…

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And beach umbrellas and chairs.

Before going into the restaurant, we sat on the porch overlooking the beach for a Spritz (Aperol + Prosecco + Soda) and a plate to share with Treccie (pronounced Tr-eh-chee-ay), a kind of mozzarella, tomatoes, olives, celery and capers.


Next to the porch were the tanks holding shellfish that would soon be on the plates in the restaurant above.

Our table overlooked the sea that sparkled with other worldly colors of green and blue.

Then, there was lunch starting with fresh mussels…

And a series of pasta dishes. My favorite was spaghetti with clams.

With lunch, we drank Marisa Cuomo’s Furore Fioruva, a white wine made from three unusual native varieties: Fenile 30%, Ginestra 30%, Ripoli 40% grown on some of the steepest, terraced slopes in Italy. The soil is limestone, giving lots of minerality to the wine. The grapes are picked late and ferment in oak barriques, but the wine doesn’t taste woody. It was fresh and crisp but had a lovely fullness that paired perfectly with the meal.
On the way back to Marina del Cantone, we puttered along looking for medieval lookout towers hidden among the high cliffs. It was a soft, slow ending to a perfect day…not the kind of perfection you look for, but the kind that arrives of its own accord, unexpected and magical.


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