Amalfi/Positano, May 2, 2006

When our continental breakfast arrived at 7:15, we turned on the TV; & the view from the bridge cam showed a beautiful sunny morning. Turned out to be lower to mid 70's. (So much for that long range forecast.) We anchored off of Amalfi, Italy about 8; & our boat tour left a little after 9.

First, we tendered from the ship to shore on one of the ship's lifeboats; & then transferred to a double decker boat for our cruise northward along the coastline. We passed several small towns w/ lovely homes clinging to the cliffs. The guide pointed out a magnificent home between Praiano & Positano that Sophia Loren & Carlo Ponti used to live in.

We spotted the restaurant (La Concha Azzurra) near Praiano where we had lunch last time we were here. It was so, so exciting approaching Positano from the water. Our (simply gorgeous) guide, Vincenzo, was very good. With that accent you tend to hang on to every word (or was it just me). He spoke briefly about the town; & then gave us 1½ hrs. on our own.

Positano is another one of those towns w/ narrow alleys twisting & turning up & down the side of the cliffs. Occasionally, you see arbors overhead w/ bougainvillea, wisteria or other vines providing a spot of shade. Lots of colorful clothes billowing in the wind & jewelry displayed just outside the shop's doors to entice you in. Restaurants hidden in tiny courtyards, charming hotels that don't look like much from the outside.

We made our way back to the waterfront about 20 mins. early. I wanted to sit down & have a cappuccino at the edge of the beach & people watch. That was the best cappuccino in the world. Don't know if it was so special because of the setting or the coffee. The beach was partially small black pebbles & black sand. Quite a few small colorful boats pulled up on the sand. The smells & sounds were hypnotic.

Soon, it was time to board the boat back for Amalfi Town. Once there, Vincenzo gave historical info on Amalfi during a short walking tour. Most of the group broke off after that to do their own thing. But we followed him (I'd follow him anywhere) to the Cathedral of St. Andrew. He walked us through the frescoes & mosaics of the cloister, the jewels & artifacts of the Basilica, the ornate crypt that holds the bones & head of St. Andrew, & finally the Cathedral (small but most impressive).

We made our way back to the tender pier, stopping for a few things in a small pasta shop (where we tasted lemoncello for the first time). Back onboard Regatta, we had to hurry through lunch in order to get to our spa appointments. We spent some time in the Jacuzzi first; then we both had hot stone therapy massages. I had a facial following that.

Our Cruise Critic friends, Jack & Phil invited us to join their party in Toscana. Katie had caprese salad (tomato & buffalo mozzarella w/ olive oil); mixed salad w/ goat cheese, tomato & pesto vinaigrette; rigatoni w/ sweet peppers, sweet sausage & cherry tomatoes in a light red sauce; tiramisu; chocolate petit fours & cappuccino. She wasn't impressed w/ the soup; & the pasta was just OK. I had 2 grilled jumbo prawns wrapped in prosciutto; fried baby calamari w/ marinara & aioli; Caesar salad; lamb chops w/ sundried tomatoes, black olives & roasted garlic served w/ roasted potatoes. I also had something I'd heard a lot about on the message boards, chocolate lasagna. It is thin layers of chocolate ganache, vanilla & chocolate ice cream. My meal was fabulous. Our group of 8 was loud, telling jokes; & lingered long after everyone else had left. We were more than stuffed. Too tired to go through our pictures; fell right to sleep.

PS: Someone has commented that all we seem to talk about is food. There's a good reason for this....Master Chef Jacques Pepin is responsible for developing Oceania's menus. Even when something we've ordered hasn't met our expectations, the ingredients have been fresh & perfectly chosen; prepared as ordered & artistically presented. The plates are true masterpieces when they come out.


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