POSITANO

South from Sorrento runs a spectacular stretch of the Italian Coastline. The Amalfi Coast is made up of steep, rugged  inclines dropping into the Mediterranean. Dotted along the coast are numerous small towns and fishing villages, Positano being the best known. Anywhere a boat can be pushed into the water is reason enough to establish a town in coastal Italy.

Spectacular Amalfi coastline

Positano was first settled in Medieval times and today thrives on tourism rather than fishing

The Positano landscape is amazing and the patchwork of buildings seem to defy gravity, clinging to near impossible building blocks

There are some impressive hotels, bars and restaurants scattered through the town. On the tables of some of these, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards hammered out the words to “Midnight Rambler” while relaxing in the balmy seaside air.

The towns folk are a happy lot in spite of an all day peak hour and a 50:1 vehicle to parking space ratio

MARINA GRANDE

The last part of the town of Sorrento, towards the end of the Sorrento Peninsular is Marina Grande. It is the fishing village of Sorrento, tucked into it’s own little bay and protected by headlands on either side. Rock walls and pontoons shelter the harbour from the swell of the Mediterranean and provide a protected mooring for a fleet of small fishing boats.

Access from the main town of Sorrento is via a winding path that tunnels through the headland. You can also catch the bus. It follows the ridge behind the town then drops and twists to the marina – not a trip for the faint hearted, but then, any bus trip around Sorrento delivers the adrenaline equivalent to a roller coaster ride.

A beach of  black volcanic sand is dotted with colored fishing boats and set against a backdrop of old painted buildings.

This part of town is less inhabited by wandering tourists and more the home of fishermen and local villagers

Many of the houses are owned by fishermen and piles of nets floats and ropes fill the alleyways.

Of course, the cats of Marina Grande are all well fed and healthy

Most of the Sorrento fleet are still the old, brightly painted wooden boats that have been used for hundreds of years.

On the waterfront are a couple of restaurants.  This was the view from our table where we enjoyed a fantastic lunch of fresh sardines and salad

SORRENTO – ITALY

After 36 hours sitting in planes, airport lounges, buses and taxis, we finally arrived in Sorrento. Unfortunately, we parted company with our luggage in Frankfurt. We were assured, in fractured English, by an overstressed baggage attendant at Naples airport that our bags would arrive in a couple of days. Fortunately she was right.

Sorrento is a busy little town, looking across the Bay of Naples to Mt Vesuvius.

It is a popular holiday destination and at peak season must be pretty hectic. The beaches are black volcanic sand and are mostly sectioned off and privately controlled.

For a few Euro you can hire a deck chair and a patch of sand, a few Euro more gets you a colored umbrella and with a hefty investment you can also secure a small, brightly colored change room. All very organised!

Mt Vesuvius dominates the landscape across the bay. This photo looks pretty exciting but the cloud is just a regular rain cloud, not a billowing  plume of volcanic ash.

Most of the shoreline around Sorrento is sheer cliffs of volcanic rock with buildings clinging precariously to the edge

As the sun sets into the Mediterranean, visitors flock to spectacular vantage points to photograph one another and drink Prosecco and Peroni.

Some of the Grand old Hotels are situated on the cliff tops, but have elevators to deliver guests to their little beach side annexes below.

Once on the beach, visitors have a variety of ocean going vessels at their disposal.

One of the great features of Sorrento is what must be one of the most extreme hairpin bends in the world. This ancient piece of road design explains why such a busy town has such short buses.

At the bottom of the hairpin bend the road loops around to bring you out at the port where swarms of commuters on motor scooters arrive early each morning to catch a ferry across the bay to Naples.

The regions rich, volcanic soil and mild climate grows amazing flowers and produces three crops of citrus fruit a year.

Scattered through Sorrento are numerous citrus orchards covered with lattice and shade cloth. They must be part of the towns tradition because, even with three pickings per year, there is no way the multi million Euro plots of land could even pay the land rates.

Cyclists in Sorrento dispense with helmets and reflective clothing and adopt a more sensible form of typically Italian bicycle safety.

Tomorrow our workshop group arrives and we will head of to some of the fantastic painting locations around the town.