A Day at the Beach

Oct 2, 2006

Today, as my Tuscan-Campania holiday settled into beach mode, I really relaxed and kicked back in the sand and sun.

I took a leisurely boat ride with friends and swam in the brilliant blue sea off Positano and Amalfi. It felt great to chill out and bob in the water.

Positano is a seaside city as charming and spectacular as everyone who has visited here has told me. I marveled at the ancient rock and steep cliff dwellings. It’s hard to take my eyes off the landscape.

Whenever I travel, whenever possible, I drink the local wines. Not all the time, not at every meal, but I make a point of tasting what’s special, or considered unique, about the area I’m visiting.

On the day I arrived, I had a late lunch with friends at one of the beach restaurants. We dined on fresh seafood, calamari, octopus and caprese salad and drank a bottle of Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo.

Last night, while dining at Ristorante al Palazzo in the Hotel Palazzo Murat, where I’m staying, I picked a red, a 2002 Furore Riserva Costa D’Amalfi from Marisa Cuomo.

I didn’t have a clue about the wine, the producer, the grape or even the vintage--none of which really mattered.

The wine was dark-colored, spicy, firm and peppery. When I inquired about the grape, the waiter politely explained that it was called a Piedirosso Aglianico. He went on to say that the wine was considered a Piedmont red from Campania that tasted like Merlot.

When I inquired whether the wine had Merlot--which has offered remarkably good wines on this trip, in various cuvées--he said, “No.” The wine is a blend of mostly Aglianico and he wasn’t sure what else.

Today for lunch, after a cruise along the cliffs and a swim, we opted for another Greco di Tufo, this one from Antiche Terre. It had a lemony quince flavor. We accompanied this bottle with another Aglianico, a 2004 Rubiato, that was also tasty--ideal for another two-hour lunch built around mussels, pizza, calamari and local blue fish, which tasted like sardines.

A few minutes ago, I made my first major decision of the day: where to dine tonight.

Soon I’ll be studying the wine list, hoping tonight’s choices are as satisfying as last night’s, and the night before and the night before that …

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