Sorrento, Part 3

This is about our visit to La Marina Grande, the older and more rustic of Sorrento’s two marinas. I had spent months researching just about every aspect of our trip, naturally including the extensive reading of restaurant menus and reviews. I had read that Ristorante Bagni Delfino was a favorite “forget the budget” restaurant for many visitors up to and including Rick Steves. It seemed a worthwhile destination.

As my legions of fans will recall, we had just walked down to La Marina Piccola and back up to street level. We just ambled along in what felt like the correct direction; it’s relatively easy when you have a large body of water with which to orient yourselves. Then, signs appeared pointing to the marina.

After making our way past a tiny park, we went down narrow alleys, between houses and old churches

then down, down, down stairways with lots of switchbacks. At some point La Marina Grande came into view, not looking very grande at all.

A small stretch of coastline, an array of pastel houses with working peoples’ clothes hung outside, and an atmosphere that spoke to me of families having lived in this place for generations. It felt like a real, old fishing village. I even saw a pair of elderly men mending their nets.

There is a simple church in the center of the marina. When the noon bells rang, their voices echoed off the steep hillside and sailed right out over the water.

I would really like to import the tradition of decorative tiles set into the sides of buildings and stone walls: we need more of this sort of thing. Floyd’s shop could have a terra-cotta welding scene, for example; and my therapy office a reassuring representation of healing conversation. Might as well convey some sense of hope.

Sorrento is not a town of broad sandy beaches, by any means. In this marina, the water is a workplace.

And this is a parking lot for boats that work for a living:

Have you ever come home from a vacation with a powerful urge to change the entire color scheme of your house? I kept thinking, we live in a hot place! Yellow and blue would fit right in!

Without really thinking that our hot place is more desert than seaside. (Maybe when I head to the west coast for my annual Mary visit we can go to the paint store and…)

We saw a fishing boat coming in with its catch. Floyd hurried to watch it dock, while I fiddled with the camera. As I started to catch up to Floyd, I watched a man maneuver his tiny three-wheeled delivery truck out of its cramped parking space by hand, pushing it out into the street and jumping in to hurry over to the dock. Don’t you wish you had a car you could just push out of its microscopic parking space?

A cooler was handed from the boat to the little delivery truck, which took off in a whiny two-stroke racket up the steep road to town. Fresh seafood for someone’s restaurant.

There were several kitties getting their beauty sleep. This one didn’t move a muscle when my companion tickled his foot.

By this time the noon bells had rung and I was approaching that place in hungerville that’s a really bad place for me to get to. We walked back and forth, dithering a little – I mean, we start thinking about spending “too much money” in the oddest places. I’ll be forever grateful that we decided on Bagni Delfino.
We decided to sit out on the deck, which was almost too hot even under the blue umbrellas. Fortunately, a steady breeze came in from the bay. Because we’d come in at the same time as a couple who’d made it clear they just wanted a drink, our waiter left us alone with our drinks even longer than usual. I had become an immediate fan of the two-hour lunch tradition, but I was starving.
Finally Floyd went into the restaurant to ask for menus. He came back handing me one with a, “Here you are, Madam,” flourish. I exclaimed, “What a handsome waiter!”
Grazie! said our actual waiter, who was by that moment right behind me. Oops.
We spent the next hour or two savoring a meal I never wanted to finish.
Our driver had been right: the tomatoes are better in Sorrento, the herbs are most delicious in Sorrento, the bread in Sorrento is the best in the world; and I’m giving Sorrento top marks for this richly flavored olive oil. Who wants to wax nostalgic for Tuscany at a time like this?
I’ve been a pretty darn good vegetarian since 1988. Over the past eight years or so, however, I have traveled deep into the world of amorality by consuming shellfish every few months. I have no excuse except that I love it. And there was no way I was not going to sin heavily in La Marina Grande, with the smells of salt air and fishing boats in the wind. I ordered linguine with clams, of course. (The British woman behind me, I must tell you, ordered chicken.)
If you are not the kind of person who groans, laughs, and very nearly bursts into tears when food is especially wonderful, skip the next three photos. But if you are a food lover, you know what I’m talking about: the meal when you never want to get to the last swallow.
The bowl in the foreground contains Floyd’s side dish of boiled new potatoes to accompany his sea bass, a regional favorite. Even the potatoes are better in Sorrento.
I’ll just say this: when you are planning your visit to Sorrento, if seafood has any appeal to you whatsoever, be sure to earmark 100 euros or so for a meal at Delfino. You won’t regret it.

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