9am. Positano is a late sleeper. At this hour it’s still stretching, opening the shutters, blinking into the sea-shimmer of another perfect summer’s day. But in a little piazza below the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta, the fishmongers of Pescheria C.I.C.A (motto: “straight from the sea to your table!”) have been up for over two hours, taking delivery of the day’s catch of fresh fish and seafood. Matteo Temperini is a regular. The chef of Le Sirenuse heads straight into the back room, reaches into a large tank, and pulls out an astice, or European lobster, which waves its claws in lazy protest. “It’s a wild specimen”, he says. “Fished in Sardinia. It’s in a completely different league from the farmed variety”. He points out the dark stain of the roe beneath the abdomen – known as corallo in Italian, this is a delicious added extra. The bright blue stains on the gamberetti, or shrimps, that lie on ice inside the shop, are also a mark of roe. “Il pesce è più buono quando c’ha l’uovo”, Alfonso Pane (a.k.a. ‘Garibaldi’) the fishmonger tells us – “fish tastes better when it still has its roe”. We’ve learnt something new, and Matteo soon adds another valuable piece of advice. “When you’re in a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast or Capri and you’re not sure what fish to order, go for the pezzogna”. Pezzogna – that would be a local type of bream, right? “Right”, says Matteo. “But unlike other Mediterranean breams – orata, say, or spigola – it can’t be farmed. So you know it’s wild. And wild fish always tastes better”.
The visit to the fish market is one of Le Sirenuse’s many complimentary guest activities. It takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 9am. Reservations should be made via the concierge the day before.