Category Archives: Positano

Day Eleven: A trip to Positano

We plan, such as we plan, a busier day. Since we Cized It Up big time with Shaun T the day before, Kat and I do a mellower hour with Petra Kobler. Still break a sweat, but we’re Liquid Grooving to start off the day.

Clean up, get dressed, grab the guides in case–set the navi system in the car, and we’re off to Positano–with the GPS locked into a parking garage.

It’s hard to describe a drive along the Almafi Coast without running out of superlatives. It’s simply breathtaking at every turn. There are a lot of turns. Still most of the road is just a little wider than the skinny snakes we’ve dealt with.

Towering cliffs on one side, rough and sheer, often with wire fences rising up them to hold back what would surely be rock slides. Still shrubs cling to them in that sun-baked green, and here, a stunning wall of deep, drenched blue morning glories wind up the fencing. On the other side, the cliffs streak down, down, down to the sea, one nearly as blue as the morning glories. The boats plying the water, the distant horizon.

As we get closer to Positano there are vendor carts–lemon drinks a specialty–nudged in on curves on the seaside, and houses, high up, built into the cliffs, all soft colors. The mountains rise high in fascinating shapes. What kind of road takes those who live so high up home?

The road narrows again, the curves increase, along the narrow roads and hairpin turns cars are parked nose to butt. We figure as BW negotiates the thin, crowded, winding ribbon of road, people park way up here, walk down, down, down to the beach. Wow.

The steps down to the beach. Photo by BW.
The steps down to the beach. Photo by BW.

This little fact makes driving those last kilometers an adventure as cars are also leaving Positano, and we all have to fit.

Some shops now, some restaurants, some houses, more traffic. We come to a stop, at a sort of intersection with many roads. A man in a yellow vest, holding a stop sign chugs from a water bottle as we all wait, and wait–expect for scooters which are allowed through. Cars come up the long hill and turn, and still we wait. And see why when a bus–a really big bus lumbers up the hill. More waiting–at least the view is beautiful–and another huge bus rumbles up, makes that wicked turn.

We’re released to inch our way down between parked cars and moving ones, winding round and round. Shops, their pretty wares displayed outside, skinny sidewalks, gorgeous old buildings layered on the rise and fall of the land. Lots of people walking, shopping.

Around and around, going down and down so the hills and the buildings stacked on them rise around us.

Another view of the hill. Photo by j a-b.
Another view of the hill. Photo by j a-b.

The GPS doesn’t let us down, and we work our way to the parking garage, a small madhouse of its own.

Down is our goal as BW wants to see the beach. Steep little sidewalks lined with shops, restaurants, everything full of color. It’s less urban than Sorrento, and though crowded seems less so. There’s a holiday vibe here. We walk to a kind of plaza in front of an old church, take in the view. All that sea below, spreading out, all the boats–so many boats closer to shore–more buildings rising up. In a window I see a woman hanging out snow white sheets, and they billow beautifully in the air against the sun-faded building.

Down by the water in Positano. Photo by Kat.
Down by the water in Positano. Photo by Kat.

We go into the church, but as Kat and I have on sleeveless tops, are quickly and politely turned out again. LOL. I’d forgotten some Italian churches are very strict on dress code.

Where's Nora? Photo by Kat.
Where’s Nora? Photo by Kat.

We go down and down, and while we glance at shops, nothing shouts my name. Until. I see a linen dress–sort of a deep orange sherbet. It looks so pretty, so cool, so comfortable. I have a weakness for easy summer dresses. In we go. The one that drew me doesn’t come in my size, but here’s another style in raspberry sherbet, and it has pockets! Everything should, in my world, have pockets. The clerk is helpful, attentive, shows me others, but it’s this one. She helps Kat, but the dress that caught Kat’s eye isn’t available in her size. But this adorable camp shirt–white with that Capri-blue lined under the color and on the short cuffs–does.

A very happy stop.

On we go, down and down, and oh, look at this scarf. I shouldn’t buy another scarf, but . . . They’re so reasonably priced, and hey, it could be a gift–so could this one, and well, yeah, maybe this one, too. Kat finds a pretty, breezy tunic–and we walk out with all for less, honestly, than I’d have paid for one scarf.

Umbrellas, water, boats. Photo by BW.
Umbrellas, water, boats. Photo by BW.
Bruce's take on the beach with all the color. Photo by BW.
Bruce’s take on the beach with all the color. Photo by BW.
More Positano colors on a beautful August day. Photo by BW.
More Positano colors on a beautful August day. Photo by BW.

The beach is crowded, the dark taupe-colored sand lined with pretty umbrellas. Boats zip or putter by, most full of people. The breeze is beautiful, as is everywhere you can look. A wide walkway separates the beach and its sun-worshippers from the line of shops and restaurants. We decide to sit, have lunch, enjoy the view.

This family loves their panos. Lunch in Positano. Photo by Kat.
This family loves their panos. Lunch in Positano. Photo by Kat.

A table facing the beach side is perfect–and so is the bellini I order. It feels like a Cary Grant movie–the look and feel of it all. I could see Audrey Hepburn strolling along the walkway in a big, stylish straw hat with some swingy little dress, huge sunglasses.

People do stroll while we sit, enjoy, all manner of people. Some with skin so pale I hope it’s slathered with sunscreen. Couples–one young woman wears a little white lace dress Audrey would have admired–and I think they’re surely on their honeymoon. A couple of guys in Speedos who shouldn’t have been, a man carrying a blue seersucker jacket, his white hair topped by a straw fedora, a huge camera hung around his neck. Babies in strollers and back carriers, kids trooping by in bathing suits, a skateboarder, a multi-tattooed woman and her friend rinsing a naked baby in one of the beach showers. People crowded in our restaurant, others stripping down to bikinis and tanks on the beach, more walking by.

And here’s a woman–middle-aged with magenta hair and a two piece bathing suit with the top flopping precariously down over generous breasts. Lots of generosity exposed.

Overlooking the beach. Photo by Kat (though I'm not sure how).
Overlooking the beach. Photo by Kat (though I’m not sure how).
Along the water. Photo by Kat.
Along the water. Photo by Kat.

It’s a constant flood of color and movement, shapes and sizes and styles. And everyone seems really, really happy.

We’re happy, too.

We eat, we drink, relax, then walk again. To more views, then back again. I’ve seen these big, pretty bags–thin like scarves–and decided they make good gifts or Fabulous Prizes for the girl spa. They really shouldn’t be ignored. So I buy two–they’re weightless and lovely.

We start up, up, up. We’d planned to buy bananas on the way back at a market we’ve seen, but it’s closed for the afternoon siesta. Lots of the shops are beginning to close now. We pass art galleries–we’d stop in these on the way down. Some fascinating art, and lots of it. Big modern figures made out of what look like chain saw or bike chains. Pictures, blurry ones, of ballet dancers that move as you walk by, a couple of gorgeous bronze figures, so fluid.

We climb, and climb, work our way back to the little madhouse of a garage. It’s amazing to me they can find our car. Amazing again, BW can sneak his way out again onto the road. The car’s alarm beeps regularly as we skim so close to buildings, to other cars. At one point a bus inches by us close enough my traveling companions and our sturdy driver make gasping noises. All–I decided to just look the other way–confirm we crept passed each other with under an inch between.

Down by the water in Positano. Photo by Kat.
Down by the water in Positano. Photo by Kat.
La famiglia a Positano. Foto di Kat.
La famiglia a Positano. Foto di Kat.

Then we’re up and out, winding over the water, beneath the cliffs. Scooters pass us at crazed speeds, their drivers leaning hard into turns. We watch a couple of cars beep and zoom around curves, passing two or three cars at a time, nipping back into their lane a breath or two in front of on-coming traffic.

We think to stop for those bananas at our local market, and we three passengers get out while BW drives off to turn around. Too late we discover it’s also closed for the heat of the afternoon. Kat and I opt to walk home from there–enough winding driving for us!

A wall of coins. Photo by Kat.
A wall of coins. Photo by Kat.
Wall detail. Photo by Kat.
Wall detail. Photo by Kat.

A dog, pale caramel color, sweet face, walks over, so I check out that face, go ahead and pet him. He’s delighted, and starts walking with us. Oh-oh! He stops, sniffs, smiles up at me and walks with us again. Fortunately he found a canine friend before we got to the gate, so we didn’t have to disappoint him.

Nora and a friend. Photo by Kat.
Nora and a friend. Photo by Kat.

A little hangout time, then we have our wine tasting.

The owner of a renowned local vineyard, his wife and daughter, bring us several bottles to taste, along with the treat of salami, cheese, bread, their own olive oil. They have a large coffee table book with amazing pictures of their vineyard where the vines look more like trees. They’re very old and survived a blight that wiped out many vineyards around Italy. Because, we’re told, of the ash from Vesuvius. The parasite couldn’t live in the ash, but the vine could and did.

Our host, who was a vet, decided to make something of his family vineyards and so with his brother and two friends began Tenuta San Francesco–St. Francis is, in addition to being the protector of animals, also the protector of wine. Interesting.

We taste–first the sparkling–and though I’m not generally a fan of the sweeter Italian sparkling, this is lovely. Fresh and not over-sweet. And the white wine’s gorgeous. The red’s are soft and supple. I’ll add Jason drank his Fanta–he has no wine pallet, he admits. It all tastes like grape juice that needs sugar.

We enjoy our hour, and I–having come from one and having made my own–appreciate and admire family businesses. We’ll enjoy, too, the wine they left for us–and what we ordered to be shipped home.

After the wine tasting. Photo by j a-b
After the wine tasting. Photo by j a-b

Olympics time, and we can just heat up some leftovers tonight.

It’s been a lovely, happy, busy day, one that ends with that striking half moon and scattered stars.

This morning the gardener’s come early to cut the grass, tidy the shrubs and patio. I think the noise is why the cat hasn’t visited.

About time now to pick the morning workout. A day at home–with a trip to the market (coffee for BW is a must), some writing, some reading for me. Sounds just excellent.  

Nora