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

21 thoughts on “Day Eleven: A trip to Positano”

  1. I found that scarves covered bare shoulders for visiting churches with dignity for all.

    Descriptions are wonderful , photos fantastic, and the meals leave me hungry!

  2. Okay, my stomach was a bit squeamish on that drive, but I’d probably just close my eyes! Of course, I’d miss that fantastic view. Sounds like a wonderful day, except for the men in speedos and over-abundant woman in the two piece bathing suit. But hey, they’re on vacation, right! LOL
    Thanks again for sharing.

  3. I can empathize with BW about needing the coffee. I find it very hard to get going without the diet Pepsi. The pictures are beautiful. All the color would definitely make me happy to see it.

  4. I can relate to Jason, I don’t have a taste for wine either. I really like the shape of the bottles and some of the labels though. My boss gave me a bottle of wine as a gift. I poured the wine out and kept the pretty bottle! I enjoy reading about your vacation adventures. Safe travels.

  5. That drive made me think of coming down the Sierra Madre Mountain from Taxco to Acapulco. The farmers wer in slings as the picked corn that were growing at a 45° angle to the side of the mountain. There was barely room for 2 little cars to pass and we unknowingly had rented an old, big, Cadillac. The driver obviously knew the road, he stayed the same speed, honked his funny sounding horn at he made blind curves. The other cars pulled over slightly, almost scraping paint off their cars. The whole road was in great shape, thank goodness, not the place to have potholes. I didn’t close my eyes like my friend did, but I don’t think I took a deep breath until we got to the gates of the city. Every time the drive turned as he was giving us a history of everything we were passing, I just gestured for him to put his eyes back on the road.
    We were so glad it was a one way ride. After spending 4 days in Acapulco, we were flying back to NYC. Our 15 days, in 4 Mexican states were beautiful, great shopping, great food, friendly people, history, unbelievable views, exchange rate terrific, water beautiful .

  6. Thank you Nora for your excellent descriptions of EVERYTHING and the wonderful pictures! It feels like I am there with you and wish I was!

  7. Oh Nora! Your posts are always so beautiful, and inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing along in your adventures. As a travel agent I soak up your words, especially to places I have not yet gotten to see. Positano is pretty tops on my bucket list – and you just added to my quest to see it. I have favorite luxury hotels, and tours that I always live vicariously through my clients with – but your blog here takes the cake. Thanks for sharing! Have a wonderful holiday!

  8. A wonderful escape for me: alone on a pretty Saturday morning (husband and Labs left for the duck club a bit ago), just me, the patio, my iced water and your fabulous journal entry of Positano. The writing of your travels is so vibrant I can practically see it, feel it, all the way here in the suburbs of SLC. Thanks for the updates of your Italian holiday. Looking forward to the next installment.

  9. Positano is gorgeous! The pictures are exquisite! After that drive, I think I’d have drank a whole bottle of wine by myself. Lol ! I love reading these blogs and living vicariously thru your adventures. I will never see places like this so I visualize your words and try to see them as you do. Thanks for all you do for us.

  10. We are celebrating our first Olympic Gold medal in Singapore – half moon and scattered stars. Proud that our anthem is finally played. Thanks to Schooling. 🙂 It is also an honor to hear you mention about my country!

  11. Fantastic photos!! What a beautiful place…and your description of everything makes you feel like you are right there….thanks!

  12. What a lovely vacation your all having. I have been reading daily and love the descriptions that you inject into your blog and really love the pictures. I am hoping that you post photos of the dress, scarves and bags! But maybe not as some may be gifts that you would rather not let anyone see until the unveiling!
    Our weather is beyond Hot. It is not the dog days of summer any longer, although there is a tropical storm that has hit the gulf of Mexico. Louisiana is having a bad time of it, and a rare cold front from up north is headed our way and colliding with the tropical storm that will bring us much needed rain here in Central and Southern Texas, and we shall drop down into the 90’s which will be a great respite from the 109 we had for several days and yesterday.
    Take care, enjoy your beautiful days and thank you so much for sharing your travels with all of us. It is so good to read about and to see such beauty. xo Beth

  13. I’m like Jason when it comes to wine. I think it all tastes like vinager! My daughter will have me try different kinds that she’s just sure I’ll like but no still haven’t found it! I don’t care for beer either. I do like a good margarita!

  14. I was in Positano in June, My husband and I caught the train from Naples then when we got off the train in Sorrento outside the Stazione we caught the bus to Positano. It was hair raising, but amazing. There were also less umbrellas on the beach. (Although give me an Australian beach any time) You are an amazing wordsmith Nora, and I felt as though I was right there. Love your books and the travel blog. Ciao

  15. What a wonderful day you all shared with all of us. Makes me feel as though I’m there with you all. The pictures are great, the colors are so beautiful, the scenery great. Thanks again!

  16. Amalfi coast is magical and I always loved driving it. We use to live in Italy and frequently went down to Ravello. It was always the most fun driving guests from Sorrento to Vietri so they would be on the outside. It’s still one of my “happy places!” Enjoy!

  17. I so love your descriptions. When we did the hairpin curves of amalfi, & positano, we were on one of those lumbering tour buses, which is easier on our nerves, not so to you guys in little cars. Your pix reminded me of those beautiful soft peach colors of the houses.
    Ditto on pockets, love them too
    .thanks tons for your travelogue. I feel like I’m on vacation with you, not suffering the 100+ temperature here in eve & roarke’s hometown.

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