10-01-2018 Day 7 Montepertuso to Florence

After  a fabulous week of sunny weather, we woke this morning to cloudy skies, with big thunderheads in the distance, and a gray overcast tinged with pink over our terrace.  We had been wakened by the sounds of the drop planes very early. The previous night as we were eating supper on the terrace, bells rang for a long time.  We knew it was some sort of warning, but decided that if we needed to evacuate Sara and Enzo would let us know.

The smell of smoke was strong throughout the night, so we did know that the fire we had seen yesterday on the mountain just beyond our village was still burning. 

We had arranged breakfast at 7, with our ride to the train station at 10:30, in plenty of time to catch the 1pm train to Florence.  That all changed when Sara came to the apartment to tell us that we needed to leave earlier, and that her cousin would be taking us instead of Enzo, and we should meet him at the piazza.  Sara doesn’t speak English well, and she handed us the phone where I spoke to Enzo who explained that the main road to Naples was closed due to the fire and the drivers were all having difficulties getting people out of town.

We packed up and headed for the piazza a bit early, and within minutes Sara came running down to tell us that her cousin would not be able to make it, but they had arranged yet another driver to take us to our train.  Luigi was to arrive no later than 10, but with the road closures and all the traffic, he didn’t show up till 10:30.  He was devastated at that, saying that he is NEVER late for his customers, but this was an extreme situation.

Luigi is singing, talking on his cell phone, driving really fast, and talking with his hands, a perfect Italian

Luigi was everything I had imagined an Italian driver to be, charming, a bit of a wolf, and he talked a LOT.  He did tell us that his name actually IS wolf, and he is head wolf. He also sang!  Our trip leaving Montepertuso was something I will never, ever forget.  Luigi put on a favorite music mix to play for us, beginning with “Time to Say Goodbye” by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. This particular version has always been a thrill for me to listen to, but having this music accompany our ride leaving Positano was a moment I will never forget. I hope that I never forget that feeling as we watched the lovely little town built on the steep cliffs of the Amalfi Coast recede in the distance.

As sad as the road closure was, and as difficult as it was for other tourists and their drivers, it was an incredibly lucky break for us.  We got to see the highway going in the opposite direction from our previous trip on the Sita bus, and Luigi drove us up through the town of Ravello, which we had been too tired and overwhelmed to visit on our day in Amalfi.

Continuing along the road to Amalfi, previously experienced in a big bus from a different direction, the views were achingly beautiful in spite of the speed.  Luigi talked a mile a minute in between his singing, and even when talking on his phone (hands free of course) he talked with his hands as he drove those crazy roads through Ravello.  Our views of Ravello were through the windows and the windshield and very fast.

The mountains were gorgeous, with views of the sea opening up as we rounded the curves, and cloaked in lush chestnut trees.Once over the mountain, the broad valley south of Vesuvio opened up below us.  Luigi, not only drove incredibly well, but extremely fast.  I had to laugh, because not only did he talk and sing, he also talked with his hands while talking on the phone to the other drivers who were all trying to figure out how to get people to their planes and trains. He also yelled a lot at stupid drivers, and honked  at everything coming our way.He was angry at the Sita bus driver who didn’t slow down for the goats, and at stupid limo drivers who parked too far out in the narrow road.

The speed limit on the freeway approaching Napoli is 100 km/hr, but I noticed Luigi driving at least 130.  He kept reassuring us, but I could tell he was doing his best.  We arrive at the Napoli Centrale Station at 12:30.  Made me very glad we were doing a train and not an airplane!  He said, “Do not worry, I will take you to your platform”.  We paid him inside the taxi, for safety, he said, and then he gave us a CD with all the beautiful Italian music he had been playing for us on the drive. He unloaded our bags, and led us quickly to the overhead sign showing which platform we needed to go to, and only left us once we knew what to do.  Very nice for our first big train trip in Italy.  Hopefully we will be a bit more experienced now when we catch the train back to Naples after our two weeks here in Florence.

The train ride itself was exciting as well, at least for first timers.  I had read a lot about traveling by train in Italy on the “Man in Car 61” website that Erin shared with me a year ago, and we had made online reservations so did have a bit of an idea what it would be like.  Still, going very close to 300 km/hour on a train is pretty exciting. It is especially so as you pass another bullet train.  It is a blur that lasts about one second!

It was raining hard for most of our trip, and watching the countryside was interesting but not terribly exciting until we got closer to Tuscany where the landscape took on the beautiful lush look of the farmlands.  I was surprised at how lush and green it is in this part of Italy, looking very much like the Willamette Valley.  Checking the latitude, I discovered that while Positano is on the same latitude as Redding, California (remember the fires?), Florence is on the same latitude as Eugene, Oregon.  Very interesting to me.

Our tickets were business class, with comfy seats, plenty of room for our luggage, and plenty of legroom.  All in all an excellent experience.  Within less than 3 hours we arrived in Florence, at the Santa Maria Novella station, made sure our items were properly secured and pushed our luggage in front of us to avoid the pickpockets that we had been warned about through ads on the train monitors.  It wasn’t a problem for us this time, but all it takes is being unaware only once to lose something precious.

The only mistake we made was assuming when they offered food and drink it was complimentary.  Only the coffee and snack is complimentary.  The pasta and the wine cost us about 50 Euro, not money well spent, but we learned and didn’t make the same mistake on our return trip to Naples two weeks later.

Notice the gray wrist bands, my excellent solution for preventing motion sickness, they work!

When we arrived at Firenze Santa Novella Train Station we knew to walk directly outside to the taxi stand.  In Italy you don’t hail a taxi, you get in line and wait your turn.  Interesting thought as I remember no one waiting their turn for the buses, but everyone was very orderly when waiting for their turn at a taxi.  Within ten minutes we had a taxi, showed the driver our address on Google Maps, and fifteen minutes and 15 Euro later arrived at our new doorstep.

We showed our driver the address on our phones in Google Maps, asked “Quanto Costa”, and were told to watch the meter.  (of course) Within minutes, and only 15 EU later, we were at the door of our apartment, with several call buttons, and no clue which name we were supposed to call. A lady looked out the window above us and said, “No, not that one!”.  Oops. We pushed the top highest button and the door suddenly opened.  I was really glad then that we had small luggage because the door was very narrow. We could barely fit through it even with our carry ons!

Isabella came down the stairs to meet us and help with the luggage.  And yes, there are a Lot of stairs, very narrow stairs, with ancient cement uneven steps.  It is an old house.  Once we reached the third level, where our studio space is located, we stopped to get instructions and fill out rental agreements .

The wooden arched door on the left is ours, and the gazebo extending on top of the roof is our terrace.

Isabella was quick and businesslike, unloading every bit of information she thought we might need.  Continuing up another flight of stairs to the main floor of the apartment, she showed us the bullet proof glass door that led to the terrace, showed us how to operate those keys, showed us how to manage the heating system, where the turn off valves were for the water and the gas, and explained the 3 different levels of breaker switches for the apartment, including the one on our floor, on the next floor down, and on the ground level.  She showed us the dishwasher, the washing machine, and made sure we knew not to run too many things at once. Our brains were a bit worn, and after she left neither of us could figure out how to manage the heating system and things felt a bit chilly after all that warm sunshine down south.

Looking out the windows, across the ancient red tiles, reminded me of those James Bond movies with people running from roof to roof, shooting their guns. She also said, don’t answer the call bell, because no one should be trying to call you or get in. 

Isabella illustrated perfectly what Luigi had told us about Italy.  As a Napolitano, he loves Southern Italy most.  He told us the southerners are warm and friendly, happy, full of a love of life and food and everything beautiful.  The Northerners are much less friendly, more businesslike, less welcoming.  After our time in Italy, we would both definitely agree with Luigi. 

We were happy that we had brought pasta and Sara’s tomato sauce and some of her bread with us since there was no way we were going back down all those stairs to try to find a grocery store.  Isabella said something about “just a few blocks that way”, but we weren’t yet ready to brave the city streets.  She also said something about buses, which one to catch, which numbers went where, and that the map in the study was worn out and we should probably go get another one to figure it out.  Ok then.

Instead, we cooked our pasta, added a little of Sara’s sauce, opened the bottle of wine that Isabella had kindly left for us, and stepped out onto the terrace to enjoy an incredible view of Florence across the Arno River as sunset approached.  This was the view I had seen in so many photos and imagined so many times as I dreamed about visiting the very heart of the Renaissance, Firenze.

The stairs were a bit daunting, but we had known to expect that, but the view from the terrace was even better than we had imagined.  The clouds parted, the sun came out at just the right moment to light up the gorgeous dome of the Duomo across the river.  In addition to the terrace, there is another lovely window in the kitchen with a view of the river, and a large window in the bedroom that opens up to the gorgeous sky. 

Our location is perfect for us, on the south side of the river away from the bustle of the old city, and yet within walking distance.  I think our favorite thing is that we can see the Michelangelo Piazza just above us on the next terrace and there is a lovely view of gardens and greenery from the terrace as well.  The fourth floor is high, and there is a price to pay, but the open feeling is worth every step.

Our quiet little village of Montepertuso was as different as night and day from the big city of Firenze.  But when the bells from all the cathedrals scattered throughout the city began tolling at 6pm we looked at each other in wonder.  Wow!  We are in Florence!

09-30-2018 Day 6 The Path of the Gods

Montepertuso, Italy Clear, Sunny and 75 Degrees F/ 24 C

View from the Path, with smoke from the fires showing on the mountain above Montepertuso and over the sea

Waking up on Sunday morning was lovely.  The bells on the big church just behind our apartment started ringing early, and the clarion call sounded lovely echoing around the village.  We had noticed the bells on other days, but on this day they rang several times. I am sure that the odd hours were announcing another mass for the townsfolk.  99.7 percent of Italian people are Roman Catholic.

When we first arrived in Montepertuso, Enzo was emphatic about making a reservation for us at a local restaurant, famous for its fish and wonderful food.  We finally settled on Sunday night for the reservation, but by the time Sunday rolled around we knew that we needed to be ready to catch the train on Monday morning and didn’t want to go to dinner.

Neither of us are particularly attached eating fancy meals at expensive restaurants so it was an easy decision.  Dinner at Ristorante la Terra would have cost at least 100 EU.  We chose instead to spend that extra money on our tour day of the ruins and skip the expensive dinner.

The day was gorgeous and sunny, with only a slight breeze.  Both of us were so appreciative of the fabulous weather we had enjoyed throughout our entire week on the Amalfi Coast.  In spite of the winds, it was a perfect week.

We saved the famous hike along the cliffs for this last day.  It seemed like a fitting end to our visit.  There is much written about the Path of the Gods, and it is something that should be experienced during any extended trip to the Amalfi Coast. 

The path itself follows the cliffs along an 8.7 kilometer trail from the town of Bomerano to Positano, along routes that have been used for centuries by farmers taking their products to market on the backs of donkeys. Each end of the trail has magnificent views of the Amalfi Coast and the beautiful farmed and grazed terraces gracing the steep slopes of the limestone mountains.

We knew that we were a bit worn from our week of stairs and hiking and with a bit of discussion decided that we would rather hike only part of the trail.  The length was less daunting than the fact that we would have to take the Mobility bus down to Positano, catch the Siti Bus to Amalfi, and catch another bus to Bomerano to access the trailhead at its southernmost entrance.

Instead, we decided to take the Mobility bus up to Nocelle, get on the trail at the access point there, and hike as far as we could manage before turning around to retrace our steps.  With my knee and vertigo, this seemed like a much smarter idea. 

The bus was a bit late, as usual, but wasn’t a deterrence since we knew we could spend as much time as we wanted on the trail and catch the last bus going back to Positano via Montepertuso from Nocelle at 7pm.  The bus was also quite crowded, with many people choosing to hike only part of the trail as well.

It was a hot afternoon, and right at the entrance to the trail in Nocelle was a lemonade stand with lemon granitas.  On my!  This is nothing like ordinary lemonade although I have no idea what makes it so luscious.  Perfect start for our hike.

We walked a bit through Nocelle, meeting many folks coming our way from Bomerano.  Mid afternoon was a perfect time to be walking in the opposite direction as all those very tired hikers.  The standard question, “How much further”? was repeated often, with smiles and laughter and some big sighs for some.  The village is a lovely place, much smaller than Montepertuso, and the path is lined with small villas, a tiny grocery store, and a few eating places. Cars must park at the entrance to the village near the bus stop.

The path is through Nocelle is well marked

If you look closely, you can see our path on the right beyond the stone building along the cliff

I am not sure how long we walked, but after we climbed this particular set of stairs, we came to an area that was basically a rocky cliff.  There was nothing to break a fall to the sea below, far below.

We had been hiking for 90 minutes or so, and according to the map were about half way along the trail.  It seemed like an opportune place to turn around.  It made us doubly glad that we hadn’t tried to to the entire trail from the far end.  We would have had no choice but to climb those cliffs.  I suppose we would have managed, but I wanted to remain alive for another day. I had to face the fact that with the bad knee and vertigo coming and going I probably would never manage Angel’s Landing in Zion in this lifetime either.

Retracing out steps just a bit led us to a charming picnic table in a ravine surrounded by wildflowers and shaded by huge trees.  There were just a few small pools of water remaining from what I could imagine were rushing waterfalls during the springtime.

People passed by on the trail and we were happy to have the table for our evening picnic of Sara’s goodies. The shade felt great and we were grateful for the water bottles we had carried on what turned out to be a rather hot afternoon on the trail.

Taking our time as the trail evolved from rough rocks to stone steps near Nocelle, we loved seeing the view from a different perspective.  We saw that the fires were still burning, and watched the big bellied planes dipping into the sea and flying over the ridges to drop water on the fires.

The few tiny establishments along the way tempted us, but we didn’t want to miss the last bus from Nocelle back to Montepertuso.  As luck would have it, the bus was on time and showed up not long after we arrived at the stop.  The pushing and shoving were a little less obnoxious by that time in the evening and we were grateful for that. We were ready to be home in our little apartment for what would be our last evening on the Amalfi Coast. Time to pack and prepare for our travels north to the city of Florence “Firenze” and a completely different world.

09-27-2018 Day 3 The Amalfi Coast

A classic image of Positano from the ferry as we departed from the dock for our short cruise down the coast

Deanna and I woke this morning to a lovely pastel sky.  We both noticed after a few days with this view that the pastel colors were something that we don’t often see in our world of the west.  Dramatic sunsets are not unusual, but pastel skies with so many colors are more rare.

Another walk to Positano wasn’t something we cared to repeat. Instead we decided to walk to the square and wait for the Mobility bus scheduled to run on the hour.  The bus was half an hour late, something we discovered was quite common. We bought several tickets at the grocery store, making sure we had enough for the next few days on the coast.

The weather was gorgeous in spite of the strong breezes.  Brilliant sunshine lit up the sea and the colorful houses cascading down the cliffs.  The bus passed us on the way to Nocellle, a few kilometers up the hill, turned around and traveled back our way and we boarded for the trip down to town.  It was almost noon by the time we actually made it down to Positano Spiaggia (beach).

Enzo had warned us, “Don’t even think of taking the Sita bus to Amalfi, it is much easier and quicker to go on the ferry, and only 8 Euro.”  The square was a bit crowded with long lines for the various ferries, but we got our tickets without a problem.  We chose only one way tickets so that we could experience the wild ride along the coast in the Siti bus.  These buses are a bit larger than the local mobility buses, and the cost between the town of Amalfi and Positano was just 8 Euro, exactly the cost of the ferry.

We were happy to see that the ferries were operating since they had been closed the previous day.  We had to wait about an hour for the next ferry to Amalfi and that required another gelato.  This time we chose the cup since gelato is very soft and melts very quickly in the warm sunshine.

One of the advantages of taking the ferry is the chance to view all the charming cliffside towns from the vantage point of the water.  Priano lies between Positano and Amalfi, but there are a few other small towns dotting the hillsides. 

We sat on the top floor in the warm, bright sunshine.  Deanna and few other passengers managed to get the shades closed so that we had a bit of protection from the glare.

The trip only lasts about half an hour and in the beginning the winds were slight.  However, before we reached Amalfi, the winds shifted and great gusts began throwing the boat around and lots of spray reached the decks. As the ferry approached Amalfi we looked up to see huge clouds of smoke billowing from the hillsides above town. 

With the high winds the flames looked frightening and we could hear sirens.  The emergency vehicles have a terrible time trying to get anywhere with the narrow roads and all the tourist traffic.  We read later about these fires that have been plaguing the Italian coast this past summer and much like the western US, there is a drought and lots of dry fuel to burn in terrain that is terribly difficult to manage.

Once we landed in Amalfi we were inundated by throngs of tourists, even more so than in crowded Positano.  With our offline Google maps we attempted to navigate a bit and found the main square in town and the lovely cathedral. 

The town of Amalfi didn’t seem as charming to us as Positano.  There were many side roads with many shops and a lot of people, however it didn’t seem as clean and was much more touristy.  We thought perhaps that with more time to wander the back roads it may have seemed nicer but those roads seemed to go off in directions that were much farther than we wanted to walk.

The cathedral Duomo di Sant’Andrea is quite lovely and as is often the case in Italy there is a charge to enter. I think we paid just 3 Euro and it was well worth it. The exterior is dramatic and colorful although the colorful marble and colored stone façade was refurbished in 1891.

From Wiki:

“The first church, now the Diocesan Museum of Amalfi was built on the 9th century on the ruins of a previous temple.[2] A second church was built to the south in 10th century, and this is now the Cathedral. By the 12th century the two churches formed a single 6 aisle Romanesque church, which was reduced to 5 in the 13th century to allow the construction of the cloister of Paradise, in the Arab-Norman style.

The remains of St. Andrew were reportedly brought to Amalfi from Constantinople in 1206 during the Fourth Crusade[3] by Cardinal Peter of Capua. In 1208, the crypt was completed and the relics were turned over to the church.[2] It said that later on manna issued from the saint’s bones.[4]

The bell tower was constructed between the 12th and 13th centuries in front of the first church, topped by an elaborate crown decorated with marble and majolica in the Arab-Norman style, also seen in other churches in southern Italy in this period. The chapels inside are variously Gothic and Renaissance, with the nave decorated in the Baroque style in the 18th century.

In 1861, part of the facade collapsed, damaging the atrium. The whole front of the church was then rebuilt to a design by architect Errico Alvino in a richly decorated manner drawing on Italian Gothic and especially Arab-Norman styles, similar to but more ornate that the original, completed in 1891.”

The main altar depicting Saint Andrew

We were impressed with the gorgeous stone mosaics in this cathedral

The bronze doors to the cathedral were cast in Constantinople before 1066

After our visit inside the cathedral we joined others on the cathedral steps to enjoy a light lunch of breakfast leftovers while we people-watched.

By this time, it was getting a bit late in the afternoon and we decided that it was time to make an attempt to return to Positano.  Winding our way through the crowds, we found a tabacchi  (tobacco shop) on the main thoroughfare to purchase Sita tickets for the ride home.  This is where the crazy Italian bus system first reared its ugly head.  There were dozens of buses in the square and many of them had no names in the destination window at the top of the bus.  No one seemed to know which bus went to Positano, or to Ravello, or perhaps on to Sorrento without stopping in Positano.  We did finally discover that we needed the Sorrento bus, but to be sure to get one that actually stopped in Positano.  People were crowding around the entrances of all the buses, but no one seemed to have a clue about anything and the bus drivers were all yelling at each other and gesturing wildly.  Lines mean nothing in Italy and people pushed and shoved to get to the head of a line only to have the bus drivers yell at us saying laggiu, laggiu!!  “Over there” we later learned.  Then all the people wildly went “over there”, willy nilly, with people in the front of the line ending up in the back of the line.  It was important to catch a bus because the next one might leave in over an hour and then be late as well.  We managed to get on the bus but it was definitely a bit stressful

Once on the bus we were in for the ride of our lives.  The road from Amalfi to Positano is narrow and winding and just a tiny bit wider than the little roads on the hill between Positano and Montepertuso.  It took an hour of craziness with amazing views and fascinating exchanges between car drivers and bus drivers, and many contorted negotiations between vehicles and cliff sides.  An interesting trip that I loved doing and wouldn’t want to do on a regular basis.

We were thrilled to at last reach our little town of Positano, getting off the bus at the upper end of town near a restaurant and a water closet.  Have I mentioned that these are few and far between in these small Italian towns?  We had a delightful lunch at a streetside sidewalk table overlooking the sea where we laughed about our day.

We still had to get back home and this required another crazy bus ride.  At first we thought we would walk up to the Mobility bus stop we had seen where the Siti bus also stopped, but decided instead to walk down toward town where we had boarded the Mobility bus the previous day.  This turned out to be a great idea.  We had to wait half an hour or so for the bus and once again do the pushing and shoving routine required to get on a bus in Italy.  It was a good thing we chose the lower stop because by the time we arrived at the upper stop the bus was jammed full and it didn’t even stop!

Winding up the roads on the smaller Mobility bus was becoming almost routine to us by this time and we were incredibly grateful to disembark at the square and walk down the path to our lovely quiet little apartment.

Photos from this day are linked here and include many shots from inside the cathedral with frescoes and more of the crazy bus ride.

09-26-2018 Day 2 The Stairs of Positano

I have found that comments will work if you click on the header for the current post rather than the header for the blog in general. Just an FYI. Looking forward to your comments.

Montepertuso, Italy, Clear and Sunny  72F  22C

On our first morning in Montepertuso we woke to a brilliant sunny sky.  The night had been incredibly windy and all the beautiful terra cotta pots filled with herbs on the terrace had been blown over. 

With the gusty winds our first lovely breakfast provided by Sara was served inside on the dining table rather than on the terrace.  What a breakfast it was!  The star of the show are Sara’s homemade croissants served with her homemade jam.  Breakfast includes these wonderful croissants, eggs, various meats and cheeses, juice, yogurt, panini sandwiches, sweet and savory home baked breads, and some kind of crispy toasts in a package.  It is always much more than we can eat so we save the paninis for lunches when out walking, the yogurts for afternoon snacks, and the breads are piling up in our bread basket.

After breakfast we decided that in spite of the winds, it was a perfect day to walk the stairs down to the town of Positano.  The stairs are a highly recommended activity when visiting Positano. Most often reviews mention the wisdom of walking down instead of up and taking the bus back up the hill.  We thought that was great advice.

There are about 1,700 steps from our village of Montepertuso down to Positano.  This number seems to vary according to different websites but after reading more we have decided that this is a pretty good number.  The elevation difference, however, is not in question and the 1,100 foot elevation drop from our village to the beach is real, regardless of the number of steps. Our step trackers showed that we walked a bit more than 3 miles. No matter how you count it there is a LOT of down.

Positano is built on a cliff of limestone and the roads and stairs snake along the cliff sides with each turn providing another mind boggling view of the town and the sea to the south. The entrance to the stairs is a short walk from the square in Montepertuso along the very narrow road where we have learned to squeeze against the railing as cars pass.  Traffic along these roads is basically indescribable. You have to experience it.

The upper part of the stairway is a bit rural with lush terraced vegetable gardens and scattered homes.  The stairs themselves vary in depth and height and the surface is rough stone.  There are railings in some places and not others but you have to be careful if you use the railings because they are often crawling with tiny ants.  Amazing views open up at almost every turn. 

Approaching town we passed some people going up and others going down as we were.  Notably, most of the people going up were young folks with backpacks heading for the Path of the Gods.  This hike is another highly recommended activity in the area and begins in Nocelle which is a tiny village beyond Montepertuso. I would love to talk to some of these folks AFTER they climbed all those stairs and then continued a hike on the path.  The only one I know who could do it easily would be Mark Johnson.

After about an hour we came to “the pink house” mentioned by a BnB owner we encountered on a porch overlooking the trail who was kind enough to give us directions.

Turning left as he said we found ourselves emerging on a “real” street in Positano filled with tourists, shops, and marked by gorgeous Italian ceramic planters filled with flowers.  We got caught browsing for a bit in the ceramic shops but am proud to say that I didn’t succumb to purchasing anything although those brilliantly colored platters and vases have always been a draw for me.

We walked along the road a bit toward the east before turning and continuing down toward the spiaggia (beach).  The stairs wind down through tiny streets lined with shops and then open up into the piazza  in front of the cathedral.  We skipped visiting the interior for the moment and continued down some more stairs passing a few more shops before arriving at the the lovely Positano Spiaggia.

The BnB guy on the path on the hill had told us about the best gelato to be found in Positano and we found it just past the bar at Cove Dei Saraceni as he had instructed. There we had our very first taste of Italian gelato and it is everything we imagined.  How in the world can simple ice cream not taste anything like simple ice cream! There is a method to purchasing gelato in Italy.  You must first pay at the cashier, decide whether you want a cup or a cone, get your receipt, and only then return to the ice cream counter. Only then do you choose your flavor. There are often small tables and seats in the shop but should you choose to sit instead of walk with your treat there will be another charge.  The same holds true for ordering espresso or cappuccino in the cafe’s.

The beach at Positano is quite tiny without true sand and very few folks laying out in the sun.  There were all types of boats moored in the small harbor from tiny rowboats to big yachts, local fishing boats, speedboats, and several ferries to various locations around the coast including the Isle of Capri, sparkling in the distance.

By this time I was feeling pretty tired walking with the stick compensating for the stupid knee and needed a place to sit.  Not far up the street from the beach we found a nice little restaurant called La Zagara where we were seated at a nice window table for two.  We were initially offered one of those tables in a dark corner that they try to give to unsuspecting tourists.  We had a simple and inexpensive lunch of a slice of pizza and lemon granita tea .  It was delightful.  We were grateful for the use of the restaurant restroom as there are not many public restrooms available in Positano.  On the way out we stopped at the bakery counter of the restaurant to purchase a fabulous pistachio cannoli to take home for dessert.  Italian cannoli was another new experience.  WOW! It was nothing like the tasteless things I have tried only rarely in the states.

We walked back up the stairs to the Duomo The Church of Santa Maria Assunta and took time to enter into the quiet sacred space.  Visiting cathedrals can be a bit overwhelming. It takes time and the willingness to go slowly.  We wandered, read a bit, took photos, and did some oohing and ahhing between us before emerging back into the sunlight.  Deanna and I were both a bit appalled at how some tourists seem to have no qualms intruding into spaces where people are in prayer and contemplation with their cameras.  We both made an effort to be respectful but it takes a bit of effort to get decent photos inside a cathedral no matter how many people are inside. 

Leaving the cathedral, we returned to the Fermata Mobility (the local bus stop) across from the Tabacchi (tobacco shop) where we purchased our bus tickets to Montepertuso.  The fare is 1.3 EU each way and worth every cent.  It is 1.70 EU if purchased directly on the bus.

We have found the people in Italy to be delightful, charming and pleasant, except  when they are waiting for the bus.  This particular activity requires fortitude and a willingness to get in the midst of the push and shove of everyone trying to get on the same bus though the same tiny door.  However, once on the bus, the walking stick and white hair are quite an advantage. Everyone from older men to younger women offered their seat to me! I did take advantage and used the “old lady card” and was very happy that I didn’t have to stand all the way home through the winding streets of Positano high up to the village of Montepertuso.

A view of Montepertuso. Our apartment is right behind the church

With our tummies full from our afternoon lunch, dinner was simple and perfect with another glass of Enzo’s delightful wine from the previous night and our gorgeous pistachio cannoli.

The rest of the photos for this day’s post are located here.