After tying a bow on what we later found out was the coldest May in Italy in more than 20 years (no joke), we needed to find a place that would allow us to wear something other than pants and long sleeves. Fast. Noelle will be the first to tell you (whether you ask her or not) that we did not pack the right clothes to accommodate the cold weather, so we needed to head south if I wanted to come home alive at the end of all this to warm up (ironically, as I write this we are sitting in front of a fire at our B&B in South Africa since it’s somewhere near 40 degrees outside. These weather details fell through the cracks somehow in our planning. Guess whose fault that was? If I don’t make it home, tell my family I love them…). Destination: Positano. (EDITOR’S NOTE: I packed one – ONE – long-sleeved shirt. WTF??)
But before we got to our beach town on the Amalfi Coast, we made a quick detour to Naples – known for its incredible pizza, among many less flattering descriptions. Everyone we talked to who has been to Italy told us that we had to go here for the pizza, but should not stay for anything else. Some of the other things we heard… “DO NOT drive in Naples under any circumstances”… “It’s a dirty city”… “Don’t take the red pill”… “Watch out for pickpocketers.” One of those things was actually never said (I’ll let you be the judge), but everything else was spot on. Just to set the scene, we had been up since 5am, spent 6 hours on a train and were walking around a city we were unfamiliar with while carrying our large packs. And it was hot. And it rained. What could possibly get under my skin in those circumstances, right? Where to start… the no-rules driving (stop lights, street signs and avoiding pedestrians are just suggestions apparently, not rules); the sidewalk vendors incessantly hawking sunglasses, purses or shoes; the sketchy looking men locking eyes on our bags every block. So yeah, that was nice.
But in the end, the margherita pizza we found was the antidote to avoiding a rage blackout and made all the trouble worth it (sort of). I don’t really know how to explain it, other than saying it was plain and simply the best pizza I’ve ever had.
And then we were on our way to the Amalfi Coast. A train and two bus rides later we arrived at Villa Sofia, a quaint little B&B in Nocelle (the neighborhood in the hills behind Positano). It turned out better than we could have even hoped, and the views had a lot to do with it. This was the view from right outside our bedroom:
Luciana, our host, kindly greeted us with coffee and some snacks in her living room (she and her family lived a couple floors above the room we rented). Her father built this place himself, which is an impressive feat when you see it from afar and realize it’s essentially at the top of a cliff.
We had booked seven nights here so we wanted to fill up the week with some fun activities in the area, but also make sure we didn’t plan too much so we could fit in a few lazy days at the beach (sounds like such a challenging predicament, I know). First thing on the agenda was exploring Nocelle. About 15 minutes after deciding we’d do this, we had already seen everything. There are two restaurants, one small food store, a few B&B’s and a sidewalk that runs down the middle. Oh, and they have some mules. But nothing more, nothing less.
Then it was time to go down the hill to explore Positano. To get down we had the option of waiting for a bus that comes every other hour, or walking down about 2,000 steps from Villa Sofia. That’s not an exaggeration. We counted them. On the way down, not so bad. On the way up…
IT (I can’t see through the sweat in my eyes)…
WAS (hold on a sec let me catch my breath)…
SO (seriously stop, I need a break)…
FRIGGIN’ (I think I might get sick)…
EXHAUSTING (pretty sure I just threw up in my mouth).
Positano itself was glorious though. After a not-too-optimistic forecast for the week, the weather was great and we got ample time to lounge on the beach in between beers and paninis. But part of the fun of being on the Amalfi Coast is seeing it from the sea and exploring the other coastal towns. Positano is nestled nicely in the middle of the coast. To our west was Capri (so hot right now) and Sorrento. To our east, Praiano and Amalfi. We opted to head east, taking a ferry past Praiano to Amalfi. The views of the coast with mountains and hills reminded us a bit of Cinque Terre. Once we got off the ferry, we did what was familiar – ate gelato, found a panini and sat on the beach.
After the food settled, we took a
rollercoaster bus up the world’s windiest road with the world’s smallest guardrails up to Bomerano to find the start of the Path of the Gods.Slightly disappointed that this didn’t mean literally climbing a stairway to heaven with guitars blaring the whole way up (EDITOR’S NOTE: Him.), we got off the bus and immediately had no idea where to go. For being the starting point of the most popular hike on the Amalfi Coast, Bomerano definitely hasn’t made much of an effort to explain where to go from the bus stop. No problem though, we totally were fluent in Italian after the last few weeks. And after struggling through a painful half-English / half-Italian conversation with a gas station attendant, we found the start of the hike and lucked out with the clouds staying at bay throughout the whole thing.The weather was perfect. Let me clarify that for you:
Per-fect weath-er (pur-fikt weth-er)
- A time in which it’s warm enough that Noelle cannot justifiably (a completely relative term) complain that it’s not hot enough, and in which Dave overheats and sweats but not uncontrollably.
- Used in a sentence: “We had perfect weather – Noelle skipped in the sunshine while Dave trailed behind, wiping sweat from his brow and soaking up the sweat from his mustache and beard with his shirt while maintaining a straight face or a smile.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE: I refuse to apologize for having what can only be considered a normal internal temperature. Sorry I’m not sorry.)
The views were phenomenal, and we practically had the whole trail to ourselves.
Our only other venture outside of Positano was a return to Amalfi. It was my turn for Date Night, and I had intended to continue onto the small town of Ravello, but after arriving, quickly realized that the bus and ferry schedules wouldn’t allow us to make it back to Positano before the morning. But that didn’t stop us from going back to the wine, cheese, bread (and meat and pesto this time) plan while taking in the sunset from the ferry port. (EDITOR’S NOTE: Lucky for him I’m a sucker for cheese. And wine. And sunsets.)
After soaking up as much sun as possible and finding a good balance of exploring (always Noelle’s idea) and “taking it easy” (always my idea), we felt like we’d seen all we had to see in Positano. Unable to hold back the “When in Rome” jokes, we headed north to the Eternal City to wrap up our time in Italy.