The tippy-top of Positano
Most people will tell you that the gem of the Amalfi Coast is Positano. I disagree, one because I like to be difficult and secondly because I genuinely think that there are far too many sandal making boutiques, tourist restaurants and people wearing socks with their sandals. For myself, I prefer the city of Amalfi itself, which is still unspoiled in some places. But, today’s tale is set in Positano, amidst the lush purple vibrance of bougainvillea and bright white and pale yellow buildings that dot the terraced city.
We had really only come for one reason. From where we were staying in Amalfi, Positano was an uncomfortably warm ferry ride filled with the crush of tourists and children who take up too much of the seat next to you. As stated before, I am not tremendously fond of Positano, a fact that I take no pains to hide from my long-suffering husband, but we had mutually agreed to return in order to eat at a wonderful restaurant perched at the very tippy-top of the city that overlooks the harbor. The food is delicious and the view is resplendent, with twinkling blue waters and the colorful houses cobbled together out the windows of the restaurant.
The last time we had been to Positano, a friend of mine was working in a swanky villa, and had arranged transportation from said villa to this restaurant. We had arrived in grand style, seated right in front of an open window, and ate for free because I had been touted as a “famous American travel writer”, which if not wholly false, was certainly flattering and I didn’t feel at all guilty about the free meal that accompanied this fiction.
While we were not expecting the royal treatment this time, I did not expect to walk to the top of this mountain in order to eat. But we had no one to arrange the transport and had no working cell phone on hand. So, we walked.
The climb to the top of Positano from the harbor is about 45 minutes of straight incline up Roman steps. These are not modern stairs with set inclines, these are crumbling narrow steps meant for tearing the muscles in your calves into pieces. We walked, in the bright sunlight, sweat pouring through my hair, from the tops of my arms, from my knee caps, from every inch of my body that I have never seen sweat before. Up, up, up, with no break or water, or even a cloud to pass overhead to offer a moment of respite.
But then, we emerged down the street from the restaurant. It glittered and beckoned like a mirage, but was real and tangible, and though I looked terrifying, a dripping, sweat covered vagabond, we arrived.
If they found our appearances distressing, they have the decency only to give us dark looks and point us toward a table near the wall. No windows for us. I tell them I write for travel magazines. I tell them we walked from the harbor. It didn’t matter.
And though the food was still delicious, our special little dream place was brimming with tourists. It wasn’t special anymore, we had no window view, only views of tour groups and fanny packs and those terrible zip away pants that become shorts.
We traveled to the top of the mountain, returned to our own little heaven, to find it utterly ruined by our countrymen. Nothing was left but the walk down and another uncomfortably hot ferry ride back to Amalfi. Amalfi, where one can still escape to lemon groves waterfalls, in the places tourists never go.