There are hardly any words or perhaps too many words to describe the overwhelming nostalgia of a familiar place. Each activity reveals a portal to the past, indisputably terse and bittersweet. It becomes one of Calvino’s invisible cities, or possibly all of them.
These are my emotions when I find myself in Positano. Its beauty overtakes all the antics of tourism thriving there. It holds a dynamic of history and nature that mystifies me every time I visit. Since I was only one or two years old, I spent a couple of weeks there in the summer. It proves the significance of experiences during childhood, particularly for an infant or toddler. Yes, I get emotional just being there.
Above is basically la vera colazione italiana. The kitchen at my hotel made crostata alla Nutella after I curiously asked if they still had it at breakfast. It was only for me, having a slice each morning or saved later as a snack with a caffé. The hotel holds an extraordinary amount of memories for me. And, it withholds some of the most coveted views in town.
I would like to share a few words of wisdom concerning Positano, as well as the Amalfi Coast, in general. From an “Italian American” who is still learning, since a young age, how to truly enjoy the moment and immerse yourself in the remarkable lands of lemons and vongole verace.
- Please attempt, in the beginning, to speak some Italian. Ciao, Buongiorno/ Buonasera (depending on time of day,) or Salve (more formal way of greeting) are all acceptable. Never walk up to a person and just say “Do you speak English?” You are in the presence of probably the most warm people in the Italian peninsula. They want to help you, especially if you do not behave rudely.
- Wear your bathing suit under your clothes. If you are venturing to the Amalfi coast in the summer months, which is almost always the case, this is necessary. The water is unlike the abrasive waters of the Pacific or Atlantic. It is lukewarm and sparkling blue. Usually, you will be very overheated from the sun and just want to jump in the water. Do it.
- Do not go swimming near a port. When choosing where to plunge into the sea, make sure it is not adjacent to a port. If you find yourself in Amalfi, there are limited options for an actual beach and some people, for reasons beyond my knowledge, swim in the waters near the port where larger passenger/ cargo boats dock. Sometimes, you can see the oil in the water unfortunately. The modern day does have its downfalls.
- Do not be afraid of seafood. As I have learned, many people are repulsed by seafood. It is not the prettiest thing to eat in certain cases. The presentation of seafood is natural and straightforward in most of Italy. If you are ordering scampi (large prawns) or cozze (mussels), you will have shell and, in case of scampi, the head and all. BE ADVENTUROUS AND TRY IT. Unless you have an allergy to shellfish, you are truly denying yourself the marvelous edible qualities of the sea. If you are getting really daring, suck the heads of your scampi for some gorgeous flavor.
- Keep hydrated (while still enjoying a 1 euro caffé!) If you are traveling in the summer, and even if you are not, you will most likely be doing a lot of walking, particularly uphill. Also, lots of stairs. Do not let this discourage you! Drink as much water as you can and consistently make sure to have the petite glass of water with your caffé! Do indulge in the much more reasonably priced espresso that graces Italy. If it is more, you will know it is a tourist trap or one of those unnecessarily posh places. But, once again, make sure to compensate with hydration. That Italian sun is hot like a plate of spaghetti pomodoro or Claudio Marchisio.
- Go paddle boarding. This is something rather specific, but for a good reason. I decided to go paddle boarding at the beach this time and it was mind blowing. While going on a boat is definitely fun, this enables you to take on a personalized exploration of the water and the cliffs. Looking up at the mountains from the ocean on your now perceivably small board truly puts all the natural phenomena in perspective. You will begin to scout out small coves and beaches. It is a great full body work out. Sailor’s legs are not required; you will gradually figure out how to stand up fully. The guy sort of just told me “good luck,” after I said it was my first time. I rented mine for only 10 euros, for an undiscussed amount of time, at da Ferdinando on Fornillo Beach in Positano. Go there and avoid the main beach, Marina Grande.
These blurbs of advice will make your vacation as well as any form of trip to the Amalfi coast a little more special. There are peculiarities to each town, commune, and region, but that is for each individual to figure out on their own! As for me, you can find me on Fornillo beach among the rocks and the pebbles, trying to replicate the lustrous tan that many Italians auspiciously achieve. The water is relatively calm and rapidly deep. This increases the preference for a taller person like me. And, if you are hungry at all, you can walk a few steps into the beach bar, da Ferdinando is my choice, and eat a delicious meal accompanied by local wine that is wonderfully affordable.
Yes, I did say rocks and pebbles. No sand, so be ready to hop around on hot rocks. This is actually a much better thing in my opinion because sand tends to go everywhere, if you catch my drift.
This is the walk to Fornillo Beach. The uphill climb is subdued by the immersive beauty of the foliage and sea. You can take a small boat there and back also.
Tiny beach area before Fornillo
While the sun hides itself behind the mountain, preparing for its daily snooze, the beach becomes more tranquil. It is exquisite. Here, I like to linger at the beach until late. Dinner is eaten much later for a variety of reasons (anywhere from 9-11;) however, summer holds much of the reasoning. Therefore, a lovely aperitivo on the beach is never a bad thing. (Limoncello spritz preferred)
While leaving is always difficult, this time it was more of a scrape than a knife wound. I am currently in Florence, here to live in Italia for many months to come. A city never compares to the beach to me, with a few exceptions. The salty azure waters and fresh seafood dishes make my eyes dazzle and my spirit wild. I am definitely less grumpy, unless they suddenly have a shortage of spaghetti alle vongole. Then, we have a MAJOR problem. When spending my time among such beautiful people, nature, and gastronomy, my face attains a natural incandescence that is unique. It is not all pasta and hand motions; it is a genuine vacation lifestyle that is difficult to translate into American culture. So, it is going to stay right here, in Southern Italia for me and others to splendor in.
I might have to return next weekend. September is apparently a wonderful time to go!