For me riding along the winding, treacherous cliff-side road to Positano along the Amalfi Coast is a lot like flying in an airplane. I spend almost the entire time praying and gripping the car's passenger seat so hard that my knuckles turn white... every once in awhile forcing myself to look out the window, gasp at the view, and say - "Oh wow, it's SO beautiful down there!"
I've been to Positano three times as an adult. It's like this every time.
Yet despite my deep-seated fears I force myself to journey the narrow roads and to fly anyway because I cannot stand the idea of staying home and NOT seeing Positano, of staying in my safe little house and NOT seeing the world.
(Have I mentioned its stunning limestone cliffs yet? Did I mention that they rise literally thousands of feet above sea level? Did I tell you already that the only thing between your car and hurtling to an instant death is a thin metal railing?)
Good thing my husband, Señor Aventura, is a rockstar superhuman driver. Seriously, the guy has skills! He can turn on a dime, drive through the fiercest of storms without batting an eyelash, and still be telling cheerful jokes as he maneuvers us safely through the hairiest of situations. The man is tough as nails. He could have driven for NASCAR, in my book. I would drive with him anywhere.
Which includes, it turns out, Positano!
"Why don't you take some photos," Señor Aventura suggested as we began the one hour drive from Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi. "It might take your mind off of the drive."
This was a good suggestion. He knows that my love of beauty is even stronger than my fear of heights.
Here for your viewing pleasure, then, I give to you the fruit of an hour's worth of "Oh my goodness, I can't look!" moments - some of which were pretty hard to breathe through for a person with vertigo. The photos aren't bad considering they were snapped from a moving car by a lady fighting against a panic attack!
As you'll see, the vistas from the road are absolutely spectacular. What a way to start the day!
Taking photos was a good idea! It truly was a positive distraction. Almost before I knew it, an hour had passed and Señor Aventura had deftly pulled our car over to park along the side of a verrrrrrrrrrrry narrow road overlooking the mountainside town.
"Mommy, I'm really hungry!" announced Little Angel, unbuckling her seat belt.
"Me too," chimed in Soccer Dude.
"Me three," agreed The Scientist.
"I could eat," nodded my husband.
So, off we went in search of lunch! The air outside of the car was very hot and as we descended staircase after staircase toward the sea, we found ourselves sweating.
Positano is a lovely, unique Italian town that may once have been a fishing village but thrives now thanks mainly to tourism, so there are no shortage of good restaurants for travelers there to choose from. I felt confident that we would probably be fine eating just about anywhere.
On our way down the main path, we encountered a wedding at the beautifully restored church. "What a good omen!" I murmured quietly. "Congratulations!"
We continued to descend the stairs and a sign caught my eye for a restaurant called 'Le Tre Sorelle,' or 'The Three Sisters.' This name sounded promising, and we later learned that the name does indeed come from an original Neapolitan pizza restaurant at this location run by a family of older sisters.
The current restaurant is run by a gentleman named Luigi and his seasoned staff. It's very popular with travelers and locals alike.
"Let's try it, Mom!" the kids cheered, and encouraged me to ask for a table.
We had a good experience ordering, using our broken Italian and big smiles. The waiter who took our order was extremely warm, friendly and patient with us. Thankfully our linguistic gymnastics paid off! Our food arrived quickly and it was delicious.
After lunch we decided to digest by taking a walk along the shoreline and going for a swim. The hot weather left us aching to dive into the brilliant, sparkling Mediterranean just a few yards away.
That said, the main beach was so crowded! Wall-to-wall people lined the shorefront directly opposite our restaurant.
"Let's find somewhere a little more remote to swim," suggested my husband. We all agreed with this plan and began to follow him as he led confidently toward the path on the right.
Señor Aventura walks very quickly (at all times he has only one speed: GO GO GO!) so within what felt like seconds we'd traversed what felt like half of the town and found ourselves facing a very elegant hotel beach club.
Hotel Pupetto has a remarkable location! Its beach club, filled with cheery orange umbrellas, unfolds across Positano's pebbly shores toward the bright horizon. Lovely!
Señor Aventura purchased some beverages at the hotel beach club and then maneuvered us a bit to the right of the organized area, into an open zone with no beach chairs or umbrellas. The Aventura children ducked into their bathing suits behind a group of rocks and hurried straight into the water with their dad, who was eager for a swim.
I lingered for a while on the pebble beach, observing an Eastern European mother and her two little sons playing in the water next to us. Watching mothers parent in other languages and cultural traditions never ceases to intrigue me. In this case, her sons were throwing large large rocks right at each other and she was scolding them in something that sounded a bit like Russian. I smiled quietly to myself, thinking that raising kids around the world is not all that different.
After a few minutes though, I was more than ready to join Little Angel in the water. The temperature was so high outside, I felt a great need to drink water and swim in it. Luckily, the translucent water around Positano did not disappoint! It was extremely clean and absolutely clear. You could see straight down to the sea floor with ease.
The water felt wonderfully cool and delicious against our skin. We were bathed in the type of heat that dries your hair, bathing suit and towels within minutes of leaving the water... so over the next hour or two we varied our routine between swimming and drying out, and then swimming some more.
The Scientist and Soccer Dude went adventuring with their dad out to the side of the rocky cliff in the distance, investigating. They found and entered a cave along the side of the cliff and saw that it had a door in it, likely to reach the house above set into the side of the mountain. Amazing!
Little Angel built towers and castles of stones, skipped tiny pebbles into the water and swam like a fish with her pink net, looking for underwater treasure.
I pretended to read and finally dropped the pretense, closing my eyes and listening to the soothing sound of the surf. It reminded me of my childhood on Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. I felt at home.
Without warning though, the weather began to change. A large, dark cloud floated across the sky and hovered over where we'd been swimming and sleeping. It actually had a nefarious feel to it; much like Voldemort or his Death Eaters suddenly descending upon a previously sunny and vibrant day and sucking out all of the joy. One side of the beach remained bright and warm; but our half turned gray and dark. In a cool and interesting way, it was a little creepy.
"We should probably head back to the car," Señor Aventura decided, and so we began to pack up. As much fun as we'd been having, we knew it would be uphill (literally) all the way back to where we'd started.
It didn't take much walking though to get away from the dark cloud and re-emerge into the glorious sunshine. Our hike back to the base of the village was actually quite breathtaking!
Along our journey back up to the car we made one last stop; a pilgrimage of sorts.
You see, over thirteen years ago handsome Señor Aventura and I had spent a little time in Positano. We had taken a trip to the Amalfi Coast right before we got engaged, and it was a special time for us... young and in love, so excited for the future.
One night in particular we´d sat at the base of a set of stone steps, and despite the chilly March air, we´d played chess there under the moonlight for hours. Listening to the waves crash on the beach nearby and laughing with my favorite guy as we honed our strategy with rooks and knights, I knew we were experiencing a special moment I would never forget.
Sure enough, the memory of that night has nestled sweetly in our brains ever since. We wanted to share this unique spot with our children, returning with them to the steps where perhaps our destiny was once sealed with a kiss.
We don't have any photos of that first night so long ago, alone on the stairs in the dark evening... just the memory of it. This time however, we'd brought along not one but three amateur photographers!
Despite the hordes of tourists descending the steps around us, it meant the world to have our now seventh-grader take our picture flanked by his brother and sister.
We'd come full circle in Positano; an unspoken promise made years ago now kept with a swim and a smile.
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