It was a freezing morning, and thankfully we’d decided to start today’s activities around noon, because it took about that long to muster up the motivation to drag ourselves out into the cold (and rush to the heater!). We are soft.
Half a cup of tea later, we ventured out into the fitful sunlight to catch a bus from the piazza just outside the opening to the hostel/caravan park. The bus was there, so we hurried to a shop nearby to buy tickets (“um…le…vende…bigletto per le…bus?” I hazarded. Most of my pretend Italian is guesswork), and hopped onto the bus. The drivers of these improbably big blue coaches have our undying admiration, for the feats of spacial awareness/optimism on these teensy little windy roads. So off we went, barrelling casually down little roads I would’ve been sweating to squeeze little Nettle down.
The driver alerted us to our arrival in the town of Bomerano, where today’s hike to Positano started. Our plan was to have “lunch” first — lunch for normal people, breakfast for us. We hopped out and almost immediately spotted a pizzeria (called, oddly, “Crazy Burger”), and popped our heads into the quiet restaurant — “le aperto per pranzare?”. I either got the pronunciation wrong, or entirely mis-constructed the sentence and said something disparaging about the restauranteur’s mother, but he spoke English and rescued us (or himself), introducing himself as Tony and presenting us with a menu while asking us where we were from.
Tony was, of course, very friendly and helpful, and proposed that he put something together for us, given that there were a few ingredients out of season, and he didn’t buy from the market because the vegetables there had “medicine” on them (he meant pesticides, etc, of course, but I liked ‘medicine’. Like antibiotics for plants?). They grew or made everything, and it was all organic — even the wine, he grew on his farm and made himself.
He brought us bottles of his red and white wine — we really liked the red; the white was a little sweet for Katherine and it was a bit cold for white for me — then brought out some wonderfully wholesome-looking pizzas with dark green leafy stuff that was a bit like a cross between broccoli and cabbage, quite tasty. He’d put chopped home-made sausage on Katherine’s (I’d explained that I was vegetarian in advance), which turned out to be a little daunting for Katherine’s almost-vegetarian stomach. She hid the pieces in a napkin (a meat parcel), which we smuggled discreetly out in my pocket later.
After finishing up with a coffee, we bid Tony farewell, and he pointed us to the piazza where the three hour hike started. The cobbled path led down away from the town, across an aquaduct and along a paved road that led around a cut ledge in a steep hillside. There was a beautiful view over craggy cliff-faces, and the tiered slopes that led down to the sea, dotted with orange roofs of farmhouses and covered with the frameworks on which vines would grow again when the season turned.
A cliff rose on the other side of the road, and drops of water pattered down all around us as they trickled down from the damp trees above. Staring up, they looked like a starfield (like that old Windows screensaver); we had fun trying to catch them as they fell, perfect spheres until they splattered on our hands (or foreheads, when we missed).
We followed the path onwards as it narrowed; we were greeted with the clip-clop of horses hooves, and met a guy and a horse coming the other way, loaded up with logs.
A few paces further around, we heard scrabbling hooves and watched aghast as another horse, loaded up with logs, lost its footing as it attempted the slippery concrete steps and fell forward, hitting its forehead on the ground. It struggled upright again, and continued on stoically as we felt for the poor beast! As we walked on we heard a clatter and turned back to see a horse-shoe coming to rest on the ground where it fell.
The path become rougher as we went on, passing tiered vine-growing ground wherever there was a vaguely non-vertical surface.
We passed through a little village and were met with the sight of the rest of the peninsula, with the island of Capri at its tip. Beautiful!
We caught our first glimpse of Positano as we rounded the hill and scrabbled up the rocky path, which then descended into wood that reminded Katherine of Belgrave, where I grew up, and where Katherine and I lived for a time, house-sitting.
The path eventually led into the outskirts of civilisation again, and so began the steps.
Thousands and thousands of steps! Well, at least we’re getting our much-needed exercise!
Many, many steps later, we reached the main road (to our slight surprise — we seemed to have somehow deviated from our walk directions), and followed it the final kilometer or so to the soaring town of Positano.
(Goats by the path)
We made a beeline to the store Katherine had been longing to revisit after our last visit here, and were dismayed to find it closed down! So, instead we stopped into the first café we found for tea and cake (we’d earned it, dammit!). It was quite busy, full of wonderful, musical Italian being spoken around us.
A quick peek at the bus timetable we’d brought with us spurred us into action, to try to catch the sooner bus rather than get the one several hours later. So, for the second time in Positano, we found ourselves hurrying up the many, many steps to catch a bus, remembering fondly our last time here with Tim, Jen and Annie (who we miss greatly!). We climbed as the lights of the town came on, and the daylight faded; somewhere, church bells rang.
We arrived at the bus stop, shortly after realising that we had hurried for no reason, as we still had ten minutes — I seemed to be having a problem with time for most of day. Sorry, Katherine’s jelly legs. What’s more, our timetable seemed to be out of date, and it was forty minutes or so sitting in the chill of evening before the bus swung around the corner.
We sat up the front and were, as always, thoroughly entertained by the superhuman feats of the driver who sped along the windy roads, sometimes coming to a quick stop to edge past an oncoming car, sometimes just speeding past with centimetres of room to spare, chatting and gesticulating amiably the whole time with some passengers sitting around us at the front.
When we arrived in Amalfi, I asked the driver about the bus that’d take us to San Lazzaro, and he told us it’d be coming at 8:20-something. It may have been 8:40 something — again, time had been giving me a bit of trouble. Either way, we were standing out in the freezing night for another good forty minutes or so before a likely-looking bus appeared and we gratefully approached.
I asked if this was the bus to Agrigento, which got a laugh, for reasons I didn’t understand until later, I realised in my cold-addled state I’d asked after a town in Sicily. Dumb tourist. Luckily, I had clarified with “San Larazzo”, which the driver and a nearby helpful passenger luckily understood as meaning San Lazzaro and indicated that this was in fact the correct bus. Yep, Katherine needs to stop me saying stupid things.
So, anyway, we finally made it back home, huddled round the header and Katherine made a basic but satisfying pasta to fill our empty bellies.
Katherine: Hmm. I think you should write more about my pain. I thought I was going to die going up those stairs, man!