Positano was our third and last stop on the Amalfi Coast, just a short boat ride up from Amalfi. While once a port town in the Amalfi Republic – when Amalfi was the big deal in these parts – today Positano feels bigger and more important than Amalfi. More tourists, more money, and certainly more yachts. More upscale. And more so than Amalfi its hotels and shops and bars and all that climb up from the coast into the surrounding hills, making for great views from many of the restaurants and hotels.
While once prosperous, the town fell on hard times in the mid-19th century. And then the tourists discovered it. It took a while, but in 1953 John Steinbeck wrote an ode to Positano in Harpers – “Positano bites deep”, he wrote. “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” – and the hordes started coming. For good cause, I might add as it’s a beautiful little city.
A bit of a challenge at first, though. We arrived at the port and, as we typically do, looked at Google Maps to see how to get to our hotel. It didn’t look too bad, so off we went on foot. What we didn’t realize was that the direct route displayed consisted of 350 steps up to the hotel. Carrying our reasonably heavy suitcases. Should have paid the porter €10 to drive them up…
Once we got that behind us there were two big activities for us in Positano, the beach and the Path of the Gods. Our hotel suggested we go to a beach just slightly away from the main town beach and that turned out to work great for us with a lovely little restaurant up above the beach just a bit. Read, swim, read, eat, swim, sleep. Repeat the next day.
Since first planning this Amalfi Coast visit I’ve been excited about a hike called the Sentiero degli Dei, the Path of the Gods. It’s a trail that connects an outlying village of Positano to another town high up above the sea. Once you get to the starting point it’s not that hard a hike, maybe a little under five miles of a modest up-and-down trail. I decided to walk to the start of the trail, though, instead of taking a bus, meaning that I had to climb the whole thing from sea level. Challenging, but ultimately beautiful.
So after literally decades of wanting to go to the Amalfi Coast we’ve done it. It’s probably as beautiful as I’d hoped, but there are a few things that will stand out in my memory. Yachts. Big yachts. David Geffen’s massive 11th-largest-in-the-world boat was here, apparently following us. But even leaving that one aside you’d see other huge yachts, the kind that must cost $50 million or $100 million or whatever. Lemons, too, the biggest lemons we’ve ever seen, often two or three times the size of standard lemons.
And then there’s the weird two-fork-one-knife thing. At pretty much every lunch and dinner – and I think it was literally every meal – you’d sit down to a table set down with two forks and one knife. We’d have an appetizer course and use one fork and the knife. They’d clean the dishes, including the knife and fork we’d used and then bring a new knife. It just seemed strange that every time there would be two forks and one knife. And then they’d replace the one knife.
I’m sure there’s an explanation, but we never figured it out.
From here it’s another boat ride out to Capri. It just keeps getting better.