s a n d y f e e t . e x p o . i t a l i a . 9 9

beach shot

The public beaches of Positano


You Call THIS a Beach???

I steeled myself for more traveling - not at all easy with a largish suitcase and a heavy backpack but still doable. Negotiated the metro to Termini where I caught a train to Napoli. It was there I realized that I had failed to retrieve my passport from the New Gemini safe. Oh no! From Naples I called the hotel Pasitea in Positano where I was assured that things could be worked out and just to get myself there. So I boarded the Circumvesuviana train for an uncomfortable hour-long ride to Sorrento. From there I took an expensive but pleasant taxi ride to Positano - the driver spoke good English and spouted interesting tidbits of info about what I was seeing as we took the winding drive along the Almafi coast.

Since it is the weekend, Positano was crowded and there was lots of traffic but he safely deposited me at my hotel where they were ready for me. They contacted the New Gemini and repeated attempts were made to fax a copy of my passport (necessary for check-in at Italian hotels by law.) For some reason the fax would not go through but after talking to his manager, he let me into my room anyway.

The room is small but clean and does indeed have Italian doors to a tiny balcony overlooking the cliffs and the Mediterranean. I immediately set up my laptop and tried to connect to the net. I got ambiguous readings from my modem saver and was unable to connect - I only hope that I have not fried it. Decided to move my computer to another outlet and in doing so managed to destroy my electrical adaptor. As I stared in despair at the pieces laying on the floor, I thought it best to head to the beach.

the town

the view of the town and beach from the boat docks

my castle

And for all of you nay-sayers (Paolo Gant!) who said a sand castle could not be built on the Amalfi coast -- check it out!

And a very long way down it is indeed. I discover that my hotel is in the far reaches and there is really nothing of interest within easy walking distance.

When I got to the beach I discovered little sand, many pebbles and wall-to-wall people. However, there is one small patch by a sort of jetty that just may work for sandcastling. It was already late afternoon and I had not eaten all day so I pulled up a seat at a beachfront cafe and ordered my first pizza of the trip and some red wine. I drew many curious stares - I think many single women do not visit this area. The waiters do not seem very happy about serving a table for one. Oh well. By then the sun was gone and there was a hint of rain so I started the long climb back up to the hotel. This is basically mountain climbing only with stairs and it made me think of my workouts and how I used to pay to use the stairstepper.

another view

The next morning I lay in bed for a while feeling depressed about my power adaptor situation.I head down to the lobby to confer with the concierge. He is not hopeful that I will be able to find an adaptor in Positano. Better just head to the beach.

There is hardly anyone here - I was correct in my assumption that the crowds would leave with the weekend. I locate the small patch of sand that I had chosen the day before and find to my dismay that the layer of sand is very thin and what lies beneath is mostly gravel. Undaunted, I start digging and stacking - the sand that is there does have a pretty good clay content and I am able to stack skinny towers over a foot in height. I relax -- with this I am sure I can build the best sand castle Positano has ever seen.

It takes a while but before long people are stopping and pointing at me. and then the cameras come out. And then someone murmurs "bellisimo" as he walks by. And then an interesting-looking man with longish gray hair and a decent command of English walks down and puts 1500 lire next to the sculpture and says I should be doing this for money and maybe if he starts it others will follow. I am very grateful. A handsome young Italian is obviously impressed and tries to talk to me. He leaves when he realizes I am linguistically challenged but returns shortly with a pretty redhead who turns out to be n ex- pat Brit. We immediately engage in animated conversation where I take good advantage of the opportunity to ask Positano related questions from someone who knows the answers and can form them in a language I can understand. Her name is Nikki and she is most helpful. I am feeling much happier with this town.

the view

Above: That is the cliffs of the Amafi Coast behind me...

And the water below me.

the water


Paolo prepares our lunch.
Later, my benefactor returns. No one else has contributed to the tip mound he started but he asks me if I am hungry - I discover that I am - and offers to cook me some spaghetti for lunch. Gratefully I accept and follow him up the hill through a part of town I had not yet discovered to his relatively spacious and immaculate flat. It turns out that his name is Paolo, he has lived here for 11 years and he knows everyone. He is a retired jockey, a patron of the arts (literally) and is also a wonderful cook. We linger over the pasta and his homemade wine. Eventually, he asks me what I am paying at the hotel and suggests I stay with him instead. "You pay me instead of the hotel and I will feed you as well. You take my room, I sleep out here on the couch, I am gentleman, you will see."

This is a very attractive offer - his home is much nicer and better situated than the hotel and his plan would save me some money. Plus, I have a good feeling about him - he strikes me as the Amazin' Walter of Positano. I worry about my passport situation but he tells me it will be fine. He writes down his phone number and tells me to give it to the concierge and to have him call when my passport arrives. Even better, Paolo has a friend in Sorrento who finds an adaptor for my computer. I think maybe I can connect from Paolo's phone, but we will approach this problem later.

He cooks again for me - a frittata with leftover spaghetti and it is truly delicious. He thinks I need to go out and party and maybe bring a boyfriend back but I am perfectly content where I am. we drink more wine and espresso with bitters which I very much like and his homemade lemon creme liquor which I like even more. We dance to Frank Sinatra and his bed is far more comfortable than the lumpy one at the hotel.

Paolo's Balcony (arrow pointing to it)


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