La Dolce Vita – Positano, Italy

English: Part of Positano, Italy.

Positano, Italy

After weeks of practicing phrases on Duolingo (I can now say “the woman has the fork and the garlic” or maybe it’s “the woman has the fork in the garlic,”)  I am off to Positano to eat lemons and cook with friends.  John Steinbeck described Positano  in a 1953 issue of Harper’s Bazaar:

“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you are gone.”

Stephanie Rosenbloom in her New York Times article – What A Great Trip and I’m Not Even There Yet – noted that preparing for the adventure can be just as satisfying as the trip itself, and it has been – from trying to remember my Italian grandmother’s phrasing as she admonished me to “mangia il pane e beve il latte” -to climbing stairs in anticipation of Positano’s many steps – a natural stairmaster to work off all that pasta I plan to eat. Not sure how much reading I will do as I sip the limonata, but I am taking with me:

  • Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
  • The Elephant’s Journey by Jose Saramago
  • The House in Amalfi by Elizabeth Adler
  • Walking on the Amalfi Coast by Gillian Price
  • and another Donna Leon mystery


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When They Come to Tour

After working at the visitor information booth, questions from tourists often became fodder for a few laughs  (later, when they were gone), but we always answered with a straight face: 

  • Where can we find the escalator if we don’t want to hike up the trail?
  • Are the fish in the ocean real?
  • Can you direct me to Wal-Mart?
  • Aren’t there coupons for that?
  • Is there a bridge from here to the active volcano? (over 173 miles of open ocean)?
Graciously directing strangers to the natural wonders and away from the tourist traps  

can be difficult.

If they’ve heard about an elusive site that they think only insiders know about – chances are pretty good that you couldn’t pay the locals to go there. But vacationers often want to spread their wealth and sometimes test their fitness – insisting on a secret find that they’ve googled.  The assertive visitor will usually ignore any advice and look for the kitsch or the slippery rocks – and then complain.

But, sometimes, the astute traveler, willing to explore, will find an adventure – new even to the locals – like a vintage elevator at an historic site that will open to a magnificent view.  

Maybe they read about it in a book.