22.07.2011 26 °C
Wednesday 20th July 2011
Ciao Roma! Benvenuti Positano!
Packed our backpacks,paid our bill and Kate wished us a lovely stay in Positano looking forward to our stories when we returned on Saturday. Thought we'd do a it easy this morning so we caught the bus to Aurelia station and then the Metro to Termini station. Termini station is the main Rome Station,people rushing,others meandering and us trying to make sense of the ticket machine. The machine cooperated so having secured our tickets we checked the necessary platform and waited to board our 10.00€ train,we were travelling lower class as this was cheaper than 2nd class.
Time to board,our train looked like it had been around since Julius caesar and Trenitalia Rail had forgot to take it out of service. The train was packed and after 2.40hrs we arrived in Naples, then a connecting train to Sorrento (almost 1 hour). Whilst waiting for this old train, we were constantly warned over the PA to beware of pickpockets, and sure enough as we were all trying to push onto the train an older man on the train, stood in the middle and obviously trying to frisk everyone going past, he got a good old shove from us and he forced his way off the train before the doors closed. There were some other dodgy characters on the train so it was a very uneasy trip and clutching our bags closely.
We arrived in Sorrento still with our valuables,the directions from Paul (the owner of the apartment) said that we needed to purchase a bus ticket from either the train station or a Cafe. For the first time we knew what we were doing and felt rather confident we had inside information! We went to the Bar, only to be old that they had run out of One Way tickets go to the train station. So back to the train ticket counter where we stood in line and when requesting 2 One Way bus tickets to Positano the reply from the Clerk was that of confusion. Lucky for us his coworker directed him to the safe where he pulled out a seal pack of bundled tickets. After sorting through them he told us he only had 1,there are no others. So either only one of us was going to Positano or we'd search at other Bars. After a requesting tickets at all possible outlets and receiving No Help, we returned to the Bus stop. A conductor type fellow said that he also had no 1 way tickets but could sell us a return / 24 hour pass for x 2 the price, yep here we are in Italy, home of the scam, even by officials! The bus was leaving at 3.30pm,even though it was only 3pm we hopped on board as there were only a few seats left and the Conductor was not counting.
Time to leave, all seats taken maximizing the € for the journey, there were also passengers accepted on but they had to stand,they obviously were not aware of journey ahead. The bus ride was scary as the view was spectacular, all of a sudden the tourists went quiet, bottles started rolling around the floor maybe some passengers pulled out their rosary beads. Unnervingly some of the locals started talking to the driver and as we were rounding some of the hairpin bends, overlooking sheer drops, the driver responds by talking back, which also involves serious hand waving. Then as another way to instill some extra fear, the driver takes a mobile phone call, albeit handsfree, but there is no such thing as talking and keeping 2 hands on the wheel. The trip took about 40 mins and climbed up one side of the peninsula offering grand views back to Sorrento / Naples and then wound down the other side clinging to the cliffs, giving us on the right hand side of the bus a direct view straight down to the crashing waves hundreds of metres below. When coming to a blind corner, which seemed to be most of them, the driver would toot his horn, maybe this was to make him feel better as it did not seem to slow down any oncoming vehicles and sometimes 1 vehicle would have to back up or both would creep past each other with millimeters to spare on each side.
Then to top it all off, there was a bushfire running up the side of a mountain and there were plenty of emergency service people gathered around on the road, not actually doing anything except chatting and lounging about. The real work was being done by 2 helicopters and 2 plane water bombers who were swooping down to the ocean, filling up on the go and then climbing back up to dump their loads on the fire.
Finally after a stand off with another bus on an impossibly tight bend, we were into Positano where the bus stops in the middle of the road and passengers alight, into the traffic. Actually we didn't notice the traffic as the views across the little valley to Positano township was breathtaking to say the least.
Next leg of the journey catch the local bus and ask the bus driver where to get off. After a short wait and being entertained by the antics of the many motorists we hopped on the bus and 5 minutes later we were chatting to Paul the owner of Casa Maresca an Englishman who has lived in Italy with his wife Lucia for 34 years, with his dry sense of humor went through the workings of the apartment,a little info on what to see,where to eat and swim and whatever else came to mind. Casa Maresca was originally part of a Hotel it is now made of up of 5 apartments,some with cooking facilities. The apartments have a shared balcony that overlooks the Tyrrhean Sea a blissful view and all for 110.00€/night and 360 steps to the nearest beach. We were allocated the room that one of the Cardinal's from Rome books out twice a year (we felt quite blessed!). The room has a double bed joined by 2 singles, simple furnishings,a kitchenette, no TV or radio however it has 2 coffee percolators,a spectacular view of the Tyrrhenian Sea and you can listen to the Italian music playing in and around the surrounding restaurants.
It was now time to explore this amazing place that is often frequented by the rich and famous (which one are we? The rich or the famous?)
Positano was established as a small fishing village and today it is a popular tourist attraction and one of the most photographed places in the world. The cubic style coloured residences are vertically positioned up the hill.The purpose of the different colours dates back to the early fishing days so that the fishermen could pin point their home to send and receive messages.Whilst there is a main one lane road that meanders up,down and around the town it is shared by motorists,pedestrians,tradies,porters,vespas and dogs. Whilst this is the main road that links all parts of the town, hidden behind homes and businesses are 1 metre wide Vias,that are actual streets that are stepped pathways either going to the lower/upper levels of the town and then with shopping bags, stepping your way back. There is no avoiding this,you can't get a lift unless someone piggybacks you, there is no way around it,I guess this why you do not see many elderly or people with mobility problems living here,they would be a prisoner in their own home.
The shopping area is made up of stepped alley ways with small boutiques meandering in all directions and eventually you find your way to the Spiaggia Grande (main beach),where you can go for a swim, catch the ferry to the other coastline towns or join one of the boat tours along the Almalfi Coast or take a seat at the many restaurants or bars and have a drink,meal or snack.
Still plenty of daylight and the shops starting to open after their Siesta break we browsed and got a feel of what it is like to walk around this town? Enough browsing time to find the local grocer buy some supplies and beverages and head back to our apartment. After snacking on freshly cut proscuito, Asiago cheese,crusty bread with a cool drink we ordered a pizza from il Fornilo ordered and cooked in 5 minutes. We went back to our apartment and for an Al Fresco dinner overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea.