Planes, trains, and automobiles AND boats and buses

Positano, Amalfi Coast. © Carl Amoth

Limoncello. Photo by Alessio Damato

When in Southern Italy, if life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

Julia

Our last day in Cortona started early since we had a 2 ½ hour drive to Rome. Just as we were getting ready to leave, and saying our goodbyes to lovely Julia, she asked Carl if he would take a picture or her. She wanted it in an Andy Warhol style—like Jackie O.—“because my hair is parted the same side as hers.” Carl could not possibly say no, even though we were on a tight time schedule. Furthermore, what I forgot to mention in the last post is that while Carl was out on his own the night before, at the same time as I was at my cooking class, he got a parking ticket. A 38 Euro parking ticket that is required to be paid in 10 days and everyone we asked indicated it is not good if you don’t pay on time. He had asked Julia if she would send in the money for him, and of course she readily agreed.

Looking to the valley below from Cortona. © Carl Amoth

What many people do not realize is that Carl doesn’t just take out a camera and snap a photo (particularly when someone has asked for a self portrait). Every picture is important and valuable to him and is a representation of his art. As a result, he takes his time to ensure he captures the very best effect. He tried to get Julia to step outside for better light, but true to her professional commitment, she would not leave her “station.” He did get her to step into the hallway for a couple of pictures and he will be emailing them to her—in “Andy Warhol” style—when we return.

We hit the road and took off like a bullet to the Rome Airport to drop off the car. Fortunately, no troubles at all with our directions, and I had already researched our transportation options to the train station and found a Leonardo Express train that exclusively runs from the airport to Roma Termini (train station). That was probably one of the easiest train excursions of our entire trip. We got on the train to Salerno (on our way to Amalfi Coast) and this time didn’t have near as much trouble getting our luggage settled as we were early in boarding. The trip was only about 2 ½ hours with one stop in between at Napoli.

Many other people had boarded the train by then and the woman across from us did not find a spot for her suitcase and unfortunately it was right in the aisle of the train. As we approached Salerno, we began gathering our bags (by now two extremely loaded roller suitcases, two heavily burdened backpacks and one additional travel pack we brought with us). By time we finally lifted all of our bags over the suitcase in the aisle people were already boarding. Carl reached the exit before I did, which was a good thing because the door was closing. Because he was able to get there in time, he was able to keep the open so I could de-board before the train took off. Those were a couple of very tense moments.

We knew from previous research that there are three options to get to Positano, our next destination on the Amalfi Coast. Bus, Ferry and Taxi. We were very hopeful that we could take a Ferry in order to see the beautiful coastline on our journey. We headed to the Marina (four stone-paved blocks away with all of the luggage) only to find out the last Ferry left an hour before we arrived. We elected to take a Taxi rather than a bus and headed back to the train station. It is a long and winding drive to Positano and took us about an hour and 40 minutes. We had a very engaging young driver that provided excellent detail about each town and the historical reference of each.

Coming into Positano is absolutely gorgeous! This splendid town on a hillside was incredibly captivating. We settled into our room at Marincanto Hotel and Carl was setting up to take a dusk picture before the light faded when he realized that the main screw on his tripod (that holds the head in place) had somehow worked its way loose and fallen inside the chamber of the tripod. He was really not happy and was also convinced it could not be repaired without tools that he didn’t have. Further I know he was thinking about trying to take pictures the rest of the trip without the use of his tripod.

I was trying to encourage him to line up the screw to try and unscrew it and pull it out. Because it looked like it could be done, but he insisted that it wasn’t possible. He headed out to the balcony for some hand held shots while, meanwhile, MacGyver Bev to the rescue. Somehow I just knew I could fix it. But first, I ordered two Limoncello’s from room service. A girl has her priorities after all.

I took the tripod into the bathroom, which had much better light, held it over my head, lined up the loose, errant screw and then grabbed my tweezers and started to turn. Walah! It started to come out! I called to Carl—“hey Carl, can you come here for a minute?”—He, not knowing of my brilliant maneuver replied, “baby, I’m trying to take a picture” Well, ok then.

I waited a while longer and then told him I think I was getting the screw out and he quickly came inside to check and he absolutely could not believe it. In fact, his exact words were “I would have bet you a thousand dollars you couldn’t get that screw out of there.” After regaling him with my exact methodology he continued to twist the screw out, and then reassembled the tripod. I must say it was quite rewarding for Carl to note how amazing I was that in the time he was out taking a picture I ordered Limoncello from room service and fixed his tripod. Yep, that’s the way I roll. He did get a beautiful picture of the coast from our balcony and then we headed out to see the town and find a place to eat.

Room with a view. Positano, Amalfi Coast. © Carl Amoth

Although Positano is indeed stunning, it also didn’t take long to realize that it is also extremely expensive. As we were passing shop after shop with clothing and shoes, I could not believe the prices they were asking for beachwear and sandals. Simple, albeit pretty, sandals were 100 Euros, or, about $140 USD. Sundresses and blouses were 90 to 150 Euros, again, pretty, but not fabulous.

Dining at Le Tre Sorelli, Positano.

I had been given a recommendation to dine at Le Tre Sorelli (The Three Sisters) restaurant and we just happened to stumble upon it down at the marina. Staying true to our commitment to eat “local” we shared a bowl of soup and the fresh fish of the day. It was really quite good, however we both wished they could have done a better job removing all the bones. While dining, we began conversing with the couple next to us who were French. Boy, could Mabel talk. And talk, and talk. They were very interesting, but she was determined to control the conversation. We did gain a valuable tip from the husband when he showed us an iPhone app for identifying good wines and vintages. We will be looking that one up for sure.

As he is showing me the app he mentioned, somewhat jokingly, that is all he uses his iPhone for—that and finding girls. Seriously!

Carl taking photos in Positano. Bev Amoth.

The next day we slept in, which was wonderful, particularly since it was also our two-year anniversary. We headed down to the marina (ran into the French couple again) and found out the next boat to Capri was not until 2:00 p.m., which gave us a few hours to spend exploring Positano (which turned out to be a good thing since it was predicted to be raining the next day). The beach at Positano is very popular and it was a good location for Carl to get some day time pictures. We sat at the beach and enjoyed the sunshine for awhile before heading to Capri.

The boat ride over to Capri was only 30 minutes, but not too conducive for pictures due to sea spray. When we got to Capri, we inquired about how to get up to the top of the island in order to capture city pictures. We were directed to take a bus to Ana Capri, which is a town above Capri. These roads are amazingly narrow with taxis, scooters, buses, and people all sharing the limited space. There were times that only 1-2 inches separated vehicles as they passed.

The view from the top, as usual, was very rewarding.

Capri, with the Amalfi coast beyond. © Carl Amoth

The Grand Marina, Capri. © Carl Amoth

Fishnets with re-purposed "floats." © Carl Amoth

We elected to take a taxi back down to the Marina and had some lunch and did a bit of shopping before catching our return boat at 6:00 p.m. Carl saw rows of barrels filled with the most creative homemade fishing net floats we had ever seen, and a “Smart Car” police car. We see smart cars everywhere, but never as a police car.

Polizia, Capri. © Carl Amoth

Carl worked on editing pictures when we returned and since we had eaten a rather late lunch, we elected to have a later dinner. As we were getting dressed up (it IS our anniversary) for dinner, we heard fireworks going off and quickly ran out to the balcony to see a surprising display right on the beach in front of us.

We then started downhill to peruse our dinner options. Although we enjoyed the fish from the night before, we both were in the mood for something different, namely, beef.

Our anniversary night in Positano. 10/10/10. © Carl Amoth

After reviewing menus from at least six different restaurants, we finally chose one only to learn, after we were seated, that they had just closed the kitchen. We really wanted to toast Prosecco at 10:00 p.m. on 10-10-10 and we were now mere minutes away. The server was kind enough to get us Prosecco (on the house in honor of our anniversary, and because he felt badly that the kitchen had just closed) and our toast was complete.

Now, however, I was a bit nervous because if they just closed their kitchen, the others wouldn’t be far behind. That could make for a fairly unpleasant end of our anniversary evening.

Anniversary toast at Buca di Bacco, Positano.

Fortunately we quickly headed to another restaurant that looked good, Chez Black and were able to be seated. I will tell you however that they were definitely at the end of their dinner service, but so polite as to not turn us away. I had a great T-bone steak and Carl had a wonderful veal scaloppini dish. We complimented that with rice croquettes, which were amazing (got to find a recipe for those!).

Anniversary - 10:10 on 10/10/10.

There was a local dog, Fernando, that seemed to belong to everyone at the Marina and Fernando was the happy recipient of the other half of the steak that I did not eat at dinner as the server, upon clearing our plates, immediately went over to the sidewalk and scooped the steak off my plate to Fernando. I was happy to see that it didn’t go to waste.

As predicted, we heard the rain coming down all night long. It was still raining in the morning and although we were hopeful that we could take a Ferry to Salerno to catch our train (immensely cheaper), all the boats were cancelled. We were supposed to be on an evening train that then wouldn’t get us to Rome until 10:45 p.m. We both agreed that since the weather was so unpleasant in Positano—and we had such a great time—we would catch an earlier train and would leave from Napoli instead as we could take an express—high speed—train. We got to Rome about 4:30 and settled into the Marriott for one last night in Italy. We shared a burger (ok, ready for American food), and spent the evening napping and watching a couple of videos.

Enchanting Positano - even in inclement weather. © Carl Amoth

Heavy Mediterannean surf at the dock. Clearly no boats today. © Carl Amoth

Here we are now, on the 10-hour flight from Rome to Charlotte, completing our last blog for Carl and Bev’s Great Italian Adventure. We hope you have enjoyed following along with us. Grazie mille to you all.

Arrivederci!

Florence sunset. © Carl Amoth

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One Comment

  1. Beverly Chase
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink | Reply

    It looks like you had a wonderful end to a fantastic trip. I just home to day on the train and was able to see your last posting. I can’t wait to talk to both of you. Wonderful pictures and great blog as usual. Love, Mom

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