It’s a sludgy, gray day in the Midwest — can you tell winters aren’t my favorite? I thought rather than dwelling on the fact that I’m working hard to love all the seasons — and currently failing 🙁 — that it would be a good time to finally share about that time we went to Positano.
Maybe you’re in the midst of equally horrid weather — or just plain sick of all the political posts in your news feed — if so, I hope this will be a cheerful break from reality! I know I always love looking at pictures of far off places and dreaming of being there. How about you?
Actually, it’s the first of a series that I will be doing throughout the course of this blog: That Time We Went To… So I hope you like it!
Positano — where do I begin? Perhaps I should begin with one of my favorite meditations in life: heaven. Oh, heaven — it’s going to be amazing! I can’t wait. After visiting Positano, there’s a part of me that wonders if it’s not going to be a bit like Positano.
But before I get ahead of myself, let me remind you of where we were before we arrived in Positano. We were saying goodbye to this place:
We took our last pictures at St. Peters and ran off to catch our train.
We decided to avoid Naples (good choice) and go further South to Salerno. I have to tell you that the feel upon walking out the door (besides muggy) was amazing! The craziness of Rome was a distant memory and we found ourselves entering into another world.
The pace was noticeably slower and we just knew it was going to be a great way to end our time in Italy. So, we walked to the water for lunch and waited for our ferry to leave for Positano. And we took a few pics.
And I can’t forget this guy — believe me, I have tried. 🙁 I believe he’s the official greeter at the ferry to Positano. Maybe not — but all I can say is Pure Italy, baby!
This guy was walking around as free as a bird. The bottom of his feet were like leather — you could tell he spent a lot of time out in the sun, greeting visitors on their way to wherever they were going next. Okay kids, try not to stare. 🙁
This photo showed up in a text from my husband while I sat on the first level of the ferry feeding the baby. At the time, I was thinking, “really, John? I’m trying to forget what I just saw” — but now I’m happy to have this picture of our carefree Italian friend. 🙂 Ah, to be so carefree — with better clothing choices, of course.
From Salerno we caught a ferry along the Amalfi Coast to Positano. We stopped in Amalfi. That’s another city I would love to come back to see.
All the craziness and stress of our first week in Italy melted away during that ferry ride. What is about the water that does that? It makes me want to come back again and again. And the kids loved the ferry!
There was a Japanese tour group with us on the ferry, and they seemed to have a celebrity of sorts in their midst. This amazing Japanese opera singer belted out Italian Arias, providing free entertainment as we ferried towards Positano.
They were a lively group! We happened upon them a few times while in Positano and got to hear more lively songs from this very unexpected talent.
You might notice that the weather was changing from sunny to cloudy back to sunny again. There was a thick mist which seemed to separate the Amalfi Coast from the rest of Italy. It was actually quite beautiful.
I have to say — this entire coastline seemed to be one of the last bastions protecting the culture of Italy from the modernization that is going on everywhere else. It’s not that the people were backwards — not at all — but rather that they seemed to be living and desperately trying to preserve “La Dolce Vita” (The Sweet Life) that Italy has been known for throughout the centuries.
Traveling to the Amalfi Coast provided our family the opportunity to witness how gloriously different the Italian culture is than our own — how unique their identity is — and to grow surprisingly fond of those differences in a short time. The Italians seemed to take pride in their identity while remaining friendly and welcoming to “outsiders”. It’s a good lesson for us all.
You really can’t separate Catholicism from the Italian culture — it it a part of their identity that remains with them, even as regular church attendance goes down. That desire in them to celebrate life and love the people around them and gather around a huge feast of delicious food seems to have it’s source in their Catholic roots.
Italians aren’t afraid to drink wine and be loud and maybe even argue about art or music or tell a relative that they’re being a fool — they aren’t afraid to kiss their brother, say Ciao Bella to a stranger , or hand a baby a biscotti. They just aren’t. I like that about them.
I wonder what is their secret? Maybe it’s wine — really good wine — and delicious food and laughter shared around a table. Maybe it’s that they get the importance of family and being with the people you love — especially as their numbers are dwindling. Or maybe they just take Jesus words, “I came so that they might have a life of abundance” very seriously.
Whatever it is, as we stepped off of that ferry, I felt like jumping into one of these, wrapping a scarf around my hair, and riding off into the sunset…
The only problem was that we had a bunch of kids with us — and I’m pretty sure even the Italians would have frowned on trying to fit them all into a convertible. Oh well, maybe next time. 🙁
We had no option but to hoof it up to our apartment. We felt a bit like pack mules climbing the Himalayas — it’s no small feat carrying a bunch of kids and all of our luggage up the steep steps of this city in the hot Italian sun. 🙁 But once we threw open the shutters of our apartment and looked out at the view, we breathed a sigh of relief — we had made it to the last leg of our trip! And it was lovely!
We had the sweetest little apartment right next to the historic Church of the Assumption. The story goes that in the 7th Century, there were sailors off the coast of what is modern day Positano. Despite their best efforts, they were unable to sail beyond this point. They were quite perplexed, until one day they heard the Icon of Mary contained within their ship say to them, “Posa, Posa” which means “Put me down, Put me down”.
And so the sailors brought the icon off the ship and laid it on the very spot where the Church of Mary’s Assumption stands today. Immediately their ship began to sail off to its destination and the inhabitants of the area embraced the Madonna as their own.
As the Italians say, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story”. So believe it — or not. Either way, this is the story of the origin of the name “Positano” and the Icon still hangs in the church to this day.
As we arrived at our apartment, the Ave Maria was wafting through the air and an Italian wedding was going on in the church — it was absolutely perfect! I can’t help but think that maybe The Madonna of Positano helped to orchestrate this welcome for us after such a long journey. 🙂
We unpacked our bags and the sun came out — and we high-tailed it to the beach. So lovely to cool off and relax after our trip! I especially love the buoyancy of a salty body of water — don’t you? Swimming out into the sea offered the best views of this beautiful city. Positano seems to defy gravity — it’s buildings refusing to topple down into the surrounding sea. It is breathtaking.
And then the sun began to set — and our first day in Positano came to an end. And we headed off for some good Italian food by the beach.
These are the moments that make us all agree that the craziness of traveling with family is worth it. I’m not saying we can’t find these same moments in our own living rooms or in our own backyards — because I know that we can and do find those moments there as well.
But traveling to far off places as a family brings us closer to each other and makes us rely on each other much more so than when we’re in our regular routines in our own homes. It reminds us of how blessed we are to have each other. It fills us with those amazing memories that will become part of our family story. It’s the best!
On Friday, I’ll be offering my 7 Quick Takes on making travel work on a budget. Hoping it will help you make your own crazy family travel memories.