Ferragosto: Italy Goes On Vacation

In honor of Ferragosto, we’re heading to the beach, dear Reader. Ferragosto is an Italian holiday that marks the beginning of summer vacation for the entire country. Shops close for several weeks in August and suddenly everything slated to be accomplished domani (tomorrow) gets rescheduled for settembre. En masse, Italians abandon their cities and rush for the shore.

Luckily, the Amalfi Coast is only an hour and a half from Napoli making it a perfect weekend getaway or quick overnight trip. Even with approximately a dozen towns to explore along the coast, Billy and I have developed a soft spot for Positano. Today’s post is dedicated to this tiny, beguiling corner of the world that Steinbeck once claimed, “bites deep.”

Before we even describe Positano itself, I need to mention – or offer a PSA rather – about the drive there. Undeniably picturesque and incredibly unnerving, the drive along these narrow cliff roads is rife with peril. Threats come in the form of scooters, large tour buses, and hairpin turns. If you’ve made it this far, congrats. But now… where do you park?

The Art Of Doing Nothing
Having spent the first part of the day getting to Positano and checking into our hotel, Billy and I are now on the hunt for lunch. We head to our favorite place, Casa e Bottegga, for its delicious organic food, gluten-free goodies, and precious ceramics. The last thing I want to do while vacationing is shop, but these ceramics are gorgeous and have become meaningful additions to our home. With our bellies full, we descend the hundreds – yes, hundreds – of steps to the beach.

We arrive at Spiaggia Marina Grande, the largest and liveliest of Positano’s beaches, and continue on our way. William and I cruise beyond the commotion and families to a rockier portion of the beach around the corner. Here the lounge chairs and umbrellas are spread out on concrete slabs but the crowd is tranquil, much more conducive to reading and napping the afternoon away. We do exactly that, occasionally breaking for a swim in the pristine waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

*Sidenote: We have also enjoyed the aptly named Spiaggia Il Fornillo (“tiny oven”), a small beach just north of Marina Grande. They offer kayak and stand up paddleboard rentals, both of which are great ways to explore the coastline.

Thoroughly exhausted from… well, nothing really… Billy and I make the daunting climb back to our hotel. Once there we snake through the dark, delightfully cool and cavernous hallways to our room. We have enjoyed upscale overnights at the famed Miramare and also more economical options like La Rosa Dei Venti. No matter your hotel preference, the majority of rooms offer balconies and views of the water. Also, if your knees can withstand the steps, I’d suggest staying further up the cliff side – the views and restaurants are worth it. Speaking of restaurants, William and I are heading to Next2 for what is sure to be a lovely dinner. Hand in hand, we pause on our stroll home to soak in the stunning rising moon. I’m not sure if this celestial spectacular is customary in Positano, but each time we visit we have the good fortune of a phenomenal night.

The Path Of The Gods
Billy and I eat breakfast on the balcony while discussing our plans for the day ahead. After an afternoon of baking in the sun, we often opt do to something more active the following day. Hands down one of the most challenging and rewarding activities we have found is hiking Il Sentiero Degli Dei (The Path of the Gods). We pack a lunch and take the bus from the center of town to the trailhead.

Though it is high season on the coast, we encounter hardly any other hikers. We pass terraced gardens and several quaint stone houses; I wonder how anyone manages to live so far from town – or even an access road. From this height Positano looks like an insignificant cluster of buildings, a brief interruption in an otherwise infinite expanse of sky, mountain, and sea. I love that about hiking, the way it lends perspective. It can dwarf the whole of my daily life while simultaneously urging me to take note of the enormous possibility that lies beyond it.

Some Practical Info
So, somewhere between the wisteria-draped buildings and words like “enchanting,” there are legit things to consider before making the journey to Positano. Sure, I mentioned the steps – and I bet between the vistas and the beaches you were not deterred, dear Reader. If you’re healthy and able-bodied than book your trip. If not… let’s just say Billy and I have passed more than a few distraught tourists on the steps whose dream vacation had become an absolute nightmare. The incline is no joke and, I beg you, pack light!

Also, you can plan on coughing up a few euro in order to secure a chair and umbrella at the beach. This really bothers some people but since you probably already paid a million bucks to get here, what’s a few more euro? It is worth noting that the beaches themselves are made up of volcanic black sand or stones – beach shoes are a must. All in all, Positano is a truly magical place and one I sincerely hope you have the chance to visit some day.


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