Americano in Pompeii and Positano

We left no stone unturned on our trip to Pompeii and Positano.

Literally…kind of.

What started as an excursion to experience culture, history, and la bella vita, turned into a quest to find rocks to discover clues of the past, climb for sport, jump off for thrills, and perch upon for glorious views.

We began our journey in Naples with the goal of climbing Vesuvius and exploring Pompeii.  Vesuvius was our first symbolic “rock”, and as we plodded along the dusty trail baking under the intense southern Italian sunshine, it felt as if we were indeed within a volcanic inferno.  Yet, the petrified lava all around us has long cooled and the once destructive volcano now sits dormant.

We made a quick visit to the Archeological Museum in Naples to view the treasures that the volcano destroyed in 79 A.D.  Most of the mosaics, bronze statues, and frescoes were of little interest to the kids who tolerated the tour with eyes half shut.  However, their eyes opened wide when viewing the ancient pornography depicting the brothel menus and greatly exaggerated parts of the anatomy.  Alas, just as torture was appealing on previous trips,  pornography captivated the young audience on this one!

When we finally toured the ruins of Pompeii, we had perspective that enriched the experience.  Every stone we encountered seemed to tell a story: the groove in the stone streets worn down by the weight of the chariots, the hollowed out stone counter tops once filled with wine and olives in the store fronts, the venerable stone walls defining the perimeter of the village, the stone fountains still flowing with cold refreshing water from the ancient aquaducts, the pavement stone engraved with a penis pointing towards the brothel…

After a few days, we left behind the lava rocks and ancient stone piles and ascended the steep rocky Amalfi coast.

Visiting Positano is like stepping onto a stairmaster and never getting off!  It is a land comprised of one climb after another as this “gem” of the Amalfi Coast is vertically aligned with colorful homes and hotels nestled in the craggy rocky hilltops.  There were more than 1,000 steps from our perch along the hillside to the rocky beach below.  No salt water swim, no matter how refreshing, is worth that kind of punishment!

We ascended the impossibly, irresponsibly windy roads to venture along the scenic Path of the Gods, turning a 3 hour leisurely stroll into a 90 minute rapid trek.  The Amalfi Coast is an absolutely beautiful stretch of craggy rock, undulating green hills, vibrant flowers, and azure ocean inlets.  Our eyes were soothed by the sweeping vistas but our knees were assaulted by the dusty climb and the thousands of steps we plodding down as we descended back into town.   The hike was a wonderful way to escape the legions of tourists who flock to the Amalfi Coast in August.  As I look back upon it, I feel as it we joined an ant hill infested with an army of ants scurrying in and out of boutiques, restaurants, beaches, and narrow corridors and streets.  We were part of the colony.

The highpoint of our trip (no pun intended) was the quest to find large boulders to climb and then jump off into the sea below.  My usually docile girls were transformed into daredevils by the presence of two active boys in the Macher family.  Our day trip to Capri was the apex of the trip as everyone (but me, the willing photographer of all antics) dropped from about 25 feet into the surrounding sea.

I was, however, the only one to take a dip in the famed Blue Grotto as our guide enthusiastically serenaded us with his version of Il Solo Mio.

The restaurants were filled with delicious Italian specialties that did not disappoint.  Gnocchi and gelato were daily treats.  Jeff discovered that if you just vocally string together all the Italian foods that you love, add a little musical intonation to your voice, and incorporate copious use of your hands, you sound fluent in the the native language:  gelato, melanzane parmigiana, pasta, panini, mozzarella, gnocchi, spaghetti con vongole, bruscetta, tomate, potate, cannoli, vino rosso, limoncello…grazie!  Of course, the delicious tempting food negated the effects of the arduous stairmaster of daily life.  I assume I have gained a few stones on my London scale!

After a week, we left Pompeii and Positano behind, and like a rolling stone, set off for yet another Italian adventure….


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