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Positano in November 2017

Pauline

Forums Admin
We are spending 12 nights in Positano hoping to get some sun and do some hiking. I know we are taking a chance with the weather. October is the official end of the season for the Amalfi Coast and November is listed as the wettest month, but so far the weather forecast looks good with temps in the mid 60sF and occasional showers. The boats between Positano and Amalfi and Capri won't be running.

We were in Positano for two weeks in May 2016 and even with the crowds, the packed buses and busy coast road (a bus drove into us!), we loved it.

On that visit we rented a house at the top of the town, just down from Bar Internazionale, with a huge terrace and great views. This time we rented again from Summer in Italy but the apartment is in the lower town, behind the church. We have a balcony and we look at the sea, but nothing like the views we had before.

This time we are not renting a car (a bus drove into us!!) :) - as everyone advised us when planning that 2016 trip. I am hoping those coast road buses are not as crowded in the off season.

We fly into Naples and arrive in the evening. A car service is picking us up and we go straight to Positano for a 9pm checkin.

We leave on Saturday and I will post notes and photos.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
The travel day went well. We left the house at 8:30am UK time and arrived in Positano at 8:00pm Italy time. Tonight the clocks go back so Italy will be on the same time as when we left the UK. No one hour time difference jet lag for us!

We flew Gatwick to Naples, then a car service to Positano.

The house we are renting, from Summer in Italy who we rented from last time, is beside the church. We rolled our suitcases down the very crowded pedestrian shopping area, met the apartment manager at a shop, then up 52 steps to the house.

The house is lovely. A nice terrace looking at the back of the church and the sea. A side terrace looks up the hill. Two large bedrooms. Nice kitchen/dining/living room

Shops were still open so we got a few groceries. There is a festival of some type going on and there was a table selling organic jams and preserves. We got artichoke hearts in olive oil and strawberry jam. We walked around for a bit. We even ran into someone we had met before, Andreo a chef at Buco di Bacca, a friend of Gail Hecko’s.

No dinner needed because we lunch twice - in the lounge and on the plane.

Let the climbing of stairs begin! We are in good shape from our walking, so we’ll see how we do. I can hear the waves of the sea as I type this.

View from our terrace.

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View from the beach.

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Pauline

Forums Admin
Sunny and warm today. Temps in mid 60s. We had our first of many Italian breakfasts - espresso and cornetto integrale. There are a few cafes down by the water.

We took the local bus to Montepertuso. It was crowded but I got a seat. Steve stood. It was 20 minutes up through Positano and then up a steep, curvy road. We were dizzy when we got off.

We did this hike twice last year. It is about two hours from Montepertuso across the middle of the mountain on a well marked trail with some climbing, then down steps to the coast road by Bar Internazionale at the top of Positano. Then another 15 mins of steps down through Positano. The views were wonderful. Last summers wild fires went through this area and there were burnt trees on one part of the trail. Some had fallen across the trail and had been cut so we could walk through them, others we climbed over.

We watched the rock climbers at one part, enjoyed the view down to Positano and had our lunch sitting beside the trail. The last 30 minutes is downhill and we were in shade for all of it. It was still warm though.

We realised that the food market by the church had tables by region. We stopped at the Levanto (Liguria) table to get fresh pesto. We know two people in Levanto (Frederico who runs Hotel Margherita and Tommy who has the best pizzeria in town) and the man at the Levanto table knows both of them. We need to visit Levanto again.

The bread we bought yesterday at this food market was very good (natural sourdough) so I bought more, sliced it for sandwiches and put it in the freezer! I brought peanut butter with us. So we are set for lunches for our walks.

We picked up a few more things at the deli and had some snacks on our lovely terrace. We look right at the sea.

Tonight, cooking dinner, was frustrating as it frequently is in a new place. We eat brown rice and I bring it with me and a pot to cook it in. But I forgot the flame tamer. Italian stovetop are set up for high flame cooking and never go down low enough for simmering rice. I managed by turning the burner off and on, only to realise after that there is an electric burner on this gas stovetop that goes down to a very low temperature! The rice turned out well but next time will be easier.

Another thing we are concerned with when traveling are synthetic fragrances, which are super bad for your health, but most people don’t notice them. We both notice them and don’t like how we feel around them. I thought I had asked about air fresheners and scent sticks for this apartment but I must have forgot. I was looking at the photos of the house for the 100th time when I noticed scent sticks in the kitchen in a photo! I texted the manager of the house and he had them removed the day before we got here. Once we arrived I opened all the windows to get good sea air in and it is fine now. The good news is that the sheets and towels must be done professionally because they are fragrance-free. Laundries usually use fragrance-free soap, but if an owner washes their own sheets, they most likely use their regular heavily scented soap.

The house is beside the church but the bells ring only occasionally. They woke us at 7am this morning for Sunday Mass.

Town was crowded again today but we are almost at the end of the season.

Edited to add: ViewRanger app says 3.00 miles in 2hr 47min, 1635 feet ascent, 2671 feet descent. My iPhone Health app says 4.7 miles, 11,700 steps and 54 floors for the day.

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View from our terrace.

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View from our terrace.

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Looking up from the beach.

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Coffee and cornetto.

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Our terrace.

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Burned trees on the trail.

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You can see where the fires were.

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View to Positano.

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The trail heading down.

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The wonderful bread!
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
We eat brown rice, as well, but I mix in a little bit of black and red rice. I brought some from home for our week in London. Here in Venice, there are a couple of bio markets where I can get them.

There are very few food shops here so I brought a lot of stuff with me. Lucky you to have bio shops! I think all the tourists eat out here.
 

Lisa in Ottawa

500+ Posts
It all looks lovely. Can't believe we were eating dinner together a few short days ago and now you're in Bella Italia and I'm in cold, rainy Ottawa. Of course I had4 lovely days in Dublin in between.
Looking forward to your TR as usual.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Hot and sunny today, 70F! We were up and organized and ready to get the 10:00 ferry to Capri, except that the sea was just a bit rough and all ferries from Positano were cancelled! I even had a jaunty striped scarf on to keep my neck warm on the boat! Back to the house and we changed into our hiking gear, ditched my jaunty scarf, and got the 10:40 bus to Praiano.

I had intended to do the Grotto di Santa Barbara trail, uphill from Praiano almost to the Path of the Gods. We thought we might do an extra climb up to the path and possibly walk on it. The local bus took us up to the San Luca church, part way up the hill in Praiano, saving us a climb from the coast road. I have to say that even from there it looked like a long climb up - and it was. We started on stairs, then made a wrong turn and went up more stairs. We saw a sign for Path of the Gods and talked to a guy in his garden. At that point we had only climbed a couple of flights extra and we could still get to the Grotto di Santa Barbara trail, but we decided to head up to the Path of the Gods since the trail was well marked and the man assurred us it was only two hours to Nocelle, the end point in a village above Positano.

We climbed and climbed and climbed. First up cement staircases between houses. Then we came to a path with a strange railing thing along it. This is for a local train thing that runs up the hill. I don't know what it is for and it was not running. We walked up along this forever, climbing steps still but these were uneven rock steps. Up and up. Two younger couples passed us. I thought we were in good shape from all our walking this year! Apparently not.

After 1 hour 45 minutes we reached the Path of the Gods. My calves were hurting! We did not want to walk down those stairs so decided to follow the path to Nocelle. We left the church in Praiano at 11:15am and reached the path at 1:00pm. My ViewRanger app said we had walked only 1.1 miles! We reached the end of the path at the edge of Nocelle at 2:50 (missing the 2:50 bus because it is still another 15mins to the bus stop in Nocelle). So just about 4 hours of walking.

Back to the path. All the way up the hill it was hot and sunny. A bit too hot for "Brits" like us. The slight breeze helped. When we got to the top it clouded over and was cooler. For the rest of the walk the sun came and went and temps were pleasant.

The path is extraordinary. You are 600 meters above the sea with views down to Praiano and Positano, and along the coast to Capri. Parts of the path are narrow and with a very steep drop off, so it made me a bit nervous. It is not really flat because you are going up and down, sometimes climbing up steep stone parts. I will include some photos below. Some parts are through forest.

At the end of the path is a small restaurant where we stopped because we knew we could not make the bus. We had bruschetta and fresh lemon drink (very sour) and then made our way through the village to the bus. We got the 3:50 bus and it was full, but the bus is small and only a couple of people were standing. We had seats. Last year in May this bus was so full that we could not get on and had to walk down the steps to Positano. The bus goes down the very narrow winding road, backing up to let cars get by or inching forward to get by parked cars, to the coast road and then down to the bottom of Positano. It took about 30 minutes on the bus.

We stopped at a pastry place and rewarded ourselves with some desserts. I was still hungry and we got these potato fritter things that were supposed to be vegetarian, but there were pieces of meat in them (small pieces that looked like red onion) and I didn't care! That's how tired I was.

We will do the whole Path of the Gods starting from Bomerano later this week with Valerie and Bryan. We will either get a car service there or take the bus (probably the car service). It takes an hour and a half I think to drive there, because you go almost to Amalfi before going uphill, and you end up not far from Praiano - but at the top of the mountian.

We collapsed on the terrace and enjoyed the end of the afternoon.

Edited to add: The ViewRanger app says 3.60 miles, 4hrs 02mins, 3151 feet ascent, 2222 feet descent for the walk. That is a very slow pace. My iPhone Health app says 5.5 miles, 13,400 steps, 122 floors for the day.

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Walking up stairs from Praiano.

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Climbing up from Praiano.

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Finally we reached the Path of the Gods, and there was water!

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Steve on the trail.

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A very steep drop off here.

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Climbing up a difficult part, all rock.

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Under a steep rock face. There was a picnic table that had been destroyed by falling rock!

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A very steep drop off.

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The trail is well marked.

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We came across goats! They ran down this stone wall.

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Restaurant at the end/start of the trail on the edge of Nocelle.
 
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carolync

10+ Posts
Thanks for posting your photos. I think I could deal with the trail, I'm glad to see some portions do have a fence barrier - not sure how sturdy, but psychologically it would make a difference.

I didn't know that about the Italian stovetops, I couldn't figure out why I couldn't get the flame low enough to slow cook some soup while in Florence. I wrote it off as having an electric stove at home for so long.
 

Valerie

100+ Posts
"but there were pieces of meat in them (small pieces that looked like red onion) and I didn't care! That's how tired I was."
:eek:

"But I forgot the flame tamer. Italian stovetop are set up for high flame cooking and never go down low enough for simmering rice."

I'll show you the trick; it took me a while to figure out :dork:
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
I take back my comments about this stovetop! Not only does it have an electric burner that goes very low, there is a pressure cooker. It was pushed to the back of the cupboard so I did not see it. Pressure cooked brown rice is a frequent part of dinner for us.

But, @Valerie , I am looking forward to hearing the trick for turning down the gas burner. I've been dealing with this for 20+ years and had no idea there was a solution other than a flame tamer. (Valerie arrives tomorrow and I will post her solution.)

I have always assumed that stovetops are set higher here because Italian food is cooked on higher heat. They don't make steamed white or brown rice where you need a low heat but instead make risotto at higher temps.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We had a wonderful day on Capri! Today was overcast but the sun came out in the afternoon. The water was still rough and I was surprised the ferries were running. This time I phoned the ticket office before we set out this morning.

We got the 10:00 ferry, which did not depart until 10:20. I was wondering how the one small dock was going to handle the 10:00 Amalfi ferry and the 10:00 Capri ferry. The ride over took almost an hour and was very bumpy. Yuck. They went to high speed for part of the ride. We sat below because it was not sunny and I thought it might be a bit wild up top. Towards the end of the ride two women came down from upstairs and their hair looked like it might never recover. The ferry was almost full, but there were seats for everyone and some left over.

Arriving at Marina Grande on Capri was a shock. Lots of people, a line of bright restaurants with waiters standing out trying to lure you in, several ferries coming in, no tourist office, general confusion. I had read about the Phoenician Steps and the information I had said they started at the port, so we looked for them. We gave up eventually and took the funicular up to the center of town, which sits high up on the hill above the port.

Interesting thing about the funicular, the ticket office is a couple of blocks away, where you buy ferry tickets. No signs tell you this but when you go up to the gates for the funicular the guy points in the general direction of the office. Taking funicular saves climbing up stairs and pedestrian streets. We did enough climbing yesterday and there was not a big crowd for the funicular. In summer it is better to walk because of the crowds. You can also take a bus or taxi to the town center.

We've only been to Capri once before in September 2001, in the days after 9/11. That time we did the walk to Villa Jovis, the remains of a Roman villa. This time we did another walk.

Walk: From Cicerone Guide - Walking on the Amalfi Coast - Walk 8 - Arco Naturale - Faraglioni Circuit, 2.5 miles, 1hr 45min.

The walk starts from the main Piazza and takes one of the ancient alleyways that are lined with shops. I love these narrow alleys. This one, Via Longono, follows 8th century BC megalithic walls. I did not see anything that looked that old, but the alley was charming. The walk turned onto a residential lane (narrow and pedestrian, maybe a few scooters or electric carts) and went to the southern side of the island and Arco Naturale, a natural arch in the rocks on the sea. At that point the stairs started. These zigzagged steeply down the hillside to Grotta Matermania, a cave that the Romans turned into a nymphaeum. All that remains are a few low walls inside the cave. From there the path leveled out, with some up and down, along the water. We were not at sea level but about 300 meters above. We had a good view of the Faraglioni Rocks, those tall rocks that are frequently shown on Capri tourist info.

We had lunch on a bench by the path. Yes, we brought peanut butter sandwichs to Capri which is known for its great food. But it was either have lunch or do a hike and we chose the hike. Then we made our walk back into town and walked around it some more.

I talked to the tourist office person and she told us how to find the Phoenician Steps. Her instructions were a casual "take Via Roma over there, turn right at the Post Office". It was a touch more complicated than that. For starters, the right at the Post Office was down a very small pedestrian lane. We walked about 20 minutes, got lost once and retraced our steps, saw very interesting residential areas and finally found the steps. The info I had said they start at the port. No, you can walk to them from the port, but they start higher up on the hill that separates Capri from Anacapri. Until the road was built in the 1800s, these very steep steps (over 900 of them) were the only way to get to Anacapri.

We climbed up and up on modern steps and finally the ancient steps began. A few groups were walking down them. There were no signs to them anywhere, so you have to be dedicated to find them. They are marked on the map from the tourist office, but not on the maps posted around town. We walked up 130 of the steps, took a few photos, then went back down. I didn't want to climb them, just to see them. We had to make our 3:30pm ferry.

We got back to the port in time and joined the chaos that is boarding the ferry. This time we sat on top and it was freezing. The water was wilder than in the morning and the ferry went on slow speed the whole way. It took 1 hour 15mins to get to Positano. I thought the ferry would be fun and exciting with great views. It was rocky, we got splashed with sea water, it was cold and the views were okay but we get better views hiking.

By the time the ferry arrived Positano was in shade. Praiano was still in sunshine. But it is dark by 5:30. A few trick or treaters were out and about.

Dinner at home and I made the pasta with fresh pesto sauce that we bought from the food market on Sunday.

There is a small shop on the main pedestrian shopping street where we are staying, the one that goes from Piazza Mulini to the church. Our apartment is near the church. We shopped there the night we arrived but they did not have many vegetables. Tonight I realized they had been closing and did not have all their stuff on display. I was thrilled to find cauliflower and brocolli tonight! Now we are stocked up.

Tomorrow Valerie and Bryan arrive! They live in Basilicata, which is not too far away. They joined us for a few days the last time we were in Positano. We have big hiking plans! The fun always notches up several levels when they are around!

Miles: I turned on ViewRanger but had it on in the funicular, so it probably is not correct. It says 5.35 miles. My iPhone Health App says 7.2 miles, 17,000 steps, 64 floors.

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The Amalfi ferry leaving in the morning. Our ferry was a hydrofoil.

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The endless steps to Grotta Matermania.

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The path to the Faraglioni Rocks.

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The Faraglioni Rocks.

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Street signs.
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Walking to the town center. Hanging rosemary!

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The start of the Phoenician Steps.

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The Phoenician Steps snaking up the steep hillside.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Do tell, Valerie. I would love to know. :)

Valerie's secret is to turn the burner back towards the off position and you get a lower flame. On this stovetop there are three settings - off, high, where you light the flame, and low. If you turn it from high towards off you can find a lower setting.

I remember doing this before and you do get a lower flame, but sometimes still not low enough. I have these great flame tamers from Germany that I travel with, but I forgot them this time.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
It was hot and sunny today. 65F but it felt like 70F. We took a day off from walking. Out for coffee in the morning, a short walk from the main beach to Fornillo Beach. We looked for the stairs to walk up through the houses but did not find them. We spent the rest of the day on the terrace until Valerie and Bryan arrived around 4pm.

We all walked to Fornillo Beach again and this time found the staircase up. Up and up the stairs to the main road. So many stairs!! We rewarded ourselves with hot chocolate (it was getting cooler by now - Positano is in shade from 4pm this time of year), lemon sorbet, etc.

I cooked dinner tonight.

Tomorrow - we are all walking the Path of the Gods!

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Positano beach and church. Our apartment is near the church.

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Walking to Fornillo Beach.

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Fornillo Beach in the morning.

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Lemon sorbet.

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Hot chocolate.
 

devarae

100+ Posts
It's so fun to be seeing your photos and hearing your stories after just being in Positano a few weeks ago-- I am looking forward very much to hearing about the Path of the Gods. The tiny bit I walked (a mile or two from Nocelle and then back) during my stay was one of the highlights of my entire trip! Thank you for bringing us along with you virtually as you explore!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Today we walked the Path of the Gods from Bomerano to Nocelle. The weather was very good and the walk was fabulous.

Walk: From Cicerone Guide - Walking on the Amalfi Coast - Walk 18 - Sentiero degli Dei

We got a car service (Positano Taxis) to take us to Bomerano. 30 minutes on the winding coast road, then 30 minutes on hairpin turns up the mountain. Bomerano sits above Praiano, but it is a long drive to get there. The car service cost €100 for the four of us and was well worth it. In the summer they run a shuttle bus. The only other way to get to Bomerano is the SITA bus to Amalfi and change to the one to Bomerano.

It was interesting seeing the Agerola valley - a large plain high above the Amalfi Coast but still surrounded by higher mountains with several villages. It looks like there is good hiking up there and would be an interesting place to stay.

We started the walk at 11:20 and finished at 2:40, with a nice long stop for lunch on the trail. It is a holiday today, All Saints Day, and there were a lot of people on the trail. We took our time walking because there is a lot of up and down on the trail and the path is rocky. It was sunny and warm, 65F but it felt warmer. The views were incredible. For the first 30 minutes from Bomerano you don't see down the coast line, but you walk above terraced gardens. Once you get out of that first canyon you have views all down the coast to Capri.

The trail is narrow in spots with a steep drop off. Other parts are easier to walk. Towards the end you even walk in woods.

It turns out that we walked 2/3 of the trail on Monday after the long climb up from Priano. It was good to walk it again becuase this time I focused less on the horror of falling over the cliff and more on the views. We all loved the walk.

We were in good time for the 2:50 bus from Nocelle but it was packed with people and we had to stand for the 30 minute very winding ride down. We were all a bit seasick after.

Lovely dinner in the house tonight - Valerie cooked.

Miles: From my ViewRanger App 3.61 miles, 2385 ft ascent, 2970 ft descent, 3hr 19min
Health App: 5.2 miles, 13,000 Steps, 46 floors

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The first part of the train from Bomerano.

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Goats near Bomerano.

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Bryan, Valerie and Steve

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You can see Capri in the distance.
 

devarae

100+ Posts
I am glad you got a photo of the goats! When I was hiking there a few weeks ago I kept hearing the bells but I never actually saw them! Looks like you had amazing weather too!
 

JustTravel

1000+ Posts
Contest 2019 Winner!
Valerie's secret is to turn the burner back towards the off position and you get a lower flame. On this stovetop there are three settings - off, high, where you light the flame, and low. If you turn it from high towards off you can find a lower setting.

Thanks, Pauline. Good to know.
 

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