“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” – John Steinbeck, 1953
If you have ever had the opportunity to visit Positano, the words of John Steinbeck ring true. In 1953, Steinbeck wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar, after he and his wife visited this enchanted, panoramic town. My husband and I spent four days pinching ourselves to see if we were dreaming, or if we truly were in Positano, a town built into the cliffs along Italy’s famously beautiful Amalfi Coast.
Earlier this spring, we took a trip to Italy to celebrate the end of a long deployment and just have some time away together to reconnect as a couple. As we were planning our trip, my husband suggested that we stay somewhere on the Amalfi Coast for a few days. I wasn’t so sure, as it seemed like we could commute from the suburb of Naples where we set up our home-base. But after the harrowing-yet-amazing drive along the coastal highway to get there, I was glad we booked a room at one of the several superb hotels in town.It just didn’t seem real. I felt like we were walking through a series of postcards. Click To Tweet
When we first arrived, I didn’t think this tiny town – which was a fishing village many years ago – could hold my attention for four days. It seemed really small, yet when we started walking around, I saw it was much larger than I thought. There is one, one-way road through town – like a big loop in the cliffs. Since it isn’t what I would call a “drive-able” town, you can bet I was pleased that I invested in a very good pair of walking shoes in order to discover this scenic gem.
After checking into the hotel, our first stop was its terrace restaurant. Facing the ocean, I enjoyed my cappuccino as my husband sipped his espresso. We chatted with the hotel manager a few minutes, then decided to walk around a bit. He gave us some tips on what to see.
Downhill we headed, to the center of the town, and then we took steps down even further, knowing all the while we had to get back uphill. Not a problem for my soldier. For me, it could be. After he asked me countless times, “Can you make it back up to the hotel,” I told him yes. He knows my knees can be finicky. However, I had a “let’s go for it” attitude. I knew there were shops, galleries, steps and restaurants where I could find refuge, should I need to rest my legs. Because at the end of the stone walkway was the ocean. And I had to get there. It was as if the sea was calling me.
We stopped in a few shops along the way, and marveled at the age and architecture of the buildings in town. We looked at the menus of a few of the restaurants, so we could try and choose where to eat. (That was not an easy task… I wish we had had the time to eat at every restaurant in Positano!)
Making our way down the last cobblestone walkway, I knew that the trip back up the steep hills would be well worth the potential struggle. It took a few minutes for the spectacular views to sink in, and to realize where we were at. It seemed like a dream.
To our left, we could see the cliffs as they met the ocean. To our right, we could see hotels with their charming outdoor cafes. Looking toward the water, we saw families on the beach, the docks for the ferries and fishing boats. Immediately in front of us, we saw an artist painting and selling his wares. It was a feast for the eyes, ears, and the soul.
It just didn’t seem real. I felt like we were walking through a series of postcards.
“This can’t be happening! Are we really here?” Apparently, I said what I was thinking aloud, because my husband startled me when he answered, “Yes.”
Our trip was such a huge blessing, and as I stood on the beach, holding his hand, I offered a quick prayer of thanks that my husband made it home safely; that we made it to Italy safely; and that for everything we’ve been through as a couple throughout the years, here we were, hand-in-hand, looking at one of God’s most beautifully created areas of the world. Standing on the beach, I was overwhelmed with joy; overwhelmed with my faith and overwhelmed with my connection to my spouse. Another spiritually moving experience on our trip to Italy.
As my husband glanced down at the little pebbles, stones and coral pieces that created the shoreline, he pointed out what would become my first souvenir from Positano – a heart-shaped stone.
What were the odds of finding something so symbolic on our trip? Something that is strong, yet smooth. Etches of imperfections, but decidedly whole. Something that had taken a beating through the rough storms, yet made it to a place of safety and serenity. Something solid, unbreakable, and something to hold on to – and it was shaped like a heart.
A salty mist came over my eyes as he handed it to me, and together we looked out over the sea, marveling at the odds of his finding that stone at that perfect moment in time.
© Lynne Cobb-2017
Have you ever encountered something so profoundly symbolic in your travels? Share in the comment section.
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