Saturday, November 28, 2015

Campania Day 6: Positano and Sorrento

After finishing our hike on Sentiero Degli Dei, our main goal was to get to Sorrento by ferry in time to explore Sorrento a bit and then catch one of the last Circumvesuviana trains back to our B&B. We bought tickets for the 5:00 ferry and then had a couple of hours to relax in Positano.

We were pretty hungry after all that hiking, so we wandered into a waterfront hotel called Covo dei Saraceni for a late lunch.
Steve ordered a limoncello, the famous liquor of the region. It is supposed to be served ice-cold, but this one wasn't. Whew, was it ever strong.

We ordered focaccia caprese--definitely one of the most beautiful meals we ate in Italy. It was refreshing and delicious.

And of course I had to have some gelato :)

A view of Covo dei Saraceni from the water:

I wanted to wade in the Mediterranean just to say I had...

But the beach was awful! There was no sand, just tiny rocks, and they were so painful to walk on barefoot!
Looking up at Positano from the water

Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta

The water had so many brilliant shades of turquoise and blue:

I would have loved to see more of Positano, but we had to get to Sorrento and eat dinner early enough to make sure we didn't miss our train to Portici. The ferry was a great way to travel--we got seats on the top deck and enjoyed sitting, relaxing, and cooling off with the sea breeze while taking in the coast. Here's Positano as seen from the water:

After Positano, the rest of the coastline around the Sorrentine peninsula is pretty barren. The water was a stunning inky blue-black:

The Isle of Capri

Finally we reached Sorrento, high on the cliff overlooking the water:

The main thing I wanted to see in Sorrento was intarsia, a woodworking technique the city is famous for. We wandered around looking for a place I'd read about and also just taking in the sights...

After we'd seen a couple of shops, we found the main cathedral of Sorrento, whose wooden doors were created by some of the artisan families. It was some of the most beautiful, impressive artwork we saw in Italy. Unfortunately I was unable to take photos inside and could not find any on Flickr; you can see some on the cathedral's official website

The restaurant Lonely Planet had talked about in Sorrento didn't seem to be an actual restaurant, only a shop, so we wandered around aimlessly, not sure where to eat dinner. 

Finally Steve suggested we just head back to Portici early and eat dinner at La Tradizione again--and that turned out to be the best possible idea. More on that in my next post :) But first, we had to take the Circumvesuviana train back. I thought this artwork on one of the trains was fun:

And that was the end of our time on the Amalfi Coast/Sorrentine peninsula. One more meal in Campania and then off to Tuscany!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Sentiero Degli Dei: Nocelle to Montepertuso to Positano

Once we finished the main part of the Sentiero Degli Dei hike, we continued on paved roads and through villages for about two more miles from Nocelle to Positano.

In between is the village of Montepertuso:

Montepertuso is Italian for "hole in the mountain"--you can just barely see where the name comes from on the left side of this photo:

Here's a better close-up I found on Flickr:
photo: flickr/the-consortium

In Montepertuso, we stopped at a charming little restaurant along the route called Il Ritrovo. One of the great things about hiking with Gabriella was that she has lived in Positano her whole life, and between that and all the hikes she leads, she has developed relationships with people all along the trail.

This restaurant is owned by friends of her family, so Gabriella popped in to get some free biscotti for us to try!

Then the owner offered us little samples of granita limone--lemon slush, so refreshing:

And as if that weren't enough, they gave us complimentary snacks: sauteed zucchini and onions, bruschetta, and a fresh fig!

After that fun, delicious break, we continued on toward Positano. Here's one more view of Montepertuso, from the other side of the village:

The rest of the hike was perhaps the most difficult part--the only walking of all the miles we walked in Italy that gave me a (small) blister. Down, down, down hundreds of steps...

Here you can see SS163, the famous Amalfi Coast road we had driven on in the disastrous taxi ride:

Positano, closer now:

Gabriella, our lovely guide who was so full of interesting information:

At the edge of Positano, Gabriella helped us get oriented, gave us a few of the cookies to try, and then said goodbye. We continued on down to find lunch and dip our toes in the Mediterranean before catching a ferry to Sorrento.
Just a few more stairs. Whew.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving 2015

For years now I have been reminded again and again of the critical importance of gratitude as a daily practice. That doesn't mean I always excel at practicing it daily. But I'm convinced that I need to, whether or not I actually do.

For the last eleven Thanksgivings, I've enjoyed dwelling deeply in the THANKS of this holiday: compiling a list of 100 things I'm thankful for and posting it on the holiday. It's poetry of sorts--the tiny details and the pillars of my life, the simple earthly pleasures and the facets of God's character, the joys and the hard eucharisteo, all smashed together in one long list.

This year I'm thanking God for, among His countless blessings to me, these specific hundred:

7703. nerve endings on my scalp
7704. my boys' smooth, kissable cheeks and foreheads
7705. my husband's strong arms and shoulders
7706. a family that likes to snuggle
7707. hand-holding

7708. Steve playing countless board games with the boys
7709. bedtime prayers
7710. handmade table to contain all the Legos
7711. Elijah reading to Jude
7712. sharing without coercion

7713. my boys' impossibly long eyelashes
7714. awkward, crowded adult teeth in a kid's mouth
7715. baby teeth with huge gaps between them
7716. feet growing so fast that new shoes look like skis
7717. uncontrollable giggles

7718. the pleasures of vacation
7719. the comforts of home
7720. exciting new experiences
7721. familiar rhythms and routines
7722. Heaven, the best of both: endless thrilling discoveries with the realest sense of belonging and being Home

7723. mugs with logos that remind me of places
7724. the capacity to learn language
7725. the fact that I haven't killed my spider plants in almost six months
7726. Steve's safety precautions when remodeling
7727. battery-powered lightsabers on long nighttime car rides

7728. the privilege of intercession
7729. the sting of conviction
7730. the humiliation of confession
7731. the relief of forgiveness
7732. the hope of resurrection

7733. a dining room table that can seat twelve
7734. the fact that we have often gotten to fill it
7735. all the gouges and dings and scratches that give it character
7736. the miraculous fact that I have learned to cook for a crowd without feeling overwhelmed
7737. a freezer for leftovers

7738. the Advent wreath Steve made
7739. the anticipation of playing Christmas music
7740. a second Christmas tree for the office, bought on clearance last December
7741. our little Jesse Tree
7742. time with family over the holidays

7743. Italian espresso on a terrace in Rome
7744. cappuccino gianduia in a Naples train station
7745. cinnamon dolce latte at Starbucks with a friend
7746. spiced apple cider sipped on dark mornings under a quilt
7747. homemade bone broth simmering on my stove

7748. time stamps on digital photos
7749. street view + linked photos on Google Maps
7750. Yelp restaurant reviews
7751. calligraphers on Instagram
7752. all the funny humans who create memes and tweets and videos that make me laugh out loud

7753. soaring dome of St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City
7754. multicolored marble in Chiesa del Gesu Nuovo, Naples
7755. frescoes of Santa Maria Novella, Florence
7756. stained glass and woodwork of St. Paul's United Methodist, Montpelier
7757. the basement of an old hospital, RBC Nashville

7758. Humans of New York
7759. StoryCorps
7760. storyteller-photographers
7761. storyteller-songwriters
7762. storytellers

7763. the perfectly soft skin of a baby
7764. my husband's increasing number of gray hairs
7765. lines around my eyes: I have smiled enough times in 33 years to create permanent creases in my skin
7766. the veined and wrinkled hands of the elderly
7767. the ability to exercise

7768. stories of injustice that make me uncomfortable
7769. stories of suffering that open my eyes
7770. opportunities to help bear burdens
7771. the means to give and relieve suffering
7772. the capacity for empathy, so much more than I had when I was younger

7773. Colossians study with women at church
7774. psalms of lament
7775. Jeremiah's guarantees of faithfulness and new mercies
7776. memorizing Revelation with the boys
7777. the promises of Romans 8

7778. connections with new friends
7779. reconnections with old friends
7780. happy mail
7781. lettering others' names on envelopes to give them happy mail
7782. places to belong

7783. David Powlison's wise reminder: "God seems content to work on a scale of centuries within the church and a scale of decades with individuals."
7784. seeing and rejoicing at that slow but perceptible movement
7785. hindsight glimpses of how beautifully He was at work
7786. the privilege of walking with a new believer, seeing her grow in faith
7787. hopeful glimpses of how He is changing me

7788. broken toes
7789. the body's ability to self-heal
7790. miraculous healings
7791. ordinary, faithful, hardworking doctors and nurses who heal
7792. healings via going Home

7793. mottled clouds blowing across a full moon
7794. pinks and purples and oranges at sunset
7795. Orion in the winter night sky
7796. warm sunshine
7797. flickering firelight

7798. the sweetness of this season of motherhood
7799. reassurances from older moms that the best is yet to come
7800. the discomfort of having to walk by faith, without a five- or ten-year plan
7801. still being able to joke with Steve over our kids' heads
7802. still being able to pick up both my boys

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Sentiero Degli Dei: Bomerano to Nocelle

Sentiero Degli Dei (Italian for "Path of the Gods") is said to be one of the best hikes in Italy. The first part of the trail is about four miles, running from Bomerano to Nocelle.

Rather than exploring it on our own, we hired Gabriella of Walk Positano to guide us, and that proved to be a better choice for certain. She offered all kinds of information about the plants and landscape features we passed, the history of the area and its people, and the trail itself. She grew up in Positano and has hiked this trail since she was a child, so she had lots of knowledge and expertise to share. And, it was fun to have her able and willing to take pictures of the two of us together at various points along the trail!

I took SO many photos of the gorgeous scenery--I'll choose just a few highlights to share in two posts.

Once we finally made it to Bomerano, we had espresso with Gabriella at Hotel Gentile and then set off. The trail begins at the edge of the village:

At this point, you're roughly 1400 feet above sea level:

Off in the distance, on the bottom right, you can see steeply terraced vineyards and olive groves:

Here there's a free water fountain and the path splits--you can head east to Praiano or, as we did, to Nocelle and then on to Positano.

Olive trees are prevalent in the region:

The town you see in the bottom right of this photo is Positano--where we're headed:

Positano, just off my elbow:

After about two hours of walking, we made it to the village of Nocelle.

Here we found another water fountain and a place to wash off our dusty feet. Then it was on down to Positano...

[Nocelle to Positano, coming later this week]