Written by Jack on April 29, 2014
Here we are, at the very end of an incredible journey. Every day for the last 29 days has been a new adventure. Every morning we woke up not fully knowing what the day would bring, or in some cases what country we were in. Every night we went to bed smiling as we recapped the day, highlighting our favorite parts with Evan or each other, many of which never made this blog. We saved some of our favorite stories so we’d have something to talk about with people when we got home. So talk to us! We promise not to bore you with a two hour slideshow.
Now for the events of our very last day.
As Jen mentioned yesterday, we graciously accepted the offer to explore the Amalfi Coast a bit with our new friends. Italy decided a downpour was a good start to our last day, so we umbrella’d up and headed down the hill to our designated meeting place. Rain, rain, and more rain. We were thankful they had a car, even if it was small. We wedged in that Peugeot like champions and took off east along the road. There’s only one, it wasn’t hard to figure out directions.
We set our sights set on Praiano, the next significant town along the coast.
The road is slow, windy, and offers wild vantages of the coastline and even the island of Capri just beyond. I heard that it needs to be paved 3 times a year to keep it as safe as possible. Seems like a smart idea to me. The rain stopped right as we made it to the town’s edge and the sun greeted us, one last time. We smiled at the gift it was to us.
It turns out Praiano is quite small. So small, we kept trying to find the “center” and missing it. Making an assumption that it was further “down”, we parked the car on a steep hill, found a pedestrian alley, and started descending hundreds of steep stairs. It would seem the town is as small as it seemed, because we found no more town, but rather a steep and ragged cove, the brilliantly blue water churning against the rock like a furious war-host against a timeless enemy.
While clearly a dead-end, we were pleased with the view we never would have otherwise discovered. At least, until we started hiking the few hundred stairs back up again.
It was at this point where Liam fell asleep on my back. The little guy must have been exhausted because he just drooped his head over my shoulder and started snored away, bumpy ride and all.
Eventually we found the main street in Praiano and picked out a jackpot of a restaurant for lunch, Hotel Tramonto D’Oro. Wow. This place is a 4 star restaurant and hotel with a perfectly framed view of the Amalfi Coast, Positano, and island of Capri on one side, and Casa Angelina (an old cathedral) on the other. The interior was every inch the definition of “Mediterranean Style”, with bold blues, bright whites, and high ceilings. The food was excellent, service friendly, and the time relaxing with new friends was a real treat. We honestly couldn’t have asked for a better place to have our last lunch in Italy.
Tramonto D’Oro is a family owned and operated place, and we had the chance to meet the matriarch of the establishment, who was dining with several generations of women. She beckoned the 3 boys over to their table in Italian. As they all stood, a little perplexed, she proceeded to give each of them a gift: an intricate model ship, roughly 6 inches long. You could see that she loved doing this with little kids, that it was something she did to see their faces light up and make her day. The boys couldn’t wait to get them out of the boxes as they spent the rest of time there playing naval and air battles with each other. Yes, air battles. When you’re 4 years old, all ships can fly.
On the way back to Positano, we stopped at one of the wild bends in the road where a man named was selling fresh fruit and juice out of the back of his Piaggio. If there’s a wilder place to run a business, I haven’t seen it.
Salvatore has had this spot staked out for years. John and Louisa had already stopped here a time or two before we met them and had struck up a friendship. We hung out for about an hour as Salvatore make jokes, hit on the women, squeezed a ton of juice, and gave free fruit to the kids. I’ve never had fresh citrus juice that fresh before. It was invigorating. We couldn’t get enough. John spent at least 10 minutes trying to talk him into spending his winter months in Ireland, cooking for their friends.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on or near the beach in Positano and doing a little light souvenir shopping, as one does when one realizes time is almost up and one wants to hang onto memories any way one knows how. The beach in Positano, and probably all of the Amalfi coast for that matter, is a dark pebble beach. Liam dove in head first, like the 2 year old he is.
Our artist friend was back, and we bought a painting from him. He even remembered us and pulled out his sketchbook from the day before, signing and dating his drawing and giving it to us. He was a real character, full of life and smiles. He may not have been Rembrandt or Caravaggio, but his paintings were vivid and exciting interpretations of Positano, very much a representation the way it feels to be there.
As time wound down with a heaviness of heart, we wanted to make our last meal count. A reservation for the Michelin recommended, 4 star restaurant Al Palazzo right in the heart of Positano would do the trick.
The restaurant is set in the courtyard of a beautiful hotel, surrounded in rich vegetation and lemon trees. I’m not going to lie, it was really expensive. But who cares, it was our last night in Europe. The last night before life began putting itself back to the way it was before. The last night before a 22 hour travel day. We enjoyed a wonderful multi-course meal, in a beautiful setting, with great company. It’s selfish to ask for much more. We stayed for hours and hours, keeping to Italian tradition, as the night wound down.
One last stop for one last gelato, and we called it a night. The sun was down, the city was alive with the sounds of night, but we finally let our minds and our hearts start the long trip home.