Monday, September 29, 2008

Colour Me Autumn

My creation, originally uploaded by bellavventura.

Yesterday in our garden.

Why is it , that for every three apples that I pick, one has to land on my forehead ?

Friday, September 26, 2008

In the UK

Best things I heard this week:

I was in the UK and out shopping with my daughter, buying the bare necessities for her new home away from home.
I had a kitchen knife, and a small pot and pan amongst the goods.

When I went to pay, the shop assistant said apologetically,
' Are you over 18 ? Sorry but I'm obliged to ask'.
'Yes, but thank you for the compliment !', I exclaimed flattered.

Later: The Taxi.

A taxi brought us and a myriad of packages, shopping bags, suitcases, and a guitar from the B&B in the city to my daughter's home.

When we got in the car, he asked 'Are you Italian ?'.
'Well, yes' I replied, 'Can you tell?'
'You can tell who is Italian, by the elegant way they dress'.

I had a pair of jeans and a suede jacket on!!!!

They made my day.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sail away

Update - My daughter has found a decent house to share with four others, only newly completely renovated a ten minutes walk from Uni ! She can even move in a few days early if she doesn't mind not having curtains at the window for the first nights.

Many many thanks to Casalba and Anne for your offers of help with the accomodation !

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sail away

I've been a bad blogger lately, but a good mother.
I have been glued to the computer (in between gardening for sanity), but not for entertainment. My second fledgling is about to leave the nest and go to Uni in the UK so we've been looking at the student digs in desperation.

My daughter applied too late to get a place in the Student Halls and now skims the student notices for flatmates wanted, trying to avoid houses which look like they should be condemned or deemed acceptable to only students on a limited budget. Cubbyhole bedrooms, kitchens missing cupboards and sofas in indescribable colours stained with unimaginable spills abound in these adverts. Prices, unfortunately not corresponding to the state of decrepitude, also are frequent.
She could have gone to Uni in Luxembourg and lived in, but the institution is very young and doesn't offer a large variety of courses. Many of the courses are in German (not her favourite language) or go to only first year. Naples was also an option but it meant commuting at least three times a week for two hours to get there and two hours back from Positano. Living there she didn't even want to consider. Likewise, Salerno is three hours away on the other side. She missed out in getting into the course she was after in Italy, by only two points in the entrance exam, so she has settled for second best in the UK.

We decided to raise our children in Luxembourg as the system here would have a few advantages or privileges over that in Positano. One not negligible, is that they wouldn't have to commute to Amalfi or Sorrento each day in the higher years. Lots of kids learn to hate Amalfi for this reason. Another being that most high school graduates on the Amalfi Coast, go to work in areas in the tourist industry and don't always look beyond that. Even those graduating in something entirely unrelated to this will be found working in their parent's restaurants or hotels in summer, or even post-graduates will be driving buses because this is what the town offers. And this is unemployment in Italy.

So she's off on Tuesday to the UK without a roof over her head unless she agrees to something on the basis of the photos or address's on the internet. Should she accept a house this way and risk finding things aren't perfect in reality or miss out on places close to Uni because others got there before her?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rain again.

The rain finally arrived in Positano over the weekend. After two and a half months of sunshine , it wasn't the after-summer deluge we expected. It was enough to water the very dry garden, but even though it had been a waterless summer, it hadn't felt like one of its hottest, with the exception of only a few days. The thunder in the morning flickered the lights several times and the sky clouded over with ominous clouds but it brought just an average long shower.

I have been through quite a few of these late summer storms and the most severe of them have a pattern:

It know its raining in Positano if:

The craggy mountain behind you goes into shadow and a black foreboding mass of clouds gathers on it's edge;

The bagnini on the private beach sections start collecting the two front rows of chairs and beach umbrellas just in case the sea becomes rough;

Owners of lighter sea vessels pull their craft on to the shore rather than risk losing it at sea;

The rain comes as a sudden heavy curtain blanketing vision across the sea;

You run around the house closing all windows against the temperaments;

You become glued at the window looking at the downpour and mesmerized by the din as it pelts down on the vaulted roof;

It becomes hot inside and the windows fog up;

The bath starts gurgling; the sink in the kitchen starts gurgling as the drains fill up with rain water;

You hear heavy gushing outside. You open the front door and see a waterfall running down the steps. You husband strips down to the waist and climbs barefoot up the waterfall in order to clear the debris from the drains in the alley. Niagara falls trickles to a rapid river. While he is wet, he thinks that he may as well check all the drains around the house and walks through the house to the other side dripping every where.

The windows start leaking from the tell tale moldy signs around the arches where the plaster and silicone has given way. You put rags there to catch the drips and others to catch the water coming in from underneath the doors, and skylight on the stairs which has also sprouted a leak.

The downpour lasts a long time. The kids have nothing to do as the TV antennae has been disconnected as a precautionary measure against lightening (known to strike in the area especially at Monte Pertuso in the hills).

All the tourists have taken refuge in the bars, shops awnings and restaurants and have to wait it out. There is nothing else for them to do. The stairs are nonnegotiable unless you roll up your trousers, take off your shoes ( or happen to have a pair of rubber boots in your summer wardrobe).

You have to use a small umbrella and hold it sideways in order to get through some of the narrow alleyways,

If the rain persists at falling at an alarming rate there may be rock falls or land slides and the state Amalfi road will be closed.
If you live in one of the houses based at the lower part of town towards the end of the sewer pipes, you may find (as we do) that the pipes are unable to cope with the rain water being channeled into the sewers illegally and that this said water begins to rise up and come out of the drain in the showers and over the edge of the toilet to flood the bathroom and any room beside it. You only discover this the next morning (unless you have unfortunate guests staying ), when you go down to hang out the wet rags used for mopping the leaks in the house and step into a room full of dirty water and debris.

By late afternoon, the sun will be shining. If you are lucky you will see the rainbow that falls into the sea.
You will be out in your shorts again avoiding those cobbled puddles on the stairs and making your way down to the beach so that your son can ride the waves to his fill on his boogie board.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Ups and downs of Positano. Part 1

"Dai Claudio, vieni !" Maria yelled.

The August night sky was unusually clear, notwithstanding the warm air. My father and I lean't on the railings on the terrace overlooking the beach. I could just make out my two sons and their friends fooling around on the beach sun loungers.

I straightened up and shook my hand to get the ants off.

Alexia and her two American friends grabbed a lilo from under Pupetto Beach Bar and ran into the water.

Their New York accents carried perfectly up to our house. There was no babble on the beach nor sounds of motorboats to smother it. I could even hear the chink of the glasses in the restaurant below.

Milly, our small dog, sniffed disinterestedly around the terrace and then came and lay at our feet.

I could pick out my sons and their friends because the beach had been lit up from the restaurant. There were three lilos in the dark water and three people per lilo. I knew that they'd ordered a pizza to eat on the beach and seeing that my boys hadn't come up at all from their afternoon swim, that they still had a swimming costume on. The two Americans were leaving the next day, so it was a sort of going away party together with the Positanesi.

"Are you spying on them ?" asked my father.

"Course not! Can I help it if they chose this moment to have a swim?" I replied.

Milly suddenly got up and started sniffing around the edges of the terrace again. I imagined that there must be a gecko in her favourite haunts as she was taking long sniffs in the usual places.

"Lasciali stare (Leave them be)" said my father. I presumed that he was talking about my sons rather than the geckos.

Milly started getting more and more excited, running from one area of the terrace to another. She finally stopped at the corner which overlooked our garden below. She started whimpering a little.

"What is it Milly?" I asked gently.

Her fur was on end and she was on alert, fixating the tops of the mandarine trees which were at terrace level.

As soon as I asked, she began running down the steps which brought to the garden.

"She probably saw a cat." said my father.

I could hear her barking frantically below. Milly is a dog who never barks.

"Milly, come" I ordered.

She raced up the stairs immediately, returning to her post in the corner of the terrace. She took long deep sniffs into the tree tops then barked and yelped simultaneously. Obviously there was something there.
She suddenly looked up into the pergola overhead, barking and yelping as if her life depended on it.

I could hear a rustling in the wisteria leaves above me. I ran to turn on the terrace light which I had been avoiding so as not to attract mosquitoes.

My father and I looked up. Just as I had suspected.
It was the old rat-in-a-tree trick.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

All for tourists??

Positano News recently published an article on the work done around the Amalfi Coast and in particular Positano dock. If you look at the webcam on any given day, you can see a barge with a huge crane on board . What exactly it is doing there we don't know. The fact is that the extension of the Positano dock to a platform which resembles a sea of cement, has altered the shape of the beaches. In particular, created an the erosion of the public beach at Fornillo.

Just last Saturday this barge presented itself in front of Fornillo. There was a helter skelter around the area as boat owners moored just off the coast, rushed to move their boats so as avoid damage from the large ship.

The barge was slowly moved into the cove stopping just in front of the Grassi Beach establishment. It was tied onto the beach and the crane was lowered into the water. People bathing gathered on the beach to look on. It seemed to move around a little and then was pulled out. A long metallic structure was tied on and lowered into the water close to the shore line. Two divers detached the lines underwater. And the barge finally moved on. All this took two hours.

What it was all for, I can only guess. It seems to be a launching ramp with which climb on to the boats , but I maybe wrong.

Anything done in Positano seems to be with the tourists in mind.
The dock on the main beach was constructed for the non- stop ferry loads of people arriving to the detriment of the local's beach at Fornillo. Garbage can't be deposited in containers on the street between 8:00am and 9:00pm because the tourists might see it and associate it with the rubbish crisis in the Naples area. Long cement paths are laid along the main beach where once simple pathers did the trick giving the area a 'Disneyland ' feel - a facade where nothing seems real. Other local - trodden paths crumble and become dangerous to use but are not considered important enough for public spending. The fisherman village is no more and hasn't been one for many years.

I wonder if going full speed in this direction is good for Positano? Certainly not for the Positanese. Only winter brings the tranquillity of yesteryear. What little natural beauty is left is enroached upon by greed and tacky modifications for tourists. Public works do little to maintain the simplicity and original character of the town. And definitely won't add to the future popularity of the present town Council.

Love Breakfast at Positano

My favourite part of the day at Positano has to be the early morning.
We always have breakfast outside on the terrace in summer. The light is soft, the colours brillant and the sun still not too warm as to become unbearable. The day ahead is always full of promise.
Come and have a coffee with me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Beach that !

Just a few contrasts from our beach in my home country.

Positano. June 2008. One and a half hours drive from Naples.

Fornillo beach at 8 :00 in the morning.

Mornington Peninsula.

Safety Beach, one and a quarter hours drive from Melbourne.

Height of Summer holidays. 9:30 in the morning on the public beach -

Private beaches don't exist.

Looking towards Dromana.
Looking towards Mt. Martha.

Time necessary to walk across Fornillo beach - 10 minutes if you are slow and stumble a lot.

Time necessary to walk along the sand to Dromana Pier (closest obstacle) - an hour at a very quick pace.

Time necessary to walk to Mount Martha in the opposite direction -an hour at a very quick pace.
Safety beach water in the morning.

Fornillo Beach water in the early morning.

Safety beach it stays like that. At Fornillo it doesn't.

Difference in temperature - about 20 degrees. Difference in depth -who knows!

Fornillo beach late afternoon when the public beach goers have packed up due the the shade coming across the beach. You can see the bar in the distance.

Safety Beach. You can see the beach huts in the distance.

Safety beach in the late afternoon.

What you can't see are the flies!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Last day in Positano

My last night in Positano was interrupted by fireworks (again) at midnight as part of 'La Notte Bianca' celebrations. They were being held at La Marinello at Fornillo beach so we had a bird's eye view of them. A light in the mountain caught the corner of my eye and I lifted my head to see flames rise high above the village of MontePertuso. There were three fires burning in the same area, the orange flames licking the dark and creating a riveting scene much more interesting than the 'done to death' firework displays.
Apparently the fires had been lit in the beginning of the beautiful mountain walk called "Il sentiero dei Dei" -The Path of the Gods. This pathway is no where near the roadside so it was not accidently lit.

The morning showed flames even higher in the mountain and the helicopters were out by 7.30 swooping down to dip their buckets into the sea, then sweeping up over the house spraying droplets of water behind them.

"Drop us some fish" my son yelled.

I counted four helicopters at one stage - two were touristic and two for the fire. You can imagine the noise.

I had to leave Positano on Sunday in the early afternoon to catch my plane back to Luxembourg and the helicopters were still at it. According to my husband, they continued all day yesterday too.
We are now back in the autumal grey climate after two months of endless sunshine and blue skies. At this rate, my golden tan will soon end up on my towel.

Hold that thought.