Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I read this article on the plane last week and it sparked something. I really want to do this, I AM GOING TO DO THIS. I'm setting a goal for myself to go back to Italy, read this article and tell me what you think.


Amalfi Coast: A Moveable Feast

By:By Elizabeth Berg
Photo by Massimo Bassano

I am contemplating what, for me, is a big adventure—making a trans-oceanic journey alone. But I have one stumbling block: Memories of a long-ago television show in which a woman takes a trip to Paris for the weekend, solo. I recall perfectly the image of her disappearing into the mouth of the jet way, looking terrified but moving resolutely forward. Ever since, I've wondered what it would be like for me, as a woman, to travel so far by myself.

Wouldn't it be frustrating to have to negotiate every detail, especially if you don't speak the language? Wouldn't it be kind of pathetic to sit in a restaurant by yourself, to witness art and architecture and the random doings of people of another land with no one by your side to share it all with? Or would the fact that I wouldn't have to coordinate everything with another make for a more satisfying and unique experience? Travel in general has been fraught with anxiety for me. Traveling alone? Unimaginable.

Cut to an afternoon when I'm leafing through a magazine—and come upon an ad for Cooking Vacations Italy that offers a week of classes in the coastal resort town of Positano and, for one price, takes care of details: ground transportation to and from the airport, lodging, many meals, and recreation that sounds distinctly un-touristy—like visiting an Italian grandmother's kitchen in the hills of Sorrento. Perfect training-wheel travel! I act before I can hesitate and book myself for a week.

When I arrive in Naples, I'm greeted by a driver (just as promised), a young man with a smile who speaks lovely English. He takes my bags ("Please, please!") and we begin our hour-long drive south along the Amalfi coast. The famously steep and narrow road kinked with hairpin turns brings us to the cliffside town of Positano and the villa where I will be staying. Perched high above the Tyrrhenian Sea, it features knee-weakening views of Positano's pastel buildings clinging to the hillsides. Surrounding the villa are virtual waterfalls of fuchsia-hued bougainvillea, hibiscuses with blossoms the size of small dinner plates, lemon and fig and olive trees, and an organic garden of herbs and vegetables.

A man welcomes me and leads me to my room just off the terrace. Simply furnished, it has a white-and blue-tiled floor, armoire, bed, two nightstands, wall sconces, and French doors that offer an unobstructed view of the sea below. On a private terrace framed by trellises full of fragrant jasmines are chairs and a table.

On top of the mini-fridge sits a gift bag from the cooking school. Inside I find recipes, an itinerary for my week's stay, an apron, and a schedule for the bus that runs by the villa into Positano and to the neighboring towns of Sorrento, Amalfi, and Ravello. Also there is a bottle of prosecco, Italian sparkling wine. I start to put the bottle away—drink champagne alone?—but then come to my senses, pop it open, pour myself a glass, and drink while I sit first on the edge of my new bed, then in my own private chair on my own private balcony.


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