Summer is the season I visit Italy the most. I love going to the beach and spending the nights walking around whichever city we’re visiting. And each time I go, Claudio plans some sort of adventure for us, adding to my “you’re not going to believe this” arsenal. I arrived in Rome on a hot June morning when the city had just started buzzing and getting its Thursday moving. It had been over a year since I last visited, but once I got into the city, it felt as familiar as my own home town. Nothing much had changed and I was relieved to be off of that plane and with my dear friends.
After a moment, and I mean a very brief moment, of rest and stillness, Claudio tells me we’re going to the beach…on the motorcycle. Well, I’ve never in my lifetime been on a motorcycle and the thought of riding on the back of one just hours after my arrival seemed a bit daunting. Am I going to be able to hold myself up? Am I going to fall off like an American idiot? But, without hesitation I swung my leg over the seat and hopped on, heading to the beach and hanging on tightly while Claudio zipped us around the traffic. I was feeling quite nervous until I had this thought: “Carrie, you are with one of your best friends in the whole wide world. He’d never do anything to put you in harm’s way. You are safe”. And, after that little self talk, I eased into a comfortable position and decided to enjoy this ride, this experience.
Later that day, after I had taken a third nap on the beach and was fully relaxed into the notion of of being far away from work, deadlines, and ringing phones, Claudio looks at me and says, “We’re going to the Amalfi coast this weekend. On the motorcycle.” He proceeded to tell me exactly how long it will take, “it will be about four hours”. Whoah, what? How in the hell is my almost-40-year-old-body going to do this? How is my rear going to survive that tiny, barely cushioned seat? Why am I here? What have I done? Then he says to me, with a crooked grin, “C’mon. We can do this.” I took a moment and then looked at him and said, “Let’s do this.”
The evening before we left, Claudio handed me a backpack. “Everything you’re going to bring needs to fit inside of that” he said. While I was never a girl scout, I have gotten pretty good at living out of a backpack mainly due to my trips to Italy. This guy is always forcing me outside of my comfort zone and I allow him to do this to me time after time. The next morning, as we headed out the door with our bags and helmets, I felt as if we were descending into madness as the elevator went down, floor after floor. Finally, it was time to take off on our big adventure. Claudio’s eager smile put me at ease as I climbed on the back and we sped away.
Roughly an hour into the journey, we were both feeling stiff and needed a break. We stopped at an AutoGrill to stretch and grab some water and, of course, have a coffee. We stood there looking at one another, feeling windblown and wild, laughing and shaking our heads. Once the numbness in the lower half of our bodies eased up, we decided to head back to the road, continuing on to Lancusi; our home away from Rome. Mamma mia. Do I have it left in me to continue on? Well, We’ve come this far. Let’s to push through and get there, Carrie. I put in my earbuds, hit play, and sang full voice for the rest of the trip.
I don’t think I have ever been more happy to see that IKEA exit sign, the one the indicates we are almost at the turn from the autostrada to the road that takes us to the small village we’d be staying for the weekend. And suddenly in a second wind, as if I were being jolted from a nap, I felt like a serious badass. I mean, I rode on a motorocycle to the coast. That right there is enough to earn some major street cred. Riding into town I could feel my bones and muscles relaxing; we were finally going to stop for a while and, damn it, we did it. We had arrived! I don’t think there is another person on this planet who could have convinced me to do it. Somehow, when Claudio offers is hand to me and says, “let’s go” I take off with him. This is because I trust my dear friend, with my life. And, after all, riding on the motorcycle was more comfortable than riding…a donkey.
Finally being on the coast was a major relief as my legs and back felt like they were made out of metal – rusted, old, tired metal. And the next morning, after waking up to the stillness of the village, we downed our coffee and headed for Positano. The ride was about two hours of winding hills and beautiful scenery. Going through each town along the way and seeing the people, tourists and locals, was a totally different expierence on the back of a motorcycle. At one point, we stopped at the most beautiful gas station I had ever seen. It was quiet and relaxed with trees and flowers dipping down over lattice. We decided to sit there and, of course, have a coffee before taking off again. Each turn felt a bit more surreal than the last as we got closer to our destination. Several times I thought “Man, Carrie. You’re one lucky girl. This is a truly authentic Italian expierence.”
Finally, we arrived at Positano. Beautiful, breathtaking Positano. Ahh. After he parked we walked around a bit, making our way through the narrow streets lined with shops and loads of people. Heading down to the beach, Claudio stopped to show me one of his favorite houses, the Torre Trasita.
A round, stoned covered home along the path, it looks a bit like a portion of a castle and faces the crystal blue water. He told me that this house has always been his favorite and “one day, when I win the lottery, I’m going to buy it…” as we stood there in front of it, daydreaming of a life too beautiful to imagine.
At last we were laying on the beach. A combined total of roughly 7 hours over two days to get to this exact location just to relax and be still. Every uncomfortable second on the highway and through the winding roads of the coast was worth it. Because I got to experience this adventure and because I was right here, looking at this amazing place with my beautiful Claudio. Perfetto. And of course we couldn’t just sit there in complete silence. No, true to the nature of our friendship, we laughed and made jokes between moments of quiet pauses. At one point he took off running to dive into the cold water and called out to me, “Come on!” Well, the stoney beach proved to be a challenge for me as I am from Houston and our beaches are lined with soft, powdery sand. Each step I took on the pebbles felt like my feet were going to rip apart. And it didn’t help seeing Claudio laughing at me as I struggled to make it to the water. “Ouch. Ohh. Ouch. Crap” I repeated over and over, looking a bit like a baby farm animal learning how to walk.
After some time watching the waves and simply being present in the serene bliss of this amazing day, we decided to make our way to a little bar and have an aperitvo. Sitting there we noticed a lot of Americans milling about. As I watched them looking around in awe, I wondered if this were their first time in this beautiful place. They all seemed a bit shocked, looking up and down while chatting to one another and smiling genuinely. Eventually we headed up the street, climbed back on to the bike to make our way back to Lancusi. The sun was setting on the water and the night air moving in felt dewey and a bit chilled. All of the lights from the towns and villages looked like Christmas lights shining on the sea. Restaurants were beginning to fill up and as we passed I could the the iconic sounds of glasses clinking, soft music playing, and people laughing and enjoying one another. And again, I thought to myself “this is perfectly Italian” as we buzzed around the curves and hills of the Amalfi coast.
If I just told you some of these stories, you’d never believe me. You’d never imagine that this American woman just smiles and says, “Ya. Okay. I’ll do that”. But, she does, she did, and she will. Because, at the end of the day, #perchenovacanza.