Things to do in Singapore: Positano Past Times Bathroom Steinbeck (From Harper's Bazaar)


Positano past times John Steinbeck

(from Harper's Bazaar, May 1953)


I offset heard of Positano from Alberto Moravia. It was really hot inward Rome. He said, "Why don't you lot go downwards to Positano on the Amalfi coast? It is 1 of the fine places of Italy". Later John McKnight of the the US Information Service told me the same thing. He had spent a yr in that location working on a book. Half a dozen people echoed this. Positano form of moved inward on us in addition to nosotros found ourselves driving downwards to Naples on our way.
To an American, Italian traffic is at offset precisely down-right nonsense. It seems hysterical, it follows no rule. You cannot figure what the driver ahead or behind or beside you lot is going to do adjacent in addition to he ordinarily does it. But in that location are other hazards every bit good the driving technique. There are the motor scooters, thousands of them, which buzz at you lot similar mosquitoes. There is a tiny fiddling automobile called "topolino" or "mouse" which hides inward front end of larger cars; in that location are gigantic trucks in addition to tanks inward which most of Italy's goods are moved; in addition to finally in that location are assorted livestock, hay wagons, bicycles, lone horses in addition to mules out for a stroll, in addition to to top it all in that location are the pedestrians who walk blissfully on the highways never looking about. To give this madness to a greater extent than color, everyone blows the horn all the time. This deafening, screaming, milling, tire-screeching mess is ordinary Italian highway traffic. My drive from Venice to Rome had given me a horror of it amounting to cowardice.
I hired a driver to lead maintain me to Positano. He was a registered driver inward practiced standing. His carte du jour reads: "Signor Bassani Bassano, Experienced Guide-all Italy-and Throt Europe". It was the "Throt Europe" that won me.
Well, nosotros had accomplished 1 thing. We had imported a fiddling slice of Italian traffic correct into our ain front end seat. Signor Bassano was a remarkable man. he was capable of driving at a hundred kilometers an hour, blowing the horn, screeching the brakes, driving mules upwardly trees, in addition to at the same fourth dimension turning around inward the spot in addition to using both hands to gesture, describing inward loud tones the beauties in addition to antiquities of Italy in addition to Trhrot Europe. It was amazing. It damn close killed us. And inward spite of that he never hitting anybody or anything. The alone casualties were our quivering, haemorrhage nerves. I desire to recommend Signor Bassano to travelers. You may non hear much of what he tells you lot but you lot volition non live bored.
We squirmed in addition to twisted through Naples, past times Pompeii, whirled in addition to flashed into the mountains behind Sorrento. We hummed "Come dorsum to Sorrento" dismally. We did non believe nosotros could acquire dorsum to Sorrento. Flaming similar a falling star nosotros hitting the coast, a road, high, high higher upwardly the bluish sea, that hooked in addition to corkscrewed on the border of nothing, a route carefully designed to live a fiddling narrower than 2 cars side past times side. And on this road, the buses, the trucks, the motor scooters in addition to the assorted livestock. We didn't run into much of the road. In the dorsum spot my married adult woman in addition to I lay clutched inward each other's arms, weeping hysterically, piece inward the front end spot Signor Bassano gestured with both hands in addition to happilly instructed us: "Ina da terd sieglo da Hamperor Hamgousternos coming tru wit Leeegeceons". (Our machine hitting in addition to killed a chicken.) "Izz molto lot one-time heestory here. I know. I tall". Thus he whirled us "Throt Italy". nd below us, in addition to it seemed sometimes nether us, a M feet below lay the bluish Tyrrhenian licking its lips for us.
Once during the state of war I came upwardly this same lovely coast inward the American destroyer Knight. We came fast. Germans threw shells at us from the hills in addition to aircraft splashed bombs at us in addition to submarines unknown tried to lay torpedoes on us. I swear I think it was much safer than that drive with Signor Bassano. And yet he brought us at last, rubber but limp, to Positano.
Positano bites deep. It is a dream house that isn't quite existent when you lot are in that location in addition to becomes beckoningly existent after you lot lead maintain gone. Its houses climb a colina thence steep it would live a cliff except that stairs are cutting inward it. I believe that whereas most theatre foundations are vertical, inward Positano they are horizontal. The modest curving bay of unbelievably bluish in addition to greenish H2O lips gently on a beach of modest pebbles. There is alone 1 narrow street in addition to it does non come upwardly downwards to the water. Everything else is stairs, some of them every bit steep every bit ladders. You do non walk to see a friend, you lot either climb or slide.
Nearly e'er when you lot abide by a house every bit beautiful every bit Positano, your impulse is to conceal it. You think, "If I tell, it volition live crowded with tourists in addition to they volition ruin it, plough it into a honky-tonk in addition to thence the local people volition acquire touristy in addition to there's your lovely house gone to hell". There isn't the slightest adventure of this inward Positano. In the offset house in that location is no room. There are almost 2 M inhabitants inward Positano in addition to in that location is room for almost 5 hundred visitors, no more. The cliffs are all taken. Except for the one-half ruinous houses really high up, all infinite is utilized. And the Positanese invariably decline to sell. They are curious people. I volition go into that later.

Again, Positano is never probable to attract the organdie-and-white linen tourist. It would live impossible to clothing every bit a languid tourist-lady-crisp, cool white dress, sandals every bit white in addition to calorie-free every bit fiddling clouds, moving painting lid of arrogant nonsense, in addition to 1 cerise rose held inward a listless whitegloved pinky. I dare whatever dame to clothing similar this in addition to climb the Positano stairs for a cocktail. She volition go far looking similar a washcloth at a boys' camp. There no way for her to acquire anywhere except past times climbing. This solitary eliminates 1 form of tourist, the demonstrate tourist. The 3rd deterrent to a dandy influx of tourists lies inward the nature of the Posianese themselves. They precisely don't give a damn. They lead maintain been living hither since earlier recorded history in addition to they don't intend to alter now. They don't lead maintain much but they similar what they lead maintain in addition to volition non motion over for a buck.

We went to the Sirenuse, an one-time theatre unit of measurement theatre converted into a offset grade hotel, spotless in addition to cool, with grape arbors over its exterior dining rooms. Every room has its fiddling balcony in addition to looks t over the bluish sea to the islands of the sirens from which those ladies sang thence sweetly. The possessor of the Hotel Sirenuse is an Italian nobleman, Marquis Paolo Sersale. He is also the mayor of Positano, a rigid handsome human of almost 50 who dresses generally similar beachcomber in addition to industrial plant really hard at his project every bit mayor. How he got the project is an amusing story.

Positano elects a town council of 15 members. The council thence elects 1 of its members mayor. The people of Positano are almost to a human royalist inward their politics. This is largely truthful of much of the southward of Italy but it is vastly truthful of Positano. The fishermen in addition to shoemakers, the carpenters in addition to truck drivers favor a virile mortal monarch in addition to specially a virile mortal monarch from the House of Savoy. This was truthful when the introduce mayor was elected. The Marquis Paolo Sersale was elected because he was a Communist, the alone 1 inward town. It was his distinction inward a whole electorate of royalists. One of Sersale's ancestors commanded a galley of state of war at the Battle of Lepanto inward 1571 when the ability of the Moslem was finally broken in addition to Christian command of Europe assured. He does non tell why became a Communist. But he does tell that he left the political party inward 1947 non inward anger but inward a form of disgust. The township was a fiddling sorry almost his losing his distinction, but they lead maintain elected him ever since, inward spite of that.

The mayor of Positano is an archaeologist, a philosopher in addition to an administrator. He has 1 officer to go on gild in addition to in that location isn't much for his forcefulness to do. He says, "Nearly all Positanese are related. If in that location is whatever problem it is similar a theatre unit of measurement struggle in addition to I never knew whatever practiced to come upwardly of interfering inward a theatre unit of measurement quarrel". The mayor wanders almost e town upstair in addition to downstairs. He dresses inward tired slacks, a elbow grease shirt in addition to sandals. He holds courtroom anywhere he is, sitting on a stonewall overlooking the sea, leaning against the border of a bar, swimming inward the sea or curled upwardly on the beach. Very fiddling line of piece of work concern gets done inward the City Hall. The constabulary forcefulness has thence much fourth dimension gratuitous that he takes odd jobs to create a fiddling extra money.

The history of Positano is rich, long in addition to a fiddling crazy. But 1 thing is certain: It has been around a long time. When the Emperor Tiberius moved to Capri because he was detested inward Rome, he didn't trust anyone. He stance people were trying to poisonous substance him, in addition to he was likely right. He would non swallow breadstuff made with the flour of his purpose of the country. His galley instead crept downwards the coast to Positano in addition to got the flour from a manufacturing flora which soundless stands against the mount side. This manufacturing flora has been improved in addition to kept up, of course, but it soundless grinds flour for the Positanese.
This fiddling town of Positano has had a remarkable past. As purpose of the Republic of Amalfi inward the ninth, 10th in addition to eleventh centuries, it helped to write the offset maritime laws nosotros know inward which the rights of sailors were gear upwardly down. In the 10th century it was 1 of the most of import mercantile cities of the world, rivaling Venice. Having no harbor, its dandy galleys were pulled bodily upwardly on the beach past times the townspeople. There a storey that on 1 Holy Sat when no church building bell was allowed to band inward all Christendom, a Positano send was problem from a dandy storm. The bishop who was officiating at the altar declared the dominion off, rang the bell himself in addition to thence joined the population on the beach in addition to inward his vestments helped to describe the crippled send ashore.

Like most Italian towns Positano has its miraculous picture. It is a Byzantine representation of the Virgin Mary. Once long ago, the storey goes, the Saracenic pirates raided the town in addition to alongside other things carried away this picture. But they had no sooner pose to sea when a vision came to them which thence stunned them that they returned the picture. Every yr on August 15, this incident is reenacted with dandy fury in addition to some bloodshed. In the nighttime the half-naked pirates assail the town which is defended past times Positanese men-at-arms dressed inward armor. Some of this fighting gets pretty serious. The pirates thence go to the church building in addition to behave the holy moving painting off into the night. Now comes the large moment. As shortly every bit they lead maintain disappeared into the darkness, a brilliant in addition to open fire paradigm of an angel appears inward the sky. At introduce General Mark Clark is the sponsor of this miracle. He gave the town a surplus Air Force barrage balloon. Then really shortly the pirates render their boats in addition to restore the moving painting to the church building in addition to everybody marches in addition to sings in addition to has a practiced time.

In the sixteenth in addition to seventeenth centuries Positano became really rich. Its ships went everywhere, trading inward the Near in addition to Middle East, carrying the spices in addition to silks in addition to precious woods the Western basis craved. Then the large in addition to beautiful baroque houses that stand upwardly against the mount were built in addition to decorated with the loot of the world.

About a hundred years agone a tragedy came to the town. Steamships began to ply the ocean. Positano could non compete; yr past times yr it grew poorer in addition to to a greater extent than desperate. At that fourth dimension in that location were almost viii M citizens. Between 1860 in addition to 1870 almost 6 M of the townsmen emigrated to America in addition to the dandy houses stood vacant in addition to their walls crumbled in addition to the painted designs paled out in addition to the roofs cruel in. The population has never got much higher upwardly 2 M since.

If Positano bites deeply into a stranger, it is branded on the Positanese. The mass of the émigrés went to New York in addition to most of them settled on Columbus Avenue. They made a fiddling Positano of it, they celebrate the same festivals every bit the woman nurture town, they beak Positano in addition to alive Positano. In New York in that location are over 5 M people who where born inward Positano - twice every bit many every bit alive inward the woman nurture city. Besides these in that location are many thousands of descendants in addition to all of them are tied really closely to the Italian city.

One of the hardest duties of the mayor is trying to abide by graveyard infinite for the New York Positanese who desire their bodies returned to their native town. The graveyard is every bit large every bit it tin give notice be. There is no room to extend it without blasting away the mountain. Just almost every available inch is taken, but the mayor must border the old-timers inward some way.

About 10 years agone a Moslem came to Positano, liked it in addition to settled. For a fourth dimension he was self-supporting but gradually he ran out of assets in addition to soundless he stayed. The town supported him in addition to took attention of him. Just every bit the mayor was their alone Communist, this was their alone Moslem. They felt that he belonged to them. Finally he died in addition to his alone asking was that he powerfulness live buried with his feet toward Mecca. And this, thence Positano thought, was done. Four years later on some curious meddler made a discovery. The Moslem had been buried past times dead reckoning in addition to either the compass was off or the map was faulty. He had been buried 28 degrees off course. This was outrageous to a seafaring town. The whole population gathered, dug the Moslem up, pose him on course of report in addition to covered him upwardly again.

Positano does non lead maintain much of whatever industry. At nighttime the angling boats break with powerful lights on their bows. They fish all nighttime for anchovies in addition to squids, in addition to the bow lights of the boats litter the sea to sight's edge. But inward fishing, Positano has a contender - the fiddling town of Praiano, a few miles downwards the coast. The rivalry has been thence dandy that a angling code has been long established. When a schoolhouse of fish is sighted the lampara boats run for it. The offset boat to make it puts out its cyberspace in addition to makes its circling run. Meanwhile other boats from the other town lead maintain raced for the school. If the offset boat completes its circle earlier the others arrive, the schoolhouse belongs to it. If not, both the towns part inward the catch. This is of import inward calorie-free of a storey that comes later.

On shore in that location is a fiddling shoemaking, some carpentry in addition to a few arts in addition to crafts. It would live hard to consider tourists an manufacture because in that location are non plenty of them. They do, however, render a scrap of luxury for the villagers.

Far upwardly the mount a convent looks downwards on the sea in addition to hither fiddling girls are taught the fragile in addition to dying fine art of lacemaking past times the sisters. The girls are paid in addition to the lace sold to back upwardly the schoolhouse in addition to incidentally the children. The flight fingers of the fiddling girls working with the hundreds of bobbins create the optic dizzy, in addition to the children await upwardly in addition to express joy in addition to beak every bit though they were non fifty-fifty aware of the magic of their flashing fingers. Some of the function is unbelievable. We saw a dandy tablecloth, a spider spider web intricate every bit a thought. It was the function of 50 for 1 year.

In a few days nosotros became aware of Positano's greatest commodity - characters. Maybe they aren't marketable, but Positano has them higher upwardly every community I lead maintain ever seen. There are the men who lead maintain lived inward America in addition to lead maintain come upwardly dwelling 1 time to a greater extent than to savor inward the moral, physical, political in addition to sartorial freedoms which flourish inward their nativity town. Clothing is every bit harum-scarum every bit a man's hear tin give notice wish, but it must live comfortable. The postman who climbs all stairs every hateful solar daytime wears his official postman's cap, in addition to corduroy trousers with braces but has left off a shirt if the hateful solar daytime is warm. Another human finds pajama pants, a loose vest in addition to a apartment straw lid the perfect costume. He carries sandals but inward the same way a good - dressed human who hates gloves carries gloves. Even the lightest opened upwardly sandal is a stricture on his happy feet.

In a bar or on the beach you lot may run into an incredibly one-time human with the brilliant eyes of a wise plane or an innocent snake. He is a witch. He learned his arts and crafts from a witch. He treats the ills of the whole town. His method lies inward his hands, small, white, weak-looking hands. When a patient has pain, these hands slow creep over the expanse piece the eyes of the sorcerer await off into infinite in addition to he seems to live listening. The hands seem to live split upwardly from him. The fingers abide by the expanse of hurting in addition to thence gently walk almost it, feeling in addition to listening in addition to soothing in addition to massaging but really gently. And his patients tell that the pains go away. I don't know. I didn't lead maintain whatever pain.

Yes, Positano flourishes with characters. On the beach in that location is a famous shoemaker. He builds sandals in addition to shoes for the whole town, but this is alone his part-time job. He believes that Ferragamo, the dandy Italian shoe designer, steals his ideas in addition to he is a fiddling angry almost it, but thence he realizes his truthful role. He is the friend in addition to confidant of dandy men. Once a issue of years ago, he was the eyes in addition to ears and, some say, the conscience of Dino Grandi, the Italian general. When Grandi came to Positano to residuum he sometimes sat in addition to talked with the shoemaker. And after the full general had left, the shoemaker would non beak to mutual mortals for several days. He tapped in addition to stance in addition to sewed in addition to stance in addition to he remarked once: "I do non experience it plumbing equipment that I should hash out anything with outsiders after I lead maintain been admitted to the secrets of authorities in addition to diplomacy". He got to talking similar Grandi in addition to standing with his caput dorsum in addition to his mentum out the way Grandi did.

After the war, General Mark Clark came to Positano in addition to he too talked with the shoemaker. And 1 time to a greater extent than the shoemaker would non speak for several days, but it was noticed that he stood with his shoulders frontward in addition to his caput bent studying the ground-the normal posture of General Clark. The shoemaker told me inward some confidence:
"He pose his paw correct here, correct here, the General did", in addition to he pointed to a house on his shoulder, in addition to his eyes looked off into grandeur.

Mark Clark has left his score on the town. In an older fourth dimension he would wearable the halo of a saint instead of the stars of a general. He is the town's patron in addition to he rose to this spot rather simply. Positano has e'er had a temperamental in addition to highly undependable H2O system. There is plenty of H2O inward the mount but the agency to acquire it to the gardens in addition to the kitchens of the town were primitive or nonexistent. Mark Clark gave the town a few M meters of scrap H2O pipe, left over from the Italian campaign. The townsmen installed it themselves. Now the H2O goes inevitably to the gardens in addition to the kitchens in addition to the populace fountains of Positano, thence that many times a hateful solar daytime every Positanese thinks of the General Mark Clark, pronounced Clock.

Influenza A virus subtype H5N1 issue of writers lead maintain gone to Positano to do their work. Some of these are Americans in addition to some are British. Nothing inward the fiddling town is designed to disturb your thoughts provided you lot lead maintain a thought. Such a recluse was John McKnight, similar a shot of the the US Foreign Service, but thence inward procedure of writing the Papacy, a long in addition to careful report of the history of the Vatican in addition to its spot inward the introduce - hateful solar daytime world.

He in addition to his married adult woman lived for a yr inward a fiddling theatre with a garden correct over the H2O inward the southern purpose of the town.

The McKnights came from North Carolina in addition to they settled into the life of Positano every bit naturally every bit they had settled into Chapel Hill. Then the yr turned in addition to Thanksgiving began looming.
Now an American living long abroad may acquire completely expatriate. He may speak foreign, think foreign, swallow foreign, but permit Christmas or Fourth of July or Thanksgiving come upwardly around in addition to something begins to squirm within him in addition to he finds he has to do something almost it.

Johnny in addition to Liz McKnight speak Italian fluently, read, swallow in addition to alive Italian. But when Thanksgiving came close inward Positano, the McKnights found themselves dreaming of roast turkey in addition to dressing of cranberry sauce in addition to plum pudding, of mint juleps. They got to waking upwardly inward the nighttime in addition to thinking almost it.

The turkey arrived inward a crate tied to the top of a bus. It was a fine, vigorous but slightly hysterical plane in addition to for a calendar week it gobbled in addition to strutted inward the 1 plane turkey yard built for it inward the garden until gradually its nerves got dorsum to normal. It didn't know that the looks of its novel friends were non friendly.

Johnny remembered a scrap of wisdom imparted to him past times his grand-father, inward North Carolina. Violent death, his grandpa said, live it to human or to turkey, is a nervous in addition to discouraging experience. The muscles are probable to go hard in addition to certainly unhappy juices are released into the system. His grandpa did non know how that affected the flavour of human but inward a turkey it had a vogue to create the meat tough in addition to a fiddling bitter. But in that location was a way to avoid that. If almost 2 hours earlier the execution, the turkey is given a duo of slugs of practiced brandy, the nervous tension relaxes, the turkey's province of hear is clear in addition to good for you lot in addition to he goes to the block happy in addition to fifty-fifty grateful. Then when he is served, instead of bitter juices of fright in addition to shock, in that location is probable to live a delicious hint of cognac inward the meat, Johnny decided to follow the custom of North Carolina. Then he found that he did non lead maintain brandy. The bourbon he had provided for juleps did non seem correct in addition to the alone other thing he had was a bottle of Grand Marnier. It was ameliorate than brandy. It would give non alone solace to the turkey but an orangey flavour to the meat.

The turkey fought the stance at first. But finally Johnny got him held firmly nether his arm in addition to held the nib opened upwardly piece Liz pose 4 or 5 eyedroppers of Grand Marnier downwards the bird's throat. At offset the turkey gagged a fiddling but inward a minute or 2 its caput dropped, a sugariness but wild await came inward its eyes in addition to it waved its caput inward beat with some gentle but non quite sober stance that went through its head, Johnny carried it gently to the pen. It wobbled a scrap in addition to thence settled downwards comfortably in addition to went to sleep.

"I'll do for it inward its sleep", Johnny thought. "That turkey volition never know what happened". And he went to the fridge to run into how the mint juleps were doing.

They were doing fine. He brought 2 of them dorsum to the garden, in addition to he in addition to Liz sat downwards to get the Thanksgiving.

The McKnights do non know what happened. Johnny thinks the turkey may lead maintain had a bad dream. They heard a hiccuping gobble. The turkey rose direct upwardly inward the air, in addition to screaming triumphantly flew out to sea.

Now nosotros must go dorsum to the sea laws of the Amalfi Coast. In the hills higher upwardly the towns of Positano in addition to its contender Praiano, watchers are ordinarily posted. They non alone go on picket for schools of fish but for anything which may live considered flotsam, jetsam or salvage. These watchers saw the McKnights' seagoing turkey wing to sea in addition to they also saw it crash into the H2O a duo of miles off shore.

Immediately boats pose off from both Positano in addition to Praiano. The race was on in addition to they arrived at almost the same time. But the turkey, alas, had drowned. The fishermen brought it tenderly back, contention softly almost whether it was a thing for relieve court. The turkey was plainly out of command. Johnny McKnight easily settled the employment with the residuum of the bottle of Grand Marnier.

They cooked the turkey that afternoon in addition to sat downwards to dinner almost viii inward the evening. And they tell that non fifty-fifty an extra dose of sage inward the dressing completely removed the sense of savour of sea H2O from the white meat.
John Steinbeck, Harper's Bazaar, May 1953


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