Positano Amalfi Italy Twilight

Twilight over Positano along the Amalfi coast, Italy


The importance of my tripod hit home with me one day last spring.  About 75% of my shots are taken with a tripod.   Using small apertures, with low light, filters, and low ISO requires a very still camera.  Some of my exposure lengths reach into the minutes.  Hand-holding these shots is not an option.  I always have my tripod with me.

The trip from Rome to Positano Italy can be enjoyable I’m sure. Whether traveling down a narrow, windy, coastline road, or cruising through the fertile countryside, there are lots of beautiful things to see and experience.  This particular trip, however, my wife and I were traveling on public transportation.  This involved a high-speed train from Rome to Naples, connecting to a slow local train to Sorrento, and picking up a local bus for the remaining few miles to Positano.  This can be a frantic trip, but once aboard the final bus we were feeling pretty secure.

About halfway through the hour-long bus ride, we asked a kind gentleman near us if he knew what bus stop we needed to get off at in order to reach our hotel.  We knew of at least two stops in town – there may have been more.  But with all our luggage and the incredibly hilly nature (think vertical cliffs) of Positano we didn’t want to miss our stop.

The kind man said to get off at Chiesa Nova (New Church) stop.  To which another man nearby replied “no – you need Cristoforo Colombo stop.”  The ensuing argument between these two Italian men was magnificent, impressive – and highly entertaining.

In the mean time, we were nearing Chiesa Nova.  With no resolution in sight between our two ‘travel guides’ we made a snap decision to get off at the stop.  We grabbed all our luggage as fast as we could and jumped out the door – escaping the chaotic drama inside the bus.

Within seconds of landing on the roadside I realized that my tripod was still stuffed in the overhead compartment on the bus – not a good feeling.  The bus was now about 100 yards away and moving rapidly down the incredibly tight, windy road that goes through the middle of Positano.  While I was thinking ‘what number do you call for lost items,’ my wife was yelling ‘run’ – as in run Forrest run.  So I did.

I took off as fast as I could go, running through the middle of this gorgeous, hillside village chasing a bus that was getting smaller and smaller all the time.  It looked like a scene from a movie, except the star was looking pretty miserable about now.

About 3/4 mile into my run I heard a car pull up behind me.  I had been passed by a dozen cars already with drivers shaking their heads wondering why this crazy American had to be out exercising in the middle of the road right now, but this car didn’t pass me.  Instead I heard the horn beeping.  The ancient Fiats that most people drive on these roads have horns with a wonderful Roadrunner quality to them.  I couldn’t help but feel a little like the stupid Coyote about to get plowed over.

It turns out to be an equally ancient woman driving a lot like Mario Andretti.  She pulls up beside me with the passenger door open and motions at me to get in.  It seemed like the best option at the moment – I jumped in.

I don’t know who this woman was and don’t have a clue where she was from or what she was doing in Positano that day.  All I know was that she had figured out the situation some how and was weaving in and out through cars, people, animals, getting closer to the bus than I ever could have by running.

The woman’s daughter (I think daughter) was in the back seat on her cell phone excitedly talking to someone.  The bus had stopped – it looked like a bit of a traffic jam and we were stuck about 15 cars behind.  I jumped out of the car, yelled a heartfelt ‘Grazie Mille’ to the lady and run up to the bus and pounded on the door.

The startled driver opened the door for me – he might have recognized me from earlier.  I grabbed my tripod from the overhead bin and ran out the door.  Suddenly the traffic jam disappeared and I waved at my lovely Fiat driver as she sped off down the coast.  It was then that I realized the traffic jam must have been created by friends of the daughter to hold up traffic long enough for me to reach the bus.  Only in Italy…

Since the purpose of this trip was photography – specifically, capturing compelling images that would sell and bring a profit, reclaiming my tripod was vital – nearly at any cost.

The 2-mile walk back to my wife at the bus stop was significantly less eventful.  Chiesa Nova proved to be the correct stop to get off at, and our stay in Positano was worth the hassle.   Next time, however, I will avoid the mid-day run through town by making sure I have all my gear with me.