The Friday that Al and Mitch came to visit, we hopped on the fast train from Rome to Naples and arrived in a little more than an hour. We’d planned a tour of the Amalfi Coast, but when we got to our hotel in Sorrento, it was pouring rain. I think Al and Mitch brought the rain with them, because until they arrived, I could count rainy days on one finger!
When we got up Saturday morning, the sky was blue, the sun was out, and we were ready to go. The driver who met us at the Naples train station in the pouring rain Friday picked us up in his van at 9. He was all smiles because the weather was great and he was so proud to show us his home.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Amalfi Coast is gorgeous. The Tyrrhenian Sea is such a beautiful blue, and charming, mostly white houses tumble down precipitous mountain slopes. I loved it. BUT I grew up on the Oregon Coast, which is STILL the most beautiful coast I’ve ever seen. If there’s a more gorgeous ocean view on earth than Sunset Beach or the rocks on the north side of Shore Acres near Coos Bay, let me know, because I’ve got to see it.
The Amalfi Coast is one of the big tourist attractions in Italy, and we were lucky to go when we did, because although it was crowded, it was manageable. In the height of tourist season (summer), the highway is so narrow in places that police have to direct traffic to get the big tourist buses up and down the coast. As it was, I shut my eyes a few times when it looked like other vehicles might sideswipe us and push us over the edge and into the sea! I was sitting in the front seat, and Francesco kept telling me not to worry, but it would have been a nasty fall!
It’s a good thing that the Amalfi Coast welcomes tourists because people there can no longer fish—one of the downsides of being designated a World Heritage Site. Small boats dot the small beaches along the coast, but if they’re used for fishing, they’re being used illegally.
One of the Amalfi Coast’s most popular items is limoncello liqueur, a wonderful lemon drink that should only be served icy cold (or used in pasta). It was served icy cold after every meal in the Sorrento-Amalfi area, although in Rome, it is often served at room temperature. Not surprisingly, lemon trees cover the Amalfi Coast slopes, especially near Amalfi and Ravello. Most lemon trees had already been covered to keep them warm during the cold season.
We stopped for an hour or so in gorgeous Positano, where we walked down to the sea, and I mean DOWN! The walkways were extremely steep, and I kept wondering if I’d get back up the hill! After dipping our fingers in the sea to ensure that we’d return to Positano, we ducked into a beachside bar to warm up and have something to drink. Although I thought I was ordering a cappuccino, I’d apparently ordered cioccolata, because I ended up with hot chocolate, which Michael kindly drank for me.
We continued the slow drive down an impossibly narrow highway to Amalfi and on to Ravello, where we stopped for lunch. If Michael and I go back, we’ll go directly to Ravello to stay for a few days. High on a hill above the sea, it has amazing views of the coast in both directions and is a charming little town. On our way back up the coast, we stopped in Amalfi for an hour and wandered through its charming little streets. I especially liked the church in Amalfi.