Amalfi & PompeiiPosted: March 24, 2011
From Sicily we beach hopped along the West coast of Italy beside the Tyrrhenian Sea. Many times we had to turn back from the smaller, less used, coastal roads as recent rains had closed them with either, rocks falling from the cliff on one side, or the road caving in to the cliff on the other!!!
The coastal towns varied, and whilst not steeped in the history we have been surrounded by, were very pleasant, albeit still waking up awake after winters hibernation. These towns seriously close for winter. Whole buildings, shutters SHUT, will not open until the beginning of summer. The bonus for us is finding the most fantastic places to camp, often on beach fronts, with no one about to move us on.
Most of the restaurants are also closed!! Alas, “Cubby” has become our favorite restaurant. Found only at the best locations, many a time we have had the door open cooking to see the few passers by swivel their heads to see where the delicious smelling food is coming from. Local produce and Antonio’s creations!!! A great combination.
We eventually came to one of my most anticipated destinations. The Amalfi Coast. About 25 years ago I saw a photo of the town of Positano, literally littered with houses set into cliffs, falling down to meet the sea. About 20 years ago, I took myself there. My friend Deanne wanted to spend a significant birthday in Paris and I accompanied her. She went to New York! I went to Italy and spent 5 weeks backpacking around on my own. My favorite place was the Amalfi Coast and Positano.
It is certainly one of Europes most breathtaking coastlines with 50 kms of winding narrow road. As Antonio quipped, “a fantastic road to drive ………….. when you are the passenger!!” Both of us though, were on high alert, waiting to see what might greet us on the other side of a cliff bend. It reminded me of white water rafting!!! One minute the going is quite calm and then you might hit a rapid; in the form of a massive truck, or tourist bus, or local resident. To them it does not seem to matter whose side of the road they should be on, or if they are hugging the edge! Think not!
The whole drive is drama!! A wonderful theater and we are on the stage! Our production reached crescendo pitch at a hair pin bend that just happened to intersect 3 roads, the most bustling nook of Positano, peak hour, around 8.30 am. Cars were trying to back up on a very narrow bent stretch of road, to let a big tourist bus through, with two behind him. A vegetable vendor was going about arranging his fruit and serving someone rushing by to get an apple on their way to work. A couple of cyclists added to the foray, and then we saw, a pretty little girl, dressed completely in pink with coat and hat and gloves, no more than 4 years old, standing on the front of her Daddies scooter, him dropping her off at kindergarten. Her face calm and collected as the scooter stopped and she stepped off! Just another day, living life on the Amalfi Coast.
The drive soon panned out quite calmly, (by comparison!!!) and we made our way to Pompeii. An attraction I missed 20 years ago, and I was keen to visit.
It is an amazing place, its eeriness made me feel somber and respectful of the catastrophe that fell upon this city in the year 79 AD, when Vesuvius the volcano, erupted and smothered the city and those that were there. Cast remains of residents at their moment of death, leave little to imagine, reinforcing our own mortality. Clearly a very civilized township of people, they had the fortune to own and value, beautiful homes, gardens and works of art, and time to worship to the Gods, magnificent temples seemingly the center of their lives.