Saturday, November 14, 2015

Italy's Amalfi Coast

It's a day trip from Positano to the Amalfi Coast of Italy.  

And yes, that's the road.  Cantilevered out over the cliffs.

Mr. C has read up, and chooses in favor of those who say this perilous curvy narrow road is best navigated by an experienced local driver.  After all, if you're white-knuckled behind the wheel the entire time, how much of the beautiful scenery are you going to be able to see?!?

And beautiful scenery it is ~ the entire drive is like a storybook.

Our driver is a very nice guy ~ he's from Cuba.

And we are happy to have him at the wheel, before we even get "out of town".   There are cars coming the other way on these narrow narrow roads; sometimes even the occasional tour bus. Yikes!  He tells us they finally had to pass some type of regulation to limit the size of the tour buses allowed ~ otherwise they just overtake the whole road! 

This reminds me, somewhat, of Maui's famous Road to Hana, where the road is as much the focal point of the journey as the destination.   

This is the real thrill of the Amalfi coast ~ the scenic drive ~ where the sheer cliffs drop dramatically some 500 feet to the sparkling Mediteranean Sea below.

It's so popular, in fact, that during the high tourist season, the locals are restricted to driving just every-other-day (even-numbered license plates one day, odd-numbered plates the next).  This hardly seems fair, since we tourists can occupy their road space any ole' day of the week.

We'll have two stops today; the lovely little coast towns of Amalfi and Ravello;  and the ruins of Pompei.  Yeah, it looks to be an interesting day ~

Well, there are a couple of "pull-overs" along the way.  

Our driver thinks we should stop to see the Emerald Grotto. 

I think we could have easily saved our 5 Euro.

It's sort of lame.  

We go down the stairs to sea level (this part was cool!), then into the cave;  we get into the little boat, and he rows about 5 feet further into the cave, and then.....well, that's it.  It's tiny. 

And yes, the water has an eerie green glow.  That's it.  

Now we're back on the road to our "real" destination ~ 

It's the seaside town of Amalfi, the namesake of this beautiful coastline.

We are here off-season, but find that it's still crowded.

Like really crowded.  I can't imagine what high season must look like.  I'm glad we're not staying here ~ sort of like Capri, a day trip is plenty.

There is a central square, of course, and the local Cathedral, of course.  Lots of steps to the top, but we have to go there ~ of course.

~The Duomo di  Sant'Andrea Apostolo ~ 
Simply beautiful.

Inside and out.

There's another rocky beach........

And a spot where you can get both wine and very convenient ~ 

Now it's time for a bit of lunch before exploring some of the well-known estates and gardens.  Our driver has set this up; we have high expectations about consuming some local cuisine.

Steve negotiates a departure time with our driver, whom we'll meet at the bottom of the hill, and we head off on our own for a few hours.

What could possibly be more authentic than this???  
Serving home-made pasta right at your table ~ 

We order the daily special.  
It' five, yes, count them ~ five types of hand-made pasta.  
Oh my goodness!

We've learned something during our time in Italy.  We've learned that every (authentic) restaurant has hand-made pasta of some kind each day; and that's usually the day's special.  We've pretty much stopped trying to decipher the menu and, instead, ask for their "best dish" or what's "delizioso"; or just point to what's on the blackboard. 

It might surprise you, as it has me, that people debate this issue with me.  Usually it's people who have not traveled, or at least not traveled to Italy.  Can't be hand-made pasta, not possible to do that in a restaurant setting, blah, blah, blah.   Now, I'm not suggesting that every single pasta item on the menu is hand-made.  In fact, just the opposite.  Hence the daily special discovery.  That's a travel tip, by the way.   Remember, too, that their "restaurants" are usually small cafe's and family owned Trattoria's, so servicing that level of clientele is way different than our obscenely huge Cheesecake factory-sized restaurants in the USA.

You also have to know that, prior to coming to Italy, I would have told you that I don't eat pasta, I don't particularly like pasta, and I'd always prefer to have something other than pasta.

But that's because I had never, up to now, had "real" pasta.  It's like anything else that's done properly and served fresh, it's a whole different creature.  Think of the difference between Grandma's home-made bread, fresh from the oven and slathered in butter and.....buying a loaf of Wonder bread at the supermarket.  Like I said, it's a whole different creature.

We've read about Grandma.  She's the cook, and she is militant about making sure you clean your plate ~ sure enough, here she is, 
on patrol.......But it's all so delicious, she need not worry. We are happy to finish every last morsel.

It's time to head up the hill to Ravello, where our driver has suggested the sweeping views are worth the hike.  

It looks terribly inviting ~ I have a thing about the big ole' European doors ~ 

Gosh, it's just beautiful!

The Villa Rufolo ~ Does this look like your daydream of Italy, or what????   The grounds and gardens are stunning.

This beautiful arbor leads to......

This amazing point overlooking the shores of the Amalfi Coast and the Mediterranean Sea.

But alas, it's time for us to go.  
We must meet our driver, and begin the perilous journey back to Positano.

So we say good-bye and thank you to both Ravello and Amalfi ~

It's been another amazing travel day.  I wonder what's for dinner?

Maybe chicken soup.  I'm think I'm coming down with a cold, of all things.......

1 comment:

  1. This blog has so many great photos and so much detail! It really makes me want to go there and see all of this! So beautiful. Thank for all the time and detail you put into this article. The roads!! Yikes!


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