The Amalfi Coast

Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Italy  , Campania,
Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Amalfi Coast is certainly something that we were looking forward to. We had heard about it as being one of the most beautiful bits of coastline on the planet. It did not disappoint. As we were riding our bus from Salerno (where the closest train station is) along impossibly narrow and windy roads we were amazed at each village one after another after another. The towns are built right into the sheer rock cliffs that stretch for about 50km. We could see beautifully coloured homes all pieced together like lego with stunning terraced farming along the way showing off the countless citrus groves. It was great until the kid behind me couldn't handle the windy roads and shared his lunch with his lap and a lucky few around him, I included. So much for that moment.
The place we booked was in Atrani, a small village less then a kilometre from Amalfi town itself. A fabulous spot away from the hordes but close enough to run to the shop for picnic supplies. Amalfi was once a maritime superpower in the 11th century, but traded in that label for resort superpower. The place is packed year round and for good reason. There is obviously tons of shopping, incredibly good restaurants, gorgeous hiking trails, and the beaches aren't so bad either. We felt lucky to be in Atrani as it is still beautiful, but removed ever so slightly from the madness around the bend.
Our accommodation was great, only steps from the beach and a plethora of fine restaurants and cafes to stop in at. Our room even had what seemed like a toilet in the shower (see picture), just in case the mood struck. After settling in and checking out the towns, we relaxed for a fabulous (and reasonably priced) dinner mere feet from the Mediterranean. Oh and it is only in the mid-20's here, so it didn't feel like we were melting all day.
The next day we got up and decided to head to Positano. It is easily the most expensive and fashionable town on the coast. Where we found tacky souvenir shops in Amalfi, we found designer clothing stores and posh jewelry shops in Positano. We were quickly priced out of the town although it was understandable why it is the most photographed town on the coast. Positano is positively beautiful. After missing our first bus back, we were unable to fit on the second, so we waited for the third now about an hour and a half later. There are no holds barred on these buses. Tourists and locals alike elbow and squeeze their way first onto buses and then into seats with little regard for those around. It kind of takes the civilized nature of the surroundings off the mind and can easily ruin a gorgeous day of site seeing.
Our third day there we decided to head out for a hike up into the hills. Unfortunately the trails here are not marked very well and we ended up not getting too far before we hit a dead end. The views were great from where we ended up and the weather was fabulous so we took what came our way and we were very pleased. We headed back into town for some refreshments and a rest. We attempted to go to a few shops but we can't seem to figure out the opening hours. We were in a store at 1:37 and the owner said we only had one minute because he was closing... at 1:38 apparently. The grocery store by our room opened that evening at 5:17. They are definitely pretty laid back, even with their shop hours.
As I was working on this later on, Megan headed out to get some supplies for our dinner plans later that night. As a result we have decided that Meg is not allowed to be anywhere in this country without me again. She is finding it difficult to get down the block without a suave Italian gentleman moving in with flowers, the odd proposal, and even bruschetta. Yes, bruschetta. Apparently one of Megan's admirers is a guy who runs the café across from our accommodation. One afternoon while we enjoyed a beer he brought over a plate of bruschetta. Meg said it was a peace offering but I think he was offering something else. I can't blame them obviously but these guys are pretty slick. Anyway, that evening we had a wonderful picnic on an outcropping of rocks right next to the beach with a spectacular view of Amalfi and the coast. It was a perfect spot to watch the towns light up and hear nothing but some incredible conversation with the waves crashing on the beach in the background.
Our last day we figured that we would try to manage a hike as the day was cool enough for such an endeavour. We headed out behind Amalfi into the Valle delle Ferriere. It heads to a XIV century iron foundry where craftsmen worked their trade until the beginning of the XX century. That was when the foundry was closed and the valley was abandoned. Along the way are seemingly countless ruins of old paper mills, farmhouses, and the foundry itself. Most of the way was on a stone walkway that seemed like the Amalfi version of the Great Wall as it went on for quite a ways. It was a great treat to get out of the touristy streets and have what felt like endless wilderness all to ourselves, and all within a few kilometres of the town. It was a perfect end to our time here. The Amalfi coast is a gorgeous place that has so much to offer, it is just too bad that so many others are aware of this as well. Tomorrow we catch a ferry (we are done with the buses here) to Sorrento!
Megan and Kevin
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