Friday, November 2, 2012

Amalfi Coast

Looking back 40 years or so, Stanley 
remembered the trip between Sorrento and Amalfi on the west coast of Italy as one of the most beautiful stretches of coast he had ever seen.  He wondered if it had changed significantly and if it was still as lovely as he remembered.

Off we went . . . 
First, a train ride to Sorrento.  These pictures were made as we were approaching the town.  They reminded me of 'Now I see as through a glass darkly.'
We waited almost an hour and a half for the bus to take us on to Amalfi.  These were some of our fellow travelers.
Finally, the bus arrived and our driver got us organized very quickly.  That means we all pushed and shoved our way onto the bus and he took off like a bat out of hell.  

Getting out of town
For the first few kilometers I was thinking maybe we should have spent the day in another museum, but then
I looked back on Sorrento
and then there was this.  The beauty was just beginning.

Along the narrow road which seemed to grow more narrow and closer to the drop-off with every meter,

with cars parked all along the road, 
(Some drivers had made more adequate provisions.)

and shops in the most unlikely places (Who on earth would come to the Amalfi coast to buy a potted palm?)
our driver never lost his cool.  

The views were spectacular!  Here are some of my favorites:

Even though we had choice seats on the bus, it was difficult to take pictures.  On several occasions I realized I had been so engrossed in the scenery I had forgotten to actually take the photograph.

As wonderful as the ride was, there were several more treats waiting in the town of Amalfi.

The ocean was having fits!  It had rained all night the night before with some fairly intense winds and the ocean was still upset.  
The parking lot on the sea wall was flooded and the hotel across the water provided a perfect back-drop for the crashing waves.  I just wasn't quite quick enough to catch the best ones, but these will give you an idea.

Sorry for including all three.  I just couldn't make a choice.
This wonderful fountain stands in the absolute middle of everything, but I never did learn any facts about it.  Perhaps that's the best kind of monument.
We had a splendid lunch at the Gran Caffe.
But the very best was Ana.  What a delight! She told me stories of her life:  a Fulbright scholarship to study biology in New York; world travel with the Italian ambassador including extensive travel in Mexico; a ten day bus tour of the United States from New York to San Francisco and back; and her life as a biologist in Rome.  

When she retired, she moved to Amalfi.  At eighty, she  lives alone and does all her own cleaning, cooking, and gardening; she still swims in the ocean every day, weather permitting; although she admits taking the bus back up the hill, she walks a half mile into town every afternoon for tea and cake; and every time she leaves her property she faces a staircase of many, many steps just to reach the road.  

She carries her tall frame with easy elegance; her eyes flash with humor and intelligence; and her smile could light up a small town.  

She travels to Naples several times a year to enjoy opera with friends and to Rome "because there is no other place in the world like Rome."  What a woman!  What an inspiration to all of us!

A walk around town . . .

. . . and it was time to face the crowd of people who were waiting for the bus back to Sorrento.  What a mob!  It was enough to put a person off travel forever.

As with most foul experiences, it quickly passed.  Soon we were back in Naples with a drink and a snack feeling much better about ourselves and the trip.  Upon reflection I can say with absolute certainty, "It is the most beautiful piece of coastline I have ever seen."