Published: February 10th 2011February 10th 2011
Ahh... Amalfi. And we thought driving into Sorrento was scary. Imaging hugging a winding mountain road with hairpin turns and cliffside drop-offs straight down to the sea below. We’re grateful to the generations of men who labored to build the rock walls which guard the edge of the roadway. We quickly learned that every half inch counts and folded in our side-view mirrors after a close encounter with an oncoming bus. The coast itself is beautiful. Breathtaking limestone cliffs, lush Mediterranean foliage, and the sporadic Saracen guard towers sprinkled in between offer an unparalleled sight.
The coastal town of Amalfi starts at the base of the cliffside. Our arrival time was perfect. We got to sample some of daily life in Amalfi as we walked uphill into the town. We were able to pay our respects at the resting place of St. Andrew the Apostle, and enjoyed our finest dishes of Neapolitan pizza to date. Joe was able to do some souvenir shopping and acquired only the finest porcelain bell that money could buy. “Souvenir” may not apply in this case however, as the shop owner insisted that all her works were handcrafted art - not souvenirs. During the transaction,
Joe struck up a conversation about New York and his Italian ancestry. The shop owner longed to visit New York and was honored that her bell would garnish Joe’s Christmas tree. As she put it, “When you look at the bell, think of the coast.”
Our next stop was Positano. Unlike Amalfi, our journey into town began at the top of the cliff. With only one road of motorized traffic leading into town, we parked on the peak and took the “side streets” (which actually means we hoofed it down narrow passageways of hundreds of tiny steps carving through the neighborhood). Positano’s beach is perhaps the best beach in the area, offering good food, excellent vistas and legitimate sand. Because of Positano’s limited vehicle access, even in the high tourist season it remains relatively secluded from commercial tourism and seems worthy of an overnight stay. As we sat on stone benches, with the sound of the Mediterranean southing our ears, we couldn’t help but feel this was a fitting end to our Italian excursion.