We got to pretty Amalfi in the afternoon and were very happy with our hotel. I had read a very bad review of the hotel, where someone said it was like an Italian Faulty Towers. It’s not for everyone and if you want four and five star then you have to pay a lot more for it. It was a three-star hotel with a five star view, a bit run down, a bit shabby with its nice, old Mediterranean wooden furniture, a lot of charm, in an amazing spot. We had sea-front rooms with balconies and loads of space. Breakfast wasn’t bad either - big selection of pastries and baked goods, some cheese and salami, good Italian coffee.
Amalfi is a small, one street town in the middle of the Amalfi coast at the bottom of a deep ravine, with a harbor in the front and the mountains in the back. It has an impressive church on the square. It used to be an independent republic and an important maritime power. In 1343 a tsunami destroyed the town and most of the town slid into the sea, except for the 11th
century cathedral. It wasn’t too crowded at the beginning
of May and had a real small town vibe. The shops are nice, I bought a few things, the prices are pretty good too. We spent an enjoyable afternoon wondering around the harbor and shops and walked to Atrani another pretty village not far from Amalfi with wonderful views of the coast along the way. In the evening we had a good meal at a restaurant on the water.
We only had one day left and we really wanted to go to Capri but that would mean we wouldn’t have time for anything else as rain was forecast for the following day. We decided to take the bus up to Ravelo in the hills, above Amalfi. The road winds up into the mountains, high above the sea, overlooking the ravine and the terraces. Ravello, at the top, up amongst the clouds is a wonderful old village to wonder around in. Although it only has 2,500 people today, it once had a population of 25,000 and many rich families who left a large number of palazzi as evidence of their passing.
We visited the gardens of Cimbrone. The wisteria was in full bloom above our heads and the bushes
were bursting with white roses as we walked to the Terrace of Infinity with dramatic views of the entire Amalfi coast. You would think that this would be impossible to top, but you would think wrong, our next stop was Villa Rufolo. At this point, our sons were well satiated with beautiful views and retired to the square to get a drink and watch the people and we continued on alone. The villa has beautiful flower gardens and there are more amazing views over the coast. Not too much to add, the photos speak for themselves.
In the afternoon we took a boat up the coast to Positano. It is a pretty, densely packed village that spills down the hillside onto a beach and the small lanes wind their way steeply uphill. It looked promising from the boat but once on land we didn’t like it so much. There were many tourists and also big groups of American teenagers. The little lanes were packed with people – mobs of people filled every available space. The little shops along the way were much more expensive than Amalfi. We bought some ice cream and returned to the pier to wait for
our return boat trip to Amalfi with plenty of time to spare and we were awfully glad that we were staying in Amalfi and not Positano, a stroke of luck really because the online descriptions say that Positano is more upmarket and expensive but similar -- not at all, Amalfi is much nicer.
It started raining later in the evening and kept it up for most of the following day which was a shame as we drove down the coast as far as Salerno but couldn’t see much through the rain. We stopped to buy some ceramics at Vietri Sul Mare and then drove on to Rome for our last two days.
In Rome we were all getting a bit tired of pasta and pizza so the first night we went to Eataly and had a very nice meal in the second floor restaurant but the next night we got a bit stuck. I read that Romans really only trust Italian food and pizza and pasta reign supreme. They eat gnocchi on Thursdays -- we arrived on Thursday and on our way to Naples that’s what we ate, we didn’t see it again for the rest of the
trip. Apart from Japanese restaurants, there are very few ethnic restaurants in Rome. There are only two Indian restaurants in the whole of Rome. I also read that the only other restaurants are trendy type places that are popular with the well-off and of course, the trendy, and that they are overpriced.
So we went to a place like that. My son was determined that we were going to eat healthy food on our last night in Rome. We didn’t really care. He tried to entice us with promises of vegetables and shakes and quinoa, and even though we weren’t terribly enthusiastic, we were up to a longish walk and we weren’t very hungry anyway. The décor was nice, clean and cool with lots of vegetables everywhere. As I suspected, the food was bland and boring and also expensive. Interestingly enough, in a place like that, they also had a meat section, and it looked a lot better than the healthy meals being served up. On the way home, we stopped at the Trevi Fountain. There was a lot less people than in the day time but was far from deserted. I read that if you go at midnight
you can have the place to yourself. Unfortunately, everybody else read that too.
Rome was big and impressive. The weather was coolish and we could walk a lot. There wasn’t much traffic for some reason and we walked and walked passing most of the main sites and when we got tired we took the hop-on hop-off bus. We did some shopping. Where we were staying up near the central station there were many small shops for men and women having sales at the end of the winter. So we did a bit of shopping, walked all over Rome and had a lot of fun. The boys rented Vespas and we didn’t see them all day and just met up in the evenings. Rome was by far their favorite destination.
I like Rome, I have visited a few times, once for a few weeks but it wasn’t my favorite destination of this trip. I liked Amalfi and Naples more. When I was a young traveller, I also preferred the big cities. Over the last few years I have been visiting places that I visited years ago and I am amazed – I passed through the most amazing scenery and
didn’t really register it – I just wanted to get to the cities where all the other young people were and have a good time. Of course, we had different conditions in those days and less money too. We backpacked, hitch hiked, rode public transport, stayed in hostels, did a lot of camping and most of our meals were from the supermarket. Later after I got married, we bought an old car in Amsterdam and drove down through France and Spain and then up to Scandinavia to visit friends and we did it on a budget of $20 a day, including petrol. So priorities have changed and I had a great time then but I am also having a good time now and prefer to go to the small scenic places and not so much to the big cities.
I hope I will be back. There is so much that I didn’t get to see. I finished Elena Ferrante’s four Neapolitan novels just before arriving in Italy, so I still want to spend some more time in Naples and also to visit Ischia. We have been visiting different parts of Italy over the last few years and
it looks like we haven’t finished yet. So “arrivederci” until next time Italy, as always, it’s been wonderful.
Tot: 3.459s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 19; qc: 71; dbt: 0.0528s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb