The coast is clear

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August 4th 2011
Published: June 13th 2017
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DAY THREE (8/4)—Amalfi Coast

The coast is clear!

The most appealing part of the Tauck "Classic Italy" itinerary, the one thing that attracted me most to this tour, was the time devoted to the Amalfi Coast. And despite very high expectations about how beautiful this part of the world is, I was not disappointed. The drive was right up there with one of the most beautiful we have ever taken – the 17-mile drive at Pebble Beach.

After an elaborate breakfast in the hotel dining room, and some beautiful photos on the terrace overlooking at the Mediterranean, we boarded our bus and headed south along the coast. Not only was it exquisitely beautiful, it was horrifyingly challenging. Our driver deserved every Euro he made (he drives it three times a week!).

Don't ever consider making this drive yourself. The road is very narrow and very winding and there are very strict rules that apparently only the Italians know about maneuvering among the cars and making the turns. We were seated in the first row behind the driver and got to see first hand the number of close calls, the intimidation culture and the people who take their lives in their hands. In particular,
Heading to the Amalfi CoastHeading to the Amalfi CoastHeading to the Amalfi Coast

Patty & Doug Halverson, Jeanne & Ken Kephart, PJA
the motor scooter drivers seem to have no fear – Len called them “organ donors.”

Despite this, the day was a rainbow of experiences. Multi-colored waters, 100-year-old bougainvilleas vining everywhere, pretty fishing villages. It was all just breathtaking. Literally.

Our first stop was a scenic overlook south of Sorrento where the bus stops right in the middle of the road and allows us 10 minutes to shoot photos of waters that range from navy blue to pale aqua. The blue provides a backdrop for the cliffs, the three islands and a small fishing cove with intriguing rocks and lovely splashing waters.

Back on the bus and south to Positano. Just before that, we stopped at what our guide called “Drive-by fruiting” … roadside stands that sell fresh produce. Lemons, of course, melons, peaches, tomatoes, peppers, and packets of spices for pasta and bruschetta. The overlook provided a perch above the jet-set town of Positano, as it clambers down to the sea. At the same time that we captured photos of all the homes that fill the hillside, we took in a magnificent array of bougainvillea colors and many of the tall thin cypress trees that Italy is so famous for.

Our next stop was
Breakfast, Australian styleBreakfast, Australian styleBreakfast, Australian style

Matthew Dawson, Violet Bedelis, from Australia
Amalfi, a pretty town with a distinctive bell tower and the Duomo, with its 13-century façade. Located on the Bay of Salerno, it was a maritime powerhouse centuries ago. There were restaurants and shops everywhere. Limoncello, Italy's famous lemon liqueur was available in abundance. I bought a bag of lemon-shaped soaps that smell divine.

Onward to Ravello, the southernmost tip of our itinerary. The views here are unmatched. The photos from the perches at Villa Rufolo are quite famous. The deep blues of the sea, the Italian Stone Pine trees and the bougainvillea all dance together to create a magnificent ballet. Definitely one of the prettiest places I've seen.

We lunched at Cumpa Cosino in Ravello; it was yummy, yummy, yummy. Three types of antipasto, followed by three pastas, then chicken, green beans and potato puff. Toni Refowich celebrated a birthday so she was presented with a strawberry trifle cake with a Roman candle sparkling on top.

The bus company had trouble this morning with the air conditioning, so they provided wine at lunch as compensation. And Netta, the famous restaurant owner, offered up dessert champagne with the birthday cake. So there were many mellow travelers by the time we reboarded the bus for our drive back north. Tour buses can only go south along the coast, so we took a winding interior road north, with many hairpin curves, almost all of which overlook a sprawling Napoli.

Back at the hotel, Len took us on a one-hour walking tour of Sorrento. He introduced us to all the things Campania (the Naples region) is so famous for: lemons, cameos, intarsia (wood laying) and Capodimonte porcelain. We finished our tour with gelato from Len's favorite spot: David's in Sorrento.

We had dinner with Doug and Patty Halvorsen of Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately, they had arrived on Monday but it was three days later and their luggage had not. They had acquired new duds but were still unhappy with the situation. I know I would be too.

We dined at La Lanterna in Sorrento, which Len recommended. We ordered the traditional pizza of Naples (created here to feed the fisherman when they dropped off their day's catch). The classic is the Margherita … tomato sauce, mozzarella and fresh basil. Yummy. We each had a first course; mine was cannelloni which was truly underwhelming. No one else was thrilled with theirs either. Not bad, but just nothing I would recommend.

We returned to the hotel to find a classical guitarist/singer performing on the terrace. We enjoyed his music through midnight from the open doors of our balcony. Fireworks once again, only this time, just a few, coming from the yachts below our window.

Note about the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria:

- Magnificent view overlooking Mount Vesuvius/Naples Bay

· 100+ hotel rooms, with many services.

· Below average air conditioning.

· WiFi in room

· Refrigerator/mini bar in room.

· Centrally located on Piazza Tasso

· Very good food

· Plumbing crisis but hotel recovered quickly

· Lovely room with antiques but not good bed

· Safe in room

Additional photos below
Photos: 44, Displayed: 25


5th August 2011

Viva Amalfi! Don't you love the way they plant something for every layer from vines on the ground to trees in the same small beds? Reminds me of the animals in Africa that have evolved to eat at every level--so very thrifty with the res
ources and so beautiful to view... Enjoy!
5th August 2011

Great pictures and great narrative! Thanks for sharing.

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