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Published: August 9th 2007
During my dinner conversation with John and Patty last night, they described their pleasurable bus ride back from Sorrento to Ravello. Apparently, the trip takes almost two hours, but the bus hugs the winding cliff roads and the views are supposed to be amazing for people who aren’t afraid of heights. For this reason, despite the fact that I already visited Sorrento during my one and only previous vacation to Italy, I was intrigued. After breakfast I waited at the Civita bus stop for the Ravello-Amalfi bus, and as I was waiting, Claudio drove past. He made a u-turn and took me down to the Amalfi port for free. Salerno was another option, but Claudio mentioned that most people go there for the shopping experience. Since I wasn’t in the mood for shopping, once I said ciao to Claudio I went straight to the ticket office and purchased a one-way ferry ticket to Sorrento. I couldn’t ever tire of the Amalfi Coastline views, so I sat up on the top again. The boat was fairly empty, but it did make one stop in Positano, where more customers boarded. The ride took 1.5 hours, but it went by quickly and I was
able to see more of the coast line beyond the Amalfi region. As the ferry approached the main Sorrento port, I could see countless boats, yachts, and cruise ships surrounding the marina.
The main town of Sorrento sits atop a 150-foot cliff, which for whatever reason I did not recall from my previous visit. There are two main harbors, and we were dropped off at the Marina Piccola, the smaller of the two. The familiar sight of colorful umbrellas and thousands of tourists came into view on the opposite side of the harbor. Getting my bearings after asking some local restaurant waiters, I walked up the stairs that led to Piazza San Antonio. I located the Tourist Information Center and obtained the two most critical pieces of information for any visit to a new town: a detailed street map and a seafood restaurant recommendation. I easily found the recommended il Leone Rosso Ristorante Pizzeria off the main road of Corso Italia on Via Marziale. A half-bottle of vino blanco, lobster linguine, and a complimentary apertivo were the perfect combination. I spent the next hour or so walking around the town, passing the old mill ruins, the main shopping district, the
Basilica of Sant’ Antonio, and the Church & Cloister of St. Francis. Down below, the Marina San Francesco views of the colorful umbrellas and tourists frolicking in the water made a convincing argument. I found my way down to the less populated Marina Grande and stumbled upon a perfect spot. I bought a cold bottle of water and a beach towel at one of the local shops, and was ready to relax on the beach. I read for a while until I fell sleep, just in time for my daily siesta.
I woke up in time to walk all the way back down to the Marina Piccola, where I thought the SITA bus terminal was located. Well, I was wrong and had to take a local bus back up to the top of the hill, and almost missed the bus back to Amalfi. Securing a window seat on the right side, I was ready for the 1.5 hour winding ride back to Ravello. Driving any vehicle, let along a big bus, through the snaking roads on the Amalfi Coast takes tremendous skill and patience. Along many of the stretches, there is not enough room for both a bus and a
car to be side-by-side going in opposite directions. The bus driver will honk (and flash the lights at night) as signals to the opposing drivers to take note that a SITA bus is heading in their direction. Most of the time the car drivers will wait at a large enough spot on the road for the bus to pass, before they proceed any further. However, when the other driver fails to hear the horn or just completely disregards it, a type of negotiation then takes place. Due to its size alone, the bus usually wins and the opposing car has to reverse until the bus is able to pass it. Surprisingly enough, I find this game quite interesting and entertaining to watch. It makes me wonder how there aren’t more head-on collisions, but I’ve come to realize that this is a way of life for the people on the Amalfi Coast. It’s really just another day on the road for them. For that reason, I wouldn’t suggest for any tourist who is unfamiliar with this driving game, to rent a car while vacationing here. Leave it to the professionals!
Although my initial plan was to take the bus ride all
the way back to Amalfi, I decided to get off at Praiano so that I could get a small taste of this quaint town. The duomo is located down the main stairs that also eventually leads to the main spiaggia (beach). I walked in the church and noticed that people were preparing the courtyard for some kind of event. As I exited I followed the many signs indicating “Alla Spiaggia” translated “To the Beach”. The walk down was steeper and included many more stairs that I thought it would. Along the way, I saw beautifully terraced cliffs and many homes that faced the water. Everyone was walking up from a long day at the beach, and I was the only one walking down towards the beach. It was still light out even though it was already 8pm. Once down at the beach, music was blasting at one of the beachfront restaurants, but there were no tourists in sight. I took a bunch of pictures and then headed up for a nice 20-minute hike up the steep stairs. I caught the bus back to Amalfi and was still too full to eat dinner, so I started my way up the hill
to Atrani and to the stairs leading to Civita.
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