Friday, February 24, 2017

The Amalfi Coast

With no firm plans for the day, we drove along the dramatic Amalfi Coast (considered by many to be one of the "Wonders of the World") making stops in Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello.
Seaside in Positano
Much like our day in Pompeii yesterday, we took our breakfast at 8 am between strolls of the villa grounds.
Just us in this place
We were on the road just before 10am. The road traces the hills, making for lots of curves and captivating scenery.
Not long after we got to the coastal road, we found ourselves sitting for the road to be cleared of a recent rockslide.
We were on our way again about 10 minutes later, after they had reopened one of the lanes.

Positano
Before we even arrived in Positano, we picked up hints that they were a lemon-crazy town from the roadside vendors selling lemons larger than grapefruit.

We drove into this cliff side town, winding our way down and through the steep and narrow roads until we had to get out and walk, following the colorful pedestrian lanes to the gray pebble beach.
People were much smaller in the old days?

This is an asphalt road that has been patterned and painted!
We passed several stores selling lemon themed items (candy, soap, liquor, and pottery), and it seemed appropriate to get a bag of lemon drops to take in the local flavor. Very tart!

This stored smelled like lemon. Obviously.
Offering a Positano lemon drop at
the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta
The girls searched for sea glass among the pebbles on the beach while Kacey and I sat listening to the waves roll in.
Heave!

Searching for sea glass on Positano's pebble beach

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Many of the restaurants and hotels are still closed for the season (which ends some time in March), but many of them are actively undergoing renovation.

This reminded me of the Starbucks logo
There was a slight drizzle on way back to our car, probably the result of the low clouds above us colliding with the cliffs that surround us. There's also a nearby grotto you can visit during the tourist season when the boats are running.

On our way out of Positano, we stopped into a family run pottery place called the Ceramiche Casola. They had decorated tables that I thought were made like tiles using clay, but the tables are actually made from lava stone and we're demonstrably more resilient. They had photos of the tables buried in snow and an in-house demo where items were dropped on them. It's a very appealing idea, but unfortunately no patterns jumped out at us. It did remind us that we are still in the market for a nacho serving tray that can hold all the toppings separately.

Along to road to Amalfi, we stopped at a place that we hoped would be open for a bathroom break, but we had no luck in that regard. However, we did come face to face with a caravan of donkeys hauling stones up the stairs and our little one didn't pee her pants, so win-win?


Amalfi
We made it to Amalfi around 1:30pm, and stopped for lunch at a street-side cafe.
Pizza, ravioli, bruschetta and red wine
What would make it more Italian? Gelato. Fortunately, there were several gelato shops across the street from where we had lunch.
.A few other sights in the town include the Duomo and a fountain where water flows from a woman's nipples.
Duomo di Sant'Andrea Apostolo

Before leaving Amalfi, we strolled out on pier for a view of the town nestled into the cliffs.
If Amalfi took a selfie, it would look like this.


Ravello
We drove up the winding roads from Amalfi to Ravello, pulling in at 3:45pm. We walked around the town a bit, It's quite scenic in that "narrow, old-world alleys" kind of way.

Central Ravello

Is it a staircase or an alleyway?

RRR makes a cameo!
We eventually found our way to the Gardens of Villa Cimbrone. It's well done, with lots of statues scattered about the property. While I didn't get a picture of it, one of the best concepts was "Eve's grotto" that had a white marble statue tucked inside a shallow cave.
Entrance to Villa Cimbrone



The main path to the coastline

The view from the terrace

David and Goliath meet our little one.


After the villa, we headed back to the car. We busted the parking ticket by about 45 min, but no one seems to check these things. As our younger daughter struggled to stay focused on climbing into the car, I asked her sarcastically "How's it going on getting into the car?" Her reply made both adults laugh: "Not well." We started heading back to the hotel at 5:40pm.

The tunnel beckons
The drive back was mostly in the dark, and at one point we missed a turn between Positano and Amalfi because a tour bus was blocking the sign.
Amalfi Coast at night: Dark, curving roads
So, we ended up on a higher road that dropped off steeply to rejoin our original road, practically right where we had seen the donkey caravan earlier in the day. Then it started to rain.
We wanted the yellow line
We made it back to Sorrento in one piece, despite our GPS repeatedly freaking out on us by trying to recalculate around non-existent construction. Since we've had several similar experiences on previous trips where we got lost in the dark on winding mountain roads, we were actually glad to get into traffic because it meant we were headed the right way.

However, that mood changed as we tried to find a place to park and eat. You see, there was another car that literally scraped by us in a narrow alley, but there was fortunately no discernible damage. Right then and there, we decided to go back to the hotel to eat, making a stop at the grocery store for some Milano salami, cheese, hard rolls, and apples for dinner in our hotel room (with a shot of amaretto). Despite the minor difficulties at the end, this was another wonderful day.

Editor's note: I just discovered that I can convert my iPhone's Live Photos into stabilized, animated GIFs using Google's Motion Stills app. That's why there are so many on this page. 




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