After 24 hours in Capri, we took the ferry back to Sorrento after lunchtime. We had the afternoon to drive the sinuous road of the Amalfi Coast and reach Salerno, where we had booked accommodation. Yes, our location change is as fast as the one in a James Bond movie.
Failing at the Positano Instagram game
The first notable spot on the road was to be Positano. If you are at all on Instagram, you know this place rivals Santorini as THE best place to get your model shots (in fact, there’s even an IG account which is named after both places). However, we soon realized there wouldn’t be much of a stop. We drove through the one-way town and didn’t find any parking whatsoever. The only (private) parking seemed to be for hotels. Gone were our dreams of being cookie-cutter Instagram babes…
However, HAD we stopped, our photo would have looked something like this:
So onwards we went to Praiano. Same story, no parking. So I drove up in the wrong direction on a hilly one-way street and parked there. I went down to the church square to shoot some nice photos, as blasé Jarelle stayed in the car:
Fast and Furious to Furore
The next town would prove to be more of a success. Furore is not well defined on Google Maps, but I did know they have a famous bridge where they used to have the Diving World Championships. Well, we didn’t find that elusive bridge, but we did find a nice cove and beach, which was full of locals chilling on lounge chairs. This cove was truly beautiful:
We walked around a bend (under the cliff) and Jarelle took the opportunity for a dip.
We found some teenagers and I shop some footage of Jarelle doing pushups with them. Their form was truly awful, but how can we blame them? They’re a bunch of 15-year-old boys living in a quiet seaside town, eating pizza and gelato all day… (At least that’s what I would do if I were them).
Winning the Cultural Game in Ravello
The last town we would stop at was also the best: Ravello. It is undoubtedly the Amalfi Coast’s best-kept secret. Travel Noire (a company I admire after I saw a Google Talk by their founder) makes it the base of their Amalfi Coast experience, and I could understand why. It probably doesn’t get as many tourists because it isn’t next to a beach. Quite the contrary, you have to drive for what seems like an eternity up the mountain. At that elevation, it made total sense that Ravello was founded as a shelter against the barbarian invasions which ended the Roman Empire, in the 5th century AD.
This is the most charming of mountain towns, full of history. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was an important regional center for local nobility and merchants. It has always been a favored destination of artists, musicians and writers.
We walked through the whole town to the Villa Cimbrone, a hotel & restaurant, but mostly a stunning example of Romantic architecture and landscaping which stands on a rocky outcrop overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. While built in the 11th century, it didn’t gain its current splendor until 1904, when Lord Grimthorpe, an English banker, bought the villa from its Italian owners. Enlisting the help of a local builder, he considerably expanded and improved the villa, adding battlements, terraces and cloisters, in an elegant mix of Gothic, Moorish and Venetian architecture styles.
He resigned the gardens in the English style. It’s the type of gardens that, if I were to spend a month in Ravello, I would come to every afternoon to relax and read a book.
As we walked through the gardens in amazement, we reached the highlight: the famous Terrazzo dell’Infinito (Terrace of Infinity) with an amazing view of the coast and sea.
There are more things to see in Ravello, such as the Villa Rufolo and the Auditorium Oscar Nemeyer, but we unfortunately didn’t have enough time.
Satisfied by this lovely visit which somewhat made up for our earlier failures, we finished our Amalfi trip by driving to Vietri Sul Mare for dinner. This town more or less marks the end of the Amalfi Coast, and as we arrived in the evening, it was devoid of all the sun-searching tourists who come during the day. We had a nice seafood dinner, then drove to Salerno. After getting lost on the highway interchange for an hour, we finally made it to our bed & breakfast, a typical Italian home with old tapestry and Christian paintings everywhere, (wo)manned by an energetic grandma.
The following morning we drove the 45 minutes to the Naples Airport, as we bid farewell to Italy.