Saturday, 15 May 2010

Lemon Scented Amalfi

Ahhhh… Amalfi.   Lemon scented, turquoise water, whitewashed buildings, crazy amounts of tourists, stunning Amalfi.     I have always dreamed of visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy.    Dream finally came true last Monday.


I have visited the coast on prior trips to Italy.   Once to Cinque Terre and most recently to Capri.   Fell in love both times.   There is no scenery quite like it.   There is also an uplifting feeling of light in the air.   Tough to explain in words, but everything just feels lighter and crisper, even in the intensity of summer heat.   Almost lemon scented. 

The trip to Amalfi was a little gift to myself.   I needed to see the water and feel the air again.

There were a total of eight of us heading to Amalfi for the day, including our driver.     Another very full day.   Starting at 6:30 in the morning and ending somewhere around 8:30pm.   Our itinerary included stops in Amalfi, Positano and Pompeii.   Since there is so much packed into this, I will be splitting this post into two.   The first focusing on Amalfi Coast and the second on Pompeii.   Both were equally stunning but uniquely different.

I was travelling with a fantastic group!   Terrific to be with a smaller number of people as you actually get a chance to get to know each other.    We had a lovely family from Maryland and a wonderful couple from Alaska.   In addition to our flirtatiously funny driver Max who kept us entertained with his random comments and crazy driving.

Max picked me up outside my flat somewhere before 7.   We gathered the rest of our party and then took the two plus hour drive down to Naples and then on to the coast.   Arriving in Naples, the traffic and smog picked up and we could see Mt. Vesuvias in the background.    We rapidly left the city behind and started a winding road up the mountain overlooking the Bay of Naples, the city and mountains.    


Our journey would bring us over the mountain and down the other side until we reached the Amalfi Coast.   I have never felt so sick in my life.   Honestly.   But the dramatic views were well worth the car sickness.    We stopped on the peak of the mountain to view the scenery before descending again on the other side.   There was the cutest man up there selling fresh fruits at the stop.    He was selling the biggest lemons I have ever seen.    This was a trend that would continue for the rest of the day.   Actually, I think they are not technically lemons, but this is easiest way to describe. 





Leaving the overlook, we drove through a very large group of mountain goats.   Well, drove around them.     Winding back down through fields of chestnut trees and groves of lemons and oranges, we made our way through Ravello, high on the hillside.    From Ravello, we stopped in Amalfi which sits directly on the coastline.     Everything is built on cliffs, one on top of the other.   Light and bright.   Air filled again with lemons and the streets with people.    The water was a sparkling shade of turquoise.   Perfectly flat and calm and you could see the coastal islands from the shore.  







We had an hour to explore independently in Amalfi.   I found the town, while beautiful, to be a little too touristy for me.   The street front was filled with large tourist buses and the town with lots of semi-tacky little souveneir shops.    The main square had a beautiful church sitting at the top of stairs overlooking the town.   I had  a wonderful time exploring and photographing the coast line and wandering up and down the little side streets before we were on our way again to Positano.











Driving the Amalfi coastline is one of those life experiences that you will always remember.    Hair pin turns around roads set high on cliffs over the water.    Surrounded by homes clinging to rocky mountain sides.   Winding, twisting roads with zero visibility making you so incredibly grateful for your experienced driver.   I thought driving in Rome was bad.    Thank you Max for keeping us alive.   There were moments we doubted you, but you took good care of us.

Stopped in Positano for lunch and exploring.  I really liked this town.    Still on the coast, built into the cliffs.    We had lunch under a vine covered restaurant right on the sandy beach.     To get there, we walked down the hill through tiny streets filled with shops.   Touristy but yet quaint.  Very relaxing lunch with new friends.   Wine, pasta and a limoncello finale.    Post lunch, spent some time wandering around before heading back for the drive to Pompeii.













A wonderful first part of the day.   Filled with sun, water, light and new friends!    Couldn’t ask for a better morning, other than the car sickness, it was a perfect introduction to the Amalfi coast.    I would definitely like to spend more time here if I have another opportunity.  We have been considering this area as a potential location for our upcoming small wedding.     Happy to say it is still in the running.   

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Lemon Scented Amalfi
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