Monday, July 11, 2011

Amalfi Coast

Saturday was the day for our drive around the Amalfi coast.  Our driver arrived bright and early and we set off in his Mercedes.  The views along the coast really justify all the hype that has been written about them.  The roads weren’t as narrow or the corners as sharp as I’d thought from the description.  They were certainly nowhere near as narrow or sharp as the road up Mt Vesuvius.  A few stops were made to admire the view before we got to Positano. 

It’s really unbelievable the way the houses climb up the steep hillsides.  We were dropped near the start of the pedestrian area of Positano to walk down to the waterfront and explore the narrow street lined with shops.  We went into a church famous for its painting of a black Madonna and otherwise just explored until it was time to meet our driver again.  Next was a stop at a ceramic factory where we saw lots of hand painted plates, jugs, bowls, platters, planters, urns and so on.  Unfortunately although they said they would ship anywhere in the world, they were only interested in doing so for the large, expensive pieces.  As an example, the urns ranged between 600 and €1350.  Much as I liked them, I wasn’t paying that much.
Across the road from this ceramic “factory” (more like a shop to me – I never saw any signs of manufacture) was the lift down to the Emerald Grotto.  I was really pleased that we were getting the chance to see the Emerald Grotto, as I was very disappointed that we weren’t going to Capri to see the Blue Grotto there.  When the lift opened down at sea level it was noticeably cooler – at least 15⁰ at my estimate.  We went into the cave and were loaded into a boat with lots of Japanese tourists.  The “guide” then rowed the boat into the middle of the lake telling us about the cave and its lake.  Near an underwater entrance to the cave the water was a very different colour.  I would have described it as an aqua blue.  When he got the boat into a particular point in the middle of the lake he started splashing his oar and the drops of water landing back in the lake were definitely an emerald colour.
Next stop was Amalfi  where we walked into an alley which suddenly opened up into a Piazza with the most incredible church on one side.  There was a campanile (bell tower) with a multi-coloured ceramic tiled roof.  The church itself appeared sort of striped, with a mosaic on the pediment above the entrance.  We had a drink and an ice-cream in a café on the edge of the Piazza so we could sit and enjoy the view of the magnificent church.

Final stop was Ravello, where we opted for a wine tasting.  It wasn’t forced on us, and we could have refused, but thought it would be a good idea.  And it was – until we were told the price of the wines!   Unthinkable by Australian standards.  We did buy one bottle of after-dinner wine.  Very expensive, but very different to anything I have tasted back home.
After all that wine tasting we were noticeably quieter (and tireder) on the return journey to our hotel.

1 comment:

  1. Amalfi looks pretty and a driver sounds like a great of the reasons we've never been there I guess.