On trying to appreciate the beauty of the Amalfi Coast when feeling like I’m about to die

The journey along the Amalfi coast from Sorrento is in equal parts terrifying and achingly beautiful.

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Ok, so I knew in the logical part of my brain that I probably wasn’t actually going to die.  But sometimes it felt like it.  As Jim & I journeyed from Sorrento to Amalfi, we discovered a road full of heart stopping hairpin bends as it hugs and grazes the side of the sheer cliffs along the coast.

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I don’t have any pictures of the actual journey because the bus driver was going to fast I couldn’t take any.  I’m quite a cautious driver.  I would have been crawling along those roads but as the traffic zipped along in both directions, it appeared that these drivers were either crazy or know the road inside out, or a bit of both.

We passed one tour bus that had reverse parked into a lay by with nothing but a drop off a cliff behind him.  I was so, so glad that we were not on that bus.

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Despite the nerves I was feeling on that bus journey, it was without doubt one of the most picturesque journeys I have ever taken.  You can check out my videos of the journey on You Tube here and here.

The bus from Sorrento to Amalfi also stopped in Positano, where a lot of the passengers disembarked.  Coming into Positano, there was a real buzz of excitement throughout the bus as Positano is one of the most photographed spots in the whole of Italy.  It is not hard to see why – the town should not be able to exist.  It is mind boggling to look at it built into the side of the cliff, with numerous steep staircases to ferry people up and down from the water’s edge.

We decided to stay on the bus and carry onto Amalfi.  Was it worth the terrifying bus journey?  Definitely.

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Amalfi is a very touristy town, but it is no wonder given the sublime views back along the coast.  It is hard to believe, but Amalfi used to be a very large and significant port town that formed an important gateway into Western Europe.  That is until a devastating earthquake in 1343 swept most of the city and its 70,000 inhabitants into the sea.

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It now has quite bustling town centre, full of gelaterias, cafes and little shops.  One thing that it is famous for is paper, and it had numerous paper mills and there are some paper makers who continue to use the traditional methods to this day.  I’m a bit of a notebook fanatic and I definitely would have loved to have taken back a handmade Amalfi notebook, but I knew I had not even an inch of space in my allowable hand luggage for our flight home.

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This was the only real day in our Italy break where we had no set agenda and we could really take it easy and relax.  Amalfi is not bursting with “sights” but it is a brilliant spot to relax.  We wandered along the main street, and through the little twisting alleys and whitewashed tunnels.  We ate ice cream.  We sat outside at a pavement cafe for lunch, soaking up the sun and watching the world go by.  This was the place where I had the best pizza of the whole holiday, and one of the cheapest – for €6, I got a slice of pizza that was so big it was the size of a whole pizza in the UK.

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We then headed to sunbathe on the stony beach for a while, before walking up the hill and out of town in the opposite direction to capture some more incredible views.

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One of my Italian travel priorities is to visit the Cinque Terra in northern Italy, and I think the Amalfi coast is probably similar to this.  The towns clinging to the cliffs seem to defy gravity and nature.  Around each hairpin bend awaits a new and stunning view.

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Here are my tips for visiting:-

1. Don’t drive

Even if you are very confident in your own abilities as a driver to navigate the twisting cliff roads safely, you will come across local people driving the roads who have no qualms about tailgating and overtaking, which would make for a very stressful driving experience.  Plus when driving you would not have the chance to really appreciate the views.

2. Don’t eat immediately before the journey

It was fine on the way out, but on the way back I did start to feel a bit sea sick with being flung from side to side and I was very, very aware of the pizza that I had eaten for lunch.

3. Don’t try to do too much in too short a time

We had planned to visit Ravello from Amalfi, as I had read a lot about how beautiful Ravello is and I did want to see it for myself.  We decided not to go and I think that was a wise decision, as the journey to Ravello would have involved a 3 hour round trip through more mountainous roads and we would have ended up spending pretty much the whole day on the bus rather than enjoying the charms of Amalfi.  If I went back, I would look at spending a couple of nights in Amalfi to make the journey to Ravello and enjoy it at my leisure.  Plus I bet those views would look just as stunning lit up by night…

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4 responses to “On trying to appreciate the beauty of the Amalfi Coast when feeling like I’m about to die

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