There it is!… Is it real?
Nah, it can’t be… are you sure?
Yes, silly, you bought the ticket yourself!
I know that, but… wow, is this really happening?
This was the weird conversation going on inside my head as the bus was making its way to Amalfi Town. A few more seconds, and everything sunk in. This is it. This is the realization of a life-long whimsy. I am being whisked away on a drive along the Amalfi Coast. You know when people say they had to pinch themselves? Yes, I had to do that too.
The sharp cliff drops along the narrow highway are actually more bewitching than terrifying. (Then again, that might just be because of the years of training I’ve had with the suicidal bus drivers from my home country.) As our bus zigzagged through every corner, a new scenery unfolded. Hillside houses and hanging gardens revealed themselves, and the long glistening coast seemed to never end. It was hard not to gawk.
The bus dropped us off at the town plaza of Amalfi, and I settled on the lone hostel I could find — A Scalinatella in Atrani, about 10 minutes away from Amalfi town proper. It was precious. Their backpacker dorm was actually more like a family room, with two twin beds and a bunk bed, fit for four. It was there that I met Gosia, a Polish student with a soul built for adventure too. We started to swap stories of where we’ve been, what we were looking forward to, and pretty soon, we already had our grand plans laid out for exploring the coast the next day!
Day One kicked off pretty early for us, as we headed for a morning hike up from Atrani to Ravello, a town that crowns Amalfi’s mountain, overlooking the rest of the coast. Clouds were taunting us from the start, but we had enough sunshine in our spirits to light the region of Campania for the whole weekend. On the way up, I started to realize why the town sold so much limoncello — we passed countless vineyards of lemons, one after another! We plodded through, marching to the song of a gentle brook gurgling along the ravines.
Minutes later, I felt a few heavy drops on my face, contemplated a bit, and then finally asked Gosia, “Is that hail?”. You’d think it’d spoil the hike, but it was actually fascinating to see hail falling, while in the distance you can view the cheery beach, lemon vines and sunshine all around.
Good thing that the skies cleared once we finally arrived at Ravello. The breathtaking vistas and serene terrace gardens were ample reward for the hike up, definitely.
We explored the town a bit more, before finally starting out for the next coastal town. Now, a perfectly sane person would take the bus from Amalfi Town to Positano. But then again, we were at Amalfi to carpe the heck out of this diem; we decided to make our way there by literally walking along the Amalfi highway! There were a few scary encounters, surely, as I pressed myself against the low barricade for every wide bus that rushed by the narrow lanes. But miraculously, we survived, and the picturesque vistas made the stunt worth it.
We must have walked for a good two hours, when I saw a sign that made me blink: ‘Positano – 16 km’. After agreeing that we already had a good feel of the Amalfi roadside experience, we decided to park ourselves at a cafe, catch our breath over a good cup of expresso, and wait to catch the next bus to Positano. Of course, all after a quick stop at the Emerald Grotto.
Now, we found something that the guide books left out: from Positano, it can be challenging to catch the bus back to Amalfi town, as the stop is halfway from the Sorrento-Amalfi-Salerno route and the buses are almost always full. Also, you must know that the Italian transit system in general has a very loose definition of ETA and ETD, with the waiting time varying from 10 minutes to an hour. But then again, with gelato, limoncello and impeccable cappucino so readily available, it’s a bit hard to complain. Soak in the views to keep yourself busy while waiting for the ride home, I’d recommend.
Night came upon us, and our jam-packed day left us exhausted but in high spirits as we made it back to our hostel. I was so happy that our place was not right smack in the middle to the bustling town plaza, and was instead in the easy fringe of Atrani. It was a normal Sunday night for the locals, I observed as I sipped at my nightcap from a table at the town’s tiny square. A young girl clad in a flowing white garb must have been celebrating her first communion that day, as her whole clan got together and caught up over aperitif at the restaurant across. The children played football, while the elders looked on, smiled and resumed their chatting. So, this is La Dolce Vita.
Want more photos? Then hop over here: 2013-05 Amalfi Picasa Album