Its Never Too Late For Italian Adventures

Dearest Lovers – Ive been fickle again with our Love Letters, letting drafts sit for months on the internet shelves without updating you on the Random adventures.  There’s been much ado in my life, but we’ll get to that later.  For now, I present to you the continuation of the Italian Adventure.
As the sun set on my time in Trieste, I boarded an overnight bus to the Milan airport to catch my flight to Naples to hit the Amalfi Coast, a bucket list item of mine for quite some time now. It would be a long travel day, with a 5 hour overnight bus, 2 hours in the terminal before a 90 minute flight, 50 minute ferry and 90 minute bus ride to reach my Amalfi Hills stay for the weekend. I got very little sleep on the first two legs of this travel, as the bus stopped frequently, my gate was right next to a foosball table, and my flight was too short for anything but a cat nap. Every book out there will tell you that willpower can be exhausted, and practice will tell you this is absolutely true, so when I landed in Naples, I scrapped my plans for public transport and rented a car for the next ten days…. I was tired of lugging my bags around between check outs and check ins, willing to pay the $40/day just for the luggage storage alone.
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New whip, who dis?
After securing my ride, I hit the highway headed towards the coast, deciding to make a quick stop in Pompeii now that my travel was squarely in my control. As I approached the archeological site, traffic began to back up massively, with parking lots full of busses to my left and right, clusters of tour groups following guides wielding flags, and I quickly decided my sleep deprived state could not handle this adventure, so I drove right on past… only to get stopped at a “road block” just a few hundred meters ahead. The male cops came to my window, immediately speaking English {how did they know}, asking me if I was traveling alone or with a “boyfriend”, and checking my documents. I couldn’t fathom why in the world I had gotten stopped, as it was impossible to speed through this human wrought area, and there had not been an opportunity for any sort of illegal motions… and then the officer returned. And hit on me. Unlike previous travel days and despite traveling overnight, I was in rather cleaned up shape, sporting the hair and makeup leftover from a date before my Trieste departure, but surely that wasn’t the reason I’d been pulled over, right? I was let off, no ticket, no warning (and no date for the inciting officer), and DL told me to take it as a compliment and move on. Eh, it was a confidence booster if nothing else.
I continue my drive into Amalfi, taking the coastal route with all the sweeping cliffside ocean views the area is so well known for. What no one tells you about is the traffic. City jams can last anywhere from 10-30 minutes, and my little Fiat AC is having trouble keeping up during these high noon stops. I eventually make it through Amalfi and up to my Hills area where I grab lunch before checking into my apartment. I grab a much wanted shower, grind out a few Friday afternoon meetings and emails before hitting the market. My apartment is about 10 minutes up into the hills from Amalfi proper, so I grab a couple of steaks and decide to cook for myself for the next few nights. The roads around here are nothing to mess with, parking is a bitch and I’m really just not in the mood.
After a good me night of a home cooked meal, laundry (which is really me washing my clothes in the sink as I haven’t seen a washing machine since week 4 in Sofia), and a Netflix original movie, I’m deciding my day as I sip tea on the grape trestle covered patio that overlooks the coast below. I decide to beach it down in Amalfi, but quickly get frustrated (once again) with the traffic and drive right on past and back up into the mountains, scrapping a beach day for mountain switchbacks and sweeping views. I cruise higher and higher, through villages that dot the mountains nestled between the two coasts, stopping in a village called Tramonti to grab a roadside Italian ice and take in the view of Pompeii, Vesuvius and Naples below. I skirt the western coast a bit before cutting back into the mountains close to Sorrento, headed back over to the Amalfi side. I end the day with another me night – steak, beer, and Dexter on Netflix. I guess sometimes solo travel really means solo, and I’m ok with that.
Sunday I check out of my apartment and realize my next check in is…. tomorrow. Whoops. I scramble to find single night accoms settling on a place on the tip of the coastal peninsula with fantastic views of Capri. I hit the road, winding through the rest of the Eastern Coast and stopping in Positano for some beach time and some lunch. I drop my bags at my new digs which does indeed have majestic views of Capri and head out for a little dinner. The tiny town I’m staying in has 2 restaurants, and the first one I try is full, however, an elderly gentleman in the front lets the host know that his wife and him have a table that seats 6, and they wouldn’t mind if I took one of the other four seats. After my initial protests which they refused to accept, I sat down with this couple, married 36 years here in the town of Termini. They insisted I share in their appetizers, tiny shrimps, local vegetables, a regional pasta specialty, as he showed me pictures of his boat, his home, their weeding, etc… I traded with pictures of my ancestors as well, and although they didn’t speak English and I certainly don’t speak Italian, we were able to get by, and even had help from a neighboring table.
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Positano from the water
My next stop was Sorrento, or more specifically Sant’Agnello, where I had a secured a hilltop villa overlooking Sorrento, Naples and Vesuvius. The villa did not disappoint, and I spent my time up there lounging by the pool, working from the gardens, and only descending into town to hit the local CrossFit gym. A couple days into my stay, the ACs arrived from the States, even with Aaron sporting 9 broken ribs and a Frankensteined collarbone. The next couple of days they patiently tolerated my late night meetings and calls between drinks, dinner and catching up. Thursday however, I took off work so we could adventure properly.
Aaron had secured us a driver and I was happy to give up the role for the day. The reality of driving the Amalfi coast is largely frustrating and includes horrible traffic, narrow, winding roads and mazes of one ways with no room for error – I have long since put driving after two drinks in the non starter column, but these roads bring that threshold down considerably. Needless to say, a day exploring the coast enjoyably means allowing someone else to drive.
We start in Termini, my previous accidental stop to take in the views of Capri before swinging around to Positano. A quick walk around to find a spot to have a few cocktails ends us at a hotel garden bar where we relax before heading to the beach. The beach is even more crowded than my previous visit, so we load back up and head to Amalfi itself. The stop and go traffic mixed with the twist and turns is not being good to Alissa, so we land at the pier and find a local spot to put her on solid ground for a bit with a glass of water. Once she’s appearing less green, we head to the docks to secure a boat, only to be told its impossible as it is too late in the day – but someone forgot to tell them that people rarely tell Aaron “no”. Within 20 minutes he had rented us a boat, sans skipper, and we are headed out for waterside coastal views with Aaron behind the helm – Aaron, with very little boating experience and an entire quadrant of his body practically out of commission. I am highly impressed at his handling of the situation, cruising up and down the coast in what seemed like an effortless fashion.  And he was absolutely right, the Amalfi Coast needs to be seen from the water.  Never not boat.
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From Amalfi we headed to Ravello, more specifically the Belmond Hotel Caruso, a suggestion from Dins and location of our dinner reservation. We ordered pre dinner cocktails before roaming the gardens and pools to take picture to capture the breathtaking scenery. We settle back in for apertivo while we wait for our seating, chatting with the piano man and surmising the situation of an intimate table for two set below our cocktail perch.  We’re escorted to dinner, which is beyond fantastic, and the wine flows as swiftly as the conversation, perfectly facilitating our naps as our chauffeur glides us back to Sorrento.

The next morning I’m off, 6 hours south down the coast to Amantea, where the Pino family name hails from, a cute town nested on the mountainous coast of Calabria.  If there were next chapters, they would include me getting my money’s worth out of a stay in an converted monastery, where the staff served me risotto in my room as I rode out a stress induced sickness, followed by a train ride to Sicily where I scootered around under the blue skies of Palermo for a week before heading back to Rome to fly to South Africa.  On this date, those adventures were four months ago, so I won’t be detailing them out in my usual fashion, as memory is not what it used to be. But do stay tuned, My Lovers. There is so much more to come.

Specifically Yours,

SR

Italy pics are up to date!  And in a new, easier to follow location specific album 🙂

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