Amalfi, Campania, Italy, Friday, October 5, 2012

Beautiful Coast

Today we have a long travel day as we leave the Tuscany and Umbria area for the Amalfi coast. We start out by walking to the bus stop I scouted out which is close to the BNB. The funicular to the train station does not open until 0720 and our train is at 0730 so we found this alternate way down. The bus leaves at 0650 and arrives on time. It is only us and another young couple that gets the ride down to the train station. They are from South Carolina and touring a few weeks, next stop Rome. We are also going to Rome but then we change trains to Naples or as the Italians call it Napoli. I do not know why we do not call the towns by their Italian names but on the schedules they are different than we know them so you need to be aware of that. For example, Rome is Roma, Naples, Napoli, Padua, Padova, Florence, Firenze, and so on. It is weird and would be like us calling New York, New York but the rest of the world calling it Nuovo Yankee. Anyway, I digress. We make our train with no problem and get our assigned seats. It is weird after all the local trains we have taken to actually have seats assigned. We also have assigned seats on the fast train from Rome to Napoli. Everything goes pretty smoothly. In Naples, we have to take the local train line to Sorrento. There is a long line to buy tickets and we just miss the 1041 train. What can we do. Buy a couple of snacks for lunch. One is a slice of spinach and ricotta pie which is excellent and the other a fried calzone with ham and cheese also good but not as good as the pie. Carol gets all the good stuff while Charlie suffers through his calzone. The train arrives at 1111 and it is jam packed so we start out standing. A man offers an older lady his seat but she tells Carol to take it since she has a big backpack. I talk to the lady and she is from Canada and touring for a while with her friend. After a few stops some seats open up and we each find a seat apart from each other. I talk to two sisters who are going to Sorrento as a day trip from a cruise ship docked in Naples. One lives in Canada and the other in Upstate New York near Rochester and Cortland where my niece goes to school. Their husband and significant other have been left behind as they have fun. We exchange info with them and also another person that is on their cruise, Wayne From San Francisco. The train is an hour and 10 minute ride to Sorrento but goes by fast due to the fun conversation. It is also quite entertaining as musicians of all sorts get on and off playing some songs and begging for money. We have accordion, guitar, bongo, and tambourine players. I wonder how the locals that have to use this train everyday feel about this. We get to Sorrento at 1225 but our journey is not over. We have to ride the infamous bus to Amalfi along the coast. We buy our tickets and wait for the 1300 bus.
The bus arrives and we board sitting on the right side for maximum views of the coast and the drop off. The road is famous as it is narrow and windy way above the see. It hugs the edge of the cliffs and on the curves there is often not enough room for two vehicles especially when they are buses. We wind our way above Sorrento and it is not too bad. Then we start the true coastal journey.

The Road to Amalfi

It is rather scenic with the water below and really not as scary as they make it out to be. Maybe it is because the summer traffic is gone or maybe we have become immune to crazy bus drivers and narrow roads on our trip. It is not a fast ride with all the curves and the bus honking its loud old fashioned sounding horn at every blind curve it encounters. We reach Positano, the first major destination and about a quarter of the bus empties out. Onward we go along this engineering marvel road and the only time I am a tad concerned is when we have to pass another bus on a curve with room for only one of us. Our bus driver backs up and I can look down at the two foot concrete barrier and the thousand foot drop beneath it. We are literally only inches away from it backing up and I am sure it will not stop the bus from plummeting should we hit it. All is well as we do not test the strength of the barrier and the other bus squeezes by.

Coming Into Amalfi

We make it to Amalfi in a mere two hours on the 90 minute scheduled drive. Getting off the bus, we are plunged into a hectic area of buses, tourists, and the main highway through here full of cars and motorcycles. I stop in the bus information office to look into buses that go to the town of Bomerano where we may do a hike tomorrow. After that we set out to find the Hotel Amalfi where we are supposed to meet our contact for our room 3 hours from now. We go to the desk and they tell us Mr. Lucinello is not here but there is a note that our apartment has a plumbing problem so will not be ready until tomorrow and we can stay in the hotel tonight. It is Italy and we are in Amalfi so I practice my attitude check and just accept things as they are. The good thing is we do not have to hang out with our full packs for three more hours.

Night on the Waterfront

We just relax for few hours and then go out to check out the town and find a place to eat. There is basically one main drag in town and then everything else is little alleys and such most with stairs climbing to who knows where. We get the lay of the land and settle on a place to eat. We share two pastas, spaghetti carbonara and pasta with eggplant and smoked mozzarella. Carol does not like the carbonara so mostly we eat one dish. The food is good and we are sitting in a little square watching Italian life happen all around us. Afterwards we take a little walk along the waterfront where the locals are doing their passagieta. Returning to our room, we decide that we will forego the hike we planned here as Carol is still not 100% and we seem to just want to relax and enjoy the time we have left in Italy. That means we can sleep in which is a welcome thing. Arriverderci and Buona Notte.
“If you are going through hell, keep going” – Winston Churchill

2E- 2 bus tickets from Orvieto to the train station
76E- 2 train tickets Orvieto to Naples, Orvieto to Rome 18E, Rome to Napoli 58E
8E- 2 train tickets from Naples to Sorrento
3.50E- spinach Ricotta pie, ham calzone for lunch
14.40E- 2 bus tickets from Sorrento to Amalfi
31E-Bruschetta, pasta with zucchini and smoked mozzarella, spaghetti carbonara, bottle of water, 2E- Coperto at L’Abside
10E- 2 gelato
66E- Hotel Amalfi

Miles Walked -3 Miles