Day 11- The Amalfi Coast

Following the night train, we woke up in Salerno, Italy, which is a major transportation hub for southern Italy. It used to not be a very nice place, but the citizens there have made a good effort to clean it up. We went for a walk by the sea and ate our breakfast, then bought bus tickets up the coast, first to Amalfi. I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.

The Amalfi coast kind of reminds me of Big Sur in California. There are sheer cliff faces, winding roads, and beautiful views. The difference is that for some reason, Italians decided to make the road miniature sized. In some areas, the road is only wide enough for one way traffic, but they do not control it in any way. Also, the curves are much curvier than Highway 1. So, here we are on a charter sized bus, going on this very winding road with cliffs on one side and sheer rock faces on the other. The bus driver alerted drivers coming the other way by honking his horn as he careened around corners. I felt like this guy should get a standing ovation at the end of the ride, he was that skilled at his job. Finally, after a harrowing hour long bus ride to go 30ish kilometers, we stepped off in Amalfi. Amalfi is very pretty and fairly small. We found the Duomo right away, as it is just a few steps up the town (all of the towns on the coast are kind of built into the cliff face. I’m not really sure how they managed to do that, but they did). The Duomo was very ornate and beautiful, which is kind of surprising due to how hard it must have been to acquire building materials. By this time, we were also hungry for a mid-morning snack. We stopped by a grocery store to gather fruit juice and cookies, the fruit store (where I learned I should NEVER touch fruit- only the fruit seller touches the fruit), and a famous pastry shop. After collecting all of our foods, we headed down to the boat docks/piers to eat our 2nd breakfast. The beach here was really small and rocky and Austin kept asking me if I wanted to stay here and go to the beach. I knew from the guidebook that Positano was better, and I didn’t want to do a busride in a wet swimsuit, so we just ate breakfast. On our way back to the bus stop, Austin stopped to throw something away, and I was intrigued by these guys pulling something out of the back of their truck. I thought it was fish and wanted to see what it was, so I just stood there staring at them. Turns out, it was very fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese. When they saw the poor pregnant lady staring at them, the guys that were getting the cheese out cut a ball in half and gave half to me and half to Austin. Austin ended up eating most of both of them because he loves fresh buffalo mozzarella, and I don’t as much. Austin commented that it was a perfect cap on our 2nd breakfast 🙂
Positano from the top of the hill… we went to the beach
down there

Next bus ride, very much like the first, took us from Amalfi to Positano. The bus let us off at the top of the cliff, and it gave us great views of the town and the sea. We had to hike down for 15-20 minutes in order to reach the beach, through narrow roads and past lots of cute little shops. Positano is known for being fairly expensive, and the art galleries and clothing boutiques convinced me of that. We headed down to the public beach (in Italy, the beaches are divided up into sections. You have to pay to get on the private beach, but you also get a beach chair and umbrella. We’re too cheap for such things). I was excited to get into the water, even though there were very few waves (I’m convinced there aren’t really very many waves in the sea). Austin and I went down to the water and took awhile to get used to the temperature (it was probably around 70… but it still felt cold after the warmth of the outside air). I stayed in for quite awhile, floating around happily in one of the prettiest places I have ever been. It felt so good to get in the water, especially to unweight my body from my growing belly and get off of my feet for awhile. We stayed for quite awhile on the beach, people watching and dipping in the water when we got too hot. 

Me being a whale floating out in the water

In sum, Positano was impossible to describe adequately in words- except to say it is one of the prettiest places I have ever been. We sent postcards of Positano because their pictures are a little cooler than the ones we could take with our camera. The bus ride to Sorrento was like a tour bus ride, taking us high up into the mountains before dropping down a bit into the town. Once in Sorrento, we decided to explore the town a little and get a snack. As far as we could tell, the town was really cool, and had lots of cute little shops. We tried to go to a church, but it was closed. Sorrento is built pretty high up on the cliffs overlooking the northern side of the peninsula. It is a bigger city than the other small ones we visited during the day, but still had the small town charm. I guess some of the main things that come from Sorrento area is lemon stuff (the cliffs surrounding are covered with lemon trees), including limoncello (lemon liqueur) and painted ceramic dishes and such. Austin and I have not agreed to buy anything until later on in our trip, otherwise I was tempted by some of the paintings, dishes, and cute lemon things they had on sale.

View from the balcony at Casa Suzy
After a short jaunt through town, we decided to walk to our bed and breakfast. This ended up being a longer, hotter hike than we had expected, and we were so happy when we found the place! It was a 3 story apartment complex set back from the road in the middle of an orange grove. Its name was Casa Suzy and I’m pretty sure that Suzy’s whole family also lived in this complex. She was SO nice; when we got there she showed us immediately to our room, and left us to clean up and relax and check in at our leisure. This made me happy because I really wanted to shower and use the restroom following our long day at the beach. She gave us recommendations on places to eat and get dessert, as well as tried to talk Austin into taking me to Capri, the island off the coast, for several minutes. After learning that I was pregnant, however, she said that it would not be as fun due to all the walking, and that our itinerary to go to Pompeii to the ruins was a better idea anyway.
We went to dinner at a little tavern close to the B&B. We got salads and ravioli and gnocchi. Gnocchi alla Sorrentina is a special dish to the region that includes gnocchi, tomato sauce, and melted mozzarella cheese on top. For the gnocchi we got here, they made the dish and then put it in the oven for the cheese to melt over the pastas. The gnocchi were the most tender and melt-in-your-mouth that I have ever tasted. The cheese ravioli were also very tasty, and our salads were humungous. One thing I can complain about Italian restaurants is this- if you want water, you have to pay for it and it is mineral water out of a bottle. In the guidebook, it says to ask for tap water if you want water, but Austin says this is uncouth. So, we order some sort of soft drink (either sprite or orange soda) to go with dinner usually. This also comes in a can and so I have to ration myself/how much I drink during dinner. I’m not used to this, so I usually run out of liquid before the meal is over. Too bad for me…
On our after-dinner stroll by the cliffs overlooking the sea…
After dinner we went on a stroll around the neighborhood. Our B&B was situated in the suburb Sant’angello. It was a very quiet suburb, and was basically all residential and 4-5 star hotels. We found our way to the train station where we would take the train the next morning, did a HUGE circle on a hunt for gelato, and finally found some before heading back to the B&B. We really liked staying with Suzy (the rooms were much bigger than the others we have been staying in) and will do so again in the future if we ever find ourselves in Sorrento (we wouldn’t mind exploring more here and going to Capri at a later date).

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