“Flaming like a meteor we hit the coast, a road, high, high above the blue sea, that hooked and corkscrewed on the edge of nothing, a road carefully designed to be a little narrower than two cars side by side.” – John Steinbeck.
First posted 11 April 2016.
My feet have barely hit the ground in Sorrento as I arrived late the day before. I’ve just glanced at a few shops and had a dinner but this morning the Amalfi Coast is calling.
The buses leave from out in front of the train station.
€8 for a 24 hour ticket. It is quite full and gets fuller as we sit and wait to leave. And then we are off.
I end up having to stand as I surrender my seat to someone that needs it more. I gaze out at the gorgeous vistas of ocean, cliffs, and picturesque white villages spilling down the hills as we corner, corner, corner around the winding road along the coast. The heat on the bus builds and the switch backs and turns continue. The bus has to come to a stop and the driver leans on the horn at every blind corner. We then maneuver past oncoming vehicles. Sometimes they back up to let us round, sometimes there is some horn blaring and shouting. Then on we go, winding, winding and gazing at the coves far below the road, and boats off the coast, tiny, far below. I open a window and the breeze is welcome.
The window is promptly slammed shut.
On we go and I’m really feeling a bit seedy by now. I open the window again and move my face near. This time an Italian woman stomps down the bus, and explains in loud Italian why the window will be shut again. I get a glare. (If you are interested look up ‘Colpo d’Aria’ or in English ‘getting hit by a blast of air’, which is untranslatable really. It is a medical condition the Italians take seriously that doesn’t exist in our culture).
Thankfully not long after this I can sit close to the front as people have got off for Positano and seats are becoming free.
Just as I really begin to wonder if I will have to get off the bus and walk due to serious nausea, we arrive in Amalfi and I practically rush the door.
Amalfi is very pretty and has a rich history. Between 839 and 1200 it was an important maritime trading town. Silks, slaves, salt and grain was traded through here with a population peak of 80,000 at it’s height. A Tsunami in 1343 destroyed it’s port and part of the town. It never recovered commercially and is now reliant on being a tourist mecca with a population of around 5000. The Duomo bears my name: Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea and St Andrea is the town patron saint so I’m feeling special. As I stroll around the nausea starts to pass but I know what will cure my ailment.
I have my bathing suit and I get in the sea and wallow and kick and make my way without style the length of the beach and back again. It is my salvation as always.
I have been informed that it is Ravello I need to head for next. There is more to see. I sit and dry off and try to muster my energy to get back on the bus and venture further. But I just can’t. As I travel back to Sorrento in the front row, looking straight ahead, not even able to enjoy the scenery, I am disappointed with myself. Maybe it will be a motivator for a return trip, one where I take a boat around the coast, or start from the Salerno end, or take travel sickness pills prior?