It was stunning, the Amalfi Coast.
It seems that everyone thinks it's stunning, so all in all I'm glad we weren't there in July.
It's probably like the M25. Or the Ring of Kerry on super-steroids.
Every hairpin bend brings another wonderful view. Buildings perched on sheer mountain sides, rocky peaks towering above, boats strewn haphazardly on a jewel coloured sea far below.
It's enough to cause a traffic jam - everyone stopping to take photos.
You can't blame them. We did the same. It's a place where you can capture Italy (the south, anyway) in a single shot.
|Southern Italy in a single shot|
We didn't stop in Positano. I'd love to have pottered around the town, but it was too full of visitors for comfort.
We stopped further down the coast instead, at a tiny inlet the In-Charge spotted from our lofty height on the road. We wound our way down and happily paid the extortionate parking fee so that we could sit under an umbrella in the blazing midday sun drinking Prosecco. And watch some lads loading crates of beer onto a boat to deliver to a bar a few inlets along. Apparently, the only other way for them to get their beer is to tote it down a thousand or so steps.
There'd be none left by the time they got to the bottom.
We did stop in Amalfi. It was €5 an hour to park, which was even more expensive than the little inlet, but we found a vacant slot right on the front, so we did a lightning tour of the town.
It was beautiful, but to be honest, an hour was enough.
The place was packed and the locals in the shops and bars had obvious tourist-fatigue. Hardly surprising.
|The town was packed|
|Everyone photographing everyone photographing everyone|
|We sat under the iconic umbrella pines overlooking the sea|
|A spot of yacht-watching is always fun. It reminds us of #1 Son|
It was, thankfully, a good bit calmer in Ravello, despite the town's illustrious catalogue of earlier visitors.
The list of people who have visited the place, or written famous books or operas there, or just stayed with other famous people is endless.
In a more romantic era these included Ruskin, Grieg, most of the Bloomsbury Set including Vanessa Bell, Virginia Woolf, Lytton Strachey and Bertrand Russell, Vita Sackville-West, DH Lawrence and TS Elliot. Wagner wrote Parsifal in Ravello, André Gide wrote L'Immortaliste, Churchill painted and Escher drew.
And in more recent times the tiny town has been host to Paul Newman, Rod Stewart, Harrison Ford, Roger Moore, Nicholas Cage, Mel Gibson, John Malkovich and Pierce Brosnan - amongst others. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie shot parts of Mr and Mrs Smith in the town, Gary Lineker got married there and Woody Harrelson's daughter was born there, so he named her Ravello.
|The view down from the old town|
|Inside one of the hotels. Who knows which celebrities might have been lurking within?|
None of those people were in the streets on the day we visited. In fact, we didn't spot any celebrities - though to be honest, I wasn't really looking.
I got waylaid by several shops selling pottery and the maiolica typical of the area.
I loved the spotty-ware, and some of the maiolica pieces were stunning. I was very taken by an interesting platter fixed to the wall, but in the end I settled for a much simpler (and smaller) memento. A Christmas tree decoration with a bird on it.
|Lovely spotty pottery|
|An interesting platter stuck to the wall|
|I bought a little Christmas tree decoration. I like birds|
We decided to drive back cross-country, through the mountains, and reluctantly roused Angelica. She'd had a day off.
It was a good decision. Angelica rose to the challenge and we hardly met anyone, beyond a flock of goats, the goatherd and his dogs.
We'd loved the stunning views, the towns clinging to the mountain-sides, the yachts and the jewel coloured sea - everything.
But we were ready to head further south to quieter places.
This is part 3 of our travels in Italy
You might also like Part 1: See Naples and Die
Part 2: Sipping Limoncello in Sorrento
Part 4: Tango-ing to Messina
And the last part: Sicily: Hot on the Heels of Montalbano