Life on the Edge: The Amalfi Coast, Italy

27 May

Written by Margaret Lavery, additional photos and editing by Marion Mitchell, photo captions by Sharon

We are in Nocelle, perched above Positano, with Sharon and Stuart and our mutual friend Marion.

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Author with husband John.

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Our apartments.

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Our first afternoon we experience so much that is quintessentially the Amalfi Coast – stunning views from our apartment to Praiano in one direction and Capri in the other across azure blue waters, a walk down some 1700 steps to Positano and a refreshing drink at a beachside bar, the already-crowded streets, shops offering sandals, summery clothes, ceramics, and the tooting local bus that delivers us back to Nocelle along impossibly narrow roads carved into the steep cliffs.

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One solution to narrow driveways, a turntable!

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That night we celebrate Stuart’s birthday at Adam and Eve Restaurant with a delicious meal of vegetables, pasta, seafood and a specially-baked chocolate cake, and of course local vino bianco and rosso, franciacorta and moscato. A complementary sound and light show reminds us of how unpredictable the weather in Europe has been this year.

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The weather and consequent rough seas next day put paid to our plans to take the ferry to Ravello; instead we enjoyed a taxi ride with Ottavio, along with commentary on the sights and the celebrities who have lived on and visited this part of the Coast.

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A visit to Ravello is not complete without walking through the delightful gardens of the Villa Cimbrone, revived in their current form by the English lord, Ernest Beckett, during the early 1900s. The gardens, dotted with classical statuary, offer sweeping views along the Amalfi Coast and out to sea.

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Lunch fortified us for our stepped walk down to Amalfi, past steeply-terraced family farms of lemons, olives and vegetables – testament to the fortitude of generations of Italians making the most of what is available to them.

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Moody Amalfi.

At Amalfi we joined the waiting crowds for the return bus to Positano. Self-interest was never more evident as the large group queuing jostled to secure a limited number of seats on an infrequent bus at the end of a long day.

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This queue collapsed the moment the bus arrived.

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Packed bus, wet road, fast driver and narrow cliff roads, deep breaths….

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The weather remains unpredictable so the plan to walk the Path of the Gods is deferred. While Sharon worked and John rested, three of us walked a lower path, steadily climbing for about 1.5 hours, lunching near the summit (a great find) then returning via a different path – another enjoyable day.

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Beavering away at a top secret project.

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Intrepid walkers, Stuart, Marg and Marion.

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The imaginatively named ‘Hole’ above Montepetuso.

The gods have smiled upon us – despite a rather wild night, the weather allows us to walk the Path of the Gods. It’s a glorious walk, the scenery stunning, and at the Church of San Domenico we are pleasantly surprised by the availability of coffee, lemon cordial and light snacks provided by the son of the owners of the farm below. The bus takes us back from Praiano to Positano, lunch, and then the walk back up to Nocelle (remember, some 1700 steps).

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Stuart, Marg and John.

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A more civilised bus wait.

We have been delighted to share this part of our holiday with dear friends.

The Amalfi Coast so easily produces superlatives; but one needs patience, a good head for heights, and perhaps the foresight to visit in the off season!

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Post Script by Sharon:

It shows the strength of our friendship that we dreamed up this reunion a year ago and managed to come from three points in the globe to meet exactly as planned. Only thing missing was Marion’s husband Brian who has his own Euro adventure coming up.

What Marg omitted to say in the last part was that I chickened out of repeating Il Sentiero Degli Dei. My vertigo had been challenged enough here in Amalfi already and the memory of that unprotected cliff edge above a 300 metre sheer drop is still clear in my mind after four years! Instead I reacquainted myself with the family in Arienzo who hosted us here last time at their Rifugio Degli Dei Country House. David and his Mum made me welcome with espresso and homemade apricot cake on their terrace.

In four years David has grown from a football mad kid to a composed young man running the family business. Mamma Anna has not aged one bit! I was delighted to see their Jack Russell, Sheila, had a daughter, Nanna. The cycle of life continues.

I don’t usually promote particular accommodation but in this case it is warranted. I don’t care how many stars a hotel has if the people who run it don’t have a heart. This family has a huge heart.

http://www.rifugiodeglidei.it/index_eng.html

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2 Responses to “Life on the Edge: The Amalfi Coast, Italy”

  1. George and Heather May 27, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Great to see you all looking wonderful and healthy. I am at work at the moment trying not to get envious. Enjoy your time in Italy and hope to see you all soon.
    Love Heather

    • Sharon Tickle May 28, 2013 at 6:14 am #

      Thanks Heather. Look forward to a big catch up in August. Love, S&Sxx

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