Thursday, October 6, 2016

All About Amalfi

Let me just say if you ever get the chance to drive the Amalfi Coast, TAKE IT! I had such a wonderful weekend exploring the beautiful and historic sites all around the area. I rented a car from the airport (which was a long ordeal, the computers were down and when they came back up I got an "upgrade" for my patience, for the record this trip would have been much easier with the Fiat 500 I wanted instead of the Qubo they gave me) and hit the road!

My first stop was Herculaneum, which is better preserved than Pompeii, but much smaller. There are some wonderfully preserved mosaics and paintings from the time of the volcanic eruption. 

Painting in the Temple of Hercules. 

Proof that I actually went to Herculaneum. Pro Tip: Don't follow the Google Map directions, it took me an hour (and driving through two different markets where the poor locals were trying to shop when I came rolling through) to find where I was actually supposed to be. There is a separate exit for the archeological sit with signs that lead you to very convenient underground parking. I finally made it, got my ticket, and hopped on a guided tour that was 10 euro at the end. Easy day once I found where I was supposed to be. 

Next I went to Pompeii, it is HUGE! 

For this one I used the Rick Steves free audio guide, it was pretty good. Some of the areas were closed, they seem to be working on refurbishing some of the buildings, so after the audio guide ran out I wandered around a little, but it was ridiculously hot and there were approximately 10 million tourists from cruise ships walking around in huge groups and blocking the entire walkway, so I eventually gave up. 

Not the original dancing statue, that's in Naples, but this is where it was. 

These are stepping stones used as crosswalks. It's crazy to think that those grooves were made by wagons and chariots hundreds of years ago. 

There are many modern statues around the site now. 

They offer some nice visual interest. Another Pro Tip: Eat before you come here because the food outside was terrible and ridiculously overpriced. Not surprising because it was a tourist trap, but disappointing nonetheless. 

Next I drove to Sorrento where I was registered for a cooking class with Chef Carmen, some of my friends from college had taken her course a few weeks earlier and highly recommended it. I have to highly recommend the class as well. Chef Carmen was so lovely and entertaining, her directions for making the food were so easy to understand, and everything tasted AWESOME! We made an eggplant involtini appetizer (below), gnocchi (above, it was a very sticky endeavor),  a stuffed chicken breast (there was garlic and raisins and it was maybe the best thing I've ever made), and a limoncello tiramisu. I shared the class with a lovely couple from London and after a few glasses of prosecco and wine we were fast friends. Oh yeah, there's wine included. Take this class. 

Didn't want anyone eating my masterpiece. 

In the morning I continued down the coast to Positano, probably the most famous of the cities on the Amalfi Coast. 

For good reason, it's stunningly beauiful. 

And has a huge beach. 

It was a lovely city, the main attraction here is shopping, they are known for sandals. I didn't find any I liked, but the couple of shops I went in were really friendly. 

Perhaps my favorite part of this city was tourist watching and checking out all the sweet yachts anchored out. I swear one of them had a waterslide and there was a Chris-Craft, and I'm not sure which one would cost more. 

Positano, while beautiful, was also a little crowded for my liking. I wouldn't say it's a place to spend more than one day. 

So go and enjoy the views, then move on. 

To Amalfi! This city was a little more my speed. A gorgeous cathedral, a nice square just across where you can sit and have some wine, and some more lovely shopping options. 

Just remember when touring around Italy, that if you even think you'll be going into a church, bring something to cover your shoulders. I had to get the paper shawl of shame at this cathedral. 

I stayed a bit outside the city and used the bus to get around, which was easy enough but made me so incredibly grateful that I hadn't taken the bus the whole time. I would have barfed. I can't do windy roads with someone else driving. 

The next morning I headed on to Ravello to explore Villa Cimbrone. There is also a Villa Rufalo, but I was pretty much out of steam and besides...

Good luck beating this view! This was on the "Terrace of Infinity". 

Lots of fun statues here. 

Last view before I left Ravello. 

Most of the road along the Amalfi coast is tight and winding and you're fearful of buses coming around the corner, but there are areas where you can turn off and enjoy a vista. So I did that once or twice. 

I didn't even realize how great my hair looked when I decided to stop. I loved driving this so much I thought about turning around and driving back to the Naples Airport, but inspead I decided to see one more site. 

The Allied Cemetery at Salerno. It was perfectly maintained and a very humbling sight. It is impossible to forget that a war was fought here not that long ago, and I hope that this cemetery continues to be maintained. 

To end on a happy note, another successful solo trip, the rental car got returned miraculously scratch free and I was able to find an amazing wedding present for my cousin while I was there. Win. 

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