Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Today, we took a day trip from Sorrento down the Amalfi Coast, stopping in Positano and Amalfi. Amazingly beautiful! Hilltop towns, beautiful harbors, fun shops, and the most impressive bus drivers I can imagine. Fabulous day.
We started a little later than we planned and our arrival 10 minutes early for an 8:30 bus was apparently not good enough, although waiting until later in the day probably would have been even worse. Decisions, decisions. The first choice was between standing for at least 45 minutes, or waiting until 9:00 for the next bus. Since the boys decided they didn’t want to wait around, we hopped on.
Our second choice was which city to go to first. Our guidebook recommended that we stop in Positano first to have better luck with bus seating on they way back, but our hosts for the Sorrento apartment we are staying in said that the shops were better in Positano in the afternoon and to save that for last. Not having a seat cinched the deal and we decided to get off in Positano.
Beautiful drive! By the time we hit Positano, 45 minutes later, I was quite bus-sick, but the scenery was amazing. There are two stops in the town, and we decided to get off at the first one, which was very high up the cliff. The boys were happy to find a mini playground that was probably better for 4-6 year olds, but they had fun. After following the road for a few switchbacks, we were worried we would have to do that the entire way to town, but luckily we encountered a staircase that had an arrow and the word “beach.” Perfect! The way down was quite long, but much better than going up. The views were breathtaking. Definitely worth getting off at that stop.
Once we were into town, we wandered through the shops. The general pattern was linen clothing shop, linen clothing shop, sandal shop, lemon shop, repeat. Apparently linen is very good value here. I saw a few linen items that were super cute, but nothing that compelled me to drag it around in my suitcase for the rest of the summer. Lemons are also a product of this region and they definitely play the theme up in the shops. Beyond just bags of lemons, you can get lemon soap, lemon perfume, lemon plates, lemon magnets, and pretty much anything lemon that you might desire.
I did see some hilarious lemon earrings that I thought about simply because I love lemons so much, but I restrained myself. Later I saw a linen dress with lemons all over it. How funny would it be to have that outfit? Lemon dress with lemon earrings. I wish I would have taken a picture, but take a look at Etsy for an idea of what the earrings and dress may have looked like.
On the way through town, we made a stop at the Church of the Holy Rosary. I quite liked it, but one thing to be aware of is that many of the churches close down for lunch. In this case, the church closes from 12-4, which is disappointing for anyone who stops by for just a few hours in the afternoon. Lucky for us, it was still mid-morning.
We continued through town until we hit the beach. There is a tiny public beach that is more pebbles than sand.
The walk on the sidewalk past the private beaches were quite fun. If we were here for longer, we would need to consider renting one of the lounge chairs and soaking in the atmosphere.
We stopped by the TI to verify that we did not need to make the long, very long, walk back up the hill to the bus stop that we got off. They confirmed that the second bus stop was a much better choice. We started back up the hill, passed the church, and eventually arrived at the bus stop, where there were still a few seats left on a bench in the shade. It was a bit of an uphill walk, but nowhere near as bad as the other walk would have been.
We hopped on the bus and there were two seats left, so we had the kids sit in our laps until a couple of people got off at another stop and we were able to each have a seat. The views became even more breathtaking. After another 45 minutes, we arrived at the beach in Amalfi. The best news is that we could decide how far up the hill we wanted to walk, then have an easy downhill walk back to the bus.
First, we stopped at the Duomo di Amalfi, or the Amalfi Cathedral. They charge a small admission fee to get in, but the beauty of the main Cathedral is worth it.
We started in the museum Cathedral, which had some very old artwork, much of it in fairly poor condition. We continued on to the crypt, which was becoming much more ornate and impressive. Finally, we arrived in the main Cathedral, which was amazing. The attention to detail was quite good. We particularly liked the beautiful paintings on the ceilings.
The kids were getting hungry, and John was very anxious to try Italian food, so we decided to get lunch. Jeremy and I decided to get a fixed price menu that included a pasta (mine was mussels with spaghetti), a fish or meat course (both of us got the very tasty white fish with lemon sauce), and a salad course. James was happy with his pizza and John was a bit disappointed that his lasagne appeared to have chunks of egg in it. Odd.
We wandered through the town, but since Positano was so much better in the shopping department, we didn’t stay long. We wandered a bit by the water, then hopped on the bus back to Sorrento. Fortunately, there were a few seats left, so we didn’t have to worry about standing.
The drive back really highlighted how impressive the drivers are. The roads are super narrow with a steep rocky cliff going up on one side and a steep rocky cliff going down on the other. There is a concrete barrier on the edge of the road, but I don’t think it would be all that protective if a bus hit it. The hairpin turns make it even more interesting. As the bus goes around the blind corners, the driver will honk its horn. We only got a reply honk once or twice, but it was a bit nerve wracking. When the busses had to pass each other, our bus would be about 3 inches from the rock wall going up. There would be about 3 inches between our bus and the other bus. And the other bus would have about 3 inches between itself and the concrete barrier. There was only once that our bus driver had to get out and study the positions of the buses before finishing the pass, but it was fascinating that they do this all day, every day and don’t have accidents. The only close call we had was when the bus was trying to get around a car. The driver of the car had no idea what he was doing and wouldn’t get close to the concrete barrier. It took a while for him to figure out how to get into a position that the bus could get by. Definitely not a place to rent a car! Take the bus. It will only take 1 year off your life, rather than 10.
Anyway, if you are in Italy, this should be a high priority for a day trip. We could have continued on from Amalfi to Solerno, which also is supposed to have very nice views, but that would have almost doubled our bus time and we were happy with what we saw.