April 26, 2016
I have been looking forward to exploring the Amalfi coast for a long time and it did not disappoint. In fact I think I'll buy a villa there when I win the lottery.
We got in to Naples around 8 am and met our guide Patty (with the Italian/Scottish accent) from Mondo Guide.
The port of Naples is crazy - very busy and lots of traffic. It took us about 30 minutes just to get out of the port. From there we headed south up and around the Bay of Naples. The views are breathtaking and the roads are very narrow. Patty told us they weren't made for buses and cars and there isn't a vehicle in the area without a bump, dent or scratch - I believe her! You definitely want to have a driver familiar with coast when you are driving through here. Although I did see a driver in Naples two hand texting while driving. That leaves no hands (or eyes) for driving.
The Amalfi Coast is a protected UNESCO site which means modern structures can't be built. Only one of the 13 municipalities isn't protected under UNESCO. I can't remember the name of it but it suffered a flood and had to be rebuilt so it is more modern and resort looking. The Amalfi Coast is 40 km long, however to drive it from beginning to end takes 2.5 hours because of the hairpin turns, narrow roads and steep cliffs that plunge to the sea. I'm not sure what happens when there is an accident - everything must get very backed up.
We stopped in Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. Positano seemed like the largest of the three but we didn't have much time to explore and it was very busy. They have a lot of beautiful clothes made locally out of linen. We tried to touch the water at the beach but a wave caught us so we actually dipped our toes in - through our shoes. We also visited the church and saw the black faced Madonna and the native scene. As you drive through the coast there are lots of tunnels - one was eight minutes long - and every so often there are miniature villages with nativity scenes built in to the rock face. I'm not sure how anyone safely built them on the side of the road!
As we drove toward Amalfi we saw some donkeys that are still used to bring supplies up the side of the cliffs. I guess donkeys are the only animal that will do stairs. As we arrived in Amalfi it started clouding over but it didn't rain. My umbrella was in my bag so I knew we would be safe. When we arrived Patty showed us a bit of the town including the turtles before setting us loose. Amalfi has a beautiful church in the square with 62 stairs to the entrance. We didn't go in - not because of the stairs, James and I have been climbing many stairs to get to our stateroom on the ship - but we had limited time and we've seen a lot of churches already. We are kind of churched and museumed out. I managed to have some delicious Margherita pizza and James had calamari in a paper cone. I also found a stationery store with beautiful paper before we had to meet the group.
We drove up to the top of the mountain to visit the peaceful town of Ravello. On the drive we passed the area where there is the cliff diving competition Fiordo di Furore. Ravello is known as the music city - they have a large concert every year and the area around here is so lush. I am really amazed that people decided to climb up cliffs and build homes and communities. I'm glad they did, the Amalfi Coast is absolutely stunning. I would love to come back and spend a lot more time in the area.
We had our last dinner in the dining room and met for one last happy hour in the Crows nest this evening. Then we had the sad chore of packing. Its been a wonderful cruise and the ms Koningsdam has been our home for 19 days. I hate to leave the ship and go back to the real world where I have to work, clean and cook for myself. And there Will be no towel animals on my bed. Although I do miss the two little mutts that take up residence on our bed at home. I'll bring them with me to live in the villa on the Amalfi Coast.