amalfi coast livin’

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Yum, asado.

The turquoise blue waters found us transfixed, begging us to stay a bit longer on the coast. We obliged and booked an Airbnb in Termini, which is a little outside of what is known as the “Amalfi Coast.”  But the view alone was worth the short distance away. We were situated high on a hill, blanketed in clouds and overlooking the ocean and the real highlight of all, in perfect view of the island of Capri. Two other bonuses were the stray cats and a parilla. Devin cooked an asado the first night, while Ryann fed the cats scraps. Perfect way to begin a few day excursion on the coast.

The Beautiful Drive from Hell

But please, allow us to back up. We could easily pretend that it was 100% a dream, straight out of a movie… which it more or less was, but as with every movie, there has to be some sort of action scene. Our action shots were driving the roads in the area. Unfortunately for Devin, he didn’t have a stunt double doing it for him.

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lemons & oranges galore.

National Geographic described it best: one of the most rewarding drives in the world. Rewarding, because it definitely wasn’t easy. The traffic in Italy could also be an entirely different post, but to keep it simple: they don’t know how to freaking drive. Sorry Italian friends, but your ancestors probably left this beautiful country to drive in a more civilized motorway. Driving the 405 in Los Angeles seems refined and textbook compared to this. Here, people disregard any sort of driving rules or conventions. Speeding past stop signs, pulling out in front of you- it’s impossible to know what to expect. With that state, in addition to the windy roads with motorbikes passing you by and wanting to see the view yourself, driving in this area isn’t entirely recommended. Rather than drive, purchase a pass for the red hop on/hop off Sightseeing Bus that you see in every major city. After trying to find parking and fighting for your side of the road, you’ll wish you had. Lastly, just when you think it can’t possibly get any worse- it certainly did for us.

Narrow Road to Nowhere

First of all, the GPS decided to stop working. Google Maps either pretended to know where to guide us, or simply gave up entirely. Either way, it obviously did not help us. Devin was stressed, Ryann was quiet. Google Maps was on her kick that she didn’t want to disappoint, so she lied to us. She pretended she knew best. We were directed to go down a side road that was away from the main stop and go traffic- too good to be true? Yes. As the road went on, brick walls grew almost to the level of the car. Then the road got narrower. And narrower. And impossibly narrower. At this point, both side mirrors were turned in to prevent scratches. We both held our breath, hoping no one would come zipping around the corner ahead or that it get even worse from here. An Italian-style tuk-tuk came whipping around the corner driven by a farmer who had told us in his broken English that the road would get even smaller from here. Hearing that, Devin closed his eyes and shook his head. Ryann bit her lip-well we had no choice but to back up! Ryann had to climb out of the passenger window to walk along the brick wall in order to better guide Devin out. It took close to 15 minutes, but honestly, Jeff Gordon wouldn’t have been happy about the obstacle either. After that debacle, we played a series of guess and checks. It turned out in our favor and as soon as we could get ahold of our host- he helped direct us the remainder of the way. So, all in all, the drive is insane and beautiful and confusing and stressful. Google Maps doesn’t work and prepare for narrow roads and headaches. But, just as National Geographic said, it’s worth it in the end.

Relaxation, a Wild Beach and the Best Pizza in Italy

After reading that, you can better understand why our second day was spent so lazily. We slept in and didn’t get in a car until later in the evening. Devin continued to spoil Ryann by cooking breakfast while she did some laundry in the sink and hung it on the terrace to dry. Luxury of traveling. The winds were strong and the sun was blazing-they dried in no time. We both did a little work but after feeling accomplished enough, we sat our chairs out on the terrace and dozed off. Maybe a half hour or so later, we woke up and decided to go for a hike to, as our Airbnb host put it, “the last wild beach.” So we hiked down the hill, scaled some cliffs, and followed the trail through a lemon orchard until we finally reached our destination. It wasn’t quite a beach, you definitely couldn’t swim there. But the water was a gorgeous hue of bluegreen and even better, we were the only ones there. We balanced on the rocks, looked curiously in a cave (pirates?) and sat on the edge to dangle our feet and watch the waves roll in. It was nice! We should’ve packed a picnic!

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Visiting the Amalfi Coast

The next day we planned on visiting Capri. We had been ogling it long enough and decided it’d be fun to actually visit it. But, Mother Nature had other plans for us. The weather was crap, it was cloudy and called for rain all day. Instead, we opted to drive along the coast and see for ourselves what Beyoncé was talking about.(YouTube link to Upgrade Ya).

To start, we had to endure the driving yet again. GPS sucked, the other drivers were horrible. But, we did pull over to buy and enjoy some fresh homegrown strawberries to help us survive the onslaught of insane motorists.

IMG_20150516_154147_hdrThe only thing that is annoying about visiting the area, is that when you want to pull over and get a closer look or enjoy the view, good luck. It’s near impossible. But, we did manage to see some:

After driving for an hour, our stomachs rumbled angrily. Apparently the yogurt, banana and strawberries didn’t hold us over longer than we thought. Must be our bodies adapted to the Italian ways and some pasta and coffee was what we really needed. After driving in circles trying to find non-residential parking, we obliged and found a cute little restaurant that had tables arranged on a public outdoor staircase. We ordered lasagna and potato salad. Perfecto.

We finished, after ravishing our meal and returned back to the car for part II. This time, we were headed to what Devin heard was “the most beautiful part of the Amalfi Coast.” Ravello.

Drama in Ravello

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Ravello.

To claim it being the most beautiful, yes and no? What we saw was very lovely and charming but maybe not the prettiest. Devin whipped the Fiat enthusiastically in a parking lot. Score! We walked up the staircase to the town square. Most of the town (and all of the Amalfi Coast really) was filled with shops selling gelato, ceramics, pizza or other souvenirs. Ryann really wanted the ceramic for our future house saying “beware of dog” in Italian. Sadly, it’d have to wait- much too fragile for the backpack. So, after the disappointment of walking away from the tiles, the gelateria tantalized us with its beckoning flavors of chocolate and chocolate chip. Ryann convinced Devin he earned it after such a difficult drive. But this shop sold more than just gelato, it was also a bar! Interestingly we hadn’t even tried any limoncello yet, so we gave in again to temptation, and ordered one to share. Ick. Of course, Devin grew chest hair as he drank it but it was too sweet and strong for Ryann. Thankfully, we had the gelato to ‘wash it down.’

So, yes, referring back to the subtitle. There was no drama with the gelato. That was delightful. The incident occurred a good fifteen minutes after. We were strolling around, taking pictures of the garden views, architecture and small-town allure, when Devin lost his footing. Perhaps the limoncello affected him more than he let on, or more likely, the slope was slippery from the recent rain. Either way, he lost his footing on the ramp and slipped, almost falling. He regained his balance but to his horror exclaimed, “MY PHONE.” Wide-eyed in horror, we looked around. To our biggest fear, some fellow nearby Americans pointed over the railing, down the cliff on an overhang. His BlackBerry had landed somewhat safely, nearly missing the cliff opening which dropped perhaps 30-40 feet. Wow. What to do? Determined, Devin climbed over the railing and carefully sidestepped his way on the semi-sturdy ground to regain his beloved electronic. Wide-eyed Ryann froze in fear yelling the occasional, “DEVIN. BE CAREFUL.” At least 6 other people had stopped to watch. Honestly, it was this dramatic. The ground he was walking on, was not ground. It was strong piles of mulch and leaves that overtime, have gathered to make a decent foundation held by tree branches. One false step was all it took. Finally, after what seemed like hours, he grabbed his phone and madIMG_20150516_170405e his way back. Two of the American boys had leaned over to grab Devin’s hand to pull him up. I swear to God, people clapped when he got back on the sidewalk. Yes, it was that scary. Stupid phone. We spent the next 10 minutes picking all the birdox, leaves and dirt off his clothes.

Positano

After that nerve-wracking experience, we decided to head back. We really did see all that we needed to see. Like Cinque Terre, after a while it all looks the same. Same shops, same houses, same gardens, same views. Plus, we did not want to drive in the dark on these roads. Oh, and we wanted more of the best pizza of Italy. So, yes, we headed back. The glorious GPS again failed miserably, directing Devin to turn left rather than right. But it wasn’t the worst mistake because we found the town that could very well be a future destination spot, if we ever return to the Italian Mediterranean again. Positano, was perfect! There were so many restaurants, cafes, stores and activity going on in the small coastal town. We’re sure in the peak season of summer it’s even busier. Not that it’s always something we want, but it really seemed like a fun place. Also, the crowd that we saw were mostly older, people in their 30s or older. Hardly a backpacking scene. Perhaps one day we will return and stay here in Positano, and we definitely recommend it to anyone else.

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View of Capri.

The Last Night

After a long day of exploring the coast, we grabbed our favorite pizza and headed home. Dark clouds were rolling in and the winds were picking up. A storm was certainly a-brewin’! As soon as we got in the house, sat down and opened the pizza box, we heard thunder. By the time we took our last bites, the lightning put on a show right above Capri. The spectacle was incredible.

 

It was a breath-taking performance and fantastic way to end our visit on the Amalfi Coast.

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