Wouldn’t you know it…….first day back from holiday was a rainy Paris day, cool and a tad gloomy. It was a relief to download the holiday photos and unpack the sunshine; warm caressing sunshine from the Amalfi Coast – Costiera Amalfitana.
Two weeks ago we flew into Naples, caught a bus to Salerno and from there took a second bus to take us along the coast to Atrani; a little village just one bay before Amalfi. As we travelled along the road one picturesque view followed another; straight down below the road a fringe of clear turquoise marked the shallow edge of a glorious deep blue sea, above, terraced gardens striped the hillsides verdant green alternating with shades of stone, and cliff side building sites that seemed impossible were not. Layer upon layer of buildings were stacked above, behind and next to each other. Even though the villages are described as being perched on precipitous ledges (and they are), the buildings themselves looked comfortable there; worn stone facades and sun-bleached colours suggest how long these buildings have sat here, standing guard, providing sanctuary and luring tourists in their thousands.
Our apartment in Atrani, The Coral House, was perfect; our hosts were superb, meeting us at the bus stop on arrival and providing fresh lemons and a tray of traditional biscuits for a welcome treat. Perched above the road that leads into Atrani from Salerno and Ravello the apartment faced East so we could enjoy the afternoon and evening on the terrace with a birds eye view of Castiglione Beach and out across the Mediterranean to watch boats of every dimension come and go before finally gliding in to settle for the night. It was handy to the beaches, Atrani village, only 10 minutes walk to Amalfi village and with the good bus service there’s no need for a car.
From our terrace we observed the daily traffic tribulations with amusement. The coast road is too narrow for two-way traffic in places, tight corners have mirrors to give a view and bus drivers toot on approach to corners. We had a ringside seat to a particularly tricky patch as traffic negotiated the hairpin bend out of Castiglione village. Regularly traffic came to a complete hot and bothered stop; one or more vehicles would have to back up and then, as if in a traffic tango, opposing vehicles would inch past each other until flow resumed. Meanwhile the ever present swarm of impatient motorcycles would buzz past undertaking and overtaking as the bus drivers negotiated their way round the hairpins. I imagine the recruitment brief for an Amalfi Coast bus driver would include requirements to have the patience of a saint and the skills of The Stig. After our entertainment we experienced the very same thing from inside the bus on the journey homewards. Payback.
Every day we swam; there was a choice of spots either the pebbly beaches at Castiglione and Atrani, or the rocky point in between the two where people lounged about like a colony of seals basking in the sun between dips. We took walks through Atrani village over to Amalfi climbing and descending our way along narrow pathways and through covered passages between buildings turning left and right following our noses without really knowing the right route. Every so often we popped out at a spot with a stunning view of the sea, a terrace garden ablaze with pink bougainvillea flower, or chock full of ripe tomatoes and trees dripping with figs.
Everywhere you look there is a view that stops you in your tracks to admire the beauty of the colours, to marvel at the construction or be inspired by the bountiful gardens. The villages themselves are quaint; shops for tourists, cafes and gelato sellers are plentiful and occupy village squares (the piazzas) and beachfront promenades. Fruiterers, the butcher and fish shops, and even the supermarket are tucked into tiny spaces. There is a wonderful summer-holiday atmosphere – locals need to make the most of the summer tourist bounty. Just like nature’s produce it doesn’t last all year.
For more photos click the link here to go to my Flickr library and in the next posts I’ll tell you about visiting Positano and Capri and a walk up the hillside to Ravello.