Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Amalfi blues


The Amalfi coast is a frustratingly mixed-bag experience: both dreamy coastline and commercialised, tourist-riddled nightmare. I have the same response to it as to (for example) Venice and Cinque Terre: if only one could magically vacuum-suck out the massed crowds (along with the tacky industries that support them) and make them vanish, leaving the unadulterated experience (in my head at least) of 1960s dolce vita glamour and drop-dead views.  
But that would include me!

Nonetheless, I discovered some perfectly lovely, less frequented places on my last trip there.


After a short walk around the Pompeii ruins in the rain (the site underwhelming even if it was the worst weather in which to see it: not well maintained, its historic educational potential sadly underused) ...


 Pompeii city walls


This specialist guide was patiently explaining some historical facts to a lucky private group
Hazy view of mount Vesuvius from the Pompeii ruins

... and having braved some hectic traffic around Naples, we crossed from Sorrento to the other side of the peninsula, the Amalfi coastline, along a winding cliff-top road with fantastic views, and dipped down into Nerano, where the sun was shining in this little sea-side village on the tip of the peninsula nearest Capri.

View from Taverna del Capitano, Nerano

The destination was the Taverna del Capitano in the middle of the village on the sea-front. The taverna is basically a handful of rooms attached to a restaurant of the same name with a great local reputation.

The rooms are very small and basic, but totally comfortable and clean, and best of all, have windows and doors opening directly onto the sea, with these views ...


... and a night-long sea breeze and gentle lapping of waves - after discovering that the restaurant's reputation is fully deserved - the work of chef Alfonso Caputo, who owns and runs the tavern with his wife, mother and a handful of staff who give attentive and genuinely warm personal service.


Early next morning - before coffee on the little balcony terrace of the friendly Capitano - I watched the beach being prepared for the day 


and boatmen getting ready for the day-trippers who would soon be flocking down the path for boat rides to Capri, Positano, Amalfi and Li Galli



Capri had been a tempting, possible plan for the morning, but quickly lost its attraction after seeing the coach-loads being disgorged to queue in massively long lines for the boats.

We decided to drive on instead along the scenic corniche towards Positano and Amalfi ... 


... only to encounter wall-to-wall (or cliffside to mountainside) traffic: a painfully slow congestion along the narrow roads (constructed in a time when these were fishing villages with no tourism!), which were also lined with parked cars wedged up (illegally) against the sides as people parked and walked many many kilometres into these popular towns.


Added to the melée were oversized tour buses, suicidal Vespas, pedestrians braving their lives, plenty of tempers fraying, and much pointless, frustrated hooting


Even out of season, parking in or anywhere near either Positano or Amalfi was impossible, and - considering the crowds and tatty souvenir shops - not even desirable.

(no wonder the Italians invented the Vespa and tiny (stylish of course, that comes with the territory) cars!) ...


On the other hand, past Ravello, the little seaside towns of Minori and Maiori, lacking the celebrity status of Positano and Amalfi, were amazingly crowd-free - just locals enjoying their beaches (of which there are many more, and larger).

I loved watching families enjoying the beach - here a grandfather with grown children and grand-children 


here two stylishly dressed women chatting barefoot in the sea

and here an elderly man who'd parked his chair in the lapping waves!


Maiori harbour

The same is true of Praiano, less congested, and perhaps less picturesque but more authentic in my view, than its better known neighbours


Tucked away in the cliff face below Praiano is the entrance to Casa Angelina. Its access is via an alarming series of unimaginably narrow hairpin bends, at the end of which you're rewarded with a fantastic modern design. The all-white interior is a deliberate neutral backdrop to a collection of artwork, sculptures and Murano glass creations ...



... and to the main event - huge picture windows with views to die for of the Amalfi coast, all the way from Capri in one direction to the toe of Italy in the other.



Casa Angelina is a little gem of understated luxury, whether to stay or just drop by for a drink or lunch on the terrace.
I took the opportunity to work off lunch by walking down a very very long cliff-face path to the sea below


Boy, did I regret it walking back up ...


But regret seeing this part of the world? Not a bit.



3 comments:

  1. Beautiful.
    www.rsrue.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Karen, this is AWESOME X10 !! May I repost, giving you full credit, of course ??????
    It's perfect for my Italian series.
    Sending love, darling...and how I miss our B.I.O. !!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. OMG
    Gorgeous pictures as always Karen
    I am so, so jealous..have been dreaming of going to Amalfi all year 😁
    I havent been since my 1st trip to Europe!!!

    ReplyDelete

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