Amalfi   Leave a comment

View of Amalfi Cove

View of Amalfi Cove

Having grown up in England, I enjoyed many outings with my Dad while he manoeuvred his way through the narrow, winding country lanes in search of an undiscovered treasure. But those roads pale in comparison with the road to Amalfi. Our driver expertly navigates this never-ending S-bend as easily as if he was driving on the straightest of highways.

There were many folded-in side mirrors on parked cars and, more than a few times, we had to stop and inch past a vehicle coming in the opposite direction by folding in ours. There was barely a hair between us.

View from Grand Hotel Excelsior

View from Grand Hotel Excelsior

But the exciting part of the drive was the scenery and being the only two in the mini van, Shay and I could bounce between seats to get the best views. On our left, giant cliffs dotted with cantilevered houses stretched up toward the sky. On our right, where we spent most of our time, the stunning Tyrrhenian Sea with cove after sparkling cove jutting out from the bottom of the 500′ sheer vertical drop. With every twist and turn of the road we saw a glimpse of the next town up ahead and then, suddenly, each one came into full view: Positano, Laurito, Praiano, Conca dei Marini and our final stop, Amalfi.

Originally built by Romans, the Amalfi road itself must have been an engineers nightmare but what a view to work alongside. The locals only get to drive it every other day due to the congestion here. I’m thinking it’s a small price to pay considering the beauty of the area.

Grand Hotel Excelsior Amalfi – perched high atop the cliffs, the hotel offers a perfect view from our balcony. The food is good but forego the eggs at breakfast (I think they were powdered, blech!). Our Maitre D’ was a sweet gentleman with red-rimmed spectacles and I can’t believe I didn’t get his name. Room keys are the heavy old-fashioned kind and the rooms are clean. I did see one thing run past me in the bathroom and, out of sheer panic, I gave it a mighty whack with my flip-flop. Then I put my glasses on and saw that it was a super-tiny gecko type lizard that I had flattened and whose eyes were now staring up at me (please don’t write and tell me how awful I am, I immediately felt terrible and I doubt my daughter will ever let me forget it!).

The hotel runs a free shuttle every 30 mins (we were there in August) to the private beach just 5 mins away and to the town centre, another 5 mins further on. You can walk down too and if we’d had more time, we may have ventured it.

The town of Amalfi is small and old worldy. Back in the 1920’s, it was a haven for the British upper crust, so I guess it was inevitable that I land here one day…wink, wink!

At the top of a grand staircase is St Andrew’s Cathedral. Known as the Duomo it overlooks the Piazza Duomo and all its goings on. Liquid partakers in outside cafes, tourists hunting for souvenirs and bikes and tiny vehicles winding their way up the narrow main lane.

Your eyes catch a flash of yellow every which way you turn. It’s all about the lemons here, and you couldn’t miss them if you tried. They are enormously long and easily twice the size of what we are used to. You know what they say, when in Rome, and all that…but I have to admit we didn’t even taste Limoncello (except in some chocolate that we bought on Capri!).

Amalfi has a public beach but we spent a day on the hotel’s private beach. To get to it, we had to take 2 elevators down through the interior of the dramatic cliffs. It was a small, pebble beach but we didn’t care. It was uncrowded. With sun beds right by the water and a pair of water shoes, you can simply take turns baking in the sun and cooling off in the gorgeous ocean.

Because I missed buying my musical inlaid box in Sorrento, I headed out on a quest to find my Italian souvenir. I was determined so I hit every store on the Via Lorenzo D’Amalfi and there it was, calling to me and my wallet…a striking, irridescent shell of Mother of Pearl and a matching small dish. I tried to decide which was my favourite and, after bartering with the owner, I walked away with what I felt was a real deal – both of them for cash at a great discount.

This breathtaking place is truly the icing on the cake and, sadly, the end of our Italian tour. Rome’s amazing architecture, Pompeii’s eye-opening walk into the past, Capri’s combination of glitz and natural rugged beauty, and Amalfi’s small town charm near the end of a unforgettable ride. Time to start thinking about next year’s trip…



Posted November 19, 2014 by Jaclyn in Family, Holidays, Italy, Travel

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