Saturday, April 28, 2012

Amalfi Coast - Pompeii

Amalfi Coast

It's hard to believe that it's 18 months since I was in Italy. Time flies but the memories last. After a couple of days in Bari after our trip from Greece, we journeyed across to Naples and then a little further south to Salerno, where we based ourselves for a few days to explore the Amalfi coast and Pompeii. We hired a car to do our exploring, even though this seemed like a mistake when we realised that the Italians seem to park a lot by touch rather than sight!


Anyway, we set off and stopped at a small town not far from Salerno for our standard Italian breakfast of espresso and pastry for breakfast. My shopping habit started at that first stop! I bought some tea towels and magnets for souvenirs and we headed further along the Amalfi Coast. Even though the road was quite narrow and scary in parts, we had to stop quite a few times to admire the spectacular scenery and take photos. We reached Positano, a gorgeous town built into the mountains falling into the sea. Before we walked down to the beach, we had our picnic lunch in a little park on the side of the road; a lunch bought from the deli in Salerno consisting of cheeses, tuna, olives, some lovely salami and a couple of plump tomatoes. We ate like this a lot in Italy and Greece.


Finally, we walked down the 850 steps to the beach, which even though it was nearing the end of the season, was full of activity. We saw some artists selling their paintings of scenes of the local area, a few now framed on my walls in Hanoi. The restaurants were doing good business too as it was such a beautiful day - we popped into one for a local beer and the complimentary dish of green olives.


We also saw Italian guys playing beach tennis which I think I should import to the beach in my home town - Nha Trang. After a relaxing hour or two, we had to climb up those 850 steps! As the day was getting on, we decided that it was too late to continue along the coast to Sorrento, which was a pity because I remember that place from the famous song 'Back to Sorrento'. On the way back to Salerno, we stopped in at Amalfi township for dinner and to take some photos of one of the most beautiful, old Duomos, the Cathedral of St. Andrew. In that early evening light with all the bells ringing, I really had to pinch myself to make sure it was me in Italy at such an incredible place. We walked up and down the old cobbled streets for a wander; to try and buy the locally produced limoncello and some lemon soap as well. That lemon soap was so nice and I've just this last week finished the final bar. Anyhow, we had dinner in a small restaurant that served some very nice pasta and seafood dishes.


The next day we drove inland to see the famous ruins at Pompeii, spending a good few hours there. In general, we thought the Italians don't seem to maintain their archeological sites as well as the Greeks but Pompeii is such an incredible place because of the size of it and the reminder of the power of nature. While it is not quite as large, this place reminded me of Knossos, Iraklio in Crete - another ruin we visited on our trip to Greece in 2008.


After quite a tiring day walking around the ruins, we returned to Salerno and went to bed...but not before I had another ice cream at the ice cream shop next to the hotel, which I reckon serves the best ice cream in town. Absolutely loved it!!!!

Next destination on that trip was Rome
To be continued


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