I’ve always heard that the Amalfi Coast is not something to miss. Well, we missed it the last time we came to Italy. Instead we went to see Herculaneum which was intriguing. I was determined that this time we would not miss the Amalfi Coast.
Wouldn’t you know that the one day set aside for sightseeing, it was once again rainy. We didn’t care. We had our raincoats and umbrella and set off. Folks from where Matt worked in Naples suggested how to drive along the Amalfi coast. Plus, we had the information from our tour book and our hostess at the agriturismo drew out a map and directions. We set some information into our GPS and took off.
I’m not sure we ever did see what people call the Amalfi Coast drive. Matt followed our GPS and we ended up in some very interesting places. Suddenly we were taken down a one lane path. I don’t think we were even supposed to be in the little town of Pietre. I was beginning to see a theme develop for our trip….getting lost.
In the village of Figlino, we were following the GPS and she told us to go down an extremely narrow street. Matt gave it a go, but we were part way through these tunnels and had to back up. We definitely were NOT going to fit. The clutch got quite a work out as he backed up, uphill, without any mirrors. We had pulled them in to fit through the tunnel. That poor clutch smelled pretty bad by the time we got out of there.
By now our good mood was wearing a bit thin. I was determined to enjoy whatever this day presented, but…where was the Amalfi coast?! After much discussion, we got turned around and finally found the road that the tour book mentioned. The drive along the coast really would have been beautiful on a clear day, but it was foggy and looking pretty stormy.
One of my desires for this trip was to purchase some Italian pottery. Two years ago when we were here, I had enjoyed looking at it, but resisted buying any. Ever since then, I had wished that I had gotten a souvenir of pottery. We were told by many that Ravello was not only a beautiful town near the Amalfi Coast, but also a wonderful place for purchasing pottery.
We headed back up the mountain to find some pottery. Ravello was beautiful and we strolled around this town even though it was drizzling. I did find just what I wanted, a bottle for olive oil. Suddenly, the clouds let loose and it poured. I was seeing another theme of this trip…getting soaked.
We gave up and headed back to the agriturismo. This was the second time that we attempted to dry our shoes with a blow dryer. I wished I had brought some warmer clothes. It was only 8°. Well, that was Celsius. But still, 46° F did not feel very warm while soaked. Thankfully, we were dry and warm by the time to eat dinner at 8 pm. It still amazes me how late the Italians eat dinner! We had the fun of eating with a fellow boarder, Vig. He was from England and enjoyed giving us advice on our upcoming adventure there.
But first we had three more stops in Italy. The next day we told our hostess, Siska, that we planned to head to San Miniato which was 450km away, a 5 hour drive. She acted surprised that we didn’t mind driving that far in one day. It made me wonder how often Italians drove to other areas. Were they as mobile as we Americans? We headed off, but decided to stop at a place that Vig had said was not to miss…. Montecassino.
As we drove along, we saw one village on top of a hill after another. Each one had something that looked like a castle. It’s funny, I had always thought of England whenever I thought of castles. But there are a ton of them in Italy! Matt drove and I kept pointing out castle after castle. Suddenly, a mountain loomed in front of us, huge and covered in snow. In front of it there was a lower mountain with a large structure on it. I at first thought it was another city on a hill with a castle, but it looked larger and more interesting. It was Montecassino!
This abbey, just southeast of Rome, was originally built in 529 but has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. The last time was after being bombed during WWII. It is a beautiful reconstruction. I especially enjoyed the mosaics in the crypt. Our friend, Vig, said he had never seen so much gold and it was really beautiful.
Our stop was not long and we continued on towards San Miniato. The scenery changed from mountains to rolling hills. We passed a factory for PRADA and later Gucci. It seemed strange to fly by Rome and not stop. There was no time during this trip and I was thankful that I had seen it in the last trip.
And finally we arrived in Tuscany. All we needed to do was find our next agriturismo. I had endeavored to find ones that were interesting and yet would be fairly close to where Matt needed to work. As we wound far up a mountain, I was confused. This would not be an easy commute for him. I began apologizing. Even though he said it would be okay, I felt badly. It was a beautiful mountain with wonderful scenery, but we could not find Agriturismo Settesoldi. We found a different agriturismo and we thought about just staying there. But we had reservations at Settesoldi and I wanted to meet the people there. The host, Sergio, had been interesting in the emails during the reservation process. Matt looked at the GPS and found that we were headed for coordinates, not an address. We put in the address and found that we needed to travel an extra hour…down this mountain, through the valley and up a different mountain. Once again, lost. Finally, we found Sergio, on a tractor, on a one lane dirt road. What a relief! And glad to see our next new bed.
See the next part of the trip: Italy 5