Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Buongiorno, Amalfi!

It is difficult to know where to start. There are hundreds of photos and dozens of good stories (the first and most important one being the story of my happy 20-year marriage to B, which lead to this remarkable trip in the first place!).  We weren't able to manage a big trip for our 5th or 10th anniversaries as I had dreamed (but we did get away for weekends). For our 15th we enjoyed a long weekend in Naramata, riding our mountain bikes on the Kettle Valley Railway and tasting delicious B.C. wines at several wineries.  To celebrate 20 years, I really wanted to do something special and significant.

Amalfi Coast, Italy
Hotel Luna Convento, Amalfi

Many people we know told us the Amalfi Coast was their favourite place, or that they had their best holidays there.  I started with a web search of walking tour companies.  For value, itinerary and resources, we chose On Foot Holidays out of the UK. I highly recommend their services.  We would (and likely will) book our next walking holiday through them.

Amalfi Coast, Italy
repaired terracotta

We began in Amalfi (3 nights) and walked to Sorrento via Praiano, Positano and Sant 'Agata. We stayed 3 nights in Sorrento as well, then snuck over to Capri for our final 2 nights in Italy.  We walked every single day except for the first one: our luggage was lost during a transfer in Rome and that first day we spent in Amalfi wandering a bit aimlessly, half-heartedly trying to buy some clothing, but clinging to hope our luggage would arrive by evening.  To keep a long story short, we didn't see our own clothes until we reached Praiano on night four.   I do, however, have a snazzy new pair of Puma running shoes, some too-big designer men's jean shorts and four pair of practical cotton briefs (let me tell you, it is NOT EASY to find cotton undies in a tiny Italian tourist town!).  I had a little meltdown on day three, but my calm, reassuring husband got me back on track with the purchase of a lovely red purse made of dreamy Italian leather. I felt much better.

Amalfi, Italy
Heading east towards Atrani, from Hotel Luna Convento, Amalfi

On Foot Holidays provided detailed written route info, very clear colour maps, an additional guidebook and a handbook of tips from previous travellers including restaurant reviews and recommendations.  We took walking poles (which I am sure saved my knees) and carried only day packs with camera, water and snacks.  Our luggage (once we had any) was transferred to our next hotel by a local agent and waiting in our rooms when we arrived from our walks each day.

Amalfi, Italy
Amalfi beach

Ravello to Amalfi
Amalfi from the pier

Ravello to Amalfi
Our hotel, Luna Convento on the point with the tower restaurant across the street from the hotel entrance.

The daily routes were excellent. Most walks took us very far from the coastal road(s) and off the beaten track. We walked ancient paths that have followed the coastline and ridge-top contours for hundreds of years before cars ever reached the coast.  We walked up and down many, many stone stairs.  The coast is a jagged peninsula of limestone jutting out to the west and dividing the Bay of Naples to the north and Gulf of Salerno to the south.  The entire peninsula is a UNESCO Heritage Site, with small hilltop towns (many consisting of just a few houses and a church, monastery or convent) and sea-level towns built almost vertically up the limestone cliffs.  Walking from town to town requires a morning climb of about 800 m elevation and an afternoon decent of the same (with about 10 km of up and down walking in between).  Luckily, you are only ever 3 or 4 km from the nearest cappucino. 

Amalfi Coast 2014

Detailed walking notes were essential to staying on track, in towns and in the highland areas. In populated areas the walkway/trail is the only means for locals to access their homes and terraced lemon and olive groves. The 1-2 meter wide stone path functions as road, sidewalk, front porch and yard!  We were always greeted with a buongiorno or salve! or buonasera by locals and fellow walkers alike. Most days we walked alone and hardly saw anyone on the trails outside of the towns. The busiest walking route was the Path of the Gods, a popular day hike between Praiano and Positano where we encountered large walking groups of Germans, Kiwis, and Brits.

Amalfi Coast 2014

Amalfi Coast 2014
Every home has a beautiful painted tile number plate and an extra one to let you know if there is a cat or dog that needs minding when you open a gate!  This is the entrance to an olive terrace - you can see the mesh tarps that are strung under the trees to catch the olives when they ripen and fall.

Amalfi Coast 2014
A guest house garden in Santa Cosma

Amalfi Coast 2014
At times I really felt like I was walking through strangers' lives, so close to their windows as to hear conversations inside.

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy
The beautiful Villa Cimbrone in Ravello

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy
The Tea Garden, Villa Cimbrone

Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Italy
Terrace of Infinity, Villa Cimbrone (if you've seen The Trip to Italy, you'll recognize this!)

Ravello to Amalfi
Amalfi (taken from Pontone)

Ravello to Amalfi
Terraced lemon groves

Amalfi to Praiano via Marina di Furore
A cappucino on the terrace of that yellow cafe in Lone would be quite the thrill!  We were too high above town with a long way still to walk that day, so we didn't try it.

Amalfi to Praiano via Marina di Furore
There were many barking dogs and these two gave us quite the reception, however they all stay on top of their own walls and behind their gates. A third small & friendly dog from this house joined us on the path and walked about 500 m with us until we met a road where he simply around turned and went back home.

I'll sign off here for today, but there are more photos to come!


Debbie said...

Love hearing about your trip and seeing photos...sounds just amazing.

QuiltNut Creations said...

Amalfi is absolutely stunning; we did not have enough time to wander when we were there. It is will be visited again!

Dianne said...

Such beautiful photos Krista!! I love the little dogs looking just like their statue friends.

Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts said...

Oh boy, does this post ever make me want to go back there. Would you be annoyed if I just stole your 20th anniversary trip for our 20th anniversary trip? I'm not joking - at this stage I'm 50% for doing this and 50% for walking between all 5 of the Cinque Terre villages.
Oh, and nice work with the 'meltdown' on day three - excellent way to get a new purse! x x

Canadian Abroad said...

Spectacular way to celebrate 20 years. You'd better start planning the 25th now!

Katy Cameron said...

Oh wow, it sounds like an amazing trip!

Kay said...

Beautiful. We went to Sorrento on our honeymoon many years ago and have visited these places too. Capri was my most favourite place. x

Donna~~ said...

Looks marvelous! What a wonderful trip that must have been (even with the extra clothes shopping). Such beautiful photos!