Amalfi Coast, Italy
The Amalfi coast had always been a dream destination for Lucy, conjuring up images of art deco British holidaying. I had never heard of it before but was keen to check it out. Since it was an entire coastline we were exploring our best option was to rent a villa for a couple of weeks. It is not that one cannot explore the coast in, lets say, one week, it is just that nothing is quick or efficient in southern Italy and to really enjoy it you have to, not just accept that fact, but embrace it. Accessing Amalfi by car is quite difficult, unlike northern Italy, there are very few tunnels blasted through the mountains here and it is an up and down crawl through high, sharp, narrow turns competing for the same road with large tour buses and herds of lethargic goats. Our first night, we ate in the town of Amalfi. We had a delicious homemade spaghetti carbonara and enjoyed ourselves very much until the waiter tried to overcharge us, a common occurrence when dining in touristy areas, but we always hang on to the menu and of course the Euro is much more easily calculated than the Lira which I am sure the tourist industry missed.
The following night the restaurant we visited was a recommendation from a local for fresh seafood. We descended down the hillside by foot down hundreds and hundreds of steps with the little troopers keeping pace perfectly. When we finally arrived at the beach hut we ordered antipasti, a primi, and the fish with a bottle of house wine. As we dug into the appetizer we noticed a man in a speedo emerge from the kitchen, push out a dinghy, and row out into the ocean till we lost site of him. Jokingly we said he must be fishing for our dinner. We finished the appetizers and enjoyed emptying the smoky wine grown from the region’s volcanic soil. We watched the sunset over the Mediterranean then waited another hour before we decided to leave. When we got up we saw the speedoed man rowing back with his catch and walk straight back into the kitchen! We laughed very hard in shock of what we were seeing as we were told again and again by our waiter that the food was coming we had just assumed that he meant from the oven. We felt very bad about leaving but we were no longer hungry and the boyos and ourselves were being eaten by mosquitoes. We insisted on paying for the fish but the man insisted more strongly that it was on the house but to return again soon. The next day we tried our gastronomical luck in the nearby town of Positano with much success. Positano is a city built on the mountain face and has a much more bustling and touristy village but worth a few return visits for the ceramic shopping, restaurants, beaches, and the fellow shih tzu friend the boyos made at a fine lace shop.
We took a day trip expedition to visit Solerno, Pompeii, and the mountain that destroyed it, Vesuvius. We did not however, bring the boyos on this adventure as it needed to be booked through a guided tour company and the city of Pompeii is a natural museum that strictly forbids pets. On the plus side Lorenzo, our guide, was quite a character who was very well informed and insists that you should also be well informed on all things history and modern Italian politics. To make it up to the boyos we brought back some speck and soppresseta. To end our trip with a bang we hired a speedboat for the day and just sped up and down the coast a few times and cruised around in front of the natural beauty of southern Italy. The boyos and I went for a bit of a swim before Lucy happened to mention that sharks do indeed hunt in the Mediterranean! On our return to the harbor we were fortunate enough to encounter a flotilla in procession from the sea to the duomo for the Feast of St. Andrew.
Best Part: Passing and feeding a burro every time we returned home to the villa; or the complimentary fresh limoncello before every meal; or the gelato in the piazza every day. Worst part: Needing the Carabinieri to write an accident report and having them reply “come back tomorrow.”