Although we have a couple of days in Rome yet at the end of this trip, our stay on the Amalfi Coast is more or less the final leg. Patty had been eager to come here, hike along the cliffs, and have an experience that was a little more rural and out in nature than stumbling over the cobblestones of Rome, marveling at the baroque architecture of Lecce, and going into yet another 16th Century basilica.
We flew from Catania, in Sicily, to Naples and hired a car to drive us to Amalfi. On the advice of legal counsel, we chose to say in the town of Ravello which is in the hills 1,200 feet above the cities on the coast. Our agriturismo, Monte Brusara, is
another good climb above the city, so while we have walked down, we used the little public bus to get back up. (There apparently is something going on with the bus system, as the little transit bus is also the yellow school bus, and yesterday on our trip up, Patty tried to teach English to the four school boys who were on their way home.
While somewhat touristy – that’s normal condition for the Amalfi Coast – Ravello is a very nice and interesting small town with two beautiful gardens that are open to the public. Villa Cimbrone is a 19th Century villa with extensive gardens right on the cliff above the Mediterranean. It is a combination of English and Italian formal styles and among its most famous guests was Greta Garbo, who came here to escape Hollywood. Villa Rufalo, just of the town square, is traced to Moorish design of the 13th Century. Its gardens are not as extensive, but it is built on a succession of historic structures. Tonight we are planning to attend a concert at another local treasure, the concert hall designed by Oscar Neimeyer, the famous Brazilian architect, designer of Brasilia – among may famous works – and winner of the Pritzker Prize.
For Patty, however, I think the highlight was the walk from Ravello to Atrani and then on to Amalfi. This involved a steep descent from Ravello the 1,200 feet to Atrani which is at sea level. And then the walk to Amalfi, close by, is mostly on the level on a pathway above the coast road.
(I will add some photos here of the scenes along the way, to the extent the local internet connection will allow me to upload them.)
We found Atrani to be a lovely little town with a very attractive town square, or perhaps we were so relieved to find a cold drink and a bathroom after the long descent. But Amalfi, while picturesque and with a very nice beach, was jammed with tourists even in late October. We did watch (for a short while) a man take off his swimming trunks and dry off on the beach in full public display, and that is as close as we have come this trip to anything approaching a topless beach. In this case
bottomless, and nothing to write home about (despite this comment.) The municipal bus back gave us a good taste of the coast highway and a reinforcement of the wisdom of our decision not to have a car here.
One more thing, about the place we are staying. It is owned by Filomena Mansi who appears to me to do all the work, although she has some daughters here. Her mother is doing the cooking, and her father is here as well. In the evening, a number of people always seem to show up to eat dinner, but we aren’t sure who they all are.
The agriturismo includes a hectare, according to the father, and they grow their own vegetables and make their own wine and honey. The meals are wonderful. I would highly recommend it. the site is http://www.montebrusara.com