There’s nothing like waking up to the sound of church bells, the sea quietly crashing on the shore, the occasional rooster crowing, and the hum of a few boats going past. These are the sounds that remind me I’m in Italy and why I love it here. Yes, this is going to be the kind of blog post that makes you want to go to Italy, and if you’ve already been, you’ll want to go again.
Another noise you’ll hear a lot here on the Amalfi Coast (hint, do not get a room near the road) is the honking of buses as they make their way along the one and only road around here. What they’re doing is alerting other drivers coming from the other direction. With winding roads like this there is no way of knowing what is coming in the other direction. Tourists flock here all year long to see this incredible coastline. The one problem is the road was not built for a lot of cars and certainly not for buses. One bus can actually take up the entire road. My recommendation is not to drive and it is so easy to take the local SITA buses. I admire the Italian bus drivers though. This is not easy. Especially when there are two buses coming at eachother, which happens frequently. Drivers here have to be very good at navigating the tiny road that hugs the cliffs, or maybe they are just crazy.
La Costiera Amalfitana
The Amalfi Coast, or La Costiera Amalfitana, has been on the very top of my list for a long time. This year I decided it was time to do it. I’ve been to Italy twice before and but Amalfi is the kind of place you go once you’ve been to Rome, Florence, etc. It’s one of those dreamy places you see in movies and wonder if it’s really real. Well, it is.
My ride south to the La Costiera was completely surreal. After flying from New York to Munich and then down to Naples I was met at the airport by Christian, a young Italian guy with a brand new Mercedes. Yes, ladies, everything you’d want and expect from and Italian – he was. Was I dreaming? Apparently not. His English was excellent so we chatted all the way down the cost, just over an hour. He was able to predict every time I wanted to take a photo and stop the car at all the best viewing spots along the way. (Well, he does this trip every day of his life with American tourists so he knows a thing or two about photo ops). The first thing about this I have to say is photos of this place don’t do it justice. It is so much more impressive in real life. I guess it’s the whole feeling of being here, the sounds, the Italian culture, the size of it all, there is no way you can capture it in a photo. This is truly one of the most beautiful, unique and magical places I’ve been.
The Grand Hotel Tritone
My hotel, the Grand Hotel Tritone is perched high on a cliff between Positano and Praiano. It is one of the best hotels in the La Costiera for the views of the coastline. The one thing you’ll need to get used is going up and down stairs everywhere, ALL THE TIME. It’s a great workout, but unfortunately for me as a sad New Yorker I am so out of shape that after two days, my legs are now hurting like hell. There are several elevators, but being motivated by how great my legs could look if I take the stairs, I opt for them. Wow, and now I can hardly walk. Let me explain. The hotel is actually built on a cliff. Even inside the hotel there are stairs and parts of it you can see the rock of the cliff. The hotel does have its own private beach (most don’t so this is a bonus) but it takes two separate elevators to take you down to the water. Stupidly, I opt for the stairs for that too. Actually a nice walkway, beautiful views, but after doing it three times in two days my legs want to fall off. (Note to self: get a trainer at the gym).
Let me tell you about the beach…actually this applies to most beaches in Europe right now. Europeans have had two months in the sun and they all look like what you’d expect in a tanning commercial. Bronzed and fabulous. So if you’re a sickly pale American or Brit and have been stuck in the office all summer and just now venturing out you soon realize you have a lot of catching up to do. I will never catch up to some of these people and can’t help wondering about them; do they like going to the beach every single day or at some point do they get bored? I know I would….maybe on the second day of it.
The wonderful thing about this hotel is its huge balcony that overlooks the sea. Perfect for sunsets and cocktails. Every night all the guests come to the balcony to enjoy this incredible view. I have to say the drinks and olives are the best. The view from here is stunning.
The hotel seems to be a favorite with the locals. We had a huge wedding here on Sunday. I think even the local priest came and they were all sitting on the balcony. Locals seem to come here to hang out or have dinner at the restaurant, which is beautiful by the way and is on an open air balcony overlooking the coast. They all have good taste. Looks like I chose the right place to stay.
Back to those church bells. I don’t get it. They go off every fifteen minutes, day and night. I have no problem with that, actually I like it, but I wonder how they do it. Do they take shifts? Who is actually ringing the bells?