Day 16 – Tour of the Amalfi Coast

Sorrento, Italy

It was a dark and stormy night, really! A rain storm moved into the area last evening, hitting strongest around 2:30 am. Heavy rain, a little thunder and lots of wind woke us up and kept Sue up throughout the night. We had a tour of the Amalfi Coast scheduled, so we had to be up early and we were both pretty tired throughout the day.

Showers, a quick breakfast and we were off to meet up with the tour. Luckily, the rain had stopped though the skies were overcast. It took about 20 minutes to walk to the meeting spot to check in with our guide – Caterina.

1.1464984910.amalfi-coast-tour---caterina---our-guide

The tour today was a ride by coach along the Amalfi Coast Highway to Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. It was seven hours in total and half that time was spent just driving to the various places. But what a drive it was!

I am so glad that I wasn’t driving. The road is narrow, winds along the cliff and had more hair pin turns then I could count. Our bus driver deserved a medal for getting us there and back without once hitting anything. Quite frankly, he should have hit plenty of people along the way!

I have lots of pictures from the drive attached, so I’ll let you enjoy them instead of rambling on and on.

The ride took us from Sorrento to Positano with only a brief stop for some photos. That worked out perfect for us since we’ll be staying in Positano after we leave Sorrento. The vista we parked at provided beautiful views of the sea, beach and town. As many buses and tours stop there, there were plenty of enterprising vendors waiting to sell jewelry, limoncello, lemonade, books, snacks and other assorted items.

After about fifteen minutes, we re-boarded the bus and headed to Amalfi. Traffic was pretty heavy, so the ride was slow as we zig-zagged our way along the roads.

We stopped along the way for a bathroom break at a ceramic factory. Lots of local ceramic pottery, plates and crafts were available and many people on the bus took advantage of time to do some shopping.

Getting back on the road, we slowly made our way to Amalfi. The traffic was heavy and the bus parking lot was full when we pulled in. The tour gave us two hours on our own in Amalfi.

We joined about a third of the others and took a boat tour along the coast. It was nice on the boat as it was only our group and got us away from the hoards of people. The ride lasted 45 minutes and only cost 12 Euro per person. The scenery was beautiful and being on the water was so calming. Definitely time well spent.

When we returned to port, we went into the town to look around a little bit. The town was mobbed with all tour groups, which actually took away from its charm. We walked up to the cathedral, but decided against going in because it was so crowded. I can’t even imagine what it must be like in the heavy tourist season. Yikes!

We found a small little place to grab a sandwich and I was actually able to get a Pepsi. None of that stinking Coke!

So Amalfi turned out to be nothing more than a tourist trap from our standpoint. Quite disappointing given everything that I’ve read about it. We were very happy when our guide gathered us together to move on to the next stop – though we did enjoy the boat ride.

Our next stop was the town of Ravello. It’s located about 300 meters above Amalfi. There is actually a stairway you can take to get there from Amalfi that is just over 1000 steps. Since my stairmaster days are well behind me, I was very happy that the bus would be taking us up.

1.1464984910.ravello---bus-stop-it-goes-she-stays

Ravello’s serenity was a stark contrast to Amalfi’s Disney world feel. The views down to the sea were stunning. While the group split up, Sue and I went to Villa Rufola to visit the gardens and see the views.

What a great choice. The gardens were beautiful and tranquil. Music by Wagner was being played as you strolled through the property. This really brought us back around after our disappointment with Amalfi.

After the gardens, we walked through the town square and just enjoyed the scenery. It was easy to see why so many people love Ravello. Once everyone gathered back up, it was time to head home. The driver took the back way to Sorrento, driving through the hills and narrow roads, but avoiding the traffic of the coastal road.

We saw mountains, valleys lots of goats and other picturesque scenery as we headed home. Really nice and relaxing as long as you weren’t doing the driving.

When we did return to Sorrento, we were ready to take a little nap. We picked up some water and went back to the room. The Hotel Syrene was either continuing the wedding from yesterday or had another celebration going on as there was a band playing and a singer that was really good. Instead of napping, we opened the balcony doors and relaxed listening to swing and big band music. Nice way to chill out. Oh yea, and we had some Prosecco.

Around 7:30, we headed out to dinner. We went back to Sacro & Profano and enjoyed another wonderful meal. Besides having great food, the people there are so friendly we just had to return. Tonight’s wine was called Prio and was a Sicilian white that was perfect with our meals. Before leaving, they came over with a complimentary glass of limoncello to help us digest our meals. I love that custom!

Back in the room, we rested up. Sue reading and me blogging until our eyes grew heavy. Tomorrow we go to visit the ruins of Pompeii..

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