Amalfi Coast: Living & Driving the Good Life
|Ro and the Fiat 500|
One of the items at the top of Flo-Jo's bucket list (you know all those things you swear you are going to do before you kick the bucket) was to drive the Amalfi Coast in a convertible Ferrari with her hair being blown gently by the warm Mediterranean trade winds. This drive is famous for villages literally carved into the side of steep cliffs overlooking gorgeous views of the deep blue sea. With those villages being just at the edge of cliffs it does not leave much extra room for a highway. There is a harrowing two-lane road that hugs the edge or the curvy mountain, but the reward for the traveler is you are on the edge of what has to be one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
So substitute the Ferrari for a Fiat 500 and place a check-mark next to Amalfi Coast on the old bucket list.
We then put our own lives on the edge literally of risking life and death as we drove around the steep, 'don’t look over the edge,' cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. Immediately we knew this was going to be a challenge and were very thankful we had one of the smallest cars on the planet to navigate the less than generous lane space. We had several near head on collisions with drivers more interested in showing off their ability to drive fast on this famous corridor vs. actually staying on their side of the narrow two-lane cliff hugging road.
|FloJo at the wheel|
The online pictures and descriptions in guide books did not do the scenery justice. We ended up arriving as the sun was setting, which only amplified the colors bouncing off the cliffs and onto the blue water. There were not many places to pull off to take pictures so we took mental pictures that will stay in our heads for the rest of our lives. We neared Atrani, the small town on the coast we would be staying at for the night, just as the sun had completely set and darkness was beginning shroud the scenery.
After we found the hotel (by asking locals where it was) and then by pure accident parking by the water in front of the hotel sign. Who needs a GPS when you have that kind of luck? We hiked like mountain goats up the steep steps to the hotel which was carved into the side of the coast. The rooms were all named after actresses and had modern art replicas of said actress in the room. The front desk had cubby holes with actual keys to each of the rooms and small pictures of the room's featured actor or actress. Perhaps by coincidence we got assigned the American actress, Julia Robert’s, namesake room overlooking the beach and the famous Amalfi Coast. She, like us, was enamored with Italian food in the movie Eat, Pray, Love.
The meal started off on the right foot when the waiter brought us a “welcome gift” of orange liquor we believe to be aperol. We were intriqued by the "taste every fish on the menu" option for 40 Euro, but took a more conservative and less glutinous approach. We began with a mixed salad of shrimp, cucumber, radichio and lemon. We dressed the salad ourselves with the Italian staple olive oil and vinegar. Simple, but delicious and we needed the green veggies, which had been very lacking in our travel diet.
Next we moved on to the pasta course comprised of Italian parsley pasta and tomatoes with mixed seafood (mussels, clams and shrimp). The mussels were our favorite which paired nicely with the house white. The main course was a stunner, a whole local fish that was listed on the menu as, “the best local fish.” Seriously, how do you pass that up? Our cute Italian waiter put on a show table side de-boning the fish. He carefully removed the spine, the dorsal fin, the head and then the tail. He put all the bones onto FloJo’s plate and reconstructed the skeleton to look like it’s former fish self, telling her when he was finished with the reconstruction, this was her serving, while Ro got the real fish. Not fair! Luckily there was an extra plate hidden and we shared the real fish, which was, as advertised, the best local fish.
Happy, full and content that we had witnessed an ancient civilization almost completely preserved for thousands of years, survived the harrowing drive down the Amalfi Coast and enjoyed a feast of amazing seafood a stones throw from the water. The real feather in our cap to end this day was we navigated with no digital assistance. The ancients would be proud!