On a recent trip to southern Italy, we drove the Amalfi Coast. South of Pompeii, we overlooked the sparkling blue bays, gazing out to the famous Isle of Capri and Ischia. We wandered the narrow lanes of Sorrento, overwhelmed with lemon-flavoured souvenirs of every imaginable shape, style and cost. The shops all began to look the same, selling basically the same souvenirs, lemon juice sorbet or over-priced resort wear for well-heeled visitors. We admired the large hotels with beautiful gardens but were quickly told we couldn’t look inside, even just to gaze at the spectacular view.
On we drove to the famous town of Positano. Only we couldn’t get into Positano as it is far too inaccessible and requires you to park your car or bus at some distance and walk. And so we settled for a view over the pleasant half-moon shaped beached crowded by houses and apartment blocks competing for precious space. After a lunch break, spent gazing out over the blue water towards Sicily, we moved on to the town of Amalfi.
More lemon-themed souvenirs, accompanied by the Sicilian-inspired tiles and ceramics so loved by tourists, more crowded narrow streets with pedestrians wandering aimlessly. The beach was filled with closed umbrellas, have you ever noticed how sad they look? A few hardy souls braved the cool wind unsuccessfully trying to catch a few sun rays. Police moved on unsuspecting drivers from the main carpark where a 10 minute limit applied in several sections. The Amalfi Coast, it seems to me to be all rush and jostling, all lemon-themed and repetitive souvenirs vying for the tourist dollar. I failed to find the local flavour even though I’m sure it was there, just hidden from my view.
So I was most pleased when, the next day, we drove further along the coast, about 200km south of Amalfi. It was very beautiful and much less touristy. People here were going about their normal lives, meeting friends for lunch at a seaside restaurant, working in a park perched on a coastal headland to plant both native and introduced species where I saw several Australian bottlebrushes flowering beautifully. Alas, the beautiful coastal drive ended when our path was blocked by major roadworks. This caused us to backtrack taking a major detour. But then we passed through a wonderful small village, and crossed a massive mountain pass with isolated farms and cabins, with clumps of wildflowers growing along the road.
Late in the afternoon, we reached our destination in the mountains. It was a remote mountain village, perched high above the ocean. The clouds swept in as the sun sank low in the sky, nudging behind the mountains encircling the village. We soon found that there were few English speakers in this village. But, I consoled myself knowing that I was comfortable at ordering pizza at the only restaurant in town, along with some Vino Rosso of course. We have the essentials of life and I breathe easily in my chosen remote location away from lemons and resort wear.
Photos taken in Italy, April 2023