We arrived in Vietri sul Mare, the first Pearl of the Amalfi Coast, last Saturday afternoon. The sun was shining and the weather very comfortable; the warmest we had experienced since arriving in Italy.
We were picked up at the Salerno train station by Andrea, the owner of the apartment we were renting. He drove us into Vietri sul Mare where he introduced us to his wife and 2 daughters.
Then he took us to the apartment. We walked through the streets that were filled with little shops. There was the meat shop, the fish shop, the detergent shop, the bread shop, the wine shop, the produce shop…you get the picture. Everything is bought fresh daily. The shops all open in the morning, then close around 1:30 PM and reopen about 5:00 PM until around 9-ish.
The apartment is located right in the heart of the town up on a hill so it requires a bit of climbing to get to it. This is just the beginning :) It was good exercise :)
Eventually, we arrived at the gate and entered the courtyard.
The apartment was a nice size and had everything we needed including a clothes washer which came in very handy and just in time. We were about out of clean clothes! When you travel light, like we did with just one carry on bag, washing clothes is a necessity. We were lucky that each rental, except for the hotel rooms in Rome & Naples, was equipped with a washer. There are no dryers here. Everything is hung out, or in, depending on the weather.
Once we settled in and loaded up the washing machine, we took off to explore and find something to eat. That’s when we found that most places were closed until later. This is an Italian tradition throughout the country, but the areas we had frequented up until this time were mainly tourist locations and most things, but not all, remained open in the afternoon. The little village of Vietri gave us the opportunity to experience Italian culture more closely than we had previously. Almost no one spoke English and we had to get creative in our communications. It all worked out fine :)
Vietri sul Mare is famous for it’s ceramic art. The streets are lined with ceramic shops to the point that we wondered how they could possibly support so many. It was the same on Murano Island with the glass shops. I’m guessing once tourist season arrives things improve for them.
We found a little restaurant that evening that turned out to be a gem and we returned a couple of times before we left. It was a family operation. Because we were earlier than the Italian diners, we were the first customers of the evening. Mama seated us, took our order and then went to the kitchen to cook the meal! It was fantastico! Her daughter became the waitress later when business picked up. We chose to return at lunch time a day or two later. The food was so good, we decided to do lunch as our large meal. We wanted the opportunity to walk it off, not go home and sit/sleep. This worked out really well and we’d just have something light for dinner later at home. When we stopped by for the third time another day, later in the week, we were treated like old friends. I think another week or so here, and we could be one of the locals :) Except for that language thing :) This would be the place to really learn Italian though. You’d be immersed in it with very little English help.
Our first couple days here were pleasant weather-wise. This gave us the opportunity to explore by foot. The vistas were beautiful from our vantage point.
There was a little park where you could walk and view the coastline. The ceramic culture was on display!
And a lemon tree, another thing plentiful in this area.
After Saturday and Sunday Mother Nature pulled the plug and rained on our parade. Monday wasn’t too bad. It only rained in the afternoon and rather lightly. Tuesday and Wednesday were totally lost. It poured most of both these days so we caught up on laundry and sleep :)
We took the bus up the famous Amalfi Coast Highway on Monday, before the rain started. It was a magnificent drive but not for the light hearted.
The road is barely wide enough for 2 cars to pass each other. When a big bus comes along, all the car traffic stops and pulls over as far as possible to allow the bus to get through. That in itself is quite a feat. There are no shoulders on any roads in Italy. None, nada, zilch. Somehow, everyone squeaks through. That is until one big bus met another big bus! Oops!
Everything stopped. Both busses backed up until one could get over far enough to allow the other to pass. We were in a bus right behind this one which is how I got these photos. It was interesting :)
We got off the bus at Amalfi Town, about an hours ride from Vietri. It was a beautiful little town with white houses clinging to the rocky hills above the Mediterranean. Very Picturesque.
As with all towns in Italy, there is a center square and a church. In Amalfi, it is St. Andrews Cathedral.
We no sooner arrived in the square than it started raining. Rick purchased his 2nd umbrella of the trip in a little shop nearby. Umbrella #1 was forgotten on the train between Rome and Naples. An umbrella turned out to be a very necessary accessory on this trip :) Even with protection, it was raining hard enough to drive us to the nearest cafe where we sat outside, under a huge umbrella, next to a propane heater and enjoyed a nice glass of vino della casa, rosso (red house wine) while we people watched :)
Once the rain subsided we meandered back toward the bus station stopping for a gelato on the way. The Italians take their gelato (ice cream) seriously and there is a gelato place on every block…or so it seems. It’s also incredibly good and we indulged a few times during our 3 weeks here :)
The ride back wasn’t near as exciting. No big busses coming from the other direction. There were plenty of cars squeezing by though. I took these pictures through the window from my seat on the bus.
All in all, we enjoyed our time on the Amalfi Coast. We would have enjoyed it more and seen more if Mother Nature had cooperated but that can’t be helped. It’s a beautiful part of Italy and it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular vacation destination.
Yesterday, March 28, we bid arrivederci to Italy and flew to Amsterdam. After a quick overnight stay, this morning we boarded our flight back to Houston ending our amazing 3 week adventure.