Posted by: Team McSlade | June 28, 2010

Costiera Amalfitana

Back in the day, Jo worked at Amalfi restaurant on Frome Rd in Adelaide, which was named after the coast (and town) of Amalfi in Italy by the original owners who came from the region. With such a pedigree – added to the fact that the pictures of the region look great – we added it to the European Summer Vacation list.

After Pompeii, we arrived at night, having struggled to find the hotel – even with a map. Jo booked the hotel thinking it was in Salerno, then we read the booking slip and it’s in Pontecagnano, only for it to be on the beachfront, not really near either town.
Not really a big issue, the most vexing was where to get ice-cream to round out Zach’s birthday. When the receptionist pointed us down the road a kilometre to Bar Primavera, we thought great. As we pulled up on the side of the road, an Italian chap strolled over and said something in Italian, I mentioned gelato; he then mentioned something in gibberish.
I thought he wanted either a lift to somewhere or cash for parking on the street, thus I threw a U-ey and double parked in front of the bar and Jo did the ice-cream honours.

The following day we went along the Amalfi Coast road. Jo and I have added this to the list of roads ‘One must drive before they pass in into the next world’. We have already ticked off the Great Ocean Rd in Victoria, Highway 101 in California and Oregon and Hawaii’s Road to Hana. If anyone can add to this list for us, please leave a comment below.

The Amalfi road winds around the cliffs, through little villages and tourist traps, passed hotels perched on the cliff face and over bridges that span gullies that have waterfalls running to the sea. Grape vines and Amalfi lemons (the size of footballs, seriously, footballs) are grown on any available space; some areas terraced, others simply hanging from the rocky cliffs.
As useable space is at a premium, the road in some areas is actually an extension that juts out from the cliff. Adding to the uniqueness of the drive, are Vespas and Piaggos ripping passed on blind corners, ‘locals’ overtaking three cars at a time on windy sections and buses clogging up the works. At one point in a town, three buses went passed us and it required stopping and pulling the side-mirror in. Matt got caught at one stage and had to reverse into a tunnel to avoid a bus. Slightly on edge with 2000€ riding on safe return of the cars, Matt was slightly more timid in his approach to these roads, which led to the two-car train being unhitched frequently.
We added to the pandemonium, by stopping on a corner to take photos and gave the horn a workout when other motorists decided not to heed the multilingual signs mentioning ‘Pull over for overtaking ’.


With the World Cup of soccer on and Italy having a not too shabby team (and fairly avid fans), the bars, streets and cafes were awash with red, white and green as the Azzurri took on the antipodeans of NZ. Silence befell Italy at the 7th minute mark as NZ hit the lead.
We were heading back to the car in Positano when air horns, cheers and bedlam hit the airwaves. A minute later the anarchy was again unleashed, the Italians had scored a penalty goal. It’s nice to have witnessed another culture’s affinity for sport rival (and even surpass) Australia’s.

Team Chaos did a run to Napoli to check out small wooden boats, beach huts (a la Brighton beach in Melbourne) and old town Italy. They found it; Matt also found more grey hair on the drive, with Italians carving up the roads making two lanes into three. We found time by the pool relaxing, and not driving, blissful.

We drove the road twice, due to the sea being ‘too rough’ for ferries – which we were going to take to Amalfi on days two and three in the region.
Going to the ferry dock in Salerno to hear the service was cancelled did have its benefits; on the jetty was a bunch of padlocks locked onto railing. These were ‘lovelocks’, which amorous Italians had professed their undying love for each other on.
Off to Carrefour I went, getting one for Jo and I (which was a challenge as I didn’t know the name in Italian and that they would be stored in the house paint section), Team Chaos also reaped the rewards of my trek through Carrefour, professing love not only for Mattsy (#59) and Katesy, but also ‘LuLu and Snazy’.

Maybe, Naite has Tinkerbelle trapped in his bag, as a fairy of some ilk has been helping us out. On the second blast we thought of having lunch in Amalfi, sadly the town has been blown to Tourist Nirvana as the tiny fishing-village-that-was, has been reduced to black& white photos in bars and souvenir stores (only 9.95€).
Thus, Positano (where TMS stopped on the first lap) got a flag on the food menu. The view across the town and adjoining coastline was spectacular, the pizza and pasta fairly good and the sun managed to hang around long enough for a fine time to be had by all.

Now we are waiting in the airport in Rome, having delivered the cars back to ‘(not) Easy Cars’, Jo also delivered a serve to these clowns, they delivered feeble responses and belligerence, finally we had our 2000€ returned – only after demanding it was done there and then.
The wheels nearly fell off for TC as they brought the car back with 37.51 out of 52 of fuel, not the required 39/52. Someone forgot to mention to us that gridlock on the Rome Ring Road should be expected between 9.37 – 10.32am on a Wednesday.

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