19.05.2013 - 19.05.2013 71 °F
It's Sunday, May 19th, and it's overcast and drizzling. Today, we put a few things into a day pack, don our rain jackets, and head up to the bus station in central Sorrento. We'll be catching a SITA bus for a slightly hair-raising ride from Sorrento, along the Amalfi Coast, to the town of Amalfi. We're a little late getting out this morning, so there's already a crowd at the bus stop. It's standing room only as we careen down the coastal road.
Once we reach Amalfi, we look for the bus stop for Ravello. I ask the attendant at a red Hop-on Hop-off bus where I should be going, and she graciously offers us a courtesy ride to Ravello, since we're holding 3 day Unico Campania 3T tourist tickets. It's a relatively short ride up the switchbacks to Ravello.
We arrive in the square to find a uniformed band playing in front of the Duomo, just prior to the Catholic Mass at 10am. They march into the church, and soon, sounds of the choir start to drift out into the piazza. We take this as our cue to grab a pastry and an espresso, and start our walk through the town.
Ravello is, quite simply, beautiful. It is perched high on a mountain ridge, and the scenic overlooks are just so wonderful, they actually make your eyes hurt. Let me show you what I mean:
I could fill up this blog with nothing but pictures of the views from Ravello, but it's time to move along. We stop at the tourist office, and pick up a very detailed map of the hiking itineraries in the area. Our plan today is to walk down the mountain from Ravello to the town of Atrani, and from there back to our origination in Amalfi. The hardest part is finding our way to the trail head near the Villa Cimbrone.
The trail is a mix of packed earth, stone steps, and gravel paths, winding their way down and through lemon groves and grape arbors.
The views are just spectacular. We're surrounded by terraces cut into the steep mountainside, lush and green. Here and there, houses defiantly cling to rocky outcroppings. The air smells of lemons, and we can hear the band at the church in the distance, mingling with the sounds of the birds singing in the trees.
As we descend, we are able to see Torre dello Ziro, an ancient Saracen tower, in the distance on the other side of the valley.
As we descend further, we have a clear view of the promontory above us. If you squint, you just make out Villa Cimbrone at the very top, where we started on the trail. Below us is a long flight of steps, leading us down to the coast and the town of Atrani.
As we descend lower, we get beautiful views of the waters below, and the towns in the distance.
The stairs begin to wind through and between whitewashed buildings, and finally, we emerge into the square at Atrani, with the beach before us and Chiesa Maddalena behind.
We take a short break for refreshments, and begin climbing to the level above the main road, toward Amalfi. Little signposts are affixed to landings and doors as we wind through the maze of stairs.
At last, we emerge into the Piazza del Duomo in Amalfi.
We grab a bite to eat at Caffe Royal on the piazza. It's a doughy, undercooked pizza, strictly for transient tourists, but we're so hungry we don't care.
The bus terminal at Amalfi is a bit of confusion. Buses arrive, but don't change their destination signs. Passengers mill about, trying to guess which bus is the one heading where they want to go. When the driver is ready to leave, he announces the destination, and there's a brief scramble while people who are on the wrong bus fight their way through the throng of people trying to board. Soon, however, we're on our way back to Sorrento.
Tonight, we pack our bags in preparation for the next leg of our journey. We swing by the Sorrento Men's Club to say goodbye to the very sleepy dog that is a constant fixture there, and have our final meal at Zi'Ntonio's.
Buona sera, Sorrento! In the morning, we'll be on our way to Rome.