While in the Naples area we took a drive down the Amalfi coast. After listening to my buddy Rick Steves, who said it was chaotic and could be frightening, I suggested we hire a driver for that drive. Dan laughed. Story of my life.
But alas, my fears were unfounded (they usually are) and we had a very nice day driving down the coast and seeing the views. The girls were less engaged on this journey. They have seen beautiful views a lot and although they thought it was pretty, 3 hours of “look how pretty this is!” is probably a bit much. We all found the driving process quite entertaining, though.
The drive is on a 2-lane, very curvy, very narrow road all the way down the coast. But it’s also very popular for tourists which means… tour buses. Big ones! So when a bus is coming around the corner, he will honk to let oncoming traffic know that he has to swing wide and use all the lanes to get around. If you happen to be in his path, well might makes right and you gotta back up. A few times we saw two buses meet and watching a bus back up was amusing. I am pretty sure I would be losing my chit if I was on the backing-up bus.
Two or three times there was a guy with a ping pong paddle that had red and green on it, designed to direct traffic. And one time there was an actual stop light around a corner to keep it one lane at at time. Logic!
It’s not quite high season yet but there was still a decent amount of traffic. I guess it gets worse, though, because sometimes they close off that road to one direction of traffic and make it a two lane road headed only east or west. That was not the case for us.
We enjoyed the drive, we checked out the views, we stopped in Amalfi for a pizza lunch, we wandered around the low-key town of Solerno and then we started back to our underwhelming Airbnb in the Naples area. When Zoe saw the GPS for the trip back, she was flabbergasted. The journey that took over 3 hours to Solerno was now taking us only 35 minutes to get back via the freeway.
A few days later we headed even further south – this time all freeway – to a beach town called Paestum. We wanted to see a nice beach with sand – not rocks – and we read this was the nicest one in the area. We got a little lost on the way, but we bumped into some really old Greek ruins (yes, Greek… the oldest Greek ruins in Italy) so it was a valuable wrong turn.
We didn’t have a long stay at the beach due to untimely hunger pangs from all 4 family members but we checked out the wonderful fine sand, cool waters and a cute camping town. This is a town very well known for its destination weddings and mozzarella cheese made from Buffalo milk.
Shermans don’t follow Italian meal timing and so around 4:30 pm we were famished, partly due to climbing Mt Vesuvius and skipping lunch. That’ll do it. But trying to find a restaurant open for dinner at 4:30 pm? Not happening. Heaven forbid any restaurant would be open in a beach town in the summer before 6 pm. We finally spent so much time looking that we stumbled into a place right around 6 pm when the manager was opening it up. He didn’t speak English so I rubbed my tummy, looked sad, made eating motions and said “Familia hungry” (because when in a pinch, no matter where we are, I’ll try Spanish… duh!). Nice Manager Guy got the picture and was about to package up some mozzarella for us to take to go but I made it clear somehow that we wanted to stay there for dinner. They specialized in beef, after all. We are enjoying the food here (some less than others, hint: Dan) but we were ready for something other than pizza. The manager was happy to have us sit down and then shortly thereafter, the employees started piling into the place. They were probably surprised to see this family all seated at the table, ready to eat before the kitchen even opened up. They brought us bread, cheese and prosciutto right away and once we communicated our need for butter (we are Americans, after all, we eat bread with butter!) all was right with the world.
They were the sweetest employees, they got us our food fast and it was great. We had steak and french fries and prosciutto and local buffalo mozzarella cheese. So tasty! When we rolled out of there around 7 pm, we were happy campers. As we left, the restaurant was still completely empty. I’m sure the staff were stunned that we were in and out of there in about an hour. They must think Americans are crazy for eating so fast. But all this fast travel makes for a tired family so we were ready to get back to our mediocre Airbnb and get some rest on the hard beds.
You don’t have to take the not-so-harrowing drive to enjoy the views. Just enjoy our pictures.