Wednesday, November 01, 2006

September 2006 - Amalfi & Ravello, Italy

Wow, we look tired. The life of a world traveller is wearing on us. We flew from Milan to Rome and stopped in Rome for 1 day (just long enough to do laundry and repack our bags). But here we are on the Amalfi coast (La Costiera Amalfitana). We don't expect any sympathy.
Amalfi was founded, according to legend, when the girlfriend of Hercules was buried there. In the 10th - 11th centuries it was a powerful maritime republic like Genoa and Venice and during that period they established the rules of the sea which still survive today. The little town's real claim to fame is Flavio Gioia - the boy that is credited with inventing the magnetic compass in 1302.

We are so impressed with the view from our balcony. Can you believe we booked this hotel only 2 days before we arrived!!!Luckily we arrived just in time for the boat parade in honor of the Virgin Mary. That's her in the middle of the red boat. The yellow building behind the red boat is our charming seaside hotel on Amalfi's main promenade.Don't worry those aren't grey clouds behind us, it's smoke from the 45 cannons that were being fired . . . you guessed it . . . in honor of the Virgin. The seige only lasted about 6 hours - just long enough to cover the city in a huge grey cloud and deafen all of its inhabitants.
Keep smiling . . . ignore the cannons. Amalfi is a quaint town full of narrow winding streets and shops full of lemon products. The Amalfi coast is responsible for most of Italy's lemon production (big beautiful yellow lemons) as a result, there is a great smell in the air eminating from the lemon shops. And the limoncello never stops flowing here in its birthplace. Manufacturing paper (using ancient techniques of pounding cloth into pulp) and tourism are still the largest industries here.We took a bus ride to Ravello 1000 ft up the mountain on winding narrow streets which climb by making sharp blind turns (don't look down). Ravello is worth the bus ride. Here, we are at the Villa Cimbrone a spectacular estate offering beautiful views of the Mediterranean and extensive gardens.The terrace of infinity offers the most spectacular views of the sea.
After Villa Cimbrone we walked through the town to Villa Rufolo a 13th century villa with Arabic/Normand gardens perched on the edge of the cliff with breathtaking views of Amalfi below.

After our tour of Ravello we decided to hike back down the mountain to Amalfi (Casandra was still sick from the ride up).

This is our view of Amalfi as we rounded the last cliff on our way down.

Goodbye Amalfi, Positano here we come.

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