An Amalfi Coast essay appeared a while ago in Mint. I love their spiffy new design of the travel planners.
The entire essay is here.
When we are not eating (or plotting when and where to eat next), we ditch the guidebooks, abandon the itineraries, stash the street maps in the backpack and head out.
The Amalfi coast, stretching eastwards from Naples along the Tyrrhenian Sea, lends itself easily to our whimsical agenda. One day, we head to the Neapolitan port of Beverello and catch a ferry to hop along the coast and the nearby islands.
Perched precipitously on the cliffs rising from the sea, narrow, winding roads lead up to towns with impossibly romantic names — Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi, Positano. Colourful markets selling fresh fruits, melon-sized lemons, garlic pods and ripe, fiery red chillies and tomatoes (“Viagra naturale,” claims a shopkeeper) are a staple, as are shops stocked with all manner of tempting trinkets; narrow lanes lined with gorgeous homes that suddenly pop open into airy squares; and, of course, restaurants with the most mouth-watering menus on display. But it’s hard to miss the coast’s natural beauty. Lush greenery swamps the hills, the sea looks forbidding and calm all at once from way high up.
A coastal town
Our drive along the precariously winding coastal roads from Naples to the ancient maritime commerce town of Amalfi confirms our suspicions — your senses come alive to the thought of shelving your current existence and staying put at one of these towns for ever and ever. Imagine Somerset Maugham’s The Lotus Eater with a slightly different ending.
A few must-see destinations manage to sneak their way into the itinerary. Pompeii, in the shadows of a brooding Vesuvius, is our last stop on our Naples leg. The lushness of the coast gives way to arid plumes of dust swirling from the dead streets and homes to the pockmarked walls, statues and pillars that have managed to survive the ravages of the fire and ash that rained down nearly 2,000 years ago.