Naples is humid. Steaming and sticky like its famous pizza.
Even in the rain–it’s too muggy for your rain coat, but too wet not to wear it.
When you cross the street, cars stream around you like the rivulets rushing between the cobblestones. Searching for the nearest outlet. Slowing down, but never quite stopping.
And the term “urban decay” is more apt here than anywhere.
After a day of avoiding puddles, poking in and out of churches, and ducking under cover whenever possible, Sophie and I felt satisfied with what we’d seen of Naples.
Lucky for us the coming days’ forecast was hot and sunny, and that only meant one thing—day trips. For our first, we roamed (no pun intended) the ruined streets of Pompeii (coming soon to a computer near you). For our second, we woke up bright and early and caught a bus south, kicking off our tour of the Amalfi Coast.
Gut-wrenching, serpentine roads skirting the edges of cliffs.
Terraced lemon groves.
Sparkling azure sea.
And the horns. Beebeep around every curve and corner. Beep at pedestrians straying from the shoulder. Beeeeeep at the oncoming driver who has taken more than his fair share of the road.
And then there’s the one that mimics the wail of an ambulance. Emergency: I must get these tourists to the next stop so they can sweat out all the water they’ve drunk, burn under a merciless sun, gorge themselves on gelato, and stock up on limoncello.
First stop: Amalfi
The town that gives the coastline its name due to its former status as the capital of the Duchy of Amalfi—a powerful Mediterranean maritime republic from the ninth through 14th centuries. Given its rich history, today’s Amalfi is smaller than you’d expect thanks to an earthquake and resultant tsunami in 1343 that destroyed the port and lower town. Today a beach and bus depot line the waterfront and the main road snakes back into the ravine, with smaller, stair-stepped arteries branching off up into the surrounding cliffs.
Next stop: Positano
The bus drops you at the top of the cliff. Everything you want to see is, of course, at the bottom. I’d recommend not being there during the heat of the day…If it had been a little cooler, I may have been persuaded to agree with John Steinbeck who wrote, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” While it didn’t bite me as effectively as Naples’ mosquito population did, Positano is still exceedingly picturesque with sherbet-colored buildings that seem to tumble over each other to get down to the sea below.
Last stop: Sorrento
Sprawling in size when compared to Amalfi and Positano, Sorrento is the closest of the three towns to Naples; it looks back at the city from the opposing tip of the bay. The main part of town sits atop the cliff, while the port and beaches (and resorts) are found below. Highlights include an overgrown church cloister and stunning views of the Bay of Naples complete with the Big V (Mt. Vesuvius) looming in the distance.
Click here for more photos from Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast