The joy, and guilt, of a drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy

View from above Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

View from above Positano on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Some places fill the mind with light, draw us like moths towards their flame … and as we arrive in our thousands the chaos from our wingbeats pushes outwards.

The Amalfi Coast, rippled turquoise, with emerald light and wilderness, is one such flame; and I feel like a vandal every time I visit by car.

Winter sun in a quiet Positano on the Amalfi Coast, in Italy

Winter sun in a quiet Positano on the Amalfi Coast, in Italy

This February, for the first time, we drove almost the full twist of the coast – there was sunshine, there were clouds, and there were very few tourists.

At first on the grey morning, through the jumbled outskirts of Naples, there was no flicker of Amalfi light … but it came.

A hidden Saracen Tower on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

A hidden Saracen Tower on the Amalfi Coast, Italy

And with it came lemon groves; bougainvillaea; moonflowers; green, jagged hills; and villages hidden in the curves, stacked indifferently to face the sea.

Lemons for sale on the edge of the road on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Lemons for sale on the edge of the road on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

We followed the curves, our old silver car a scrawl across a place of brilliant blue.

Positano - face turned to the sun

Positano – face turned to the sun

Everywhere ceramics bounced back the light.  The display below, with every right to belong, was opposite a petrol station and before some of the parking lots on the steep road into Positano.

Ceramics for sale in Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Ceramics for sale in Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

We stayed longest in Positano, curious to see the famed town for ourselves.  The walk down to the beach from the central parking felt soulless, an empty parade of  shops waiting for the tourists.  Serendipity was lost … until we reached the sea.

View to a Saracen Tower from a beach in Positano, on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

View to a Saracen Tower from a beach in Positano, on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

There nature filled the sky and forced the town to huddle back against the cliffs.

Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

From the far end of the beach the insistence on Positano made sense but, as we drove up out of the town, so too did the mules loaded with sand for building work.

Mule being loaded for work in Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

Mule being loaded for work in Positano on the Amalfi Coast in Italy

The road looped towards Salerno – blue to one side, rock face on the other, and anything dead ahead.

We stopped for coffee in Maiori and then drove on.  We ignored the lively charms of Cetara, and  wiggled up and out past Vietri, a town so full of ceramics and shoppers it’s always hard to stop.

There, high above the sea and with weary wings, we dragged ourselves away from the light and headed back to Naples.  Behind us the Amalfi Coast, craggy survivor of countless naval invasions, was lost from sight.

Change of job description for an old Saracen Tower in Maiori on the Amalfi Coast

An old Saracen Tower in Maiori on the Amalfi Coast

We’d driven 40kms of road, the full length of the Costiera Amalfitana, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has, at most, a few more quiet weeks before thousands and thousands of us will cross the hills to dare along its length, drawn by the blue of the sun on the sea.

Perhaps it’s time for the asinello (little donkey) to come back.

Vietri - where ceramics pay tribute to the horsepower that helped to build what's there today.

Vietri – where ceramics honour the asinello.

Copyright Georgie Knaggs & The Phraser 2016

11 thoughts on “The joy, and guilt, of a drive along the Amalfi Coast in Italy

  1. Reblogged this on The Phraser and commented:

    I wrote this post at the end of February last year. Since then we’ve seen another summer on the lovely Amalfi Coast … but we’ve also sat in its traffic jams, and met up with friends, weak with frazzled nerves, after they’ve completed their own summer drives along this famous coast. My advice is to travel by sea .. I don’t think donkeys are available yet 🙂

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    • Thank you so much Annabel – I’m so glad it unfurled your wings although I’m sure a lot of the credit for that must go to the Amalfi light, even though it’s been trapped in the photographs. Keep flying! 🙂

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