Review: The Amalfi Coast
S. and I are the train now after saying goodbye to Napoli and zipping through the Italian countryside to Tuscany by way of Rome. With our Eurail passes in hand, we paid €10 each for a ‘reservation’ fee and jumped on the train just in time for an 11:50A ride to Firenze. The views are nice; green and lush. There are trees as far as the eye can see and a few country-style houses scattered throughout for effect.
I like the train. I like the train much better than I like flying, despite the sometimes-long rides. This journey from Naples to Florence will take us about 3 hours, with a stop in Rome but no changes (thank God – we don’t want to haul luggage again). A flight would be shorter, of course, but then we’d have to get to the airport early and deal with the hassles of airport security and getting a transfer to the city center. With the train, we arrive about a half a kilometer from our St. Lorenzo area hotel. I’m excited about Florence; the art, the sightseeing, the wine-tasting. Also, I’m even more excited about Florence after the amazingness of the Amalfi Coast. Being in Agerola for three days reinforced my love for Italy. I fell in love when L. and I were in Rome in November and I was hoping that all of Italy would be as wonderful. The Amalfi Coast was equally amazing although entirely different. The views were astounding and the areas were quaint.
When S. and I booked our hotel in advance, we were unfamiliar with the towns of the Amalfi Coast but for the information that we discovered through a few online sources. Agerola is situated much higher than Amalfi, Ravello, Positano, Maiori and Conca dei Marini and the views are pretty great in certain areas. Also, while it was warm, the weather was a bit cooler due to the high elevation. The only downside was the town’s small size; there are but a few restaurants and the town is comprised of primarily the 70+ pensioner crowd. That was fine by us since the cost of our B&B was far less than it would have been in Amalfi. Plus, the family that owned our place was amazing. They were beyond friendly and helped us out through the entire trip. Also, while the bus ride down to Amalfi is long and windy (not for people that get car sick), the views are pretty incredible (although, admittedly, making that journey twice a day sucks).
Amalfi is cute with pretty amazing views although it’s rather touristy. It is Amalfi after all and when people head to the Amalfi Coast, it would seem logical to stay in the city that the coast is named after. While the city was charming and loaded with quintessential tourist shops (selling all things lemon), the prices were for food and basics were much higher in Amalfi than in Agerola and the city wasn’t as beautiful as Positano. Granted, when we arrived in Positano after our long, sweaty hike, the city seemed like an oasis in a desert: water, gelato and ocean to calm our souls. Relief aside, I found the city absolutely gorgeous. With our love of the Amalfi Coast setting in almost immediately, S. and I talked about nabbing a villa for a couple of weeks during the summer (next year or the year after) and bringing the fam away for a couple of weeks in paradise. After exploring the towns, we both felt that Positano would be the perfect location for our imaginary villa; the town in itself is beautiful, there are beaches to lay out and cool off, cute restaurants, cafes and gelaterias plus there are ferries that take you to Amalfi in about 30 minutes, granting easy access to the neighboring coastal cities.
All in all, as we leave Agerola, I find myself content with our stay there. Where in Malta I didn’t really want to leave and in Athens I couldn’t wait to move on, Amalfi was perfect. We had just enough time to experience the things that we wanted to see. While we could have stayed longer and explored other nearby cities (Pompeii, Vesuvio, Sorrento, etc.), I feel ready to move on to Florence to practice my Italiano and meet new people. I have also rediscovered my love of Italy: it’s truly an amazing country; my favorite, in fact, with its diverse cities and regional personalities. After expiercing the history of Rome and the grit of Naples (juxtaposed with the beauty of the Amalfi Coast), I’m ready to move on to the artsy and foodie side of Italy.