If we were to say that our two weeks in Umbria were travelling slow then our two weeks from Lucca to Amalfi were at warp speed. Part out of necessity and part enjoying time with friends and part avoiding spending too much time (and money) in the big cities.
Leaving our agriturismo in Umbria was a sad goodbye, although I’m sure the gardener was happy to see us leave, saving him from refilling the pool each day after all our splashing around. We returned our scooter and became free from vehicular responsibility as we boarded the train from Castiglione del Lago to Lucca. Just a hop, exchange at Florence and a skip and we had arrived.
Arriving in Lucca I immediately realise why accommodation had been so hard to find – Take That are in town and they’re performing tonight in the piazza (there’s always a piazza.) Full disclosure – I’d never heard of them. They sounded crap to be honest. No offence.
We avoided the scene Take That were making in the piazza by visiting a wine bar (two euros a glass – too good!) and then eventually found dinner (a pizza and a pasta – is it sacrilegious to have them both? Together? They tasted delightful)
The next day was Moo’s birthday, so I dashed out early to get a couple of cornetti (croissant) and we cycled the high walls of Lucca before a brief train ride to Pisa.
For in Pisa, we had a date (not only with destiny) but with two forlorn homeless friends. Jordan and Lewis, both originally from the UK, had been living in Australia, but have since packed up and are moving to New Zealand, they’re yet to decide where to base themselves. Ask them where they’re from, it’s great fun waiting for the response!
And pasta we did! I loosened the button on my skirt, diet starts tomorrow (that’s a lie, that word doesn’t exist for me in Italy, dolce does though), I ordered a tiramisu.
The leaning tower was…at first, underwhelming. But after walking (or shuffling – tourist attractions demand farm like reactions) around the almost vertical structure and I’m in awe. It really is something. It would be nicer without all the people scrambling over each other to make gestures of holding the thing up. At first we judged, right before doing it ourselves – hey, when in Rome right?
It was then off to Tuscany (because we didn’t consume enough wine and cheese the two weeks prior in Umbria), we had a date with a five-litre cask wine (purchased for ten euro from Madrevite), a pack of cards and a well overdue catch up with Jordan and Lewis. But first, a quick dip in the pool and four pizzas the size of your head. Before you ask – the wine was sensational. So were the pizzas.
While we were in Tuscany, we were able to reach Florence (we saw David, he was wonderful), San Gimignano and Siena.
Next: Rome. Lotsa history, lotsa ‘attractions’ and lotsa people. Our expectations were: it’ll be hot, there’ll be too many people and there’s a chance we’ll hate it. The opposite happened. I mean there were definitely too many people and it was very hot – but Rome was a real crowd pleaser.
A triumphant result given we were four people who dislike big cities. Trevi fountain, the Colosseum and the Pantheon, we ticked them all off with plenty of time for an aperitivi, a long lunch and an even longer charcuterie. Eating well – we most certainly have.
Diet starts tomorrow. We stayed in the trendy Trastevere, (meaning: beyond the tiber) which was perfectly situated. Bars a plenty, with a multitude of lane ways and back streets to keep the place buzzing.
By this point, it’s been a month since we’ve seen the ocean. Thankfully Jordan and Lewis share a similar penchant for the sea side and we were are practically giddy leaving the city smoke behind, full steam ahead for the coast of Amalfi.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, given our last-minute reservation we were going to be staying in the nose bleed section. High up on the hill, miles from the comings and goings of cruise ships, day trippers, constant noise and opportunists keen to make (and make and make) a tourist buck.
It did mean for us – it was difficult to do much as driving (and parking) were difficult, but, the peace and quiet of the sea in the distance was a comfort we all knew we needed after the hairpin bends, extreme and often ferociously reckless Italian drivers seem to bring on every bitumen we rode.
We stayed in San Michele just up from Praiano. Down below, from Positano to Amalfi, the place is literally a circus. I had plenty of people recommend the coast – but for the life of me I just couldn’t figure out why? Was it the beach clubs that charge twenty euro a day to lay next to someone sweating as much as you? From – likely – the same country?
What did we do then? We DID hire a boat (spectacular), we WALKED the path of the Gods (delightful), and we ATE very well (albeit a little expensive).
Was is it the petrol stained sea surface? Was it the food? (certainly overpriced, but delicious, I’ll agree with you there) or was it the dramatic coast line? Ok, I see what you mean, but hiring a boat to acquire peace and by proxy be rewarded with the views seems awfully expensive. I just cant fathom why the place is so adored?!
So… similarly with my thoughts on Santorini, if you ask my thoughts on Amalfi, I will say this: Are you adventurous? Do you like being surrounded people? Do you have a healthy (bulging) budget? Consider your pleasures and rethink if this is the place for you.
The more time I spend in Italy, the more I affix the hedonist label to my lapel. There is nothing quite as pleasurable than the fruits of nature, sea and plate. I just prefer my pleasures affordable, without pretence and fresh. I don’t ask for much? Or do I?
From Amalfi, we farewell Jordan and Lewis while Moo and I head north west to the small island of Procida. Purposefully, not Capri, after the madness we experienced in Amalfi. And let me tell you – it was exactly what we needed and more.
Until then xo.