Pompeii and brooding Vesuvius

The Amalfie Coast was everything it was advertised as. The scenery was dramatic, the villages picturesque, the people laid back and welcoming. The lifestyle seemed to transpose to foreigners as well, with the same laissez faire attitude soon being the preferred option.

My wife and I spent a couple of weeks in Miaori, encouraged by the staff of our hotel, the Reginna Palace Hotel, well recommended, to let it all go, and for me the highlight was a visit to Pompeii. I’d read a lot about it, seen films as a kid of its excavations, and it was always a destination I promised myself. I don’t know why it has taken so long but a return visit is likely, although in shorter time.

Vesuvius dominated the ruins and the term brooding was never more apt for a mountain. We went up to the crater but it was out.

Everything I read suggested that it would be hot in Pompeii and that we should take cool clothing and lots to drink. I’m glad we believed them, despite it being September and, every local told us, a lot cooler. June and July would have been a trial in the sun.

Amalfie was a bit of a disappointment, being a little on the bustling side. It was home to the main bus garage where all coastal and inland routes terminated, and this meant anyone from outside wanting to go to Napoli, Positano, Ravello or Salerno would probably have to go via Amalfie. Away from the coast it was crowded even in September.

Ravello was stunning, with a wedding going on seemingly all the time. Well worth a visit although you will leave wanting to return. We met a lovely couple, he Australian, she Irish, who had recently married, who brightened our day with their delightful conversation.

Whilst it is always invigorating to meet any young couple very much in love, it makes it so much more enjoyable when both are so personable. The very best of luck to you both.

You made our day.

The one bit of advice I hope every visitor follows is to journey from Miaori to Amalfie or back by public transport. In 2016 it was €1.30 by bus and €6.00 by boat.

I came away with a tremendous respect for the local bus drivers. The Italian stereotype of hooter sounding, aggressive driving doesn’t go for those manoeuvring buses along the coast road. My respect even remained after we drove into a mountain.

We have been held up for some time by a number of vehicles coming the other way which refused to give way to our bus. Eventually the inevitable happened and there was gridlock. For reasons which escaped me at the time, and still do, the vehicle chosen to get everyone out of the mess everyone else had created was our bus.

To assist our driver, two other drivers who had failed to use their good sense when coming towards us alighted from their vehicles and by a series of confusing, not to say contradictory, signals directed our driver to reverse into the mountain.

A side window cracked, but with an impressively loud bang. There were screams from the passengers sitting next to it, but it was double glazed so they were not at risk.

What was remarkable, at least to me at the time, although I can now appreciate it was the norm, the driver didn’t blame anyone, didn’t even shrug. He looked at the window from the inside, seeing nothing, drove off when the traffic eventually sorted itself out, and then examined it at the next stop. I had visions of having to await another bus, but he was laid back about it and we continued onto Sorrento.

There was no fuss, no bother, no great histrionics. We are told that the reason Italians live longer is because of their diet. Now much as I love Italian food – I had 13 different types of pasta on holiday, and two types of fish I’d never tried before – I reckon it is more to do with lifestyle.

Shops closing at 2pm and not opening until 5pm, now that’s got to add a couple of years extra to any shop worker’s life. Not to mention, those who shop as well, or those who merely stand and wait.

And something else. Every now and again the bus driver would pull to one side, as far as he could, to let car drivers past along the narrow coast road. How come none of our bus drivers have thought of this?

The picture shows a bridal carriage for what appeared to be a rather upmarket wedding. Is that cool or is that ice cold?

If your bride is enchanted by that as the vehicle to whisk her into your arms at your wedding, you’ve got a gem.

We went for a stroll along the promenade every evening and were greeted in any number of languages. It seems everyone is laid back.

We returned on the Sunday. At 1.30am on the following Tuesday, the mains water pipe into the cold water tank burst. So much good work gone.

From Amalfi to Miori by boat and bus

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