sabato 5 marzo 2011

The Amalfi coast

To scoot around Naples with free transport and visit excavations and museums we had used a three day ArteCard. An essential for the visitor to Naples.

Friday, that card having expired, we set out for the Amalfi coast using a Unico Campania all day 'Fascia 5' card, the Fascia Cinque, referring to the distance covered by the ticket. This allowed us to take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Sorrento, then SITA buses to Positano, Amalfi (lunch) and Salerno, before coming home on the Trenitalia train from Salerno. At the end of a wearying day we payed about E6.50 for two booking fees to travel swiftly non-stop and comfortably on that leg on the Palermo-Rome Intercity Train.

The use of public transport meant that we doubled or trebled the value of travel compared with using some tour bus. We were among ordinary travellers, albeit that the buses we took between Sorrento and Positano and Amalfi was mainly inhabited by tourists - a new world of budget travellers, though, in which a young Chinese couple could leap from the bus at an isolated part of the journey to climb stairs down the cliff to the Green Grotto. And where two young women from Taiwan would rely on us a couple of times for advice on which bus to take.

The last bus section, from Amalfi to Salerno, was different, astounding, the coast more precipitate, the traffic on the narrow road quite heavy, the spaces between heavy vehicles passing each other in some places in millimeters, or with gentle brushings of soft edge bits... and a full load of locals, standing room taken, crowded.

A white haired woman in her seventies at least, gets on in one village with a massive bunch of flowers, then gets off soon after at an isolated bend, vanishing up a steep stairway in vegetation.

Above and below, the way the land has been worked for thousands of years, with lemon orchards banked steeply on terraces; caves and workshops; houses and sheds and pathways. Look at the history of Amalfi and wonder at what generations ago what types of people would come to work the hardest land imaginable in the margins of this tiny port rival to Genoa and Venice, proud enough to have refused the keys of the city to Roger II, Norman king of Sicily, 900 years ago, sacked for its temerity.

This last section of the coast (Amalfi to Salerno, alas no photos here) is less travelled, has more integrity and is less a site for the beautiful people than Amalfi-Positano where prices have gone mad, building on the steep coast more improbable, and though with some of its old charm, the cultural value of Positano is descended into the depths of, of... Who magazine.

Photo above: early morning in one of the many busy towns along the Naples-Salerno rail. We had descended from one train, caught the next, to take coffee in a bar — and use the toilet in the bar. Everyone relies on bars for toilets — but of course if you have a coffee every time you go, the cycle can get vicious!

Below: glimpses of the sea as this suburban train approaches Sorrento.

and a glimpse of the narrow gauge track from our seat in the back of the train

and here photos of Positano, from up near the bus stop, down below and back up again
— a climb reminiscent of Modica in Sicily

Views from the bus window on the road from Positano to Amalfi

Nessun commento:

Posta un commento