ITALY AND THE AMALFI COAST
It's impossible to capture the beauty of the Amalfi coast in words or photos. You have to experience this bus ride through one of the most beautiful places in the world. On Rick Steve's website he says, " The Amalfi Coast offers one of the world's great bus rides: The coastal trip from Sorrento to Salerno will leave your mouth open and your film exposed. You'll gain respect for the Italian engineers who built the road — and even more respect for the bus drivers who drive it. As you hyperventilate, notice how the Mediterranean, a sheer 500-foot drop below, twinkles."
I have to agree that the narrow winding road up the Amalfi coast is truly one of the most scenic roads in the world and no doubt in the top ten of white-knuckle drives.
At the time we were staying in Seiano on the Gulf of Naples, a short distance from Sorrento. We took the Circumvesuviana Train out of Seiano to Sorrento then boarded a SITA bus to Positano and Amalfi to experience this incredible bus journey. The drivers have their own language and honk when they are rounding one of the multitude of hairpin turns to alert drivers coming the other way so they will yield. (sit on the right side of the bus for the spectacular views heading in this direction). The route requires a lot of concentration, skill and endurance from the driver. Oncoming traffic tends to drift over the center line, the buses take up the entire road around some corners, and there are often parked cars in the way. It's a continual obstacle course.
The bus stopped in Positano and we got off to explore this small village overlooking the sea. According to legend, the Greek God Poseidon created Positano for Pasitea, a nymph he lusted after. The main part of the city sits in an enclave in the hills leading down to the coast. Positano was a relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the 20th century. It began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s, especially after John Steinbeck published his essay about Positano in Harper's Bazaar in May, 1953: "Positano bites deep", Steinbeck wrote. "It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone."
Positano has one narrow road in, which winds as close to the bottom as possible and then winds back out. The only way to get to the sea is to walk down narrow streets lined with cascading, heavily-scented flowers. We walked down the road and stopped half way at a small cafe and ate lunch outside enjoying the view, the weather and the locals who walked and drove by our table.
We walked back up the road and waited for the next bus to continue our journey to Amalfi. Below are some of the magnificent views of the coastline . . . . . . .
We arrived in Amalfi and started to explore this beautiful coastal town. According to legend Amalfi was founded when the girlfriend of Hercules was buried here. Amalfi is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Committee decided to inscribe this site considering that the Costiera Amalfitana is an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values resulting from its dramatic topography and historical evolution.
One of the main attractions is the historical Duomo at the heart of town - The Cathedral of Amalfi, dedicated to St. Andrew who is the patron saint of Amalfi as well as Scotland and Russia. The brother of St. Peter, Andrew was a fisherman and one of the first apostles.
The power of Amalfi is evident in the approach to the cathedral, which is set atop more than 60 broad steps with imposing bronze doors - the first in Italy - which were cast in Constantinople before 1066. Silver incrustations on the doors, now difficult to see, are images of Christ, Mary, and saints.
The Bronze Door and a close-up of one of the door knockers
The complex of the cathedral includes the "Cloister of Paradise", the Basilica of the Crucifix, the Crypt of St. Andrew, and the Cathedral. To describe this in one phrase it would be a garden, museum, mausoleum, and church all rolled into one. The Cloister of Paradise is a series of interlaced arches in a garden setting where Amalfi's elite were once buried. The Basilica was the original church and now is a museum.
Around the cloister you will find several sarcophagi, including two fine examples dating from the first half of the 2nd century.
The sarcophagus in
the photo below shows a scene from Greek myth of “The
Rape of Proserpine.”
Nave of Cathedral
This really caught my eye as a
very unusual pulpit. It is the statue of an eagle,
standing upright, wings outspread, about five feet high.
Below are photos of some of relics from The Basilica of the Crucifix (museum)
The magnificent artwork and ceiling in the crypt, which is decorated with beautiful Baroque murals from 1660.
Looking at the Altar from the side
The bronze statue of
Saint Andrew in the cathedral was sculpted by
Saint Andrew’s Fountain at Piazza del Duomo. The fountain is baroque in style, being built in 1760. It originally faced the cathedral but was later moved to the side of the square. The water runs continuously and is fresh - perfect for replenishing your water bottles.
The Amalfi Coast is truly a must see on any trip to Southern Italy. MAGNIFICO !
"The Creator made Italy from designs by Michaelangelo." -- Mark Twain