Amalfi: Reality Check

40.63°N, 14.6° E

Dispatch: Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi clings to the rocky cliffs as though a strong shake could send it toppling into the sea like an earthquake did in the 14th century. It’s a fairy tale Italian seaport of steeples and winding passageways.

Approaching from the sea, Amalfi appears as a dream from the past. One expects fishermen in t-shirts to be sharing bottles of local wine after they unload the morning catch or women sitting near their front doors doing needlework as their great great grandmothers did.

The reality is quite different on shore. An assault of signage hawking everything a tourist might desire, a cruise to Capri, a dive trip, a bus to Ravello, came into view as we debarked. Numerous near-miss pedestrian vs. tour bus calamities unfolded crossing the road. Vehicles and people are at odds throughout the village. Motorbikes zip between the crush of tourists; the many, many tourists who unaware of impending death, make their way up the ancient cobblestones to the Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea.

Humanity responds to the honking with shrieking and jumping to find refuge in shops where presumably motorcycles do not enter.The shops form a second line of assault on the crowds who apparently are happy to spend Euros on everything from pornographic bar-b-cue aprons, chili peppers labeled Viagra Naturale, and religious figures in snow globes. Does it ever snow in Amalfi?

We hid at a Gelateria, taking a defensive position at the table behind the one directly on the pathway/road. The gelato was superb, creamy and fluffy as it should be.In addition to traditional flavors like stracciatella, a holy grail for chocolate chip ice cream fans, odd flavors for Italian gelato like Oreo cookie drew crowds. Yes Oreos for those travelers who need a taste of home wherever they are.

The sugar buzz provided enough strength to climb the steps to the Cathedral door where a cool three euros would buy entrance into the CHURCH. Probably should have checked the mass schedule for free admission. Hopefully,pilgrims who made their way to the original church in 596 AD did not pay fees. The current church is a newer, a 9th century model. Maybe the three Euros is still paying down the construction loan for a building that is an engineering marvel.

Worn out by the bombardment, we returned to our floating home.The sun was setting; Amalfi turned golden. The view from the balcony restored a dreamy metaphorical city on the hill. Church bells rang out vesper songs and Amalfi conveyed a peaceful countenance.


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    P. Dawn

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