TRAVELOGORRHEA

travelogorrhea

Lunedi. We woke in our Palazzo after a good night’s sleep and had a more-than-continental breakfast here in the hotel

 

before starting an epic five hour hike to Ravello and back, about 1,000 vertical feet straight uphill from here. We began in the next-door town of Atrani (by the Beat the Devil sign) walking from the beach through a tunnel into the charming piazza, and then straight up – we must have walked up (and ultimately down) more than 2,000 steps. Soon we were above the town, but there were always houses, churches and terraced vineyards above us.

 

We hiked up the Valley of the Dragon, stopping to talk with the proprietor of a pottery and ceramics store, and ultimately came to the Pizza Fontana in Ravello, where we began our exploration of the town, admiring the views at the Belvedere and enjoying lunch in the Piazza Duomo. The climax of our walk was the Villa Cimbrone – a helicopter landed there and disgorged a camera crew and a well-to-do young bride and groom. From the panoramic vista of the Terrazza dell-Infinito, we looked straight down at our hotel pool and the SaracenTower!

 

Soon we were navigating the hundreds of steps straight down until we were back in Atrani, and shortly thereafter, luxuriating in a brisk swim in the sea and in that selfsame Hotel Luna pool, we looked straight up into the clouds and saw exactly where we had been! This whole there-and-back maneuver was very satisfying, though hard on the knees.

 

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Martedi. This pen has been so great, but it’s running out of ink, just as our trip is running out of days. This will be our last full day in Amalfi. Beautiful hot sunny morning. To step out onto the deep blue tiles of our huge balcony and look down into the aquamarine water, then up to see the waking town in the morning light – remember this!


 

Our last full day in Amalfi continues triumphantly, first with breakfast downstairs on the balcony overlooking this magnificent vista, and then with another hike far up into the hills. We started at the PaperMillMuseum – they have been making paper here in Amalfi since the 1300s! B. even got a chance to make a sheet, laying a slurry of cotton pulp on a fine mesh screen with a watermark and then rolling it onto a roller of heavy felt, ready to be wind-dried in a nearby cave.

 

Then we walked into the hills on another staircase, up and up until we were high above the town on a stone path looking down on terraced lemon groves, growing on wooden arbors so the lemons hang down like grapes. Everywhere in the hills are stacks of 4” diameter trimmed sapling poles about 12 feet long that they use to construct these terraced arbors.


 

Further up and up, into the Valle delle Ferriere, we encountered the river that turns the water wheels of the paper mill down in the town. Soon we were walking along the river, and then the waterfalls and cascades shared their music and the huge stone ruins appeared – ancient paper mills and the ruined iron works that give the valley its name. We turned around after an hour’s walk, reluctantly, with granite faces still towering thousands of feet above us, and came back down into the town, where we bought salami and cheese and had a picnic here on the deck. Now it’s time to jump back into the sea.

 

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A beautiful swim in the Golfo di Salerno – very warm and rough. I swam around the point so I could enjoy the view of Amalfi from the water, then back at the ladder the swell virtually expelled me from the water. A quick dip in the pool and a nap, then M. & I were off on yet another exhausting and exhilarating walk up the steps in Atrani into the Valle Dragone, to visit the ceramic maker we met yesterday. We purchased 165 Euros worth of plates, bowls and trivets, all with a pattern of lemons-and-leaves on a cobalt background. A lovely souvenir if we can get them home in one piece! A last drink in the courtyard of the hotel and dinner at da Maria in Amalfi.


 

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