~knee sweat~

June 25th, 2008

The colors! The cars! Surprisingly little has changed on the Amalfi Coast in the fifty years since this photo was taken for a tourist book in Rosa and Franco’s collection.

We spent the following four gorgeous, smoldering days on the Amalfi Coast, without a moments rest from the thought “If someone would pour a bucket of water over my head, that would be so lovely.” An Italian word for hot is caldo. I heard and said molto caldo many many times in these days. An excellent manner of bonding with limited language: the oppressive weather is something everyone can agree upon.


We arrived by a coastal road we would travel several times in our stay, the aptly named “road of a thousand curves.” So gorgeous and impossible to photograph. Somehow whenever we drove it, I was without video camera, which would have done it some justice. The drive from Positano to Ravello is one everyone should make in their lifetime. John Steinbeck is reported to have wept when he witnessed the beauty of this coastline.

a miniature village built into the side of the highway.

We set up camp in Sorrento, a small city in Campania, just south of Napoli. Byron, Keats, Wilde, Dickens, Goethe, Wagner, Ibsen and Nitzsche have all enjoyed time in this (relatively) chaotic city, presumably for the same reasons we did: location. It’s a handy point for getting about by car, bus, or boat. Our hotel Il Nido (the nest), is perched high on the hill over groves of orange, lemon, walnut and almond trees. Here is their webcam, which shows the view from the balcony.

click on image to expand

The area has a fascinating history of extremes, from the tragedy of the “mountain” Vesuvius that mysteriously erupted on August 24, 79 AD and in three hours swallowed all of Pompeii and Herculaneum in ash and boiling mud, leaving behind a perfect time capsule of ancient life (as well as some brothel frescoes not for the faint-hearted), to the ritzy jet-setting 1950s that inspired Fellini’s La Dolce Vita.



The context of extremes continues to play out in the economic disparity of tourists and locals now. Below is a window on the outskirts of Sorrento, and our favorite tourist late night spot, Fauno Bar, home of the 10EU mojito, two of which (more rare than a hen’s tooth–Ali generally shuns both spirits and seconds) actually put a buzzed grin on my man’s face. Lovely!



We arrived one night after the festival of Saint John the Baptist, which is celebrated in various pagan ways, such as night bathing (spose we were channeling this at the hotel in Senigallia?) and I hear that an ampulla of his blood in the local church liquefies on this night as well.



We also just missed (by one day and about 200 km–a spec on the map of 2600km/1000miles we covered on this trip!) the festival of Tarantella celebrated in the town of Taranto on June 29th at 6am. The dance is said to cure the bite from a Tarantula spider, the vigorous movements causing you to sweat the poison out. Next time I will be doing the early-morning spider dance.



Instead we enjoyed still, pale pink sunsets, icy sips of Limoncello and copious quantities of local fish at Trattoria da Emilia.

I leave you with a clip of the Tarantella.

2 Responses to “~knee sweat~”

  1. atlasphere says:

    the tarantella seems entirely a fancy name for goofing off!

  2. […] For me, it’s the wild that calls most: Spain’s northern coast, Galicia, and more than anything, southern Andalusia. I’m thrilled about the cities too, but my best memories in recent travel (Ravello, the tiny towns along both southern coasts of Italy, Venasque, La Coste, the enclaves above the Côte d’Azur, Nervi!) are of the smaller nooks in the classic romantic countries. So my homing pigeon instinct points to the Pueblos Blancos of Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Granada… […]

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