Driving Pasta Painting: Along The Amalfi Coast

Amalfi/Atrani/Sentiero degli Dei/Positano/Ravello/Sorrento/Capri/Pompeii/Naples, Italy. [May 2019]

Swerve Dodge Pray. These were the constants over four days along the Amalfi Coast Drive, a serpentine marvel of human engineering along the jagged perimeter of an ancient paradise.

To survive on this road, you learn to Give and Take. When you catch a glimpse of the mammoth SITA buses coming in the opposite direction, Give way along the impossible-to-fit-two bends and wait with zen-like patience for the clumsy ogre to claw past before reengaging the gas pedal. When you ride up behind a fellow tourist snailing forward in a rental Fiat, you rev up your Jeep Renegade – unreasonably large for Amalfi but the only automatic left at SixT – and make the engine purr as you Take your right of passing on the wrong side of the road. 

And much like the vessels and veins that connect them, the cities of Southern Italy are a creation of Gives and Takes.

There is Positano, so picturesque in postcards but a chaotic tourist ant farm up close, a lie carefully crafted by the tourist department and travel magazines to artificially remove the one thing that makes it irritable up close: people. After wandering aimlessly around for hours I Give up on finding the miracle vantage point so carefully curated by Travel & Leisure and Take comfort in my delicious Neapolitan pizza.

There is Capri, a chatoyant gem in the sapphire Tyrrhenian sea, split curiously between Anacapri, a slow-paced village with sleepy restaurants and museums and a dearth of intruding visitors, and Capri, the bustling downtown with bank-draining high-power brands and Parisian cafes. It Takes the locals’ hard work to Give the intruders their halcyon illusions of a dreamy Italian getaway. 

There is Pompeii, a haunting expanse of royal rubble, grand yet sullen, majestic yet melancholy, its crown jewels ripped right out of its walls after their builders were laid to rest by Mt. Vesuvius. Some 25 kilometers away, a panoply of these treasures adorn the halls of the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples, giving us the only reason to venture into this unruly pandemonium. As the historians’ historian Charles A. Beard said, “the bee fertilizes the cradle it robs”.

And finally there is namesake Amalfi, once the maritime potentate of these waters, with only the impossible-to-hide grandeur of its Duomo standing as a penumbra of its glory past. Here we find tranquility: the bustle of the Drive fades when you are elevated four stories above it on a balcony at the Marina Riviera Hotel, straight out of a Bond movie (the part where they are not killing each other), the seafood pulled straight out of its crescent bay, the size of the town “Europe-optimal”: large enough to host a town square at the foot of the cathedral and explore and Take your breath away with new discovery around each corner, yet petite enough to Give it an unmistakable European soul.

So Give a little, Take a little – it’s imperfect, it’s compromise, it’s human – it’s life. 

Balcony Bathrobe Robe Relax Vacation Hotel Marina Riviera Amalfi Coast Positano Italy DNXB dongnanxibei
Champagne & fruits on our balcony at Hotel Marina Riviera

 

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Dressed and ready, but first a balcony photoshoot
Atrani Town Amalfi Coast Beach DNXB dongnanxibei
The adjacent, more authentic town of Atrani
Atrani Amalfi Stairs DNXB dongnanxibei
Finding our way back by following the lemons
Hotel Marina Riviera Amalfi Coast Bend Road Balcony View Positano DNXB dongnanxibei
A view of Amalfi downtown and marina from the balcony
Hotel Marina Riviera Amalfi Coast Sunset Balcony View Positano DNXB dongnanxibei
6AM sunrise, and the colors evolve in completely unexpected ways
Amalfi Coast Town Street Mural Dress DNXB dongnanxibei
Hidden artistic delights through the ancient streets of Amalfi town
Amalfi Coast Town Flower Pants Hike Ferry DNXB dongnanxibei
Ready to hike Sentiero degli Dei…in flower pants
Amalfi Marina Puppy Yawn Coast Italy DNXB dongnanxibei
“It’s too early to emBark on the ferry”
Fruit Stand Lemon Citrus Amalfi Duomo Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
The famous Amalfi lemon and citrus stands in a tiny alley
Amalfi Marina Boat Infinite Coast Dock DNXB dongnanxibei
Endless expanse of the Tyrrhenian Sea
Amalfi Duomo Wedding Dress Stairs Bridal Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
Italian bride ascending the stairs at the Amalfi Duomo
Amalfi Duomo Wedding Dress Bridal Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
A bridal walk up the aisle
Sentiero Degli Dei Hike Sign Positano Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
Starting point of Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) in Bomerano, after a terrifying bus ride up
Sentiero Degli Dei Outlook Arms Positano Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
A 3-hour hike besides a rolling art exhibit of mountain and sea

 

Sentiero Degli Dei Hike Flower Pants Positano Town Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
About half way down 1,500 steps into Positano
Sentiero Degli Dei Hike Amalfi Coast Drive Road DNXB dongnanxibei
The curvy Amalfi Coast Drive as seen from Sentiero degli Dei
Flower Pants Positano Town Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
Stylish Positano stacked upon itself
Seaside Cafe Positano Town Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
Lunch views could be a pizza art
Full View Positano Town Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
Positano looking more peaceful than it is when immersed within
Panorama Positano Town Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
From afar, Positano seems a pearl set between emeralds and sapphires
Cappuccino Positano Cafe Espresso Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
A much needed iced caffe recharge in Positano
Statues Villa Cimbrone Terrazza dell'Infinito Terrace Infinity Ravello Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
Statues of rich, dead people at Terrazza dell’infinito in Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, atop Amalfi

 

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Running man across the Terrace of Infinity
Woman Villa Cimbrone Terrazza dell'Infinito Terrace Infinity Ravello Amalfi Coast DNXB dongnanxibei
I’ve got the world in the palm of my hands
Anacapri Capri Alley Flowers Amalfi Coast Italy DNXB dongnanxibei
An unexpected floral delight in the narrow streets of Anacapri
Villa San Michele Capri Sphinx Amalfi Coast Anacapri Italy DNXB dongnanxibei
Panoramic view of the isle of Capri, as seen from the Sphinx of Villa San Michele
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Well-preserved frescoes in Pompeii
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“Cut out the horseshit Julius, the streets are overflowing with lava!”
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“I can’t see so well, can you give me a hand?”
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A melancholy giant standing guard over a somber past
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The famous Alexander the Great mural preserved in the Naples Archaeological Museum
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The lion vs. the jaguar, also taken from Pompeii to Naples

“History is but a fable agreed upon.” -Helvétius (but commonly misattributed to Napoleon)

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