Our time in Umbria and Tuscany has come to an end and today, Saturday, we make the 5-1/2 hour drive to Positano and the Amalfi Coast. What I try to achieve with the two weeks we have is to show my travelers the contrasts in landscape and lifestyle Italy offers. From the beauty and elegance of Florence, to the relaxed tranquility of the Umbrian countryside, then finish with the picturesque elegance of the Amalfi Coast. Not only do you experience the contrast in landscapes but also the contrast in cuisine and wine! It’s time for seafood!
We started the morning early, as we wanted to be on the road as early in the day as possible so we can make the final drive into Positano during the daylight hours. Isabel made us a delicious frittata and coffee and we were ready to go! Yes the final stretch into Positano had my travelers in an utter state of trepidation. This road is winding with steep cliffs rising from the sea below. Now Matt and Jennifer had made the trip the day before with no issues so I assured my travelers they could do it!
5-1/2 hours and every couple in their own car – 7 cars! Am I insane???? So we gas up in Mercatale and we are off on a new adventure – including a new adventure for Isabel and I as this is our first time to the Amalfi Coast! I love that aspect of the trip – we all become explorers together. My travelers ask me questions like, “Where do we turn once we past Naples?” My answer. “I have no idea, this is my first time there too!” I love the look on their faces…..! You see that is part of what makes this trip different from a guided tour sitting on a bus, with a leader holding an umbrella and you follow every step predetermined. No not this trip – this is truly and adventure and as I have said in other blogs, this trip becomes a great metaphor of life itself. Yes you have your leaders and mentors but really you set your own course and you find your own discoveries and explorations and only you have your own unique view of reality. I have 15 travelers on this trip that all followed the same basic itinerary, but I can guarantee you every travelers has their own unique experience and memory of this trip – same with life. I think we all think everyone views life the way we do. Let me tell you, every person’s experience and view of life is as different as you can possibly imagine – even those on the same trip!
So, we get on the Autostrada and start our trip southward. As soon as we get on the Autostrada we get off and pull into an Autogrille to show everyone what one of these work of art stops over the top of the freeway is all about. This stop does two things, it shows everyone who these Autogrilles work and because of the time ti takes to herd the cats my impatient travelers take off early and the group usually splits which makes getting to the destination so much easier. Instead of 7 cars in one group we were now down to two groups – one with 3 cars and one with 4 cars. Much easier!
As we make our way down to the coast we make a few stops to rest, exercise and eat. The Autogrilles are the best as you don't have to get off the highway to gas up, eat or rest. Its easy and the quality and assortment of choices is fantastic.
The drive from Umbria to Positano is beautiful as you make your way through southern Tuscany, the countryside outside of Roma, and then past the bustling city of Naples, Mount Visuvius, and Pompei. Then you make the turn to Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi and the fun begins. You are now off the three lane Autostrada and onto a two lane (really a one lane road by our standards) winding road, broken with tunnels, twist and turns that gradually crescendo with views to the Bay of Naples and the Mediterranean Sea.
As we cross the peninsula we start to descend downward from the top of the mountain down to the coast of Positano. This road is something to experience! Between the winding turns and the cliffs to the right you have to also navigate the plethora of oversize busses coming up the hill on the oncoming lane, bicyclists, hikers, and the endless vespas and motorcycles trying to dodge between the busses, cars, and cliffs. It’s an experience!
I had navigated the route a view times virtually on Google Maps Street View so I knew where the hotel garage was and what it looked like, had dropped a pin and shared the pin with all of my travelers. A good skill to learn if traveling by car in Europe 0r anywhere for that matter. With this preparation, we never made a wrong turn and drove right to the garage!
Now as with all of the coastal villages in Italy, if you can get your car even close to the hotel you are fortunate. Our garage was maybe 10 blocks from the hotel but the garage had porters who took our bags and all we had to do was walk down the hill to the beach and our hotel the Covo dei Saracini. Talk about a transition from the Umbrian Country houses!
We checked into our room with a beautiful view of the beach and hillside village of Positano. Spectacular!!! We were the last to arrive and all of my travelers were up at the rooftop pool for cocktails. It was time for a martini!
We shared the stories of our trip down from Umbria and the trials and tribulations of getting from the garage to the hotel – some had it easier than others……remember what I said about even though the itinerary is the same the experience is different! It was time to enjoy and explore the Amalfi Coast.