Giuseppina serves us breakfast in her garden and her two tiny dogs bounce around our legs begging for food. There is plenty of bread, butter and jam and freshly squeezed orange juice, but only one cup of coffee each and I wish for a second cup.
|Amalfi Coast Beachfront|
|Breakfast in the Garden|
We walk ten minutes down the road to Hotel Antiche Mura, our pick-up location for our chauffeured tour down the Amalfi Coast. We are the first three of six passengers and Art sits in the front seat of the pearl grey Mercedes mini-van. John and I choose the window seat that will face the ocean on our drive down the coastline. John sits beside me with a clear view ahead and to my right. Next we pick up a well-dressed Finnish/Russian couple, followed by a young woman from New York who works for a Jewish Birthright non-profit and is taking a short break in Sorrento. Antonio, our experienced driver, is charming and narrates his well-rehearsed commentary as he expertly maneuvers the car along the narrow and twisty road.
|Amalfi Coast Hillside Villages|
Village houses cling precariously to the cliff sides high above the Tyrrhenian Sea. The rugged coastline is very Big-Sur-esque and I snap hundreds of bad photos out the van window, most of which I later delete. We have read about the white knuckle Amalfi Coast road but I feel no angst with our competent driver and a stone guardrail separating us from the sea below. We make a rest stop at an upscale café/tourist shop and John and I order cappuccinos. The blue of the counter visually melts with the blue of the ocean beyond.
|Blissful, Amalfi Coast Cappuccino|
|Amalfi Coast Vista|
|Too Cool on the Amalfi Coast|
The ocean below is dotted with boats and some extremely large yachts. Our driver tells us that many of the hotel rooms in the area rent for over $1,000 a night, making owning a yacht rather like having an upscale motor home. We stop at the Emerald Grotto and take the elevator down to the beach, pay our 5 euros each and enter a small cave with a few stalagmites and stalactites. The six of us climb into a long wooden boat with bench seats and our guide rows us around the tiny cave giving us a lame and repetitive commentary. The grotto tour is short and we are grateful that our guide does not break into song like the boat tour before ours.
Our next stop is Ravello, the furthest town south on our Amalfi Coast itinerary. By stopping at Ravello first and returning North along the Amalfi Coast we hope to avoid the majority of the cruise ship day trippers. These famous and picturesque towns are all built into the hillside and Antonio drops us off at the top of Ravello town so that we may walk downhill into the town center. He suggests that we start with the view at an upscale hotel and we walk into a plush lobby overlooking the valley and ocean beyond. The terraced hillside is picture postcard perfect, dotted with villas, vineyards and olive and lemon trees.
We have precisely two hours to visit this hillside town and to partake of lunch. Antonio recommends a rustic restaurant in the lower part of town but we are not charmed by their inside tables or the prices on the menu. We wish to celebrate this beautiful day outside and we find a deli where we buy sandwiches and tiny bottles of Campari Orange and champagne and have a picnic in the nearby park. The view is delicious and the champagne goes down like water and we soon send John back to the deli for more of the tiny bottles of libations and enjoy a perfect al fresco lunch overlooking the terraced valley beyond.
|Al Fresco Picnic with Campari and Champagne in Ravello|
I am not interested in the touristy shopping street so we climb the stairs back to the upper plaza, drink cappuccinos at an outdoor café and eventually wind our way back down along narrow cobblestone lanes and through the tunnel to a congested parking area where we meet Antonio to continue our Amalfi Coast drive.
|Walkways in Ravella|
|Cappuccinos in Ravella|
Antonio drives North towards Sorrento and we keep our seating positions so that those on the inside of the van earlier now have the cliffside vistas. The road winds down to beach level and we have an hour in Positano Village. Sun worshippers rent yellow and green beach umbrellas and recline in their shade, the umbrellas so closely spaced that they touch each other.
|Positano Beach Umbrellas|
We start our walk from the jam-packed beach parking area and climb up into the town crowded with tourists and lined with gift shops. John and Art pop into a knife shop and John buys a ship in a bottle for a friend, but the tourist souvenirs and shops selling crisp linen clothes and Italian pottery have no appeal to me. Precisely an hour later we are back in our van and heading north to Amalfi.
|Amalfi Coast Beachfront|
In spite of the fabulous vistas, I grow sleepy on the return drive and find myself nodding off as we are chauffeured to Amalfi. This time we are deposited at the top of the town and walk down the cobbled shop-lined street. An overhead trellis of bougainvillea shades much of the pedestrian walkway. We find a café and sit down for service but after being ignored for five minutes by at least four idle waiters we leave and order cappuccinos at the stand up bar instead. The drive from Amalfi to Sorrento is less than an hour and we watch the countryside scroll past and inhale the dramatic views of the coastline far below.
Because we are the first of our group to be dropped off, Antonio drops us off at the bottom of our hill and we hike back to the Lemon House to shower and change before enjoying our final dinner in Sorrento.
|Art vs the Lobster|
|O Canonico Restaurant|
|O Canonico Restaurant, Sorrento|
We splurge on an upscale dinner at Restaurant ‘O Canonico in the main square. We sit on the restaurant's raised outdoor terrace and are welcomed with a glass of prosecco and a vegetable and crouton appetizer. Our main entrees are a delicious lemon and butter baked fish, a lobster pasta and duck in a balsamic wine reduction. We share a bottle of red wine and when the bill arrives, are surprised that the bill has already been paid? John paid the bill earlier in the evening when he excused himself to go to the restroom. It’s been a lovely evening and a lovely surprise to be treated to dinner by our remarkable son.
|Early evening in Sorrento|
In Sorrento, the main street is closed to traffic at 8:00 p.m. each evening so that pedestrians may stroll, shop and drink. Art and John buy gelatos and we continue our stroll. Eventually we find an outdoor café where we can sit and order drinks. Art discusses the Brexit with the Irish couple sitting at the adjoining table. The walk back to our Air B&B seems especially long tonight.