Amalfi: Italian for “Paradise”

On this Friday morning, I boxed up my bike again and headed to the station for what is sure to be an awesome weekend. I had to get up at the ungodly hour of 6:45. To me, there are times when I'm tired--and then there’s being painfully tired. Well I’m the latter right now, as I type this up on the train. A bunch of my friends were going to Sorrento for the week, but I had been there already and wanted to stay on the real Costa d’Amalfi. I wrestled my bike box into the storage place on the train and had to use my packing tape to make sure it didn’t fall out.

On the train, I listened to two young Italian girls singing rhymes in Italian, and tried to catch their meaning. At Naples, a small family got on and sat next to me. Their young son wanted to eat his panino, but apparently they had just eaten so I listened to the kid beg for twenty minutes until the parents gave in. The train finally arrived in Salerno at about 10:00 a.m. and I hopped off the train and started to orient myself. This place just felt like Southern Italy; dirty streets, clearly no one paying attention to emission laws, beautiful women, strolling grandmas, and so on. I asked at the TI where to buy tickets, and hopped on the bus to Amalfi town. Fifty minutes later, I grabbed my bike out of the belly of the bus and made my way to Atrani where my hostel was, bike box under my arm.

            After I checked in, I threw my bike together and headed out on a ride. I turned around about 20 miles out, a little past Positano. On the way a car labeled “Amalfi Driving School” passed the other way. I had to laugh. If you learn to drive there in Amalfi, you can drive anywhere in the world. I wonder if they have "I-drove-off-the-cliff" insurance. The next day, I got back on my bike and headed all the way into Sorrento. This is where I stayed with my friend back in 2005. We thought we were on the Amalfi Coast, but really hadn’t touched it, and had no idea that this magical coastline was just around the bend.

             On Sunday, a friend and I rented a moped and toured the same craggy cliffs over the stunning blue waterscapes that I had biked the day before. From our vantage point, we could make out the smothering smog cloud over Naples. I would not want to live in that city. Before long, we had to make our way back to our Amalfi hometown in order to make the bus connection back to the Sorrento train station. There, we experienced the worst traffic ever, causing an hour delay, and putting us into town too late to catch the train. So we missed our train and had to wait for the next one. That was okay except for an obnoxious Italian who was never silent the entire two hours we waited. I can still hear his lispy accent, high voice, and endless stream of vulgar jokes. Here, I see truth in the saying “those who talk the most have the least to say.” Besides the crummy end of the trip, it was great to be immersed in the pure beauty of the Amalfi Coast. 


Allison Johnson, University of Maryland

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