“The first time I went to Amalfi, I fell in love with this place. I was stunned by the spectacular sea views from the rocky cliffs and the azure sea. I was asked to embrace the chaos which was easy as I got swallowed by the rhythm of this magical spirit that fills the atmosphere. I felt inspired by all the beauty around. Whatever where I was and what I was doing: walking in the busy streets of Sorrento during the “passegiata”, getting lost in one of the flourished gardens of Capri Island, hiking the Path of Gods or simply listening to two Mammas talking to each other from their balcony, I was totally into it. Into the Amalfi Coast. The unforgettable sceneries, the food, the warm people, the villages built directly on the cliffs… So many reasons to come exploring! One day I was leading a trip with a local guide called Angelo. We were having a glass of Prosecco in Amalfi, the city is from and he told me: “The day you discover the way to the Amalfi Coast is the day you will always find your way back here. This is the magic of the place ”. It is true, I did.” (2009)
Here I am, 8 years later and it feels like it was yesterday. I can still taste the flavour of my cold glass of Prosecco and the noise of the main piazza, where locals mix with tourists from all around the globe. There is something magic here. Untouchable. Angelo was right. I’m back!
Barely out of the baggage claim area, I rush to get a decent espresso because my early flight starts to take the best of me. It is like a time jump. Everything looked suddenly familiar and clear. Instantly, I go to the cashier, pay for my coffee and then order it, as opposed to France where you drink it first. No need to think to switch my reflexes up. The strongness of my coffee definitely gave me the kick I needed to embark on my next adventure!
« Embrace the chaos ». It didn’t take long to be reminded. Only here, in Italy, you can take an hour and a half shuttle that requires a stop, in the middle of the ride, for gas! I think it’s funny. They don’t see the arm and they don’t care as long as the job is done. At the end, it always works fine. I remember when I started to lead active trips and consequently working on my ulcer how our vendors, instead, were embracing the « con calma » pace. After a couple of trips, I understood their way and although I had the responsibility of my group, I got the part where it’s not necessary to get worried because at the end, the job will be done. It took me several stressed out moments to come to that conclusion. Like the one walking to a restaurant with 19 people and having my local guide who was joining us for dinner calling to inform me that the restaurant was closed. We checked the dates so many times but still, it wasn’t enough! We were less than 10 minutes far. They just decided to stay closed that night. That’s for this kind of moment that I can’t highlight enough how important it is to know the right people. That was Angelo. He made them open the restaurant in 5 minutes top! My guests never knew. It’s what we call « behind the scene » (bts). The logistic we do in order to make a beautiful experience to our guests without them noticing. I’d rather not mention the mess it is with boat online reservation…
Anyway, here I am. The bus driver is smoking his cigarette and talking with a guy while filling the tank, mid way to Sorrento. Many people were without words watching this scene. Me? I was just happy with butterflies in my stomach. We just quickly saw the gorgeous coast between 2 curves and a tunnel. I am just stunned by those spectacular views that, as familiar as they can be, will never cease to amaze me. Yes, I was back! Amalfi Coast, I missed you so much! I like your mess as much as your beauty! No, I will not be mad if my wifi isn’t working. Here you don’t just embrace the chaos. You embrace a way of life… Where you focus on what it used to be. Family values, relationships not via Facebook or Twitter. Real ones! Where you talk to the person in front of you. Don’t get me wrong! They all have an Iphone and they know about fashion. Probably more than I do but they are still very family and friends oriented. They embrace everything new like us but they refuse to give up on what’s real and it’s delightful to be in the audience.
After a quick check-in, our stomachs are craving for food so we decide to have a stroll in the historic center of Sorrento and its little streets. Some are busier than others. The nice part about being in Italy is that wherever you go, you’re 99% sure to eat well. We stop by a little restaurant in a narrow street with cobblestones. The breeze cools the temperature down of a hot summer day. The place is quiet. Just a small sound of cutlery clicking against the dishes in the background.
My trip down memory lane continues as I hear a woman, in her 30’s, on her phone. She’s with her Mother and they’re talking about Grandma. She’s saying she just passed by to bring her some linens. She will make sea bass for tonight’s dinner… The conversation made me understand that she lives next to her grand mother’s, right across the street of her mother and of course, they were talking about food. You could think it is a cliché but it isn’t this time. They genuinely care at each other. We live in a society where we keep hearing living with or close to our parents is a bad thing or something, at least, to be ashamed of. The plot of many tv shows. I think it is nice. Italians know how to bond which make the fights even worse! Like an act of war sometimes but it is so warm hearted to see that this strong respect for fundamental values is still intact.
I opt for the cliché of a Caprese salad. How can it be where you know this is the place where you can’t get that wrong?? Later, we enjoyed one of my favorite place, piazza Tasso, for the italian passeggiata. It’s a classic ritual. Around 6pm, Italians go for a walk. You can see them talking to each other between friends or a complete family walking around. The main piazza and streets get even busier. We follow our own passeggiata with a quick stop at our hotel to get ready for tonight. An aperitivo on the terrasse of the « Hotel Mediterraneo » where you can enjoy a wonderful sunset overlooking the coast and Capri followed by some fritto misto in a local restaurant in Marina Grande.
I’m so glad to be back. I can’t believe I’ve waited so long. Tomorrow, we’ll go to Positano by boat and I’m pretty sure our online booking will find the « chaos » but I don’t care! I’m here, in Amalfi! Again! Beside we’re on vacation, things happen and that is why I love travelling. It’s an adventure. And if a booking is our main problem then so be it! I’ll let you know.