Amalfi Coast; The Most Spectacular Drive You’ll Ever Take

Luther’s Malta and the Mediterranean Program, currently in its 27th year, offers students the opportunity to spend a semester exploring Malta's rich history and traveling to other countries in the Mediterranean region. Coursework includes Paideia II: Ethical Issues in the Mediterranean, a Service Learning class, where program participants teach English to recent immigrants to Malta, Maltese History and Culture and additional classes taken at the University of Malta.

To learn more about the program, visit the Malta Semester website.

Next stop- the Amalfi Coast, Italy!

 

Wyatt Hill and I met his grandparents in Naples, Italy and traveled up the Amalfi Coast together (yes, Italy again! We just can’t get enough of that Italian pizza.) Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast are Wyatt’s favorite places in the world after he visited with his family when he was 13. In fact, his lifelong dream is to live in Sorrento for a little while. So I was excited to experience this incredible place with him.

 

And it did not disappoint!

 

We woke up to a breathtaking view from our apartment in Piano di Sorrento. The morning sun peeked through the shutters. We looked out the  bedroom window to see steep cliffs painting the landscape in the distance, morning fog dancing on the surface of the sea, and the crisp and refreshing morning air filled the apartment. There isn't anything much more peaceful than that.

 

There is so much to visit in this area, we had no idea where to start. Thankfully our AirBnb host recommended some must-see destinations and experiences.

 

We first took a quick train ride to Pompeii. I was very excited to visit the ruins and learn about the rich history. After we stepped of the train, we were bombarded with people trying to sell us their tourist package (darnit, we were spotted. Is it that obvious we are tourists?) But we caved and are so glad we had a personal guide through Pompeii. In the wise words of Wyatt’s grandparents, “I didn’t want to wander around and look at a pile of rocks and have no idea what I’m looking at.”

 

It was a surreal experience walking on the fully-intact ancient stone streets, and seeing the track marks carved in stone from the wheels of the Chariots. We sat on the stone seats that once held community members coming to watch a performance in the outdoor theater, ‘ordered’ the ancient Falerno wine for 4 AES (Roman currency at the time) from the concession stand, and heard the incredible acoustics created within the thester’s architecture. The graffiti decorating the stone walls was not much different than modern times. Our tour guide pointed out personal signatures, curse words, and phallic symbols (I guess some things never change).

 

As we walked through the streets our tour guide pointed out the phallic symbols carved into the street. She told us they were used as a sort of GPS to lead to the brothels. We followed the GPS to the brothels and learned about the prevalence of prostitution in Pompeii. Because Pompeii attracted a melting pot of cultures, the brothel had a sort of menu with erotic paintings that clients could use to point to what they wanted, in order to avoid the language barrier. We also learned that within the brothel, they paid with a different coin with erotic figures on it because they thought it was sacreligious to pay with a coin with the emperors face on it. So interesting! We are very thankful for our tour guide for sharing what life was like during this time.

 

We started the next morning off with poached eggs atop our Italian pizza with fresh grape tomatoes (we thought it was very Mediterranean of us). We met our driver, Lucio, for our day trip down the Amalfi Coast. I had seen photos on social media and heard stories of this place, but no words can describe it. We drove down the windy and narrow roads, etched into the side of the cliff. The view from either side of the van was a steep cliff descending to the deep blue ocean on one side and soaring greenery and rocks as high as you can see on the other. In the distance you can see homes and villages perched on the cliffs as if they were floating amongst nature, it looked like an architectural nightmare. We asked Lucio, our driver, about it and he said it is technically illegal in some places, but no one reinforces it. There were lemon groves scattering the landscape, as this is considered the ‘lemon capital of the world.’

 

We stopped in Positano, the first city of the Amalfi Coast and it felt straight out of a movie. The pastel buildings packed on the cliffs. The streets lined with shops of all shapes and sizes. A rich sense of cultural energy filled the air. I could have stayed for hours walking the streets. The one thing about having a town on a cliff, is the only way back up from the ocean is a lot (I mean a lot) of steps leading back to the road. But it was so worth it, it was an incredible perspective to see Positano from the bottom.

 

Our next stop was Ravello, which to my surprise, had a completely different feel than Positano. I would explain it as the more reserved middle child that is actually a true gem. Ravello wasn’t flashy, but it was genuine. It is nestled between mountains on all sides with no visible coast line. We enjoyed catching some lunch and breathing the fresh mountain air.

 

Finally we went to Amalfi, which has a Rome-like feel. With tourist shops in the open plazas, it felt much more touristy than Ravello, but still a lot of rich history and incredible architecture. We decided to have some Italian gelato and were persuaded by some employees on the street to try their homemade gelato. It was so creamy and delicious, I totally believe it was homemade! They charged us 20€ for four cups of gelato, so we think they may have upcharged for tourists. But nonetheless, my strawberry banana gelato combo was fantastic.

 

As we were driving home after our tour of the Amalfi Coast, the sun was setting behind the mountainous landscape in the distance. The golden hour rays were illuminating the pastel colors nestled in the cliffs. It was the most spectacular drive you will ever take!

P.S. Thank you to Wyatt's Grandparents, Robin and Lori, for being such amazing traveling partners!

View from our bedroom window
Can't escape the Italian Pizza
Grandparents are the best traveling partners!
Rolling mountains
Erotic paintings from the brothel
Using phallic symbols as GPS
Pompeii Piazza
Great view of Mount Vesuvius
Our 'Mediterranean' breakfast
Our journey on the Amalfi Coast begins!
Positano- first city of the Amalfi Coast
What a sight!