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“Celebrating 18 years of marriage in Venice, Italy, by way of Denmark and Greece. Keeping up with life with no less than 15,000 steps each day for 14 days. #travelintolsons”
– Kimberly Tolson, Airports (From November 2022)
“August 12, 2023 – Aswan, Egypt, at the Philae Temple of the goddess Isis. I’m standing at the entrance to the temple. We were able to enter the innermost part of the temple reserved for the holy of the holies, where only kings and high priests were allowed. They presented their offerings of gold to perform purifications. The statue of Isis would have been housed here. You need to take a boat to get to the island where the temple is located.” – Daphne Evangelista, Retired, LADWP
Letter From Italy, Pt. 3
Salerno, Amalfi and Capri
If you’re considering visiting Capri or driving the Amalfi Coast this fall and do not want to spend an arm and a leg, think outside the box and make your base in the ancient port town of Salerno. It is not as big a tourist attraction as Positano, Ravello or Amalfi, but it makes up for it with better value accommodation, fewer tourists and easy access to other attractions in the area like Capri, Ischia, Napoli, Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius.
Salerno is connected to the rest of the country by the A2 and A3 Autostradas and A30 motorways. The main bus stop in Salerno for both CSTP and SITA buses is also the train station, which is connected to the high-speed railway network via the Milan-Salerno corridor, with trains to Naples and Pompeii taking around 40 minutes. From its ferry terminal, there is a regular service to all the small fishing villages along the Amalfi coast and the three islands (Capri, Ischia and Procida) in the Gulf of Naples. In three days, you’ll have time to enjoy the old town’s winding streets, take a ferry and bus ride along the beautiful Amalfi Coast, and visit Capri.
DAY ONE: Take the short leisurely ferry ride to Cetara, the fishing capital of the Amalfi Coast, known nationwide for its seafood restaurants. Due to its thriving seafood industry and being off-the-beaten-track, it remains the most traditional of the Amalfi Coast villages. Cetara’s name is derived from the Latin word Cetara, an ancient method for trapping bluefin tuna, or cetari, meaning fishmongers of large fish. Its single cobblestone street is called Corso Garibaldi and runs gently uphill from the beach to the bus stop on Amalfi Drive, two kilometers away.
Arabian pirates settled the village, the Romans passed through, the Normans built the large watchtower (Torre di Cetara or Tower of Cetara) on the beach’s eastern end, and the Turks ransacked and burned the village down. Today, its restaurants offer local specialties like tonno rosso (red tuna), and colatura di alici, or “anchovy drippings,” a sauce that dates back to Roman times when a similar sauce called garum was enjoyed. Cetara restaurants put this sauce on spaghetti and various other dishes (even pizza!), and it is tasty.
Like most Amalfi Coast beaches, they are made of pebbles that are challenging to walk on. Bring beach sandals that you can wear into the water.
DAY TWO: To explore the 40 kilometers (25 miles) of the Amalfi Coast from Salerno to Positano, you could rent a car, allowing the passengers to enjoy the views from the winding road overlooking the blue sea thousands of feet below. But during the fall and winter seasons, the road conditions are very difficult for drivers unfamiliar with the narrow road, and it’s common to find them stopped at blind corners in total panic when they see a bus coming from the opposite direction!
We chose to take the 5120 bus (tickets can be bought at any tobacco shop) from Salerno to Amalfi. In peak season, the bus leaves every 20 minutes, but remember that, late in the day, many schoolchildren and tourists (with suitcases) may be on board.
If possible, sit on the same side as the driver to get the whole experience of this beautiful, mind-blowing, and sometimes quite terrifying ride around blind corners with a thousand-foot drop into terraced vineyards and the Azure-colored Tyrrhenian Sea below. In places the road is wide enough only for the bus, so cars must back up at tight corners. One nearly feels sorry for those who rented a car and wished they hadn’t!
The village of Amalfi is one of the coast’s most popular tourist attractions, with its magnificent Sant’Andréa cathedral, large and winding staircase and bell tower designed to mimic the Arab-Norman style. Nearby are many restaurants where you can enjoy dinner before catching the late ferry back to Salerno as the last rays of the sun cast their golden light over the luxury yachts at anchor in one of the most picturesque places in the world.
DAY THREE: Capri is a long ferryboat ride from Salerno, so catch an early boat to have a full day exploring this glamorous isle. The island is near Naples and is a popular tourist destination known for its gorgeous sunsets, Blue Grotto and playground for the rich and famous. A longtime favorite destination for Hollywood’s elite actresses including Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s tumultuous love affair occurred against the stunning backdrop of the island’s rugged cliffs and sparkling seas. Today, most celebrities stay on their luxury yachts moored near Marina Piccola right beneath the Faraglioni cliffs or at the Capri Marina, avoiding the tourist crowds and disembarking only in the evening to dine at one of the island’s restaurants or spend the evening at a club. Mariah Carey owns a villa on Capri, and Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Lindsay Lohan and Julian Lennon have vacationed there. So, who knows which famous artists, politicians or celebrities you might bump into at this fantasy destination.
Arrivederci per ora, Capitano.
It’s interesting to note that Salerno is where the Allied Forces landed during Operation Avalanche, the invasion of Italy during World War II.