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Seeing How The Southern Half Lives - From Naples, Italy to Palermo, Sicily
Day 2: Biking the Amalfi Coast, a polyglot Romanian, and searching for dinner

Date Starting Place Ending Place Author Last Update

04-11-16 Sorrento,
Campania, Italy
Campania, Italy
ray 08-23-16 19:54:49

The room I had was very noisy with loud vehicles going by all night. I was concerned as this was the road I had to ride up to get to the Amalfi Coast.

I was down to breakfast at 8 and, as promised, Luigi was there setting up. I didn't know what to expect but ended up having some juice and fresh fruit torte, and, of course, a strong cup of coffee.

In talking with him, the question of the road noise was solved when he explained that the road in front of the hotel was a one-way diversion of the road to Naples. He said all the traffic turned at the next intersection and the ride up to the top would be quiet. We again said our good-byes and I went up to pack.

As I was leaving, the hotel woman showed up and we got to talking. Her family owned the hotel and she was the one who managed it. Fairly quickly a half hour went by. I excused myself and walked to the reasonably well stocked store for some riding food, came back, and left the hotel about 10:30.

Sorrento is on the north side of a peninsula that is the southern terminus of the Bay of Naples. The Amalfi Coast is on the south side of the peninsula with a 1000 foot pass between them. Climbing up to that pass was my first task of the day.

There was lots of traffic for about 100 yards at the turnoff Luigi mentioned. This turn took most of the traffic. From there, it was reasonably steep uphill and a low-gear climb for about 2 kilometers as a car or two passed about once a minute. I had views over Sorrento all the way to a hazy Naples.

I came to a sweeping set of switchbacks after which the grade moderated a bit. In another kilometer I reached the "pass" and started down.

Just past the top, there were some switchbacks

and I coasted down with a bit of brake work but not much. Just past a couple of the turns, I came to this deserted viewpoint.

and its fabulous view.

There were stunning views in all directions. This one looks east, "down" the coast.

The barren rocky tops were impressive,

as was the look down.

The traffic remained light, at the one vehicle per minute frequency. Due to all the curves, the cars and trucks went slow. In addition, there are look-outs built into the road which are easy to pull into should a (loud) bus with a convoy of cars behind it come up on you. But, most of the traffic was coming the other way which caused the car and bus drivers trouble but not me!

About every 100 yards there seemed to be someone selling fruit. Here is one large stand occupying much of a turn-out.

When people found out I was planning to ride a bike down the Amalfi Coast, I got dire warnings. I heard that I was "crazy to try it" or how "dangerous" a road it is. Yet, for a bicycle, there was plenty of room.

The views were dramatic around every turn and I took dozens of photo that will look the same to someone who wasn't there. Here are two.

This one shows the road.

This one is a look back.

For the first few miles, there is virtually no development. But, I could see the towns not far down the coast.

The first coastal town is Positano, partially visible above just past the bend in the road. The town on the far headland is Priano. This roadside map shows the lay of the land.

Positano is the first stop for the tourists. It was very busy with lots of traffic, construction works, and tourists. The coast road goes above the town.

My intention was to take a turn and ride down through the maze to the water. But, there was confusion at the intersection due to a long line of cars and construction traffic controls. I decided to stay on the main road, which climbs up a bit behind the town.

The road has many ins and outs as it snakes above Positano. At one of them, I got this view down a coastal canyon.

Being the first coastal town, it gets lots of tourists and I was glad to be past it. After Positano, the traffic died down immensely.

It was in Positano that I started smelling the scents of the roadside flowers. I identified wisteria and pink jasmine. But, the most common was citrus blossoms, one of my favorites. In fact, when I now think of the Amalfi Coast, it is the lemon flowers I call up, not the coastal views!

There is much more development after Positano and the Italians don't seem to care much about coastal aesthetics. This view back toward Positano shows the crowding of ugly houses stuck to the hillsides.

In my opinion, the views after Positano seemed to lessen in impact. Though, this could be because of the repetition.

There are lots of pottery and tile places along the road. I liked these two gnomes who seemed to be enjoying their views of the sea.

These two seemed to be having a more involved conversation.

Priano is the next town down the coast. I decided to stop there for lunch and my first pizza of the trip (€4).

I got a glimpse of the new Europe as I was served by a young Romanian lass who spoke fluent English, as well as, Italian, German, French, and a bit of Finnish.

Priano is a small place on the southernmost headland on the coast. The view back was irresistible.

Just past Priano was this village diorama.

The sun was out, the sky and sea were blue, and there wasn't much traffic. This view back toward Priano gives some idea of coast development.

But, even with all the homes some of the vistas were truly stunning.

I saw farms and orchards down the cliffs and wondered how the produce was transported given no motorized vehicles could do it. Just before Amalfi that riddle was solved.

I stopped very briefly in Amalfi, just long enough to eat something. The place was overrun with tourists and not appealing. I did like this pretty mosaic, though.

This look back over the beach at Amalfi gives some idea of its "amenities."

Just past Amalfi is the turn-off to Ravello, which is the tourist bus route back to Sorrento. At that intersection, a truck and a bus stuck going in opposite directions were surrounded by honking cars with people trying to ease one past the other. I calmly rode by smiling. The traffic diminished further after that.

The views looking back along the coast after Amalfi were nice coastal vistas but often marred by ugly cliff side development.

Minori, a 20-minute ride, is the next town on the coast.

Just past Minori is Maiori.

These net-covered orchards mostly held citrus trees and one of my strongest memories of the ride is the constant scent of lemon flowers.

Past Maiori, the development lessens and the road heads out toward Capo d'Orso, which essentially separates Amalfi from Salerno.

This hazy view back from the cape not only shows the trees that lined it but also the previous jutting headlands.

Once past Capo d'Orso, the views back toward Amalfi were gone and I began getting views of the huge conurbation that is Salerno.

The coastal area north of Salerno is still attractive, but the traffic is heavier (it was now close to rush hour), there are more homes, and the views aren't quite as dramatic.

It is hard to resist a sight like this.

The busy port of Salerno is the first part of the city I came to.

The road from the port into the city was a dangerous mile of elevated highway. It was an incline and several trucks went past me with very little room to spare. It was scary, but in the end I just kept pedaling as there was no way to pull over.

Here is a look down the length of Salerno just before I coasted down into the town.

I easily navigated the city streets and found my hotel, which was really a shared apartment in a large condo/business building. Once in the place, my host told me to put my bike in the garage. I refused saying it would get stolen. I said I'd put it in the room, but he said it was too small. He then suggested outside on the balcony, which worked for both of us (I had specifically noted on my reservation that I required a safe place to store my bicycle).

After cleaning up, I went out to find a cord I had forgotten to pack and a Chinese restaurant identified by my host.

I spent a couple hours walking around trying to find a place that sells USB cables. I got directions from different sources, which meant I covered the same ground several times. Much of the time was spent on a pedestrian mall full of high end shops and lots of banks. This road was full of people strolling and it reminded me of Barcelona's Ramblas.

The Chinese place was, in fact, a sushi place. I search for other Chinese restaurants, walked to where Google said they were and each one was closed. I ended up with a Greek dinner.

I walked back and was in for the night.

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