Friday, August 26, 2016

La Dolce Vita Along the Amalfi Coast of Italy

Gazing out onto the rich blue waters of the Mediterranean below, the boats floating on her calm surface, the pastel colors of the houses built into the sides of the cliffs which spring up nearly vertically from the ocean, I stop for several minutes in great appreciation of the beauty around me.
Positano and the vibrant blue waters below

pastel colored houses going straight uphill
The steep coastal mountains prevent any large population centers from forming and make traversing the area by land a slow and difficult ordeal. A single windy road snakes its way
through Italy's Gold Coast and at multiple points is simply too narrow for large vehicles to pass one another, each lane having to patiently wait its turn, as one looks out their window at the 500 foot drop below.

Tourism fills the coffers here, and the Amalfi Coast's mild climate, topography, and limited space makes any marketing of the destination extraneous.
Beaches are few and far between (literally) and all of them very rocky. Still, the small areas available are absolutely packed during the summer.

a restaurant in Positano- note the lemonsFood here is farm fresh, with most of the vegetables and fruits served from no more than a few kilometers away. The local specialty is a lemon liquor called "limoncello." It's often sold in bottles imitating Italy's boot-like shape in the world atlas.
Prices here are far more expensive than the rest of Italy as most of the consumption is touristic, coupled with the fact that commerce in the area takes more resources.
one way to get goods through the narrow + steep streets is still mules
with narrow + steep streets mules are still used to transport goods
Within each population center rests at least one ancient church, containing paintings and frescos still on the walls from almost a millenia ago. The church was what society at that time plowed its limited resources into so it's not surprising that these are the structures which have survived.
video: interior of Amalfi's 13th century church

But juxtaposed to the natural beauty and ancient relics which act as magnets for the metal coins of tourists, it's easy to spotlight a root of Italy's economic problems. In Salerno consumed by thirst and hunger after a hike, I walked down the the city's main street at 2 PM on a Thursday; all the businesses were boarded up- siesta time.
the geletaria, the caffe, and another business all shut-down during the early afternoon on a weekday
I don't blame Italy for wanting to lead a good life full of sleep and drink- it's human nature. But honestly, the expectation of the countries of Southern Europe (Spain, Italy, Greece) to subsequently be bailed out by their better to do, more industrious Northern cousins is hypocritical and I completely understand the pushback from Germany and the Netherlands. The flip-side of human nature and why socialism on a mass scale simply is nearly impossible to make work.
Video: gorgeous views along a trail of the Amalfi Coast

Video: a tiny town above the cliffs of on the Amalfi Coast

Nevertheless, the Amalfi Coast is well worth visiting and one of Europe's most beautiful destinations. Just make sure to carry your own water during siesta time.

Video: in Italy, we have water, but we don't waste it- unlike Los Angeles

Video: Thirsty in Amalfi vs. Flint Michigan

sunset in Sorrento
sunset in Sorrento


  1. The Amalfi Coast is on my Bucket List. I am saving your post to help inform our trip. We have been working through our bucketlist, which you can see at

    1. wishing you a great time as you cross locations from your list Wendy :)


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