This post continues from the previous post on Pompeii.
Eventually I managed to drive us and the car to Sant-Agata, without crashing, which was a relief, and then we went and had dinner in the village, and drinks at Bar Orlando, a very unassuming and casual open air bar/cafe with a jovial owner named Orlando who had worked in London in the 60s and has that kind of vivacious and cheeky Italian grandad aura about him.
The next day we went to Positano, a chic hillside town on the Amalfi coast where my mum listened to the 1966 world cup final on the beach, surrounded by Italians who were supporting West Germany. I say beach, but there’s no *real* beaches around these volcanic parts of the Italian coast, as they’re all rocky, pebbly affairs. The water’s nice though, but it’s not what I’d call a beach. Positano is also very touristy and a bit too small for the numbers of tourists there, which means its bloody hard to get a parking space, and there are extortionate parking garages everywhere. Nice for a visit, but I don’t think you’d want to spend too long there.
We followed this up the next day by going to Capri, an island off the Sorrentine peninsula where the Roman emperor Tiberius famously had his palatial retreat from Roman politics. Tiberius was rumoured by his enemies to enjoy debauched orgies in which he would force the children of the Roman aristocracy to perform for him, including his nephew Caligula, who would go on to be a tyrannical emperor and get himself assassinated.
I met some nice German tourists on my walk up to Villa Jovis who were on a health and exercise vacation and chatted to Soeren who works as a journalist about the ongoing disaster of Brexit. Although not on the scale of Pompeii, Villa Jovis has some kind of interesting atmosphere, especially in the slave quarters below stairs (someone built a rather bad church on the top anyway), and the walk up to the top gives as sense of journey to the summit where the Emperors used to play and look down on the Neapolitan bay.
I walked back to the main part of the island and met Naz to catch the boat home. On the last couple of days, we went to a small coastal resort called Marina del Cantone, which was very close to Sant’Agata and had some nice restaurants, and then tried to go to another place called Torca, which we found it impossible to reach by walking down an increasingly narrow cliff path, although we did find lots of ripe fruit trees to pick figs from. We decided we didn’t want to die in an unfortunate topographical misadventure and headed back up to the safety of a restaurant with a wonderfully friendly restaurant called Il Fienile (‘The Barn’), whose owner introduced us to his cooks.
So that was lunchtime on our last day, and we were supposed to pack and go back to Naples for her train and my flight (her to Milan, me to London), but despite it not being that far, everybody else on the Sorrentine coast is also going home on Sunday evening. We spent a couple of hours in traffic before coming to the realisation that we would both miss our connections, and hastily booked a room on Airbnb and got new journeys in the morning, staying a last night in Napoli to enjoy one last pizza, and frittata, and some kind of churros-esque thing with nuttella all over it, and probably a cannoli, and a few lungos, and some limoncello or wine or beer or probably all of them. It’s hard to remember.
I realise I didn’t really talk about Sorrento at all here, and although there were a couple of nice restaurants down by the cute harbour of Sorrento (and you have to take the boat to Capri from there), the place is exceptionally touristy. I found it a bit too busy, with rich Italian weddings and parties going on, huge 5 star hotels and lots of satisfied people enjoying their money and time. I’d rather see the ruins of an Emperor’s palace any day.