On the Amalfi Coast

I’m looking back at some of the photographs I have taken on my Italian holidays over recent years for blogs that I am only just getting down to now. In the summer of 2017, the year before I went to Puglia (see previous blogs), I spent two weeks in a tiny fishing village of Marina del Cantone, in the region of Massa Lubrense, near the small town of Nerano, on the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful part of southern Italy, over-looking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Salerno.

During my time there, I went on a bus excursion on the small vertiginous road to Sorrento and then by train to Naples. I’ll write about this trip another time, for now, just let me say, I was perfectly happy to linger, lazily languorous in Marina del Cantone, either on the small beach-facing balcony, in the excellent restaurant, no more than six steps from my front door, or a few more steps to the beach where there was always a spare lounger and sunshade and the very welcoming sea. Mostly, I let my eyes do the walking around the spectacular coastline I could enjoy lying on my back.

I could get used to living with a Mediterranean beach outside my front door with an outstanding, open-air restaurant, not even blocking the view. Dinner every evening was fish, caught locally that day, cooked with real imagination served with a bottle of Chianti Classico. I love Italy.

I found my own space for my morning martial arts practice, sharing the spot with a few local fishermen, who probably thought I was just another eccentric Englishman in the long tradition, going back to the 18th Century, when the English considered this part of Italy, the nearest an of us get to a worldy paradise.

My fisherman friend took a couple of days to suss me out, but he soon accepted me as an entertaining diversion. He didn’t speak English, like most of the people here, so my morning sessions were great practise for my Italian and my tai-chi. I was soon greeted a shout of ‘buongiorno signor Kung-fu’.

After kung-fu, I was always ready for a cup of espresso, in the little cafe along the beach.

Then it was time for a walk before the midday sun made it too hot for exercise. On both sides of the little fishing port, there were paths that lead high up to where you can, quite literally, see for miles.

The mountain paths were a test for my vertigo, but I. went on until I passed a man who was sitting on a rock who told me not to go any further if I didn’t like heights. He said he was going back down before his falling sickness made him want to jump off the rock face. I went on for as far as I could, before I too began to feel the pull of the precipitous drop into the sea once the rickety fencing ended. It wasn’t so bad if, instead of looking down from the cliff, I concentrated on the wayside flowers.

With the Tyrrhenian Sea calling me every day, I knew that I just had to find a boat if I was ever going to appreciate this wonderful coastline.

I could see many little boats out there, so I set out to find one with a captain for hire. Of course, in this little village, there was a boat for hire, across the path from my front door. So the next time, Luca, the brother of the apartment owner, agreed a price, and we were off for a couple of hours at sea. Needless to say, I loved it.

We sailed in grottoes where it was possible to swim from the boat in the clear turquoise water, before going further out to sea looking at rocking islands, like this one, known as the turtle – la tartaruga – a word that seemed unnecessary when I first learnt it. Luca doesn’t speak English, so I was delighted to understand what he was saying and to see why the rock is called tartaruga.

We travelled further out, far enough to see the island of Capri, before returning to port, home, Marina del Cantone. I felt like true resident, a sailor coming home, seeing my apartment waiting as we got closer to shore.

After dinner in our local restaurant, there was still time for a glass of wine as the sun set and the lights of the village illuminated the sea.

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