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Amalfi Coast and Cilento Coast, May 2019


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Tuesday May 7 and Wednesday May 8, Naples

Traffic has been the theme of the trip so far. 45 minutes at a standstill on the M25 yesterday driving to Gatwick Airport (there was an accident and they closed the motorway). And about the same today driving from Naples to the Amalfi Coast. The highway was closed where you exit the A3 autostrada at Castellammare and the traffic was barely moving. Then when we got going our GPS (Waze on my phone) took us down 20 minutes of very narrow lanes to avoid more traffic.

But we got here and it is beautiful.

We enjoyed our one night in Naples. Stayed at Relais della Porta on Via Toledo. Very nice 15 room hotel on the 3rd floor of an historic palazzo. We went to a very good vegetarian restaurant on Piazza Bellini for dinner (Sorriso Integrale Amico Bio). Naples was very lively at night. It was cool weather-wise but not cold.

This morning, after the breakfast room, we went to a nearby cafe and had an excellent coffee standing at the bar. Then we walked around the Spanish Quarter.

We took a taxi back to the airport and got our car. The usual routine of them giving us a big Ford Focus station wagon and us pleading and finally getting a nice pre-banged up VW Polo. You need a small car here.

Settled into our rental (from Summer in Italy) by 4pm. Excellent grocery shop nearby. Walked some of the Positano-like stairs to the main part of town and had my fav Crodino apperitif at the cafe watching the traffic on the coast road. Cooked pasta and incredibly fresh vegetables at “home”.

Weather is sunny and warm. Happy to be here again.

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Thursday May 9, Praiano on the Amalfi Coast

Today was overcast and cool. We didn’t start our hike until 11:30 because we were waiting for it to brighten. It didn’t. We started from the house and walked up through Praiano on lanes and stairs to the upper part on the other side of town, the west side.

The Praiano lanes are beautiful and a lot like the ones in Positano. A man riding a donkey, or maybe a pony, led a group of donkeys/ponies down on of the lanes. We saw a few locals walking dogs or coming down from their gardens in the hills carrying vegetables. And a few groups of walkers.

We started up the stairs to Convento San Domenico. The woman at the tourist office said it is 800 steps. It took us 50 minutes but we were moving slow. The guy who runs the snack bar at the church up there walks up every day and said it takes him 15 minutes.

We had a coffee, then pushed on upwards. Now it was a trail, not stairs for another 30 minutes. The trail was steep, narrow and rocky. Parts of it were terrifying for me because of the sheer drop off. One trip and goodbye! I almost cried but gave myself a stern talking to. Steve walked ahead and I watched his feet and mine and did not look over the edge and we made it to the Path of the Gods, the trail that goes along the tops of these mountains from Bomarano to Nocelle above Positano. We walked that trail 2 years ago.

We walked a bit towards Nocelle and found a picnic table where we had lunch with a view. Still no sun but the weather was good for walking. Then we turned back and walked to Bomerano. The plan had been to take another trail down to Praiano from Bomerano, the trail that goes to the Grotte de Santa Barbara. But we had walked up into the fog that had been hanging on the mountain tops all day and I knew there was a bus at 4pm from Bomarano and it was 3:30 when we arrived there. It would take 2 hours 30 minutes to walk down, but at least an hour on the bus.

This is a tourist bus, not the regular SITA bus and cost 6 Euro instead of 4, but was coming before the SITA bus and you didn’t have to change buses in Amalfi. We got the info from the tourist office and bought our tickets (but you can buy them on board). She even phoned the bus line to see if it was on schedule. It wasn’t but would be there at 4:15. The SITA bus to Amalfi was scheduled for 4:45.

We waited and waited. When people started arriving for the SITA bus I ran to the cafe and bought tickets. Now we had tickets for both buses. The SITA bus was on time and we got it. The fog was thick as the bus went down the steep, narrow and winding road. Constant beeping to warn cars he was coming.

We got into Amalfi at 5:40 and joined the line for the 6:00 bus to Praino/Positano/Sorrento. We almost made it on the bus. Another bus appeared 15 minutes later, even though the schedule said the next bus was at 7:00, and we got on that and got seats. That bus was full too and there was still a long line.

There is no sign to tell you where to lineup but the line was pretty organised and orderly.

Home by 7:00. If we walked we would have been back an hour earlier. But the bus rides were exciting, inching by cars and buses, sharp drop offs, scraping bushes on the roadside.

Our 4 hours of hiking only gave us 5 miles but it was quite a workout.

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Friday May 10, Praiano

Today we did an easy hike because we were still tired from yesterday. We climbed up to the top of Praiano on the east side this time and walked the trail to Furore. It took 25 minutes from our house up through the town on staircases and pedestrian lanes.

The trail was good and went through woods which was nice because today was sunny and warmer. The trail climbed up but not as much as yesterday’s. We walked out for two hours, including the climb through town, and reached the outskirts of Furore, high above the Furore valley that the coast road goes over. We walked back the same way getting home in 1.5 hours. The walk was just over 5 miles with most of the climbing at the beginning going through town.

We could have taken a trail up to the Grotte de Santa Barbara (caves) but did not want to do more climbing. Also the direction sign was broken so we were not sure it was the right path. From the caves you continue up to Bomarano.

On the trail we met a group of Germans in hiking gear (like us) and a group from Malta who had just walked 2.5 hours down from Bomarano on the trail we thought we might walk yesterday, dressed as if for a stroll through town! Very nice people who stopped and chatted with us.

We did a little more exploring and found another trail from the east side of town, but lower down, to the Marina de Praia. We only walk out a bit on the trail.

It was sunny and warm so we enjoyed our terrace while we waited for @Valerie and @BryanS to arrive. They were stuck in traffic on the road through Amalfi.

They arrived and we visited for a bit then walked into the town center for apperitivi at the cafe, then a really good dinner at a trattoria across from the cafe. Bryan and I had pizza, Margherita with rucola, Steve and Valerie had fish. I had my first limoncello of the trip.

We saw fireflies on the walk back to the house.

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Saturday May 11, Praiano

We had a fun day with Valerie and Bryan. We wandered around town in the morning, walking some of the pretty lanes, going to a few shops, having coffee. Valerie and I made lunch with those baby artichokes - very good! - which we had sitting on the terrace. The day was sunny and warm. We have nice views from the terrace and I remembered to bring our binoculars.

In the afternoon Steve and I suited up and went for a 2 hour hike. We headed out on the lower path to the east of Praiano. There are two paths from the east side of Praiano (in direction of Furore). The upper one goes right at the top of town, so you have 30 minutes up stairs to get to it. That one goes to the Grotto de Santa Barbara. We did part of that on Friday. Today we took the lower path that goes on the pedestrian lane above the Tutto x Tutti grocery shop. This leads down to Marina de Praia, or to the Furore Fjiord.

The path was not well marked and was overgrown in the part where we had to climb and we ended up on an almost vertical trail where we had to scramble up for 15 minutes at least, pulling ourselves up by grabbing the grass or bushes. We should have realized immediately that this could not possibly be the trail, but it looked like a trail and we just kept climbing. It was really difficult, but fun, and when we got to the top I could see there was a trail that came up a different way.

We walked out for an hour, on the trail that takes you to Furore, but turned back because it is a long hike and we wanted a shorter walk.

In the evening we walked out to a nearby restaurant and had a very nice dinner. Valerie and Steve shared a dish for two - fish baked in salt. Byran had a mixed fish dish. I had a vegetarian pasta dish.

Sunday May 12, Praiano

Woke up to heavy cloud and rain. It had rained hard in the night.

Valerie and Bryan left this morning.
It is always great to spend time with Valerie and Bryan. We all met through SlowTrav and it turned out they lived near us in New Mexico, but then they moved to Italy. We've kept in touch all these years and visited several times in Italy. We will be seeing them next week when we are at Villa Trotta.

The plan was for us to drive along the coast road to Vietri sul Mare to meet @Jim Zurer and Diana for lunch, but we cancelled yesterday. I really wanted to see them, but just could not face driving 1.5 - 2 hours each way on the coast road. Valerie and Bryan drove that way on Friday and traffic was bad. Our landlord here said it would be even worse on Sunday when people from Naples and other towns come to the Amalfi Coast for the day. We have to do this drive on Tuesday when we leave, so we will see it then.

The rain stopped in the later morning and the afternoon was sunny, but it was a cold day. We did nothing. I had hoped to do another long hike but we were both tired and just napped and read all day. I did spend some time out on the terrace in the sun.

One day left. Planning a hike for tomorrow.

I like Praiano because it is smaller than Positano and has fewer tourists. People greet you when you are walking around. Positano loses the sun the late afternoon and from there we could always see Praiano in the sun. However, the part of Praiano that we are in, the east side, also loses the sun in late afternoon. The sunny part is on the west facing side of the hill. But I am not sure that I like Praiano more than Positano. I will have to think it all over.

I think we made a mistake bringing a rental car here. We haven't used it yet, only to arrive and to leave. We will need it for our week in Villa Trotta, so it made sense when booking to have it here.
Monday May 13, Praiano

My legs hurt. My knees hurt. My feet hurt. But I am happy.

Woke up to sunshine after a thunder and lightening storm last night and more heavy rain. This was our last Amalfi Coast day. We did the Praiano to Grotto de Santa Barbara hike from the Cicerone guide. They say 2hr 45min but it took us nearly 5 hours. They don’t include the 300 steps up to the top of town where the trail starts. That took us 30 minutes to go up.

We hiked in the valley east of town, as we did on the last two hikes. We retraced our route from Friday but this time climbed much higher, almost up to Bomerano. The hike up was magnificent. The sun was out, it was warm but not hot, the silence was lovely, the smells of the plants were lovely. The views were beautiful. Only a few other people on the trail.

The climb was good. Some stairs but not too steep. No sharp drop offs. At the caves we could have continued up to the Path of the Gods but instead walked down to Sant Alfonso, a church beside an Agriturismo. Some dark clouds were coming in and we wanted a shorter hike.

We had our sandwiches at the church. We got lost on the way down but reread the directions and found the trail. A lovely hike.

We met two men from Bavaria, Germany who were on a six day hike from Salerno to Sorrento. This was day 4. They loved the area. It is their first time here. One of them said “you walk 50 meters and have a beautiful view, then you walk 50 meters and have a different beautiful view”. They were in good shape and were hiking up to a high level most days. Tonight they are in Bomerano. Tomorrow high above Positano. I love talking to long distance hikers.

We met another couple, Americans, who were doing a three day hike from Amalfi to Positano. They were on day two. They did Amalfi to Conca dei Marina yesterday, in the rain, then to Praiano today. From Conca they climbed straight up, then down to the sea at Furore Fjord, then up 1000 stairs to the trail. We met them when they were near Praiano and the woman was not walking well and was in pain. Tomorrow they have to climb up to the Path of the Gods and then take that to Positano.

Of course, I am walking a bit stiff now after our days! Out for dinner tonight, back to the Trattoria de San Gennaro where we all went on Friday. That is if we can make the up and down into the town center.

Tuesday May 14 - Perdifumo, above the Cilento Coast

It is cold! Here we are in a fabulous farmhouse, Villa Trotta, sitting on top of a hill with glorious views to the Cilento Coast and the Amalfi Coast. But the house is really for summer weather. Wall heaters in the bedrooms, but only a huge fireplace for heat in the enormous living room. We got them to bring us space heaters as backup and I dragged down some duvets from the beds, so we will be cozy in the living room. And will be warm in the bedroom.

I really should have brought more warm clothes. I looked at the weather before we left and never imagined it would feel this cold. I have a lovely wool sweather that I just finished knitting and almost brought, but thought it would be way too warm. Or I could have brought a knitted shawl! Or our very packable puffy jackets!!

I will write more later - during the sunny and warm daylight hours!! Off to sit in front of the fireplace!
Tuesday May 14 - Leaving the Amalfi Coast

We checked out of the apartment and drove to Amalfi. We parked in the car park built into the hill between Amalfi and Atrani. They make the passengers get out at the entrance. Steve parked the car and got lost leaving the car park. He ended up in Amalfi while I was waiting for him at the car park entrance. Steve has zero sense of direction but we did find each other eventually. If we hadn’t both had phones we would probably still be looking for each other.

We had coffee then walked around Amalfi. It was packed with people, but still beautiful.

Then we drove the rest of the coast to Vietri sul Mare. The drive was not bad, traffic was light, and we got from Amalfi to Vietri in under an hour. We parked (got lucky and found a spot in a small lot at the top of the town) and walked around the town. The weather was changing and the wind started blowing. The town is beautiful. They are known for their ceramics and there are examples of them everywhere.

We had a nice lunch in Sesta Stazione, named for the sixth station of the cross that it is near, where we were to have met Jim and Diana Zurer on Sunday but we cancelled because we thought we were not up to the drive. The restaurant specialises in fish but made us two vegetarian pastas. Lovely lunch.

We drove on to Perdifumo. The area before Agropoli is very ugly. Pot holes in the roads, ugly modern sprawl. We saw two billboards with a woman in a wedding gown pointing a handgun advertising wedding venues!

It was a 20 minute drive on winding roads up to Villa Trotta. We checked in and were concerned that the place was so cold. We went into Perdifumo, very cute village, and got groceries. Not much there. One small grocery shop. An empty cafe. A pizza restaurant that opens on weekends. A beautiful location high on the mountain with views to the sea.

The weather is unseasonably cold.

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Wednesday May 15 - Santa Maria di Castellabate

Woke up this morning and realised the house would be too cold for us. Using the space heaters blew out the electric but we could not see that a circuit had broken. I phoned Summer in Italy and told them we wanted to leave. Within an hour they had found another place for us and arranged for an early checkin. Hurray for Summer in Italy!

I take all the blame for this. I knew Villa Trotta was large. I missed the note that it didn’t have heat everywhere but that wouldn’t have stopped me. It is usually much warmer at this time of year. We were in Italy in May the last two years and it was hot. Villa Trotta is lovely but best for summer only I think.

We were packed up quickly because we hardly unpacked. We drove down the mountain to Santa Maria on the sea. Our new place sits above the town but not far. It is a modern villa with a couple of apartments and the owners also live here. Our apartment is huge with the best kitchen I’ve seen in Italy.

It poured rain this morning and much of the afternoon. It stopped around 5pm and we went into the town center for groceries. The town is beautiful. We were here once a few years ago but only for a few hours.

Happy to be in a warm place!

The house just shook from the lightning!

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Yes, this "Spring" is insane! It has been rainy for days here, cold and yucky. Not the norm.

Glad you enjoyed lunch at Sesta Stazione. We have always had great meals there.
Thursday May 16 - Santa Maria di Castellabate

Woke up to bright sunshine! We drove to the next town south of us on the coast, San Marco, less than 10 minutes away, parked and walked on a pedestrian street through the town to the seaside. San Marco is much smaller than Santa Maria. In the summer ferries leave from here going to Salerno and on to the Amalfi Coast! This area looks right at the Amalfi Coast across the huge bay.

We did an easy hike starting in San Marco (starts on a road beside Hotel L'Approdo near the harbour) and walking on a dirt road along the coast to Punta Licosa. I found the hike on the Summer in Italy site and on the Walking and Trekking in Campania site. Both indicate that the hike is two hours but don't make clear that is round trip. We did it in 45 minutes each way. A short hike. And pretty flat. A good rest for my knees after the Amalfi Coast hikes which all started with 2 hours straight up.

The descriptions sound like you are walking on a trail, but you are walking on a dirt road that services the houses along the coast. There are houses along most of the path but also some fields and woods and views to the sea. When we first started we came upon some construction workers who stopped us because there was a mother Cingale and piglets on the trail ahead and they can be dangerous (the mother, not the piglets). We continued carefully but did not see them.

We got out to the end where there is a small harbor and you can see the island off shore. From Summer in Italy:

"A delightful point on the Cilento coast is Punta Licosa. Named for the siren Leucosia from Homer's epic, Odyssey, who is said to have been one of the three sirens (or mermaids) whose songs lured sailors to shipwreck on the rocks. Odysseus had to be tied to the mast to keep from succumbing to their melodic allures. The mythical Leucosia, after failing to bring destruction to Odysseus, was thrown into the abyss of the sea and washed up on an island which was named after her."

Pauline's Note: They weren't just bad sailors, no, it was WOMEN who caused them to shipwreck. I mentioned this to Steve who started singing an old Elvis song: "Well a hard headed woman -
A soft hearted man - Been the cause of trouble - Ever since the world began."

I have started tracking a few of our walks on Wikiloc (thanks @joe for telling me about this app). Here is today's. I should have tracked some of those Amalfi Coast hikes but many other people have tracked them.

We were out about 3 hours including having lunch at Punta Licosa (we brought sandwiches, there are no restaurants on this trail). Towards the end of the hike darker clouds came in and we had a few sprinkles. Then the sun came out and I sat outside for awhile listening to podcasts (Thursday is Manic Rambling Spiral day).

Dinner at home. This house has a pressure cooker, my favorite way to make short grain brown rice - so we had that for dinner along with a vegetable stew.

Really pretty! Cool app too! Glad you are warm again.

Yes, this "Spring" is insane! It has been rainy for days here, cold and yucky. Not the norm.

Crazy weather here too! It snowed in Moab two weeks ago, snowed in Colorado (even in Denver!) last week, and it's supposed to snow again on Saturday!
I remember once or twice getting snow in May in Santa Fe, but it is much higher than Denver!

We used to travel to Italy in June or September, but a few years ago started coming in May (because June is usually great in England). We went to Sicily once in April and the weather was great, but that seems too early for central Italy. Maybe we need to go back to June for Italy. Although a few years ago we had a last minute week at Sant Antonio in Tuscany in June and we had temps in the 90sF and then huge rainstorms. Nothing is dependable any more.
Friday May 17, 2019 - Santa Maria di Castellabate

Woke up to sun again and warmer temps! Lovely! We drove about 45 minutes south to the Velia Archaeological Site, the remains of an ancient Greek and Roman town on the coast. The site is large and spread out, so we spent almost two hours walking around. Remains of a town on the flat, an upper town on a hillside and a medieval castle that was built over older remains. A Roman theater up on the hill.

The main site here, which is on the books about Velia, is the Porta Rosa, a rounded arch gate to the town. This section has been closed for a couple of years and is due to re-open this summer. Too bad - and there was no way to see it coming from any other direction. Still, it is a very interesting site (a UNESCO site) and we enjoyed exploring it. We had it almost to ourselves.

A side note. We drove down on an inland highway to Velia, then back on the coast road. We've had the car for a week, a banged up VW Polo with 70,000km on it from Hertz, and the gas gauge has not moved off full. We've driven from Naples airport to Praiano, then did not drive again until we left and drove down here. Several hours of driving. We've been laughing about it but today it dawned on us that the car is not excellent with mileage but the gas gauge is broken. I tapped the gauge but the glass over it is not even near the gauge. So much for that idea. I pulled into a gas station and we put gas in. It took 10 liters which is about 1/4 of a tank. I set the trip counter to zero and we will watch our miles. Of course, we purchased the full tank of gas because we like to return it close to empty to save stopping at a gas station. I will have to have a word with Hertz about that.

We had our usual late start today so it was near 2pm when we were leaving the site. We could have stopped at one of the coast towns for lunch if we had managed an earlier start but instead we drove the coast road back, drove through a couple of the interesting towns - Pioppi and Acciaroli - and back home for a late lunch.

Acciaroli is known for its long-living inhabitants.

From Wikipedia: "In 2016, scientists studied the town because of its unusually high number of centenarians, some 300, with 20 percent of those reaching the age of 110. This longevity occurs despite the fact that many of the elderly in Acciaroli smoke or are overweight. The centenarians of Acciaroli are also known to have very low rates of heart disease and of Alzheimer’s disease."

Also, Hemingway stayed there for a time. So we will go back there when everything is open, instead of as the town is shutting down for siesta. Everything closes in this area between noon and 4pm.

The coast road is a bit Amalfi Coast Road-like, but with much less traffic and fewer cars parked along the road. The towns are charming but most have a modern sprawl, which makes it look different than the Amalfi Coast. I like this area, the Cilento Coast, a lot but it is not as fabulous as the Amalfi Coast. It feels less tourist-centric here, more Italian, which is nice. And it does not have the insanity of the Amalfi Coast.

So far my favorite town is Santa Maria where we are staying. It is a good sized town with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants. People are friendly. There is a long promenade along the water and a long pedestrian main street.

We are about a mile from the main part of town, so tonight we took the car in again. We parked along the water (lots of parking - we were in a pay spot with blue lines) and walked to a vegetable shop and a bakery. Then went for a long stroll along the water.

Dinner at home tonight. This is the third meal we have had with baby artichokes.

Saturday May 18, 2019 - Santa Maria di Castellabate

Overcast this morning but not cold. Light rain started around 10 and it rained for an hour. It rained again on and off until 2pm. Full sun around 5pm!

We drove into Agropoli, the largest town in this area. It is a 20 minute drive north and is on the coast. That is 20 minutes to drive to Agropoli, then another 20 minutes driving around Agropoli looking for the center. I thought we would just follow the signs but the signs were sometimes there, sometimes not. Finally found it and had a good explore of the town on the way. We parked in a large lot, Agropoli Parccheggio, where the modern part of the center meets the older part.

Agropoli is population about 20,000, so not too large. It has a port area. The wide pedestrian street lined with shops goes to a point where you turn one way for the port, or go up a long wide staircase to the historic center which sits on top of a hill with the castle. We walked around both areas.

Just when we were thinking about lunch, Valerie texted me with the name of a restaurant to try. It turns out we had been there a few years ago with Valerie and Bryan, the one other time we were in Agropoli. I had a local pasta dish, Lagane e Ceci, pasta with chickpeas. I didn't like it. The pasta was thick and the sauce very plain and it was very filling even though it did not have cheese or much oil. I ate about 1/3 of it. Steve had a very good spaghetti with tomato and basil.

After lunch we drove up to a nearby hilltown, Ogliastro Cilento, to do a hike described on the Summer in Italy site. By now the sun was coming out and it was feeling humid! We parked in the town center and walked down into the old part. It is a small town with just a few lanes leading to the church. We could not see any signs for the hike or any trail marks (usually red and white stripes painted on rocks, sometimes just red, sometimes yellow). The description says it starts at the Church of the Maddalena but this was not the name of the main church and I could not find it on Google Maps. We did find a Via Maddalena, so walked down that street out into the countryside and saw a small unsigned church which might have been the one mentioned. However no sign for the trail, Sentiero dell'Albero Centenario (Path of the 100 year old Tree).

Many hiking trails in Italy are on roads, not on footpaths like we are used to in the UK. We started down the road the church was on but stopped after a few minutes when a bunch of dogs came running out from a farmhouse, barking at us. At this point we gave up and turned around. We ended up walking a couple of miles on a quiet lane around the town, through a nice old olive grove.

I had checked Wikiloc and found no mention of the trail. We asked a women who was out in our garden and she said it was a trail and pointed back the way we had come, so it existed at one time. Or maybe we just missed the signs.

By now it was 3:30 and the town was starting to wake up after lunch/siesta. We drove back home and I sat outside in the sunshine! We walked into town for some groceries. The villa we are in is a 5 minute walk from the main road (which is only a two lane highway that is not very busy) and there are a few shops - cafe, vegetable shop, fish shop - there. A few more minutes on the road into town and you come to a good Despar store. The other days we have driven into town and gone down to the beach area. It would probably be 30 minutes to walk down to the beach.

Agropoli was interesting, but Santa Maria is my favorite town here.

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Sunday May 19, 2019 - Santa Maria di Castellabate

Woke up to sunshine so we drove a few minutes to the seaside and walked along the sea while waiting for Valerie to arrive. She drove her from Basilicata to spend a couple of days. Bryan has the flu that Valerie had last week, so stayed home.

We all walked along the seaside again enjoying the sun, warmth and sea air.

We drove south along the coast to Ogliastro Marina for a late lunch. We arrived at 2:30 and the restaurant was full. There was a party for a baby christening in one part of the restaurant. When we left at 4:30 the party was just winding up with everyone taking photos with the baby.

We drove further south to Acciaroli, the town famous for the longevity of its residents. It is a beautiful town. We went to the cafe that Hemingway used to go to. We had a good walk around.

Then back to Santa Maria for passeggiata and gelato for dinner. A wonderful day!

Monday May 20, 2019 - Santa Maria di Castellabate

The weather held today even though rain had been forcast. It was warm and mostly sunny. We had a nice day exploring the area. First we drove to the northern part of Santa Maria, called Lago, where the hike to Punta Tresino and Agropoli starts. It had rained all night long and we did not plan to do the hike, but wanted to see what the trail was like.

There is a paid parking area at the trail head, but this is another trail on a dirt road. At least it is blocked off to cars. We hiked in about 1/2 mile, walking uphill to an intersection. You can do a circular walk, going to an abandoned hamlet. We will do it on another trip.

Then we drove up to Castellabate, the hill town that sits above Santa Maria. The town was made famous by the 2009 Italian movie "Benvenuti al Sud" which was filmed in the town and surrounding area. Real estate used to be very cheap in this town (e.g. €30,000 for a small apartment) but after the movie people from Naples started buying up properties (now about €90,000 for that apartment). It is a charming town built up the hill side. It has a one way street that starts at the bottom and goes up and around the town. We parked down below then walked up the different levels.

We had coffee on the main piazza where much of the film was set, then up higher to the castle for great views.

Back down to Santa Maria for a walk around and a very good lunch with a view of the sea. Many restaurants were closed because it is Monday but a few were open. I had a vegetarian pasta, Steve a seafood pasta and Valerie had mussels. We finished with coffee at the gelato place (I had an affogoto! Espresso poured over gelato).

Today was really fun, walking around the towns, talking, enjoying the sun and the sea.

Valerie drove back home (just under 2 hours from here) and I started packing up. Our flight tomorrow is in the evening, so we asked for (and got) a noon checkout time. We will visit Paestum and then drive to the airport.

Do we put more gas in the car or do we feel lucky? I am sure we will play it safe. I am bad enough about running low on gas even when the gas gauge is working!

Hi Pauline this was a really interesting trip report about an area I've never visited, lots of details about hikes as well, I'm sure it will be very useful to a lot of people. About your doubt concerning whether May is a good time to visit the south of Italy than I think it absolutely is, especially Sicily and Sardinia and the west coast (Puglia can be wetter). This May was extremely dreadful, not the norm at all, so don't be put off by that. (I live in Italy) June is hotter, too hot for walking in my opinion and a lot more expensive and busier - schools finish for the summer about 8th June usually and 2nd June is a holiday so people start do long weekends. May is also better for flowers etc....
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 - Heading Home

Overcast this morning but warm. The sun came out around noon. We got a late checkout because we have an evening flight. We drove to the seaside and walked along it. It is about a mile from one end of Santa Maria to the other.

Back to the house, then headed out. We stopped in Paestum for a couple of hours. This was our second visit. We had a good walk around the site. I love those huge Greek temples. We went into the museum just to see the Greek fresco, The Diver.

Airport worker strike today but our flight is going. However, the lounge was closed! The plane is about to take off. Heading home.


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