I hope you’re ready for some pretty cool photos, because the Amalfi Coast has been the highlight of our trip so far, surpassing even Venice (which was amazing with its unique canal-architecture) and Cinque Terre (which has beautiful beach-cliffside-architecture). I guess it doesn’t hurt to stay on a well-looked-after property on top of a mountain overlooking the mediterranean surrounded by grapevines and extremely friendly people who make you feel more like you’re family-friends than paying-customers… but, hold-up for just a second… this is not where the story begins…
Our adventure to the Amalfi Coast started off when we hit Sorrento in our rented Peugeot. Sorrento is a town about twenty minutes north of Amalfi. We stayed at a Caravan Park called Nube d’Argento, which was recommended by our Lonely Planet guide. However, it turned out to be not-so-good. Although your tent is setup on a cliff overlooking Sorrento Beach and there’s a nice pool, there’s also some sort of chemical-processing-plant fifty meters over the side of the cliff that the camp is based on. Have you ever smelt rotten-egg gas before? Anyway, we made the most of it at the campsite and got some rest, then trekked down to Sorrento Beach, which was stunning.
As you can see from the pictures, Sorrento beach is beautiful. It reminded me a little-bit of Cinque Terre. Our stay in Sorrento would have turned out a lot different if we’d stayed in one of the apartments on the beach instead of the campsite, although I’m not sure that’s possible. There’s some hotels near-by though and that’s your best-bet. It’s funny how where you stay in a city will totally influence your memory of it.
The next day the gods must have been shining on us because as we were driving along, headed for Amalfi, unsure of where to stay, Lorna told me she’d read that there was a farming-cottage on the mountain above Amalfi called Monte Brusara in the town of Ravello. We literally plugged the address into our GPS and headed up and up a narrow-roaded mountain.
When we arrived at where the GPS had pin-pointed, we were at the base of a steep driveway. Lorna walked up to see if it was the right place and I hopped out of the car and started taking photos of the view. At that point I already thought the view was amazing from the road. About ten minutes later, Lorna bounced down the driveway and said, “You may as well delete those photos you just took, because you’ll take better ones from our balcony!” and her teeth had a sparkle on them like diamonds do in a bright light.
After I parked the car in the allocated-spot, I carted all our crap up a few flights of stairs and realised I had actually died somehow and was in heaven. It was good to finally know what happens to you after you die. As I prepared to meet my maker, a healthy-looking older gentleman greeted me in Italian. He introduced himself as, “Luigi,” and I instantly realized I hadn’t really died at all, we had just found a really, really bloody rad place. Lorna introduced herself, eyes still beaming, and I did the same. “Aaaah… Roberto!” Luigi agreed. He would call me that for the rest of our stay.
Luigi insisted we follow him and we did. I left the suitcase and bags where they stood and we went up another flight of stairs. He wanted to show us his view. He waved over the roof-top terrace at the Amalfi coast far, far below and Lorna Jane and I gasped. A lot of Luigi’s teeth were showing. To say he was proud of his residence and view was an understatement.
We talked for a while in English to him, and he responded back in Italian. Nobody really knew what the hell was going on, but we all agreed the view, the room, the surrounding grapevines and even Luigi himself, was awesome.
Lorna and I took the bags into the room and, I know this is probably boring to hear at this point, but… the room was amazing. Simple, yet extremely clean. A quaint tiled-room with a queen sized bed and large-enough bathroom. And… a large balcony with a very-similar view to what we’d just seen from the roof-top. Bloody, bloody awesome.
Later on that night we walked out of our room with our cameras and Luigi spotted us right away. He took us back up to the roof-top and insisted on taking shots he’d probably taken himself, dozens of times before. He took us out-back to his vineyard and farm and made us take photos of grapes and tomatoes and peppers. All-the-while, the coastline peeked through the leaves. Of course, we had to taste-test everything. At one point he climbed a ladder, about one-story high, to pick us a perfect fig. I thought about holding the ladder, but he seemed to know what he was doing. After all his effort he smiled and told us something that took a while to understand… He was 80 years of age! From his hand-suggestions, he still looked as good as he did and could climb a ladder to pick a piece of fruit that I would have had trouble with, because he had worked and ate off the land for most of his life.
The following day, Lorna Jane and I were going to visit Amalfi, but decided the property was too awesome to leave. For two days we would just hang-out on the property and make the most of the peace, quiet and magic. As I was typing away on the laptop, after just doing another round with Luigi, close-friends-of-the-family came to visit from London and we met the nice couple. Lucky for us, they spoke English, as well as Italian. We now had translators. Dom was apparently 13 when he used to live at this same address and his mother would work the land every day, getting up at 3 a.m. to beat the heat. Dom told me his family had initially owned the property, which was very basic at the time, but eventually sold it to Luigi. Luigi and his family then built the place to what it is today and both-familes still keep in close-touch. Philamina, Luigi’s daughter, does an amazing job currently running everything. They’re all really lovely to deal with and still to this very day live off the farm. We found all this information out over our invitation to lunch with the family, and it was a lunch we will never forget. Home-cooked and home-grown pasta and pesto and pork and grapes and sun-dried-tomatoes and bread and biscuits and wine and limoncello… All while talking to each other and not understanding, and then Dom translating and everyone laughing.
I can’t imagine a better place for a writer to write a book, and maybe, just maybe, one day I’ll go back there and do just that. As for you… If you’ve found this blog through all the other clutter on the site, then today is your lucky day. Monte Brusara and Luigi and Philamina on top of a mountain on the Amalfi Coast are a great big awesome secret. And now you’re in on it.
Eventually, a few days after luckily finding Monte Brusara, Lorna and I packed up and left. We said our goodbyes, vowing to return one day, and visited the town of Amalfi. Amalfi is beautiful as a town and as a beach and is highly recommended to visit.
Rob Kaay is an Australian author & musician
[flickr-gallery mode=”photoset” photoset=”72157624655626217″]