Amalfi, Italy

We flew from Amsterdam to Naples with a layover in Hamburg, Germany. Our flight into Naples was delayed an hour, but it wasn’t stressful. Naples in the closest airport to Amalfi, about 43 miles away. Up until 2017, there was no direct way to get to Amalfi, without doing a number of transportation switches (starting with a train to Salerno or Sorrento and then a ferry or a bus onto the coast line from there). Now there is a minibus called the Pintour that takes you straight from the Naples airport to Amalfi, which was very convenient for us. Unfortunately because of our flight delay, we missed the Pintour Bus we originally would have taken. The bus only comes around every two hours (not convenient), so we grabbed three mini margherita pizzas from an airport grab-and-go shop (only 3 euros each–a little over 3 US dollars– and honestly delicious!) and then planted ourselves on a bench right outside the airport to wait for a couple hours until the next bus came. After asking an information counter twice about where the bus would pick up from and getting two totally different answers (the only reason we asked the second time instead of trusting the first answer we got was because in the first location, there were pick-up signs for all sorts of different busses and bus routes, but none of them said Pintour, so we thought we’d double check), we started to get slightly stressed about missing it. What if we were in the wrong place and miss the bus and have to wait another two hours before the next would come around?? The second answer we were given was to walk 500 meters over to a random “P1” sign where they “THINK” the bus picks up. hahaha I actually said, “You think it picks up there, or you know? Will there be a sign for Pintour so we will be assured we’re in the right spot?” and her answer was only: “There’s a ‘P1’ sign so you’ll know.” You can understand why we weren’t confident at all of this. The “P” stands for “Parking”, not Pintour, as there were signs directing cars to find parking lots and garages for P2 through P5 that we could see. I continually went in and out of the airport to connect to wifi and do some google searches while Robbie stayed with our backpacks outside and I relayed him info. The Pintour website wouldn’t translate to English, so there was no way of knowing from that, but I found a TripAdvisor forum that was created only four weeks earlier of people discussing this very thing and saying, “It can be confusing trying to figure out where this bus picks up, but be confident that is DOES pick up right in front of the airport in the roundabout where other busses pick up from.” This was my only confidence booster, so we waited there. It was supposed to pick up at 4pm, but 4:15pm came and went and no sign of the bus. There was a German woman, Stephanie, who approached us and asked if we were waiting for the Pintour because she was too. We were relieved to have a buddy, knowing if we missed it, we weren’t alone. She had gotten the same confusing information about the bus. At 4:20-ish the bus arrived and it looked more like a 15 passenger van that was completely blank except for tiny writing near the front tires that said like, “pintour.it”. I’m shocked we noticed it.

It took 2 hours to get to Amalfi because of some traffic in Naples and because of the ultra-winding and narrow coastline of the Amalfi Coast that you have to travel at ridiculously slow speeds. Now I’ve talked a bit about some nauseating bus rides we’ve had so far on this trip, but nothing like this one. There is no possible way I can accurately describe how terrible our bus driver was at driving. He was plowing through Naples traffic, slamming on his brakes when he’d inevitably get too close to other cars (making the 5 other people on board the bus gasp at the same time as us each and every time he’d do this), and even almost pummeling through a toll road lever because he wouldn’t slow down for anything. Oh my goodness, I wanted to close my eyes, but at the same time, I wanted to at least see when I was about to die. (hahaha Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I’m telling you, even Robbie was having to laugh at times to just release the stress build-up of this journey). I was actually getting dizzy in the back seat simply from fear. And when I thought the crazed driving would stop because we’d reached Salerno and the traffic stopped, I was wrong. He was still trying to speed along a tiny narrow coastline, along tall mountains with approaching cars and busses in the opposite direction. We’d speed up and then slam the brakes again as we’d approach the inevitable curve, blinded from knowing who or what was approaching on the other side. This went on for another thirty-five minutes. Robbie and I both could have thrown up from how nauseous and disgusting we felt. I just wanted off the bus and honestly, I wanted to scream at our bus driver. I forgot to mention, he was on the phone the entire journey!! Ugh!! I vowed that we MUST take the ferry out of Amalfi– I was NOT willing to do another bus!

So we made it to Amalfi, alive. Thank goodness. This entire area of Italy along the coast we were at is called “The Amalfi Coast.” Even if you’re in the towns of Maiori or Positano or Atrani, you’re still on the Amalfi Coast. We just so happened to actually stay in the city of Amalfi that the coast is named after. It’s also pretty much smack dab in the center between Sorrento and Salerno, the two bigger hub cities that lie on either end of the coast. Our airbnb host was waiting for us at the bus stop, along the beach, so that was so great to not have to put too much thought into what we needed to do next in order to actually settle down there for the next six days after the chaos of our journey that day. Anna led us straight up into the Amalfi square and to our private place (which took approximately 2 minutes to walk to from the bus stop and the beach). Robbie was feeling so nauseated that he asked if I could go get him a pop from a shop in the square while he laid down for a bit. I’m not kidding, this 5 minutes that I ran out of the apartment to grab something was the first time Robbie and I had separated on this whole trip so far! haha I loved having this opportunity to do something for him instead of with him. So after grabbing an orange fanta for him (a VERY popular and common drink in Europe. That and plain ol’ Coca-Cola–you cannot find pepsi or pepsi products in Europe at all!!), I stopped in at a gelato place and ordered a big scoop of coconut gelato in a cone and walked it back up to the room. Robbie was so blessed by this, and it was so sweet. We shared our first official Italian gelato together in our airbnb and boy, did it meet the hype! The best ice cream I’ve ever had. And Robbie couldn’t stop telling me, “This is exactly what I needed. Thank you for surprising me with this.” ❤ ❤ It was so simple, but it was so fun to do for him. He has always loved anything coconut.

A few things to mention. The photos of this place may be reminiscent of the South of France, with similar landscapes, weather, and of course the same Mediterranean Sea. But Amalfi is truly a small town, a place that as late as the 1950’s was still just a farming town. There’s only about 6,000 people that live here and because of how much more difficult it is to get here than to, say, Nice, France, there’s very few tourists comparatively. The tourists that are there are without a doubt mostly Italians. We realized quickly that Amalfi is an Italian person’s vacation spot, so the shop owners aren’t going to know as much English as other places we’ve visited because they don’t need to know it as much. The mountains along the coast come all the way out into the ocean, so when you’re swimming in the sea, you don’t have to look behind you to see the mountains, you just have to look to your left or right. And lastly, the water is beautifully crystal clear, in a way that neither Robbie nor I had ever experienced before. Jamaica had clear waters and so did Villa Franche in France, but not like this. You could get out as deep as your shoulders and you could still see your toes perfectly. Amazing. So overall, if we were to recommend either the South of France or the Amalfi Coast, we’d say the Amalfi Coast. If you’re looking for a much slower-paced environment, a less chaotic touristy location, a small town feel with absolutely breathtaking views, and of course home-cooked Italian restaurants and supermarkets, this is the place for you. The Amalfi Coast is another destination I’ve wanted to visit for as long as I can remember (along with Paris, Norway and Santorini, Greece) and it’s definitely a humbling and thrilling experience to see places you’ve only dreamt of. We praise Jesus for these experiences.

The main square in Amalfi is called the “Piazza Duomo” which translates as Cathedral Square. The steep multitude of the Catholic cathedral’s steps sit on one side of the square that when sat on, give you a nice view of the whole piazza. It was the place we ended up finishing every single evening in Amalfi, after the sun had set, just to sit and read, eat late night take-away pizza, or talk and watch the town settle into night. Our airbnb was literally around the corner from the cathedral steps, maybe a 50-foot walk from the square or less and a 2 minute walk from the beach. It was the most amazingly convenient location. Between the swimming beach and the beach where ferries docked, there is a long concrete port that juts way out into the water where you can walk along to get great views of Amalfi and the mountains that swallow the city. Day two we walked down this, first thing, and sat at the very end of it for possibly an hour, just admiring where we had landed for the week.

Our week consisted of some of the most romantic moments. And I really mean that. It felt so effortless to be romantic here, not in a cliche way, but in a way that felt like the town was all ours, like it was our neighborhood and our ocean, just for us. Even though the sun was hot each day, you wouldn’t believe how few people ever came down to the sand, and of those few people that were on the sand, only a handful actually swam. I’m not sure why? Maybe the tourists came to Amalfi in September not expecting to still have the weather to be able to swim? But this allowed for day after day, a several hour outing at the beach to feel so private and personal. We would read our Bibles or play cards on our towels while listening to the waves and breeze, or we’d lay down and bask in the sunshine, or we’d swim around together, hugging and teasing and splashing, like two children in love, because we are. One night we grabbed a bottle of wine at the supermarket, and sat down on the beach to share it at the bluest hour of sunset, just as the light was turning to dusk and the twinkle of the Amalfi houses on the hills were starting their glow. No one else was there. Not a single other person was on the sand. Just us. I can’t say how beautiful this perfect night was, just Robbie and me, dreaming of the future, talking about stories of friends back home and reminiscing, and laughing and flirting with one another, holding hands and breathing in the salty air with the chill of dusk in it for two hours past dark. Another night we sat on some huge stones that lined the port that juts out into the sea, and we read our Bibles while leaning against each other until it got too chilly to stay next to the water; so we grabbed long sleeves at home and then we read for a long while more sitting on the steps of the Piazza Duomo. We discussed the Holy Spirit, our hesitations, fears, and doubts. We prayed for confidence and boldness, for dreams and words.

The only real supermarket in Amalfi is still just a small little shop about 1/10th the size of grocery stores back home. And simply put, it was just called “Supermercado” (because when you’re the only supermarket in town, you don’t have to come up with an original name. haha). It was about 120 feet from our place and became a daily staple almost. We did eat plenty of delicious pizza and lasagna out in the square that week, but we also got supplies to cook a couple meals in our apartment. And right outside of the supermarket was a tiny store dedicated strictly to fresh buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella that is specifically made in Southern Italy). It was quite a dream for me to buy local Italian pasta noodles, red sauce, fresh prosciutto and sun dried tomatoes for some spaghetti. The buffalo mozzarella was so fresh, he sold it to me with it still sitting in a bag of milk. This was such a fun experience for me to cook for us in Italy. And the window that sat behind our kitchen table overlooked an alleyway of side steps up to the cathedral in the square, so many people wandered by as we eat our meal and several people stopped and said, “wow!” and hilariously took pictures! We couldn’t believe that. It was so funny. I also can’t talk about the supermarket without also embarrassingly tell you about how much rice krispies cereal we ate for breakfast each morning. haha We ate it with sugar on top and went back to the supermarket for more milk a few different days and the guy running the shop started to recognize us. We laughed so much at ourselves for being the “stupid Americans who come to Italy and eat a ton of Krispies cereal.”

Amalfi is famous for their lemons. We didn’t know this before going, but apparently everyone else did because I had several friends message me on instagram telling us to try the limoncello. Limoncello is an after-dinner drink and it’s everywhere along with just anything lemon at all that you can think of. Amalfi is such a small town and yet anywhere you looked, there was a ridiculously yellow store selling lemon hard candies, lemon pasta, lemon chocolate, and of course just simply lemons. I asked a lady at one of the stores, “Are lemons famously grown in Italy?” and she said very assertively, “No! Amalfi!” She wanted very much for us to know that lemons are not an Italy thing, they’re an Amalfi coast thing. haha The Amalfi lemons are supposed to be sweeter and juicier than lemons grown elsewhere, and they truly are the size of your hands from the bottom of your palm to the tip of your fingers, and they’re not just long, they’re plump and hearty too! We didn’t try a lemon straight, but we bought a pack of individually-wrapped lemon hard candies and had them all eaten by our last day there. We both had sore mouths from eating those all week, but my goodness, they were so good!!

After having the most delicious gelato every night for a few days, we decided to mix it up and grab an espresso and tiramisu from a shop in the square one night around 9pm, and shared it on the steps of the duomo (as usual)– our favorite place to sit and be there except for the sea, of course. Robbie joked that we should play a version of hide and seek together, where I’d count and he’d go “hide” somewhere in the crowd of people in the square and I’d have to spot him. He’d always have his eyes on me, so as long as I just waved at him, he’d know I’d found him (that way I wouldn’t have to leave the steps to come find him). It was so funny. We played this several times and it was great. No one knew we were doing it, which is just awesome. We found out I’m better at spotting Robbie than he is of me. It created some good laughs and funny moments. Totally silly, but so much fun.

One of the days we took a ferry (only 8 euros each!) over to Positano for the day. I won’t drag the experience out too much on here, but it was another wonderful beach day with “famous” views of the colorful tiered homes on the hillside that comes right into the ocean there. It’s a picture I’ve seen more than a thousand times online or on instagram, and it was such a privilege to sit and read while Robbie swam, with that as our view. We stayed til sunset and ferried back to Amalfi, making long conversation with a couple from Columbia who were also in awe of the bold orange sun setting behind Positano as we floated away. They were so sweet, so obviously in love, and seemed just as grateful as we were to get to experience all of this.

The night we came back from Positano, we were in the apartment when Robbie heard fireworks going off. We quickly ran into the square and down to the beach where some people were lighting off fireworks from the long port into the night sky. Few people had gathered to watch them because it was midnight, so not very many people were around to enjoy them. It was awesome though, and they were big professional ones and so pretty! We spotted an Italian guy who was still in his work attire from waiting tables, and I asked him what the fireworks were in celebration of? and his exact words were, “I have no idea! Sometimes this happens! In Amalfi, the people– they’re happy!” haha It was great.

Amalfi, we spent 6 of the most romantic, beautiful days with you. Robbie and I spent way more than average time cuddling here, loving here and eating way more than average pizza and gelato here. We spent time in prayer and with the Lord. These were days we’ll never forget. 

(There’s many more photos I’d like to upload but my internet in Tuscany is making it impossible to post more.) So for now: