Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tour along the Amalfi Coast

After a small breakfast as it is typical for Italy (cappucino, croissant), we meet with the other members of the group. This travel is done for a purpose: it is the last workshop of the EU-funded ISLES project, and the meeting has the purpose to finalise the work.

The meeting is hosted by the Commune di Salerno, who also is the project lead. For this Sunday, Nino has organised a wonderful tour along the famous Amalfi coast, which is north of Salerno. With a small van and with Roberto's personal car, we start from the hotel and drive along the very curvy narrow road. A few of the passengers get dizzy.

The first stop is Vietri, a town perched along the steep hilly cost as all the other towns on that peninsula. It is well known for its many ceramics manufacturing shops. We visit a shop whose owner is a friend of Nino, and have the opportunity to go down into the ceramics studio, to see the tools and get information about the art of making artistic vases and plates. One of the containers for mixing the ceramic material is 500 years old...

The next stop is Minori, where a tour guide brings us to a relatively recently excavated Roman villa. There are remains of lead water pipes, including a real original shut-down valve from that time! Fascinating.

Then we continue to Amalfi. A short lunch break, with sandwiches and pizza. Then a guided tour through the city center, with its narrow streets and undergroupd passages. Tales from the courageous women of the town are told, who defended the city against intruders while the men were fishing.

The town centre of Amalfi.

As the sun slowly sets down, we drive up into the mountains to Ravello. There is a famous garden, with a spectacular view that already inspired Richard Wagner more than 100 years ago: he modelled the "Klinsor Garden" in the opera Parsifal according to this one, and now there is an annual music festival held in this garden.

View in the evening from Ravello down to the coast.

Full of impressions we return to the hotel. Lena and I want to drive to a supermarket for some purchases, so we head down the A3 towards south, to Portocagnano. But the stop-and-go traffic there costs a lot of time - we return without having done the shopping, but in time for the dinner meeting.

The whole group goes to a nice nearby restaurant: we share lots of various antipasti, then pasta, gnocchi, etc. Excellent stuff!

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