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Italy Day 8: Stuck in Amalfi. What to do?

Amalfi
Everyone is sore in different ways after the Seniero Deigli Dei walk yesterday.  We get up slowly.  Breakfast is served downstairs today because it’s raining and the rooftop terrace is too wet.  Afterward, the kids eat a little more Easter candy. Yes, the Easter Bunny found us here in Italy, much to Lily’s relief.

Which came first, the home or the road?
Our itinerary says we are going to Pompei today to see the ruins at the base of Mt. Vesuvius.  But weit’s not going to happen.  It takes almost an hour on windy roads to get there by expensive taxi, or 3 hours by public transportation.  And Lily’s stomach doesn’t handle the twisting and turning very well.  Our back-up plan was to go to Ravello and hike, but no one feels like hiking, and it’s raining.   So we confine ourselves to Amalfi and search for some fun nearby.

The shell shop where we bought a stuffed shark.
It’s a national holiday;  Easter Monday. We expect the main streets to be quieter, but no.  Shops are definitely open, and it’s already packed.  We head back to a store we saw our first night with lots of seashells.  We have a steam-punk dining room with a few nautical elements.   We’d love to get something cool here because the other gifts, Limoncello and pottery are crap. Trish doesn’t even get in the door before she is transfixed by a tiny stuffed shark, about 10 inches in length with sandpaper skin.  It’s not the most PC thing to buy, but we both love sharks, and anything that makes Trish creeped-out has to be pretty cool.

The water gets recycled down a tiny gutter.
The guide books says there is a Paper making museum up the road and we head there, hoping that it’s not closed on the holiday.  It isn’t, although we wait a long time for the guide, who speaks in very broken English. Nonetheless it’s interesting. The girls had no idea how paper was made.  This mill is the oldest (surviving) in Europe and was in use until the sixties.  It’s at the base of cliffs a thousand feet high, and it’s situated here because the volume and speed of water that drains after a rain is impressive.  We see manual machinery for both cotton and wood pulp paper-making.

After lunch, we take a long walk searching for a boat tour that will take us to Grotto di Smeraldo, an attractive spot a few miles up the coast.  We head down by the beach and boat basin but nothing looks open, much less like a boat tour company.

Everyone hops the locked fence to get a better view.
From the beach,  Trish spots a walkway far up the side of the beach cliff and suggests we try to find our way up there.  Behind a small playground rises a terraced, vertical public ‘park’ that is all benches, some trees and stairs. High up at the top of the park, is the walkway Trish spotted.  But it requires us to hop a locked fence, which the girls remind us, is breaking the law.

It’s a fun view of the coast, and the pathway heads back down to the center.  On our way back we spot the place where we get the boat, but they say it’s closed today because there isn’t enough sun.  Apparently the grotto needs some light to be enjoyed.

Can we light another candle on fire?
Trish heads back to the hotel for a rest, and the girls and I decide to explore the city more.  After gelato, (strawberry and vanilla are the favorites) we go to the church and light some fires.  It only takes 10 minutes to walk through, and we can’t find a way to climb the clock tower.

Halfway up the side.
Rain begins to drizzle again, so we wait under the marble canopy of the church and play our game of punch-centration.  The girls play a game called concentration that starts with a hand-clapping rhyme.  Each person is supposed to name something in the chosen category or lose.  Common categories are colors, foods, states, countries etc…  Punch-centration is the same, except I up the ante by punching the looser in the arm when they miss one.  It makes them giggle uncontrollably and we waste several minutes in the rain.

Tiny passageways seem built for 7 and 9-year-olds
Amalfi is crisscrossed by back alleys and stairways that go up the sides of the valley to homes farther and farther up.  It’s still drizzling, but we decide to go as high as we can go.  It’s slippery in parts, due to the water.  There are several false-starts and dead-ends, but after an hour we find a path up very close to the top.  Lily and Emma’s enthusiasm grows as we get higher and higher.

We are rewarded for our efforts.  The view is amazing, and the sun comes out just as we hit the peak.  The girls and I head back to find Trish and Dinner, which turns out to be amazing at a restaurant called Risto, that makes homemade pasta.  Trish eats all of her dishes and most of mine, too.  We pack and get to bed early.  We are done with Amalfi, and head back to Rome early tomorrow for our final day of the trip.

The sun peeks out and the rains slow.

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