I couldn’t understand a single word he was saying, all I know is that he was angry. Very angry. And why shouldn’t he be? He was a bus driver, a local, a man with knowledge of this area far greater than anyone else, and the small, somewhat insignificant cars sharing the road up into the small Italian hillside town of Ravello clearly had no idea.
He abruptly opened his window, stuck his oversized, bald head out of it and screamed – using the tones of his voice, his hands, his entire torso, to punctuate his point – which was, as far as my intuition tells me, ‘get out of my fucking way. NOW, YOU IDIOTS!!!
It was pouring rain outside and the road was jammed. It appears that the second a single drop of rain starts here on the Amalfi Coast, the unsuspecting system turns into chaos. Men were screaming; women were eye rolling. The Italian lust for life was on full display in this single moment. It’s amazing how the most profound cultural lessons are sometimes observed in the simplest of tasks. We were on a SITA bus as it carried a small group of tourists up into the hills, and swiftly back down again. You don’t get much more simple than that, do you?
If you’re yet to experience the Amalfi Coast, or more specifically, the roads of the Amalfi Coast, you’re in for a real treat, Happies. They are tight. And by tight I mean a scooter has trouble navigating around the bends, let alone a bus. I have no idea how they do it, all I care about is that they do, because it’s a long, cascading drop to the cliffs below if they don’t. But they do. They always do. And that’s what you have to tell yourself every time you step inside one of these beasts.
Here’s a visual…
The Italian way of life is truly a beautiful one. Especially when you step away from the crammed tourist Mecca of Amalfi and Capri and Positano and enjoy their culture by simply watching it. Observing it. Admiring it. The love they put into their fruit stands, their hand motions, the way they throw witty banter among friends – sharing smiles, laughs, food and wine with the people they love. Or, sharing loud screams of frustration to their fellow road sharers, it’s not pretty pictures all the time, I guess.
Here on the coast you can see that without tourists, life would be hard. There’s nothing around, the sheer fact that someone was crazy enough to actually build townships in this location says a lot about the Italians. Either they’re completely mad, or ingenious, but either way, the beauty and splendour of this part of the world is uncompromising. Virtually impossible to navigate by road, yes, but amazing nonetheless.
But the beauty comes only partly from the land, Happies. If you ask me, the people generate much of the beauty here too, spreading their Italian idiosyncrasies of happiness and madness and Joie de Vivre onto the unsuspecting tourists that flock to these parts only for the beaches. Or the shopping. Or to say that they’ve visited this world-renowned place so they look well travelled.
It’s easy to see why happiness abounds here; the Italians have all of life’s most precious gifts well understood. Food, wine, family, friends and passion. And they show this in every small situation. Even the tiny ones, like traffic jams.
Tell me Happies…
Have you been to the Amalfi Coast?
Did you like it?
Do you know these roads I talk of?
If you haven’t been, do you want to go?