Monday, April 13, 2015

Time does not wither, nor custom stale their infinite optimism

The COG and I thought it would be nice to take a walk. Just a little walk from Ravello to Amalfi, a mere 5 kilometers away.  We would stop in Portone on the way for lunch, detouring a bit to see the beautiful views from a belvedere. Then, back to Portone and thence to Atrani,  where we could nip around the corner, a short 20 minutes to Amalfi. Tired, but happy, we would take the bus back to Ravello for dinner.    The notes we had on the walk, from the company through which we reserved the cottage, said it was a 4 hour hike.  

Let me just remind  you of the terrain we are talking about here. This was taken half way down. Click on the pictures to see the whole picture - some are not showing up fully.

or, looking down:

We left Ravello around 10 and began the 'walk' which, we soon discovered was more a matter of going down stairs than actual 'walking'.  And, when I use the word 'stairs,' I mean uneven, steep, often very high,  ancient and crumbling - sometimes repaired- stairs going down and down.  By noon we had arrived at Pontone,where we had a pleasant lunch out doors, as per The Plan.  

We followed the instructions for the walk and, by and by (where 'by and by' means 'up and down' ) we arrived at a beautiful viewing spot.  And it was beautiful.  Well worth seeing.  Note the ancient tower just to the right of the middle of the picture.  Atrani is the town on the left and Amalfi is the town on the right. 

Here's another shot -a panorama taken from the Belvedere.  That's Ravello - the Villa di Cimbrone - on the pointy peak at the middle.  Our flat is just on the other side of that hill, near Villa di Cimbrone, but facing the bay at the far right.  That's Pontone (I think) over on the left. We had come down and crossed the valley, then mounted to Pontone and the Belevedere at this point. 

And so full of  the beautiful sights, a nice lunch, and our usual optimism, we backtracked to Pontone.  Once again forgetting the lesson we never learn, which is that we always get lost.  And so we did.  First we got lost going in one direction, down many steps and then up many steps and then down some more until we came to a tree that had fallen across the path and realized that we were on the wrong path.  So we backtracked to the junction and went in the other direction, up and down and down and up, until we came to the ancient watchtower that we had viewed from above a bit earlier.  
Remember the tower in the picture above?  We saw it up close and personal, but I don't have a picture.   

So back we went again, up and down more steps until we were back at earlier the higher level and on the right path again finally.  This took a couple of hours in all.  And we started back to Pontone, to connect with the path to Atrani.   Before we got to that point, we came to the bottom of a very steep set of stairs we had climbed down earlier. And right by the stairs was a sign and an arrow, pointing to Atrani.  So, naturally, we thought - why go the extra couple of hundred meters to the advised path, we'll just take this one.  This was our second, or third, error depending.

We were never seriously lost-lost. We could see Atrani and the sea and we knew we'd get there eventually.

It was long and very difficult - all steep, ancient, crumbling stairs going down with our backs to Atrani, walking inland when we wanted to arrive at the seafront.

  There was one beautiful moment, among many, a waterfall descending  into pools worn deep in the stone.  

Finally, with both of us complaining that we could hardly walk because our calves and quads were cramping, we joined the path we would have been on the whole time,  had we followed instructions.  This was a broad stone-paved path that sloped gently down into the town. 

 Apparently, it was the path used by donkey carts until the middle of the last century, when the roads were finally completed.  And so, we made it to Atrani. Yay!

I had thought that once we were in Atrani we would just nip round the corner  in to Amalfi, because they are both on the same level, right on the sea.  But, no, it was not to be.  Instead, we followed a path involving many more stairs up and down, through a maze of tiny, ancient, wandering alley ways which were probably just the ticket when you were escaping attack from Saracen invaders a thousand years ago.  

But, then, we were in Amalfi.  Tired, but pleased to have completed the walk, we climbed on the bus for the ride home. 

All in all it was a lovely day.  We did 8 miles and 196 staircases, according to fitbit.  It was so lovely to be out walking in the countryside. 

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