I will quickly note the events of the week in between Florence and the Great Disaster and move on to a full account of the events in Naples/Amalfi. So I forgot to say that the Friday before the trip to Florence was “Etruscan Day” and we went to see the Etruscan tombs in Cerveteri and Tarquinia. They were pretty incredible aside from the rain and aside from the couple times I got very a very creepy feeling while stomping through the tombs. The burials in Cerveteri were very interesting and consisted of large mounds with chambers inside in which there were beds where they would place the sarcophagi. Tarquinia was different. The tombs there are underground and to reach them one must walk down about a flight of stairs in to highly decorated rooms where the dead would have been placed. As I said, it rained all day but more like poured and we were all soaked by the time we got back to Rome but not wet enough to skip out on Il Fico Friday. So then we went to Florence and the following Friday we visited the Catacombs of San Sebastian and the Appian Way. The catacombs are the oldest in Rome and filled with over 100,000 tombs and are also the location where the remains of Peter and Paul were temporarily stored. Unfortunately we were restricted to a very short portion of the area and our tour was with a Pennsylvanian Christian college group of about 25 people. Please ignore my atheist commentary here but the last people you should put with the god-loving, hymn-singing Christian tourists are Classicists. So we attempted to get some Roman-ness out of the whole experience (really to no avail). However, it was still an experience to be had. Afterwards we continued on a very very long walk up the Appian Way, which is the best preserved ancient Roman road and leads from Rome all the way to southern Italy. Along the way are tons of Roman tombs and beautiful views and only a couple of prostitutes…I kid you not. Back to Il Fico again that night (I promise that this place really is a worth the weekly trip) and then out drinking.
I will begin this story with some basic information: I have a cold. I am happy to plan/help plan trips if asked (I was not). Naples is not a safe place to be wandering around aimlessly in.
Amalfi. Against my better judgement I agreed to a group trip to the coastal city of Amalfi outside of Naples. All three of my roommates and myself and Kyle and one of the grad students decided to go. I was under the impression that my roommate had done sufficient planning for the trip and was aware of how to get there and around and where we were staying etc etc etc…
We left around 10 on Saturday morning and took a three hour train to Naples. Things were going smoothly as we got a cab to take us to get some famous Neapolitan pizza and then walked to the archaeological museum. To our dismay, much of the museum exhibits were closed (everything we had gone to see) yet there were still some beautiful antiquities. We left the museum to head to Amalfi where we were supposed to be staying 2 blocks from the beach. This is were everything went downhill.
Me: “Okay so how do we get to Amalfi?”
Roommate: “Umm…I’m not really sure. I think we need to take the metro to this place here but it doesn’t have the name of the place that I was told to go.”
Me: “So you don’t know exactly how we are getting there?”
etc…So I found the train station (the opposite direction of where she “thought”) and we take a cab there. Downhill #2. We have no idea what to do from there only what stop we need to get off at. I talk to the very kind and patient ticket lady and we are on our way. An hour later we arrive at a small town where, according to my roommate, a bus should just be waiting to take us to the next place! No bus. After talking to some more people we find that we have just under an hour in this very tiny oceanside village is really the right word. Let me also note that the bus will be leaving at 7:40 and we are supposed to check into our hotel by 8. So we wander around and I am sick and generally unhappy and the bus finally comes. Everyone gets on okay and I start to notice that the bus is winding up and up and up the mountain side. Did I mention we are supposed to be staying 2 blocks from the beach? Over an hour later we are at the top of said mountain and the only people left of the bus. After my roommate calls the hotel and give the phone to the bus driver who stops and asks all these people on the street where exactly we are going, we are dropped off in the middle of this completely closed town after 9:00 and pointed down a dark alley where apparently a woman from our hotel will meet us. So I’m thinking that for whatever reason she will meet us and drive us all back down the mountain side to our beach hotel. Wrong again. We are staying on this mountain, we are an hour from the ocean, the hotel room is a freezer. Because we have no other options, we stay and decide that the next morning we will get up, go to the beach and everything will be a-ok. Basically wrong again. After no one could really figure out how the hell to get down to Amalfi (I still really have no idea where exactly we were) we ended up waiting for nearly two hours on a curb for a bus. The bus then takes an hour to get to Amalfi. Now I will say that the town of Amalfi is beautiful and, had that been where we spent the weekend, I would have been quite happy. Good things that happened in Amalfi: found a football, first meal since Naples, sunny clear-water beach. We had about 3 hours to actually spend in the town before having to head back to Rome so we ate and laid on the beach and played ball. I swam in the warm ocean. It was nice. Then the rains came and when it rains in Italy it is nearly always torrential. The roads became rivers. It was time to get out of there. But guess what! No one knew how to get home. I’ll skip the details and say that after an overly complicated and unnecessary process we were on an hour long bus to Salerno where we would catch a 3 hour train to Rome. Disaster #whateverihavelostcountbynow: we do not have seats on this train. So there are some little pull down seats in the aisles where everyone trying to walk by runs in to you and it is generally uncomfortable. But we made it back! I hate very much that this is the way I spent my last free weekend in Italy because I will be spending this weekend studying for finals and then I’m done. Out of the entire 48 hours that weekend I probably enjoyed about 6 of them. But I learned my lesson. I would very much like to return to Amalfi or somewhere nearby in the future under different circumstances.