24th Aug: Feral drivers

August 24, 2008

220Km driven, driver stress extreme

60 photographs taken

Food excellent

Picture: Temple of Athena, Paestum

First full day and a late start. We set off down the Amalfi Coast planning a leisurely breakfast in Positano followed by a gentle drive with scenic stops to take in the coast, followed by a visit to the Graeco-Roman city of Paestum. Via Twitter @bas1809 had advised me to hire a scooter for the Amalfi coast, but on questioning had said a car would be OK but to drive with care. I was prepared for this, but nothing prepared me for the nightmare that followed.

For a start it was Sunday and it seemed like the entire population of Campania had decided to do the same thing. As you approached any settlement cars were parked on both sides of the road, restricting an already narrow carriage way. Slowing down meant that other cars would overtake you on blind bends with millimeter’s to spare on either side. Here they drive with the wing mirrors snapped to the side of the car and you learn to do the same. Throughout people on motor scooters and bikes are weaving in and out of traffic, on both sides and racetrack speeds. Tourist buses are negotiating bends only with the assistance of reverse gear. There is no room, there is no parking. After a fraught period of time we have found no where to eat where we could park, have had multiple near death experiences and then to cap it all discover that the road is blocked just short of Amalfi so a perilous U-turn is followed by a reversal of the dread journey arriving back at our flat a fraught three hours later, hungry.

So we give up, take the northern route to the Autostrada and take a relatively stress free route to Paestum which is wonderful. It starts with a great Pizzeria in the shade just outside the main gate. Wonderful Pizza, great regional wine. We spend the afternoon wandering around the ruins or a Greek City which became in part Roman. Remarkably complete and fascinating. Not only that the ants are really scary having creating two inch way highways in the vegetation down which they progress with the results of industrious foraging. This is a neglected site, every bit as interesting as some of the more famous ones and its well worth a drive to get there.

Relaxed we head back and I am now determined (against family advice) to complete the Amalfi Coast drive, so we enter from the East against the flow of traffic returning form a day at the beach. The nightmare continues, there is still no parking, no photographs can be taken and reaching the road bloc we take the signposted diversion which leads up a several thousand meters of zigzags. Life is interesting but I am now becoming as ruthless as the other drivers which seems to make life easier for everyone! We finally descend to Sorrentto find parking easily (follow signs to the station as you come in) and treat ourselves to the most wonderful wine ( 1999 Radici Mastro Bernardino), and the most expensive meal of the holiday at the Ristorante Don Vincenzo on Piazza Tasso.

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