Bargain Travel in Amalfi Coast Area of Italy

I visited the Amalfi coast in February when southern Italy was experiencing an unusually cold spell, with temperatures barely above freezing. Our group was in Italy to meet the local hoteliers and tour operators, to explore the area, meet the people and absorb the local culture. We were based at a seaside hotel in the small town of Meta, about 10 minutes from Sorrento.Just an hour south of Naples, at the heart of the Amalfi area, Sorrento, with its friendly people, rich history, shop and café-lined streets and interesting alleys, is the perfect base for exploring the area. We found inexpensive pashminas to help keep warm. Olive oil is cheap and you'll find everything lemony from candles and lotions to football sized lemons and, of course, the local liquor limoncella.

Even in February, the lemon and orange trees were dripping with fruit. You may think you're seeing things if you spot lemons growing on an orange tree. You're not! Sometimes farmers will graft seedlings on to established trees in order to produce fruit more quickly.

Groves of olive trees are everywhere, with nets rolled up, ready to spread out again to gather next season's harvest.We spent a day exploring the Amalfi coast. As we wound along State Road 163, teetering high up on the edge of the sheer cliffs, I was mesmerized with the stunning sea view at every corner. We passed small villages with houses clinging to the steep slopes. Positano, with its narrow steeped alleys, beckons you down to the shops to browse among the local crafts, beachwear, bags and even sandals made for you while you wait!.My favourite stop was the serene and charming town of Ravello.

At every corner, hides another gem. We discovered secret gardens and ancient villas and always the sparkling sea down below. Villa Rufolo is the most enchanting blend of old buildings and exquisite gardens, that somehow fills you with maybe the same tranquillity that inspired Wagner and DH Lawrence to compose some of their finest works.

Every summer a stage is built out over the cliff for the orchestra to perform their tribute to Wagner. As we explored the once very much lived in Villa Rufolo, the distant strains of Wagner taunted us from behind closed doors.Another day trip takes us to Pompeii, buried for almost 1700 years under ashes and cinders. On that day in AD 79 when Vesuvius blew its top, life stopped for Pompeii's citizens. Funnily enough, as you walk around the ancient streets, the city seems to come alive! You notice the familiar signs of life? tracks of chariot wheels cut into the cobble roads, public fountains and remains of the lead pipes which carried water to every house, the meat and fish markets, bakery ovens, shops and tavernas lining the once busy streets.The previous day we had visited the Archaeological Museum in Naples where most of Pompeii's artifacts can be seen, including intricate mosaics, statues, kitchen utensils, glass-ware, even a lady's make up box with powders and brushes still intact.

A short climb up the steep cindery path to Vesuvius' crater will give you a better idea of the force of that mighty eruption. When the clouds parted, I felt very small as I gazed in wonder at one of God's most powerful forces of nature.The Italians certainly know how to eat well.

An intriguing morning was spent at a local farm where we learned about cheese making and olive pressing. The highlight was making and eating our own wood fired pizzas.Included in the room rate is a buffet breakfast and 5 course dinner. The best part to me was the pasta dish, which came after the antipasti and salad, every day something fresh and different, made with local cheeses and vegetables.

Nightly rates for half board (breakfast and 5 course dinner) start at 60 euros per person, based on double in a sea view room. Excursions leave directly from the hotel.Group tours (minimum 20) can also be arranged, for example, 6 nights at a 4 star hotel, with sea view room, including breakfast and dinner daily,tours to Pompeii, Naples, Sorentto, Capri and the Amalfi coast with pick up from Rome, starting at 545 Euros per person. You may contact me for more details.


Jane Rutledge
phone: 256 534-4652.

By: Jane Rutledge

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