Beautiful Amalfi Coast, Yet Somewhat Disappointing

03Dec07

positano1.jpg

So I just got back from a week (9 days in all) vacationing along the Amalfi coast and Naples area in Italy (see below map). The Amalfi coast, which is part of the larger Sorrento Peninsula, is absolutely gorgeous. The jagged cliffs and views into the Gulf of Salerno were just stunning. The small, secluded sea-side villages (see above picture of Positano) that dotted all around the peninsula provided scenes of life that is not much different from 100 years earlier. Even with all of this natural beauty, I came back to London with the feeling that I was trying to be ripped off at every opportunity (a bit exaggerated, yes, but my feeling).
amalfinaples.jpg

It started with the taxi drive taking us from our hotel in Naples to the main train station to pick up our rental car. The final bill was €9.20, but after taking my €20 bill, I had to mention the change he still owed me. I got a 5 note and a smile. I mentioned again, but some Italian that I unfortunately did not understand returned with a shrug of his shoulders, and rather than fight, I wanted to continue my happy vacation and just left him be with his 50%+ tip. The second occurrence was at a small grocery store that felt the need to tell me the €0.65 cent marking on the shelf did not apply to the coke I had, which was actually 1. The third at a pizza restaurant that found me €3 change instead of €4 when I gave a €10 note for a basic pizza. The fourth involved our B&B hosts and again with change owed.

The fifth, although not involving money, came from some smart-mouth kid who mouthed out, and I quote “ching-chong-ching” to me while walking by me one night. I didn’t respond other than to turn my neck as he walked passed with a smirk. It’s been a while since I’ve been addressed in that manner, and to tell you the truth, I was more shocked that it had happened than anything else. I got a little mad that night, but thought even if I was presented with the situation again, I probably wouldn’t raise much of a fuss since I couldn’t even swear at him in the language he would understand, and what would that lead to at best… A childish exchange of unpleasantries? I don’t know. I suppose if I was in the US or another English speaking area, I might have responded differently. Frustrated with my inability to communicate with the locals and being repeatedly ripped off had taken its toll on me by then.

Big lesson for going to this region: If you don’t speak Italian, bring lots of small bills and change and only pay the exact amount if you can help it. Don’t even present the opportunity for any confusion on how much you think the bill should be.

To be fair, there were lots of wonderful moments as well. The mom and pop restaurant (Il Teatro) in Amalfi that we went back three times over 6 days to eat at. The extremely helpful rental car associate who gave me extra detailed driving instructions and told me to be very careful with where to park and what cities to visit. And the list goes on, but out of the 30 or so trips I’ve taken to various cities around Europe and North Africa this year, I’ve only felt less interested in returning one other time And that was when I had a short layover in Moscow at 5am. Even my two earlier trips to Italy, Cinque Terre earlier this year, and Rome/Florence two years ago were not nearly as negative per my memory, but suffice to say, I have a number of other places (e.g. Austrian Lake District, Spanish Andalucia, etc.) that I would return to before I consider Naples.

Safe travels everyone. (below: island of Capri) capri.jpg

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One Response to “Beautiful Amalfi Coast, Yet Somewhat Disappointing”

  1. nice places !


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