– Wake up, Agniese!
– Ugh… What time is it?
– It’s late, 7:30. We’re already running out of time!
– Say what now? Are you kiddin’ me?
Ok, let’s face it: Italians, especially those from the south, are well known for their laziness. Or let’s put it nicely – the different sense of time. I know a few of them quite well so I can tell. Appointment time is a rather relative term, there are not many reasons to be in a hurry, and the coffee break is crucial, no matter what.
But when it comes to showing you their country… Oh well, it’s a different kettle of fish. The schedule is always fully packed, everything must be wrapped up neat and tidy. Generally speaking, they are getting crazy.
It was September when A. dragged me out of bed in the early morning, didn’t let me drink a coffee and eat a croissant, put a helmet on my head and ordered to sit on his motorcycle. We were going for a trip around the Amalfi Coast. On a Vespa, of course.
Our road was going from Positano to Amalfi. Positano is described by John Steinbeck, an author of East of Eden, as “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you’re there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone. Its houses climb a hill so steep it would be a cliff except that stairs are cut in it. The small curving bay of unbelievably blue and green water lips gently on a beach of small pebbles.” But the heart of the coast is Amalfi.
If I had to choose a colour to describe the town of Amalfi, it would definitely be blue. Blue of the sky and sea. The town is surrounded by its port like it was held in the palm of a hand. Picturesque alleys and stairs lead you to the centre. The Lattari Mountains that are above hinge like a curtain dotted with charming houses.
Note to self that between 10th and 12th centuries Amalfi was the powerful Marine Republic. It used to be a monopolist for the trade in the Tyrhennian, exporting goods to eastern markets in exchange for spices, perfume, jewel or textiles. The architecture here is highly influenced by the East. With its buildings gathered together in adhering groups, connected only by small, labyrinth-like alleyways and staircases. In Amalfi was born the characteristic Sicilian-Arabesque architecture.
I believe that Renato Fucini, an Italian writer and poet, didn’t exaggerate saying that “The Day of Judgement, for those Amalfitano that go to heaven, will be a day like any other.” It is indeed, one of those places in the world we call paradise.