… are Scala and Ravello. They reinforce what the Gambardella sisters, owners of a 19th-century hotel on the coast, pointed out once. That ‘there are bits of the old life left on the coast, but you have to know where to find them.’ You do get more time to linger in spots you take a fancy to without having someone breathing down your neck.
Scala is a sleepy village. Period. Apart from some dogs in a farmhouse excited by the sight of us passing by, we did not see many people. We sat on the terrace of a family-run trattoria in this oldest village on the Amalfi coastline. In our field of vision was a landscape bathed in the glorious sunshine – the kind of view that made our wait for the food to arrive extraneous.
We sipped on limoncello – I mean you have to give into everything that’s yellow on this holiday – and slipped into a reverie, the kind that slowly descends upon you in the midst of all that lush beauty.
There was what man had built into nature — but it all came together quite effortlessly. Among orchards of lemons and piennolo (grape-like) tomatoes, white houses and terracotta roofs, church domes and an assortment of trees, climbed in conjunction, layer upon layer, on steps cut into the hills. Unbroken batches of puffy clouds floated by smothering the hill tops in the distance, imparting the scenery with an illusory touch. When you turned your head, you could see the winding roads cutting through the valley. Those roads had brought us up from the village of Atrani.
The 1000-year-old village of Scala had its heyday during medieval times when it was associated in commerce with the Republic of Amalfi. Many wealthy families lived in Scala at the time and it is reflected in the legacy of its duomo. However sizeable their fortunes were, in my books, they were wealthy by virtue of the splendid surroundings they got to live in.
I wonder if they knew how blessed they were. Because this would be my Illyria.
The food did arrive and I cannot describe in words how luscious the grilled aubergines were. They were the perfect accompaniment with limoncello on that terrace with a view.
Where to Stay:
La Margherita Villa Giuseppina (http://www.villagiuseppinacostadamalfi.it/) is a family-run bed & breakfast hotel in Scala. We ate here during our stop in Scala. It is unpretentious and serves up delicious fare. Standard double rooms, with breakfast thrown in, start at €120 per night.
ll Pinguino (http://www.pinguinobb.it/) is another family-run affair where double rooms are pegged between €80- €150 per night.
Things to do:
Hike the Valle delle Ferriere. Maps can be downloaded from the official website of CAI dei Monti Lattari (www.caimontilattari.it). The trek lasts about three hours.
Monastery of Santissimo Redentore
Church of Annunziata in the hamlet of Minuta
Arab Bath in Minuta
Ruins of the Church of San Cataldo in the hamlet of Campidoglio
Ziro Tower, part of an ancient Scalella, in Pontone
Next up is Ravello, the last in the Amalfi Coast series.