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Greg’s Travel Diary

Monday, 22 Jul 2013

Location: Rome, Italy

Map22 July Monday
Spent morning in Amalfi as we get picked up from hotel at 3.30 for trip to Rome. Walked up the road from the hotel to Pogorola, a tiny little village with a couple of churches, as they all do. It is very quiet and dogs barking and roosters crowing echo all through the hills. Checked out and left bags at hotel and Got courtesy bus (it is a warm trip as it is always packed)into Amalfi and picked up a bit of momentum shopping wise. Bought a shirt and pair of shorts. Ruth was tempted to buy a couple of things but it's not easy selling to her. Walked around town then came back to wait for pickup. The courtesy 
Bus is an interesting experience. They drive like crazy on these narrow roads and when buses pass each other they have to look ahead and help each other by stopping in a spot that both can get through. This would ot be allowed in Australia. I don't think they have any OH&S laws in Italy. Cars, scooters buses all go up the main street in Amalfi and it is teeming with people but they just toot their way through. It makes you chuckle when you think that they block off Tasman Tce to traffic at Tunarama when the road and pedestrian traffic is absolutely nothing compared to here and the street is far narrower. The difference here is that everyone seems to be quite patient. You can't go anywhere here in a hurry. The taxi drivers in the main square seem to sit around in the shade and play with their mobiles. I don't know how they survive as they spend a lot of time just sitting around. I don't think there is a peak hour as peak hour is all day. Most people seem to take public transport. The shops here as everywhere else sell heaps of souvenirs of scarves, ceramics, clothes, linen dresses and shirts etc and there are lots of buyers. We hear Aussies from time to time but mainly the people seem to be from Europe but a lot of Japanese also.
Amalfi is a town I would be happy to spend a lot more time in. Some places you really like but you are happy to leave as you look forward to the next place. Would be nice to get a place here and stay for a week or more. Day after day the weather is as good as you could get. A bit hot but nice in the shade. Cool breezes come up the valley.
It's hard to believe the value we got in this trip. 5 days and 4 nights accom in top class hotels with dinners and breakfasts included with all bus travel, trips to Capri and Pompeii all for $800 each. The hotels had all possible facilities and courtesy buses and amazing views over the Mediterranean. The hotel here at Amalfi is truly amazing with numerous bars and eating areas and incredible views. Our room was not part of the original hotel but they acquired some houses just below the hotel and converted them into villas. We were lucky enough to score one of these and managed to experience a bit of what it might be like to actually live here.
The drive back to Pompeii is spectacular. We seem to keep going up and up and at times the road is a bit scary. We go thru sub tropical rainforest and then get to Naples. This is chalk and cheese. Naples is dirty with rubbish everywhere in the streets. There were no beggars or street hawkers in Amalfi but as soon as you get off the bus in Naples you are inundated by them. And some of them are very persistent. There is obviously a 2 speed economy in Italy but Australians would not tolerate the extremes of living standards that are evident here. Rubbish in the streets like Naples would be deemed unacceptable. I didn't see any houses in Naples, just endless kms of mainly shabby looking apartment buildings, many with washing hanging on the tiny balconies. The only really nice looking building I see is a beautiful looking church on top of a hill. I imagine the churches and cathedrals in Naples are magnificent but it appears the people have suffered greatly to allow for these monuments. I'm left with 2 thoughts - firstly we live in a country of great opportunity and should never be ungrateful for what we have and secondly, that religion has a lot to answer for. 
Arrived in Rome at 9 pm. It might be old but at least the streets are clean unlike Naples. It's Monday night but there are people everywhere. Our hotel is not quite up to what we had in Rome but it's clean and the service is good and it's in the centre which is handy. We can walk to the major attractions, including Colesseum etc.