The fabulous Amalfi Coast... according to some
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Where I stayed
Hotel La Lucertola
What I did
explore Amalfi coast
13 Aug - We walked the long steep walk up to Vietri this morning to take a bus to Napoli. After a comfortable ride we arrived and I have to say I probably would have enjoyed the day more had we had the internet because then I would have discovered there's a ferry to Sorrento and Amalfi from Salerno and that would have been more interesting. I've not been to Napoli before and will not bother again. There's not much I saw that was of any interest at all and of course the place is full of unhelpful Italians who don't or don't want to speak or understand English. Napoli is not a scratch on Milan in the sane way Marseilles is not a scratch on Nice. It seems, broke as Italy appears to be, they have started digging up everywhere. The autostrada speed last night and today was 80kph reflecting just how much work is going on or stalled for whatever reason. I'm not looking forward to Tuesday's drive to Siena.
Back to the hotel this evening we now have internet and will make plans for Sunday (tomorrow) to visit Amalfi and Sorrento. Maybe day 2 in Italy will be better and I won't have the feeling they only want Italian speaking tourists who understand their ways.
Watching the Tri-Nations match between Australia and South Africa with Italian commentary was interesting
14 Aug - Earlier breakfast and then up to Vietri main road for the bus to Amalfi. Not in a great mood since yesterday I sat on the bus bleary-eyed thinking about Italy, Italians and Europeans. All around is the reminder of a great and fruitful past but not present. The present people are mixed self-centred and generally parasitical with all sorts of excuses for their failure to contribute more. On the bus, watching elderly men get on and not be offered a seat by the vast number of young selfish people; a woman with a kid next to her refusing to move the kid to create a seat and the other woman (maybe an immigrant) also refusing to move her bag for an elderly man who asked for the seat; the younger woman who accepted a seat from a man and then filled it and the one next to it with her bag which should have gone into the baggage hold under the bus; the women who got on with kids and then accepted seats from men only to put the kid in one seat and herself in the other. I wondered how these seemingly selfish people think and if they think at all, then what obligations they recognise as theirs in this new Europe
I'm reading Ken Follet's World Without End set in the mid 14th century and the plot at page 850 is still driven by the self-centredness and single-mindedness of the prior at the cathedral in Kingsbridge. I can't help but see the same people and the same mind-set in Europe around me from Russia and Poland through central and southern Europe and everywhere I go. They all believe everyone else owe them something for their not being as fortunate as they believe they should be. Most are over-fed, under-employed, ignorant, asleep and totally lacking any sense of duty to society. The younger they are the more they manifest these awful traits. Spoiled by their parents they now believe they deserve the fruits of the distant past and society's leaders, so seduced by their positions and the power, continue to promote their rights, as long as they re-elect them. I can't see this changing in the future and await the time when these new toys age too and find their offspring are worse and the elderly (then it's their turn) are there to be abused more seriously.
There was once a fear that 'grey power' would consolidate and the politicians feared having to serve that sector of society at the expense of the young, or as I see them, 'peasant power'. This is still possible and the motivation for the 'grey brigade' to react is growing at the hands of the young and their youngish parents who only see the old as to be taken from...their inheritance, their source of funds as needed, their convenience, their servitude
What I also now see is the people of Europe milking their past. When I was here 15 years ago only entry to the pathetic beaches required payment. Now even working ancient cities require payment for entry.And do the Europeans maintain, at their expense, these relics of the glorious and not so glorious past? Rather they promote them as museums they can charge for entry. I'm particularly cynical today too because Amalfi was again 'same old, same old'. So much so we decided to forget the inconvenience of busing to Positano and Sorrento. The assumption is simply they have lousy beaches and charge for everything over the point where there is any value to people like us. Maybe someone who has never seen the sea or seen very much better places will go. There must be plenty of these people because the buss was full, the piazza was full, the bars were full and so too the roads.
Houses perched on cliffs, along with fruit trees, vineyards, car parking places; roads with impossible bends and width requiring one car to reverse to permit passing; overpriced coffee and over sugared pastries and mountains of ice-cream for big fat people; Italian only (and hand-signals) communications; over crowded and over-umbrellaed stony and rocky beaches; big women in bikinis and fat men in thongs; bratish kids everywhere; decaying concrete works and exposed re-bars and other rusted iron works; churches as museums; consigned carabinieri
Returning on the bus and watching the driver cope with the road and traffic I though, how can he do this trip 5 times a day (just over an hour each trip) ? What a hell of an occupation!
Back in Vietri we browsed a ceramic gallery and met the artist, Klaus (a pseudonym). Wonderfully colorful and imaginative work (with Picasso influence)and we don't have any ceramic art. So (since he had to dash off for a friend's wedding) we'll go back later in the evening. In Vietri there is ceramic everywhere and it's a thriving art form.
Maybe Asia is the same as Europe, but I don't think so? Multi-culturalism has turned Europe into a mixed bag where no one feels the country is their's. Rather they can only think a particular neighborhood is their tribal ground. In Asia there is no multi-culturalism except in troubled Singapore where the whip is not spared any child. Why would a tribe take up obligations to all tribes making up their society. The Norwegian gunman was very concerned about the risks rising with more and more immigrants who had no interest in Norway other than a free ride or escape from a brutal life elsewhere
Tribalism in so many parts of the world (brought to the fore in ethnic cleansing, sporting arenas and urban crime and gangs) is a very ugly feature as is extremism, fundamentalism and nationalism's sometimes ugly face.
Dinner out tonight in Vietri...what bloody else than pizza, fries and aubergine and ??? washed down with Guardino with gas ...all for E25.
Tonight I witnessed two amazing things one of which embarrasses me and the other embarrasses all the locals. Tonight is the vigil of the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary into heaven without death or judgement. Watching the fireworks, the procession the pageantry the hypocrisy the fan fare of superstition in a country that can hardly call itself Christian Roman Catholic: 87% (approximately; one third practicing), other Christians: 2%) incredulity, if it wasn't so scary. Imagine getting on the wrong side of all these intelligent rational people. How did I fall for so long for the story of Christianity and it's hypocrisy manifest over and over through the ages by the church and its religious agents and sub-agents.
This is the home of Valentino, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Ferrari, Maserati, Lamborghini, et al and to see the way the peasants dress here and their peon lifestyles is amazing. I can only wonder what it's like in Sicily.The number of young mothers with a few kids also says they are stuck in a time warp held no doubt by their eco-religio yokes.
Anyway, I'll try to be more positive tomorrow when we leave for Siena and the Palio on the hopeless Italian roads.
Another car loading exercise but without any ceramic art since we didn't manage to get back to Vietri village.