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Timeless Atrani

The cry of a gull overhead pulls me back into the moment. But it wasn’t the moment I left behind. Beyond me the quiet piazza stretches to the infinity of the sea. On a day like today the horizon is gone, playing a game of hide and seek – and winning. The church is quiet today, taking a well-earned break from its Sunday duties. Two ornate street lamps stand out in silhouette. One lantern cocks its head slightly, as if beckoning my gaze on. A light is what is needed to lead the way to what is past and what is present, but they stand as only guardians to the gate of that journey.
 
Time stands still in this piazza, despite the hourly ringing of the church bells. The bells have always rung out the hours here and they always will. Something so regular to define time actually defies it. How many people have heard those bells ring out over the village? While hanging laundry out in the sunshine, while feeding their families, while making love, while crying? Those people are all still here and will also all be here soon.

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Here there are the echoes of other sounds, too. Of children chasing a small orange ball across the piazza. A cat’s pleading meow, asking for something to eat. Of wind howling down the mountain valley on a stormy winter night. The click of my camera’s shutter as I capture this moment full of invisible sounds.
 
But most of all, it’s all the voices I want to listen to as they float through the piazza. There are stories caught in this piazza, countless stories. Not the kind you read about in the newspaper. These are moments of daily life, the moments that make a life, the moments that are forgotten, but nevertheless left behind. Stories crated day after day, lost to time except in the memories of those who stopped to listen.
 
Listen.

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There’s the hum of a fisherman early in the morning making his way down to the beach. He’ll pull his small wooden boat, blue paint chipped off around the edges, down to the edge of the sea. He’ll give it one last push as he hops aboard, perhaps with the hope about what he’ll catch filling his mind.
 
That hope floats through the maze of tiny, shadowed streets back up to the piazza. It finds an open window and settles into a kitchen – still quiet except for the sound of a moka pot bubbling its dark, intoxicating scent into the morning air. A new day has begun, and with it comes the thoughts for another day ahead. Another menu to prepare. While tying an apron around her waist, a woman wonders, “What catch will the fisherman haul in today?”
 
The clattering of steps brings new life into the piazza. Children with bags slung over their shoulders and sleep in their eyes run across it on the way to school. Always late, always running. Across the piazza they go and down the steps to the future, a future that is unseen and unknown from here.
 
Unknown and yet the same. An old man sits at his window and watches the children run, just as he once ran to school. He knows the future, he’s seen it. But now he watches the future of others, sitting there. The steps are cruel friends. They take you where you want to go, but they take their toll with every step as well.

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And steps are what this village is made of from top to bottom. The sound of heavy steps carries through the labyrinthine staircases. Finding your way is like walking through an M.C. Escher drawing come to life. Even he was here, lost in the alleyways, inspired by the alluring confusion of this place. There he is in the quiet piazza, setting down his sketchpad, mind swirling in the haze of yet to be visualized designs. He stops for a moment of respite. Maybe he sees all the stories, too?
 
My feet are tired. I look down at the honey leather loafers battered by the steps of the Amalfi Coast. Glancing over my shoulder, my eyes land on a cement bench. There’s a spot to sit and watch the stories unfold. Settling in uncomfortably, I look up expecting to find the same scene, the same voices, the same time and place.
 
But it’s all gone.
 
A seagull’s taunting call fills the piazza, seemingly laughing at my confusion. The church bells ring, slowly eleven times. I’m going to be late. I grab my bag and throw it over my shoulder, hurrying off across the piazza and down the steps to my own unseen future. But before going, I stop to turn and look up at the balcony, half expecting to find the old man watching me. And he’s there. As my feet carry me swiftly down the steps, I know they’re all there.

________________

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– A short story by Laura Thayer inspired by Atrani.

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New Bus Service from Naples Airport to the Amalfi Coast

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Planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast and flying into the Naples Airport? Then I have some good news for you! There’s a new bus service that goes direct from the Naples Capodichino Airport to multiple destinations on the Amalfi Coast. And it only costs €15 per person! Reaching the Amalfi Coast by public bus has always been a bit of an adventure. It was hard for me to even recommend that as an option for travelers, especially if they didn’t speak Italian. Thankfully, Pintour has launched a new bus service the connects the Naples Airport with all of the towns on the Amalfi Coast from Vietri sul Mare to Amalfi. That includes stops at Vietri sul Mare, Raito, Cetara, Erchie, Maiori, Minori, Castiglione (where you would get off to catch a local bus up to Ravello), Atrani and Amalfi.

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There are four departure times from the Naples Airport (9:00, 12:30, 16:00, 19.30) and four departure times from Amalfi (7:00, 10:30, 14:00, 17.30). The journey takes about 2 hours each way. Tickets cost €15 per person (€10 for kids under 12) each way, and can be purchased online here. For exact departure times from each stop along the way, check out the schedules below.

 

Bus Schedule for Naples to the Amalfi Coast

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Bus Schedule from Amalfi to the Naples Airport

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This is a much needed service on the Amalfi Coast – for both locals and travelers alike. The departure times from the Naples airport comfortably cover many of the flight times for travelers arriving to visit the Amalfi Coast. And for the departure, if you have a later morning or afternoon flight from Naples, this bus service has you covered, too. The only issue with departure times is for travelers heading to the United States since those flights often leave very early from the Naples airport to make international connecting flights in Italy or Europe. If you’re leaving at a flight around 7am like I often do when flying back to America, then booking a private taxi transfer will still likely be your best option. I know some of you will be asking, “And Positano?” That town is not covered in this bus service, and will have to be another post in itself! (Spoiler alert: It’s NOT easy.)

Note: I’m looking forward to trying out this bus service to the Naples Airport, but I haven’t used it yet personally. So for any additional questions on schedules or tickets, please contact Pintour here.

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Amalfi Coast Ferry Service to Minori, Maiori & Cetara

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Get Around the Amalfi Coast with Ferry Service to Minori, Maiori & Cetara!

For ease of bus and ferry transportation connections, I often recommend travelers stay in Amalfi while visiting the Amalfi Coast. However, thanks to the ferry service Travelmar started running last year connecting Maiori, Minori and Cetara with the ferry line between Amalfi and Salerno, it’s now easier than ever to get around the Amalfi Coast! My favorite way to travel between towns on the Amalfi Coast is on the ferry, which you can read more about here. If you’re planning on staying in Minori, Maiori or Cetara—or would like to visit these towns during your stay—it’s now easy and scenic to do so by ferry.

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Take the ferry to Minori

I really love Cetara and Minori – they’re both smaller towns and are usually a bit less crowded during busy season. Cetara has an old world fishing village charm, with its picturesque beach and watchtower. There are some excellent restaurants just a few steps from the beach where you can try dishes made with the local garum – an anchovy sauce made since ancient Roman times in Cetara. While in Minori you can explore the winding streets and visit the Villa Romana. Maiori is geographically one of the largest towns on the Amalfi Coast, and it has long seafront, more shopping and is often a bit more lively in the evenings.

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Cetara from the sea

With the Travelmar ferry service to Minori, Maiori and Cetara, you can easily hop between towns along the coast that in the past have only been accessible by bus if you’re traveling by public transport on the coast – highly recommended! And thankfully there are quite a few connections daily, which makes it very convenient. Check out the Travelmar schedule to find out more.

A Bird’s-Eye View of Naples, Italy

Flying into Naples, Italy on a clear day is a treat. The airport is located near the city center and the landing flight path often goes right over the Naples. Sometimes it’s too hazy to see clearly, especially during summer months, but over the years I’ve spotted the gardens at the Royal Palace of Caserta, the islands of Ischia and Procida and enjoyed some great bird’s-eye views over Naples. Last week on the way back from London it was a beautiful day with blue skies and a fairly clear view thanks to north winds. I was glued to the window as the plane made a large bank coming into the Naples airport. I caught a glimpse of Ischia out the opposite window and knew soon I would be able to see Capri. As the plane leveled, I squinted my eyes into the blue.

Landing in Naples Airport Island of Capri

The faint outline of Capri in the distance

There in the distance I could make out the faintest outline. My eyes traced the familiar curves of the island from the peak of Monte Solaro down to Capri town sitting in the saddle and over to the sheer cliff dropping off from the Villa Tiberius. The view was faint, but I knew it was there. Not long after I looked down to see the oddly shaped islet Nisida. It is of volcanic origins, which is what created its circular shape and the round little bay that make it so easy to spot from above.

Flying into Naples Airport Nisida Island

A glimpse of the island of Nisida near Naples

It’s fun to try to spot as many landmarks in Naples while flying over on a clear day. That little port there on the right is called Mergellina, and it’s a pretty part of the city overlooking the bay.

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The pretty port at Mergellina in Naples

I try to see how many castles I can spot in Naples while flying over. Below you can see the Castel dell’ Ovo in the late afternoon sunshine.

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The Castel dell' Ovo jutting out into the Bay of Naples

And then there’s Castel Sant’Elmo in the Vomero above Naples. Can you spot it below? It was clear enough that I could make out the white facade of the church at the Certosa di San Martino. What a view!

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Flying over the Castel Sant' Elmo and Certosa di San Martino

Coming over the centro storico, I always look for the glass dome of the Galleria Umberto I and the green roof of Santa Chiara. Can you find them below? (Hint: The dome is on the right and Santa Chiara is under the wing of the plane.) How many other sites can you make out in the photo?

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A bird's eye view over the centro storico of Naples

There were some very large cruise ships in the port of Naples last Monday, but one was exceptionally large. I think gigantic is appropriate. I couldn’t believe how big it looked, even from so high and far away!

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Now that's a huge cruise ship - even from the air!

As the plane came in to touch down, there was Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. It’s always there to greet you when you land in Naples. It would be more reassuring, I suppose, if it was a dormant volcano. But I’m awfully fond of it nevertheless.

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Mt Vesuvius while landing in Naples

What has been your favorite or most memorable experience flying into Naples?

Photo Friday: Running Back to Paris

Paris rue Mouffetard

I can’t believe it’s already time for another Photo Friday. Two weeks ago today I was out exploring the 1st arrondissement in Paris, from the l’Orangerie Museum in the morning, along the rue de Rivoli to the Palais Royal, shopping on Place des Victoires, the late Gothic magic of St-Eustache, vin chaud on rue Montorgueil and the evening chaos of the Les Halles metro. I’ve hardly had time to enjoy my photos and finish writing about everything we did in Paris. Life is simply too busy! This morning I thought back to this photo I snapped while strolling along the rue Mouffetard market street in the 5th arrondissement south of the Latin Quarter. I would go running back to Paris in a heartbeat!