Our train departed Rome and wound through the suburbs with occasional chunks of abandoned stone aqueducts running parallel. About 2000 years ago, these would have been the veins for the life of Rome, bringing in fresh water to both landlocked and coastal towns.
Salerno is one of 2-3 popular jumping points to head to the Amalfi Coast. The other two are Sorrento and Naples. You can easily traverse the coast by ferry or by bus. Additionally, if you are adventurous, you can rent a car, moped, or even bicycle. We considered the option of renting a bicycle, but I was obviously not over my cold.
One of the interesting bits of information about Salerno is that it was the site of an Allied amphibious assault in WW2. I found this out thanks to my Aunt Donna who notified me that my uncle’s father had been stationed there and took part in it. It was odd to look at such beauty around me and imagine soldiers crawling through the beaches and streets.
Aside from that history, the town has a few interesting sights including a Duomo (cathedral), an aqueduct, city garden, and a waterfront promenade lined with trees. There was also a small shopping district with designer names, restaurants, and relatively free of any traffic. It is a quaint little city to get lost in for a few days before averting your focus to the next destination.
After having had only one completely “down day” of no plans in a month, we determined that it would be best to take one in Salerno and recover from the pace we had undertaken. We had stayed in approximately 13 cities in 30 days. The day off was relaxing and necessary. We grabbed a bite to eat and spent much of the afternoon reading and writing on the balcony. I even had time to open my laptop and play a quick game of Age of Empires. For all of you non-nerds, it is a history based strategy game. It was one of the first things that drew me to history and travel as a child, and still serves as both a fun and effective learning tool. The following morning, we woke feeling refreshed and ready for Amalfi.
The 2 most popular options to reach Amalfi are by bus and ferry. These were 2 very different experiences and I recommend anyone considering a trip to this region to do the same. We chose the ferry to reach Amalfi. It was smooth, filled with distant views of beautiful micro-cities and towns dotting the coast line. It was great to sit back and enjoy. I would recommend bringing a jacket and sunscreen.
The bus was much more “thrilling”. We took this for the return journey. The roads that snake and switch back along the coastal cliffs are dangerous, and mostly akin to a one lane road. The buses come perilously close to the edge at times, or have to squeeze between cliff wall and precipice about every 5 minutes. The driver frequently sounds his horn to alert oncoming traffic as he nears each sharp curve. Several cars had to reverse to allow him to pull through. At one point, a tow truck with a small excavator on back had to squeeze by the bus in the opposite direction. We got as close to the guardrail as possible. I was sitting on the window side and looked down to hardly see any road, only a craggy cliff face and lemon trees below. Suddenly, Hannah started laughing. The drivers had high-fived out of their windows as they passed each other, with mere inches to spare! Nevertheless, it was a good experience.
One experience of traveling is the inclination to compare places. We had visited the Cinque Terre region in northern Italy about 2 years prior. They look very similar, especially regarding their colorful home facades and picturesque waterside views. I would say each had its own ambiance. Amalfi felt slightly busier and had more to do around it in the surround mountains. Cinque Terre on the other hand, was more intimate and secluded.
In conclusion, Salerno and Amalfi are lovely coastal Italian towns and serve as a great stopover on the way to southern Italy. Salerno offers both inexpensive lodging and access to the romantic coasts of Amalfi. They are just what we needed after Rome, before spending much needed time with family further south for Easter.