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swirl and savor

An afternoon on the Amalfi Coast

Beth Ribblett

I awoke to another clear morning and sat on the balcony with my coffee, this time accompanied by slice of that delicious almond cake Chiara gave us. I took a different route for today's run, starting my ascent at the Fornella beach and climbing straight up an ancient set of steps to the top of the town, then winding through the tiny alleyways to the main road. There is an amazing network of pathways, steps and streets here built centuries ago into the steep hillsides to give the villagers access the sea.

We hired a boat and driver today to take us up and down the amalfi coast. Mauro and his young son Aldo picked us up at the main pier and gave us both a history lesson as well as our best slice of the dolce vita since we arrived. We slowly made our way in and out of coves and crevices, viewing the stunning coastline from Mauro's perspective, someone who has been here all of his life and knows full well that he lives in paradise. We checked out the cave of the emerald grotto, stopped to swim in the sea foam green waters of the shoreline, ate our homemade panninis, drank some local wine by one of my favorite producers and basked in the southern Italian sun. We even got to see Sophia Loren's villa, perched atop a cliff near the town of Amalfi. As we were sitting there a helicopter touched down on her private helipad, leaving us fantasizing about what famous visitors were arriving.

We needed a little snack so they let us out at the beach where we wondered up on to the deck of one of the snack bars. The contrast between what would be served at the same sort of place in the US and what was served here says so much about the difference between our two cultures. Instead of the normal beachside fare of hamburgers, hotdogs and French fries, we oohed and awed over fresh melon and prosciutto, grilled mozzarella on lemon leaves, insalata del mare, fresh figs and cured meat. Healthy, local ingredients prepared freshly and simply that were absolutely divine!

Around 4pm we said goodbye to our captains and wandered up the beach for one of the other Italian specialties, gelato. Vowing to eat it daily due to all of the calories we were burning with walking around this beautiful place, it is served on most street corners and is always delicious. As we made our way back to the villa we picked up a few things for a simple dinner, a caprese salad, some leftover Pannini, olives and salami and spent the evening on the balcony enjoying the view and each other's company.

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