I turned the Fiat Ulysses off the road at Amalfi Resort to be greeted by a ticket waving local with hip secured cash bag gesticulating that this vehicle needed to be deposited in tandem with the dozen or so who'd arrived ahead ... "va, va, qui signora, sinistra signora !!! ..." hmmm ...
After a couple of hours negotiating fabulous twists and turns of the narrow coast road from Sorrento through Positano in full view of some of the world's most outstanding scenery I was unprepared to be first herded then corralled between gi-normous hot shimmering coaches disgorging human cargo like lemmings tippling headlong into a final precipice ...
My diary says " made the better decision for Ravello, further up the road ..."
Ravello is a charming and beautiful Norman village, quiet, serene - piazza, chiesa, musea, cloisters, small cafes and gentle people.
Vehicle parked safely in the shade of an ancient olive tree we stepped up to one of the most blessed surprises of this trip .. late morning sun angled deliciously on chilled prosecco as we decided how best to enjoy this place .. " split up, meet back here, keep track of time by the tolling of the Norman tower bell."
My diary reminds me ... "walked up, up, kept walking, took photos .. so many ... ended up in Greta Garbo's house!
Gardens of dangling gourds and upsprung beans, then steps, gate, cloisters ... most beautiful gardens and wisteria walk I've ever seen. Stunning statuary and views over il Golfo di Salerno ... "
I dawdled there, I must admit. The Norman bell tolled and I did run all the way back to find my travelling companion oozing about as much patience as anyone could reasonably expect of a dowager requiring her creature comforts NOW ...
Time for some browsing among charismatic shops of locally hand crafted ceramic and porcelain plates, dishes and bowls, all unique to Ravello and not one like any other ...
My companion lingered; I made my small purchase so wandered into the next store and into a profound conversation with the very senior gentleman in charge there.
With big smiles and in my most practised Italian, with my best hand and shoulder gestures we enjoyed the repartee of strangers who meet once in the knowlege they will never meet again. For him, this was an everyday occurrence.
For me, it was a revelation.
The essence of our talk was of life in this supremely fascinating and idyllic place, aware of big cities dotted about the globe and supremely satisfied knowing this is the place of heart and home.
As I took my reluctant leave of this moment ... my diary reminds me ... "he gave me his philosophy on life ....
... 'If there's no spaghetti today and I die and go to Heaven - and if there's no spaghetti there - What can I do today?'
The answer he gave me ... "Carpe Diem" - Live for the Day'! "
I will go back to Ravello.