there is a commercial featuring a cute little fiat driving past beautiful italian cliff towns. the road is vacant, allowing the pint-sized car to speed through the curves, until it ultimately plunges off a pier and emerges, an immigrant, in new york city.
i love it. i love the music and the tiny cars. i love that fiats remind me of brazil. i love that i recognize the landscape. and i love that these symbolic cars are willing to sacrifice their home and roots and beauties. despite the risk they submerge themselves in a raging ocean of troubles. they safely arrive in the city that welcomes strangers.
but let’s get one thing straight. despite all of its artsiness, that commercial is 100% false advertising. that quaint and quiet little highway above the sea? i experienced a much different journey.
we stayed in sorrento, the namesake of the commercial’s song, for three nights. at hotel elios we were welcomed by gianna who cared for us as if she were our long-lost italian grandma. our cozy room looked out on the water with the lights of naples and the shadow of vesuvius. our shower, like every other one in italy, was equipped with an alarm string and incredibly tiny. i’m still not sure what emergency you would have, in that tiny shower, requiring you to pull the alarm. or if, when said alarm string was yanked, what exactly gianna was supposed to do.
i eagerly ate bruschetta every morning while gianna’s husband hosted breakfast. giuseppe would use us as his guinea pigs; practicing his english and bestowing his many “tips!” upon us.
if people are begging money on the train, do not make eye contact!
do not count your money in front of people!
if someone says, ‘pay me i’ll be your guide’ do not give them your money!
they will cheat you!
the best guide is a book, do you have a book?
apparently he had been spurned by “3 spinsters from the oregon” who did not appreciate his repetitive tips and retaliated on trip advisor. we listened, ate, and left to explore.
our first attempt down the coast was a little dicey. we drove the very same road driven by that cute fiat. we were not however the only ones on the road. nor was it a single lane, one-way street with no on-coming traffic as depicted on tv. it was a full-on thoroughfare filled with tour buses, delivery trucks, motorinis, cars and us. now imagine this congested two-lane road the size of a seattle neighborhood street lined with parked cars on both sides. add to that nonsense the fact that it was pouring, and i panicked.
in positano we pulled to the non-existent side of the road. i may have cried. as it drizzled we looked out over the iconic cliff town with houses stacked upon houses and tried to calm down.
the next day we made the same drive but with friends and under sunshine. i was calmer. who knows how since i spent most the time wedged between people or on christian’s lap since we decided to cram 6 adults in the car.
in positano we walked down flight after flight of stairs to reach the water. we explored amalfi where a wedding party was being photographed right in front of a fountain spurting water in the most motherly of areas. in vietri sul mare we searched for ceramics.
we decided on tiles with our house number. our address has 5 numbers. the guy joked that our street must be really long. not as long as the dang amalfi coast, i thought.