(As a long-time reader on the forum, I’m happy to submit my first (long) trip report. These travel highlights cover late October/early November 2021 on the Amalfi coast. I’ll discuss the good and the bad of a self-driving tour and the weirdness associated with traveling during a pandemic. My DH and I decided the health risks were relatively low for a quick 3 hour flight (our first in 2 years) to Napoli from our home in Sweden.)
The weather forecast for the Amalfi Coast in late October/early November predicted cloudy days, rain and thunderstorms, but generally mild temperatures. In preparation for the trip, I had mapped out our itinerary by home base and activity based on the weather. We are pretty active travelers so I also made sure we made time to relax. Finally, we would do most of the driving ourselves because DH gets very carsick on windy roads unless he is driving (as well as seasick on wavy waves).
I was already jetlagged when we arrived in Napoli, the caveat of a pre-dawn direct flight. We caught a shuttle from the airport to the Hertz lot and loaded up our smart, automatic Toyota Yaris hybrid. Once out of the parking lot, it was sheer pandemonium. Fortunately, my DH has nerves of steel and is quite expert at driving in demanding and unpredictable situations. Still, driving out of the heart of Naples (why not build an airport in the middle of a huge metropolis?) was like crawling through several layers of Dante’s Hell, with cars instead of bodies. On top of that, the car’s navigation system spoke to us in Italian, of course (we finally fixed that), as the route it took us on kept adding more driving time. In exasperation, we turned to Google Maps to set us on the right path. After nearly an hour of circumnavigating the intense traffic, we were on the Autostrada.
The on-again off-again rain gave the trees and mini-farms along the Autostrada a dewy green veneer that contrasted with the dingy concrete apartment buildings and industrial sites that poked out amongst them. Scrums of cars weaved in and out of lanes at varying speeds, a few trying to get somewhere really fast. Others drove erratically, sometimes saddling two lanes at the same time, as though they couldn’t decide which one to be in. Tail-gating was endemic... and yet, we survived.
The shift from the Autostrada to the coastal highway was striking. The sun peeked out behind a blanket of clouds, and for the first time that morning, I felt a mixture of relief and excitement. We were in Italy… and the sea was beautiful.