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Amalfi Coast, Italy

The Amalfi Coast is undeniably one of Europe’s most beautiful and awe-inspiring coastlines.

While staying in Sorrento, we knew we wanted to experience the iconic coastal drive to the quaint little town of Amalfi. Opting for a bus ride (in lieu of renting a car), the journey did not disappoint. A 90-minute adventure that was equal parts gorgeous and terrifying. While passing through some of the most breathtaking scenery of the Mediterranean, we experienced frequent harrowing hairpin turns. Numerous near-misses with oncoming cars were so frequent, we got the sense this was the norm. The bus drivers who make this route multiple times a day clearly have steady driving hands and nerves of steel.

One moment, we’d be marveling at pastel homes built directly into the towering cliffs. Next, we were white-knuckling the seats in front of us witnessing the sheer drop into the sea below.

Making our way through fashionable Positano (just a half hour from Sorrento), we met up with the coast road that took us through one picturesque tiny village after another. Hard to believe people lived in such idyllic surroundings day after day. We couldn’t imagine ever tiring of the views.

We ultimately ended our ride in the coast’s namesake, Amalfi. Dominated by the 9th-century Amalfi Cathedral, the town is a unique mix of Gothic, Romanesque, Baroque and Byzantine architecture. After seeing the main sights, we wandered through the backstreets to get a feel for the neighborhoods. An elderly woman hung laundry out to dry. A handsome man on a Vespa scooter drove by. And a scruffy dog curiously watched us pass from a balcony, clearly sensing we weren’t locals.

Later that afternoon, we strolled the tree-lined promenade that ran along the coast below. Flowering potted plants dotted the walkway as seniors caught up on park benches. A cool breeze off the Tyrrhenian Sea and the sound of the rippling waves creating a peaceful, relaxed setting.

Just as my blood pressure had returned to normal, it was time to board the death-defying bus again.

Next to us, another US traveller, Steve, introduced himself as a writer, originally from Santa Monica, California. Turns out we had only been ten blocks apart when we lived there ourselves. After living in New York, Paris and now Amsterdam, he didn’t seem to have any plans on returning to the US.

The bus began its route back to Sorrento. As the coastline stretched out before us, the magic hour of late afternoon light shone on the hillside towns. We too, were happy not to be returning to the states anytime soon.

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