Originally I had planned to spend as much of Saturday as possible in another town along the coast. The logic was that I would be in Amalfi so much anyway that It'd be nice to spend a day in another town. Well, in part because of the quality of the bus service but largely because Amalfi was just so amazing I ended up staying in town (more or less) all day. I'm glad I did.
I woke up around 8:30 and at 9 headed upstairs to the 5th floor to have breakfast. It was really good. A woman asked if I'd like a hot drink and I asked for coffee and she brought me an entire pitcher of it, and it was delicious, so naturally I drank too much and was wired all morning. After breakfast I headed back out to the main road through Amalfi and spent some time going through the shops. I picked up a few things but they are all top secret gifts for various family members so I won't say any more. After doing some shopping I dropped the gifts off at the hotel and headed out toward the coast.
I had a goal, I wanted to get to the church of Saint Michele Arcangelo. Here's what I knew about this church:
- I knew that it was in Vettica, which was west of Amalfi along the coast.
- I knew its name, as I've already shown.
- I knew that none of the three e-mail addresses for this church that are available online work. I know this because I spent 2 days searching for information about this church, and then another day or so attempting to contact either the church or its pastor. In retrospect, I should have started this processes months ago when an actual letter could have been mailed.
- I knew that Google Maps didn't really know where this church was, and that there wasn't really an actual address with a street number available.
- I knew (because of the last point) that I didn't really know where on earth this church was.
So with all of that in mind I started walking west along the coast. I didn't get very far, the road that runs directly along the coast ends at the third pier in Amalfi. So I had to turn around. It ends up I would have to take the main road which I came into Amalfi on, you know, the one with the insane traffic. So I decided that maybe walking wasn't the best option so I went to the taxi stop and waited. And waited. And waited. And... You get the idea. Eventually it became clear that a taxi just wasn't coming so I started walking back into Amalfi when I passed a small shop that rented scooters.
I'll be honest, my decision to go into the shop and ask to rent a scooter probably wasn't one of my best. Regardless, I went in and asked to rent a scooter. I checked with the guy that my US driver's license was valid in Italy, he said it was and he instructed me to head back toward the bus stop and to wait by the 5 steps near the statue. So I headed off to wait for my scooter. Mind you, I have NEVER driven one of these things, but how hard could it be?
So as I sat on the 5 steps waiting for my scooter I flipped through my guide book to get a sense of speed limits and the rules of the road in Italy (if there even were any). My guide book claimed that my license wasn't technically valid in Italy, at least not until I went and bought an additional license that basically says "Hey, this foreigner's license is cool with us," and in order to do that I needed a passport photo. After a lot of though I decided to just risk it, there were police around the town but they weren't particularly active. But a few minutes before the scooter was set to arrive a taxi pulled up, I chickened out, and hopped in. Luckily the rental people didn't make you sign anything before they brought you the scooter.
So I told the taxi driver where I wanted to go and he knew where it was. It ends up that there are 2 churches in Vettica, and that the one I was looking for was "at the top." Thank goodness I didn't walk there. So 35 euros later I was "at the top." He offered to wait for me because there was no chance of me catching a cab "at the top" but I declined. I'm pretty sure he wasn't going to charge me for the wait, but I wasn't sure how long I'd be there, and I didn't want to waste his time. As he got back into the taxi to drive off he joked that I could just take the steps back. I ended up doing just that.
But first, the church.
It's a beautiful church, and I hope my photos can do it some justice. It was locked up so I wasn't able to go inside, or even inside the courtyard. It's a bit overgrown in parts, there was some grass and flowers growing out of the top of the bell tower (The bells had a fantastic old-bell-tower sound. I walked around it and took pictures for at least an hour, so I got to hear them a number of times.). In looking at some of my photos of them I've noticed that there is some growth just above the main door as well. It has one tree planted in the courtyard which I loved. I can't quite explain why, but I think the tree was my favorite part of the building. The road runs just above the courtyard, so you have to take a set of steps down from the road in order to enter the church. There is a fantastic view of the sea from the courtyard (or in my case, just above the courtyard) which I've hopefully captured in some of the photos.
My reason for visiting St . Michael's church is that it is the church my family (maternal Grandmother's side) attended over a century ago. In fact, according to the website of the church (which doesn't appear to have been updated since 2007) a member of the church's board (or whatever it is called) has the last name Bottone which was the maiden name of my great-great-grandmother. This is part of the reason I was so disappointed that the e-mails didn't go through, it woud have been fantastic to meet a distant relative, if even just for just a minute or two. Regardless, it was pretty amazing to see the church. If I ever have the opportunity to go back to Amalfi I will definitely plan ahead and get in touch.
After over an hour of circling this church, and over 200 pictures taken, I decided to head back into Amalfi. This meant walking down the mountain and then along the crazy road I took into Amalfi the day before. I'm going to have to leave you hanging, though, as I have an essay due tomorrow that I should probably finish up. Also, this post is already over 1000 words and I'm trying to keep them at least manageable in length.
A quick note: I'll post a flickr set of Saturday photos with the next post. I've decided to keep the church photos separate so you can view a selection of my 200 photos of St . Michael's church here.