- Italy's Amalfi Coast
Since we were driving to Pompeii anyway, we decided to brave the nearby Almalfi coast - despite the heat, hoards of European vacationers and, of course, the prices that go with that. All said, I'm glad we did it because it was certainly beautiful - although I'm sure there are plenty of similar places in the world that aren't as widely publicized and, therefore, a lot less crowded. We ended up paying more for our room here than in overpriced Rome - and while the place was, admittedly, overlooking the ocean, it was also not nearly as nice. One consolation to this was that the food was surprisingly cheaper and notably better.
I don't usually post vertically oriented photographs, but this is one area that's especially hard to capture in a landscape format and so I'm breaking with tradition.
We had been told (by our tour book) that while it's worth driving in Italy, only an idiot drives the Almalfi Coast. This scared Katie since we heard no such warnings about the dirt logging road we took across a mountain range in Guatemala which, while beautiful, was truly hair-raising. By contrast, though, this road was a dream: paved, guard rails, two lanes, painted lines, no boulders or sink holes, etc. The only piece remotely similar to Guatemala was when two busses tried to pass on a tight corner. That said, both Italy and Guatemala roads did have 500 foot cliffs that the roads wound around which offered amazing views - and, between the two, this is one case where Italy wins: combine the heights, oceans and cliff-side villages and you end up with something quite spectacular.
Nonetheless, it's worth noting that due to Amalfi's popularity, many Europeans are starting to take their summer holiday in Latin America since it offers surprisingly similar landscapes at 1/10th the crowds and costs. And, for Americans looking to travel to Italy, I strongly recommend considering Central America instead - and particularly Guatemala. That remains my best travel experience to date in terms of adventure, beauty, culture, history, and even food (surprisingly). More and more people are going to Central America, though, and I think there's a small window before treasures like Guatemala become no different than any of the Caribbean Islands or even Costa Rica.