The Trip To Italy
Posted on October 19, 2015
For many years it’s been a dream of mine to visit the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi coast. The scenery and its lighting appealed to artist J.M.W. Turner who visited in 1819, while the winding, vertiginous coastal roads evoke a fantasy of open-top vintage driving. Then there’s the food: fresh pasta, fish and shellfish served overlooking the calm mediterranean sea.
More often I wondered what it might be like to live in the shadow of Vesuvius: an active volcano surrounded by the ancient cities it destroyed. Would tragedy so immortalised provide a constant, tormenting reminder of the looming mountain’s destructive power? Or would the melancholy of the ruins disguise the dangerous forces of nature, masking them in an illusory calm?
Then last year there came The Trip to Italy from comic duo Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon. The pair traced the path of romantic poets Shelley and Byron who were themselves inspired by the immense beauty of the Italian landscape. In an unexpectedly poignant twist, the atmosphere of the place prompted inward reflection, coaxing out the comedians’ subconscious fears about growing old, coming face to face with their place in the world: a subtle, subdued mid-life crisis.
The area has appealed to many filmmakers and stars. The stylish island of Capri has been visited by Jacqueline Kennedy, Rita Hayworth and Princess Grace of Monaco. Sophia Loren and Clark Gable shot It Started In Naples on the island while The Talented Mr Ripley was filmed on the neighbouring islands of Ischia and Procida.
And so, enticed by the Romanticism of the Amalfi Coast we embarked on our own ‘Trip To Italy’ last week. It was filled with wonderful sights from lightening storms over Vesuvius to the ruined paper mills of Amalfi hidden amidst the vines and creepers of a river filled valley. Still, it was hard to imagine this was the same coastal experience of Turner, Byron and Shelley or even Coogan and Brydon. Peace and tranquility were hard to come by in town – even in this off-peak season – and queuing for boats and buses was inevitable. Escaping the commotion of the busy coastal road, we headed up the hills and into the countryside. From here, the coastal views were truly staggering. If any of you are thinking of making your own ‘Trip To Italy’ I can highly recommend it. Here are some of my favourite photos of the trip.