I imagined my hostelling days were long over, so I found it very surprising that the organiser of this visit had booked me into a hostel. Of course, hostels have changed a bit since my early hostelling days, but there are reasons why this is exceptional. Ensuite bedrooms and a breakfast supplied, well Thetford in Norfolk certailny wasn’t like that in my old days. Unfortunately that hostel has vanished, it was an experience in itself as it was located in a railway station and had occassional trains passing through. Ave Gratia is in a different league. As long as the expectation is not too high in respect of the star rating, clean sheets and a peaceful atmosphere make up for any defficiencies. Wide tiled corridors and solid walls reminds one that this was once a place of religious retreat. The atmosphere tranquil. Passing through the gated door into the courtyard with a fountain centre creates the atmosphere. Certainly the walls needed painting in places and the location is in the midst of typical Italian life. Apartments with washing strung between balconies and narrow streets and alleys. Taxis do manage to negotiate the confined spaces to reach the front door, for it
would be a challenge to find the place from the station. Unlike many large Italian cities, the taxi drivers seem quite reasonable in their charging policies.
Salerno itself is a mixture of charm and neglect. The narrow streets echo to shouts and unfortunately, scooters. The hazards of these two wheeled demons is universal, but the danger less than in the larger cities.
A trip across the bay to Amalfi is not expensive, but for some reason the fare to Amalfi is 8 euros, whilst the return is 12. There is a bus service, but as the road hugs the coast, it can be quite exciting. Amalfi is a typical tourist destination, but has a great deal of charm in spite of that.Salerno has a huge variety of places to eat and the prices vary. Pizza abound, but there are other traditional eateries that offer an interesting variation. As the main alley is not too long, exploration is straightforward. The ice cream is very good and I discovered a new flavour that will be forever my favourite. Limoncello. It’s possible to buy a good cold drink and varieties of beer. I even managed a metric pint of London Pride!
Naples is the nearest airport. I have no good memories of Naples, but fortunately spent little time there. An overnight near the station, having travelled up from Salerno in order to catch on early flight. Hotels near stations are often notorious. This one had a great variety of reviews. I found it a cross between Fawlty Towers and Best Marigold. I loved it, my wife did not. It had a kind of fade grandeur that appealed and it wasn’t difficult to imagine real spies meeting there. As with all big cities, care about pickpockets is essential. Someone tried it on with me, but as it was only my empty camera bag, was unlucky. Confrontation is not advised and I just passed a comment and moved on. Salerno is an hour away by train, but a huge distance in attitude. Things may change, but not just yet.It was VERY hot.