Many bathrooms in this area do not have toilet seats. This applies to both fancier restrooms in public and regular bathrooms in homes. It is not that they can’t afford one: perhaps they find the custom weird? I’m not sure if squatting is the order of the day, or if they sit on the rim. I miss toilet seats.
There are a lot of lemon groves in the area, and they seem to be owned by many different families. I wonder if they all get together to make limoncello, or if they sell to a manufacturer. I like the pride that these tiny groves engender. I saw a woman in her 80s walking through her family grove at a very slow pace, due to what looked like hip problems. But she was there and working, and I think this plays into the extended longevity of the Italian people: there is no true retirement, no feeling useless, no end to their role in their community and family.
Because of the popularity of this area among tourists, many of the locals speak some English. Given the small size of the towns and how rural they are, this is quite impressive to me. I even heard some guys in their 20s, who operate a shoe stand during the weekly flea market, trying to discuss with a British tourist which of two pairs of pink princess slippers would be better for her toddler.
The public bus drivers along this coastal route drive very quickly. Much of the road has no guard rails, and it winds like crazy along the cliffs. If you’re on the sea-side of the bus, there will be times when you feel like you’re going to go off the road. Even around the most tortuous turns, the drivers seem to be going 40 mph. B says I’m over-estimating, that they know these roads well, and that they can stop on a dime. But, in my opinion, the issue is not so much them as others. For example, the drivers honk twice when they’re coming around curves that are not wide enough to accommodate both a bus and a car: this is their warning. While I am certain that locals recognize the sound and slam on the brakes to avoid reaching that stretch of road at the same time, this is also a tourist area. At least some of these tourists rent cars, and I doubt they know what this double honk means. And since the bus drivers don’t pause after the honk, these tourist drivers would only have a split second to figure it out. Now, perhaps I’m overly worried for nothing: it is the off-season, and the bus drivers are quite skilled. Still scary though.
B also points out that the buses were very cheap, especially given the above difficulty level.
Perhaps this lower cost explains the next point: the drama of actually getting onto or off a bus. We got off the train in Salerno and waited in front of the train station for a bus to Maiori. All of the local buses are called SITA buses, and they go to dozens of destinations; some of the buses even list the destination! Each bus pulls up for about 2 minutes: just long enough for anyone to hop off and for a few people to get on. We were having trouble figuring out which bus was ours (due to the lack of signage), so we started trying to ask each driver if he was going to Maiori. Turns out that the asking (in Italian) was not the difficult part: getting to the driver before he took off was! This may sound silly, but we really would run over to the bus, and it would already be leaving before we got there. These issues were not limited to us: we heard several locals discussing which bus was arriving next, and I’ve never seen a teen girl run as quickly as one did upon hearing that hers was the one that had just taken off (and was stuck at a traffic light up ahead). Getting off was a similar challenge: the doors would open for a minute. If you didn’t have your bag on and your running shoes ready, you simply were not getting off at that stop. The drama!
How gorgeous it was, even in the 50-degree (air) weather. I could walk in the water and sit on a bench in the sun on that beach for days.
At the dinner to which we were invited, B got to talk to the restaurant owner who invited us. He indicated that the cost of an apartment in town would be ~€500K! That seems very expensive for a small town, especially one with so many tourists in the summertime. (That may be because I hate tourists though.)
Several of the niche stores in town (a pet store, a jewelry store, etc.) stayed open very late. We would walk by around 10 pm, and they would still be open!