The road that follows the Amalfi Coast in Italy is widely considered one of the most beautiful on the planet, and one of the most challenging to drive. Ferdinand II of Bourbon commissioned the construction of the road in the early 1800’s, creating a twisty drive for about fifty miles from Sorrento south down to Solerno. I was warned not to drive in Rome (so I did it on a Vespa), and again to stay off The Amalfi Drive. Horror stories of traffic, buses coming over the center line around corners, a rocky cliff on one side, a 1000 foot drop to the sea on the other. This narrow passageway was created for horse and buggies, not for 50-foot tour buses, and any tourist would be “foolish” to drive it, according to Rick Steves. Of course I had to drive it……
Driving The Amalfi was high on my bucket list. The question was, what type of car should I drive. Obviously, such a treacherous road demands the latest in safety and technology in braking and handling. So of course I wanted a vintage Alfa Romeo. Technology be dammed, I want to go in style! La Dolce Vita baby!
My bucket list mission was made possible by Sergio from The Spyder Lifestyle. Sergio’s fleet of vintage cars includes several Alfas, Fiats, Minis, and more. I arranged to pick up my Alfa at his garage in Sorrento, a short drive from Positano where I was staying for the week. I had a little trouble finding his place, so I called him on the phone. In a few minutes Serigo pulled up on his little 1974 Vespa 200. “Follow me!” I followed him through the narrow streets of Sorrento to a cobble-stoned square where he stopped. I could not see a garage anywhere, but he stopped, so this must be it. Sergio gestured towards a coffee bar, and said “I will take you to the car, but first, coffee.” This is one of the reasons I love Italy. There is always time for espresso. We had a great time sipping our coffee, and learning about each other’s family and life, as is the Italian way. “Why do all the cars in Italy have a manual transmission?” I asked him as I swirled my tiny spoon in my tiny coffee cup. His answer was quick and direct. He pointed his finger to the side of his head and stated with confidence “It is the Italian mind. It likes to change.” There you have it. Question answered. God I love Italians.
After coffee we went to see his collection of vintage cars, and he showed me what I was going to drive. “This is my best car” he said and pointed to an elegant 1963 Alfa Romeo 1600 Giuila. For me it was love at first sight. I hit the key and a melodic symphony of engine and exhaust sounds reverberated through the garage, and through to my very soul. “What time do you want me to return your car Sergio?” I asked as I eased the off the clutch and started to roll. “Tonight, or tomorrow. Just call me when you are done Steve.” I love Italians. PART TWO