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Driving The Amalfi Coast in a vintage Alfa Romeo Part Two

Call me a romantic, or call me crazy, but I wanted to tour the famous Amalfi Drive in a vintage Italian sports car. My car for the day was a 1963 Alfa Romeo Giuila 1600, courtesy of The Spyder Lifestyle. Brushing off warnings of the white-knuckle, cliff-hanging, bus-dodging nightmare experience it was supposed to be, I pointed my two-seated motorized art sculpture south from Sorrento, into the picture-postcard called The Amalfi Drive. The Alfa’s sweet twin-cam engine and tight 5-speed transmission, combined with a nicely tuned suspension made this car feel like it was designed just for this road. Coastal routes are always better in a convertible. The fresh air, the smell of the trees and the sea, a lovely girl in the passenger seat, I was in heaven. The Italians along the route seemed to enjoy seeing this car as much as I liked driving it. Approving facial expressions combined with a variety of hand gestures made me feel like a celebrity as I rolled down the coast. Even the occasional “Bravo!” was heard from enthusiastic admirers.

The 1963 Alfa Romeo with the 1971 Alfa Romeo.  We toured together.
The 1963 Alfa Romeo with the 1971 Alfa Romeo. We toured together.
Steve Natale
Behind the wheel of a vintage Alfa Romeo on the Amalfi
Steve Natale

The weather in Italy in May is perfect: sunny, a civilized temperature in the mid seventies, and not as many tourists as there are in the summer high-season. I drove from Sorrento south-west across the peninsula to Termini and stopped for lunch. A fabulous meal with a spectacular view of Capri, then back southward to start the Amalfi Drive. The rules of the road on the Amalfi are non-existent. The road signs and that solid yellow stripe in the middle of the road are “just suggestions”. Cars, motorcycles, and scooters pass on the left, right, around blind turns, and directly into on-coming traffic. No one seems too excited or worried about it, they just GO. The narrow road is full of tight hair-pin turns that the big tour buses can’t negotiate, so every once in awhile they have to stop and back up to get around the turn, sometimes causing a half a dozen other cars to do so as well. During this delicate operation, scooters and motorcycles look for the slightest fissure to squirt through. An Italian on a scooter waits for no one!

I rarely got out of third gear, spending most of my time shifting between second and third. Since you cannot drive fast, you can really enjoy the view. A rugged mountain on my left, and the sparkling Tyrrhenian Sea on my right, just a few inches and a thousand feet down from my right-front tire. The first town we passed through was the incredibly beautiful town of Positano, with its charming multi-colored buildings clutching to the mountain, cascading down to the sea below. We stopped at a tiny fruit stand just beyond and above the town to take a look at the view. The operator of the stand acted like we were long lost friends “Buongiorno! You have my friend Sergio’s car! Bravo!” Then he turned to my wife Mary, “Come! Come! I make you fresh orange juice! Bella! You look like the Marilyn Monroe! I take your photo!” I love Italians.

We enjoyed the drive, ate fantastic food, drove through Positano, Amalfi, Minori, and stopped in Ravello, then picked up the A3 highway at Vierti Sul Mare to head back to Sorrento to return the car. I finally got a chance to get the Alfa into fifth gear, and it loved the highway as much as the twisty roads. I wanted to just keep on driving….La Dolce Vita. Driving a vintage Alfa Romeo down the Amalfi Coast: another one off my bucket list. PART ONE

Read PART ONE of this story