The Day My Imagination Ran Riot in Ravello by Margaret Sims

It started like any other day in Italy. We were waiting for an open-top bus to take us from Amalfi to the hill-top town of Ravello. I was looking forward to this day – a beautiful town and a scenic walk back.

It was Sunday. The bus drove up crowded, narrow roads and stopped outside the main square as no cars are allowed in. As we walked through the tunnel to the Piazza Duomo, there were carboneri officers everywhere greeting men in dark suits. Off went the imagination. ‘Mafia Meeting’, I told my husband. Later as we sat in the café on the square, I looked more closely and saw the nametags. They were attending an international conference at a nearby villa. My imagination had had fun for about thirty minutes. I smiled as I newly imagined attending a conference in this beautiful town.

At noon we heard the church bells of Scala. The Ravello church bells replied and then cannons boomed smoke over the valley beyond. Why cannons? I saw nothing obvious. A wedding maybe? A reminder of warring city states flexing their muscles. My imagination went with the latter.

After an over-priced lunch (not my imagination) we walked up to the restored Villa Cimbrone on the cliff edge. Through the vine-covered Avenue of Immensity, past the Statue of Ceres and out we went on to the Terrace of Infinity. I imagined living here as we admired the coastal views north and south. We wandered down every path until I saw a sign to the statue of David. At the other end of the path there was a sign back to it. I had missed it. Oh! Not that David. It was the David of David and Goliath. Of course! An English lord restored this Italian estate.

Finally it was time to follow the path back to Amalfi – not the short one but the long one around the valley to Scala and Minuta. My husband said we had nothing else to do and we had a map. It started with confusing signs before we had gone 100 yards. Outside town the path got narrower with tracks going different ways. Maybe only mad dogs, Englishmen and two crazy Aussies walk this way in the afternoon sun.

We heard the mad dogs across the valley. My husband picked up a stick and I stayed close to him as we crossed their territorial boundaries. Once past them we met the English – a walking group from London. Their leader knew the way. We tagged along through Scala. Getting side-tracked by a church ruin in Minuta, we left them. From there it was only 200 plus, steep steps down the trail to Amalfi. In town we followed a local brass band practising for something. Later that night as we sat relaxed inside a local restaurant, the band led the religious procession that followed the evening mass.

As I went to bed, my imagination decided it had been a very fertile day.

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