Back to Amalfi we go. There are a few things to bear in mind about this mountainous, coastal part of Italy. 1; There’s not a lot of industry and therefore not much money swilling around. 2; It takes hours to get anywhere; that’s the joy of mountains. 3; It’s surprisingly densely populated, with villages clinging to the cliffs.
What do you do if you live in a place such as this? Well you grow all your own food of course. It’s not a lifestyle choice as it is in the UK, it’s just obvious. It’s been obvious for centuries. In Pompeii, archaeologists have replanted fields of vines using ancient Roman planting schemes and they looks exactly the same as any vines you’d see these days, 2000 years later.
Some things are different now though. The Romans would not have had tomatoes, courgette, potatoes, corn or chillies, all of which came to Europe from South America in the 16th century or thereabouts. In Agerola, the cluster of cliffside villages where we stayed, every property was surrounded by rows upon rows of tomatoes. I can only imagine the industrial efforts required into turning this lot into passata for the winter.
As well as the ubiquitous tomatoes, everyone grows grapes, potato, maize, beans and fruit of some description.
Further down the cliff is where the famous Amalfi lemons are found. Their renown is justified: these are the biggest, narliest, most fragrant citrus you are likely to find.
Up in the mountains, the air is scented with herbs: sage, mint, rocket and most of all, oregano.
We ended the trip with the Walk of the Gods, a cliff-side trek that descends 600m from a country village to the seaside resort of Positano.