[More color photos here.]
Somewhere between Naples and Rome, we pulled over to the side of the narrow coastal road and asked the barista in the café if he knew where we could park in order to hike down the cliff to the beach.
He didn’t speak English. We spoke hardly any Italian, but somehow we managed to understand each other. We weren’t certain of what he said, but we gathered that a few kilometers down the winding road there would be a turn-off on the right. We should follow that cobblestone road down until we saw a small parking lot that was about halfway down the steep cliff. He indicated that this was a local lot that the tourists don’t know about (and shouldn’t know about) and the information didn’t come free. Funny how no matter what your native language, money translates. “I want a tip,” “How much?” “Impossible — unless there’s something in it for me” are all readily understood around the world.
I slipped him ten euros and hoped that he wasn’t scamming us. Italians had proven trustworthy thus far, and for a semi-private beach on a hot day along the Italian coast, it was worth the gamble.
We drove one, then two, then three kilometers and I was beginning to regret my naturally gullible nature, but then, sure enough, hidden among the teeming vegetation on the side of the road was a nearly obscure path that looked like it led straight down the side of the mountain.
Very, very slowly, and with tremendous caution, for it was a BMW rental car with under ten thousand kilometers on it, I turned onto the steep sloping driveway. Lo grabbed my arm and held on tight. “Are we going to die?!” she asked as the front of the car tipped downward.
“Maybe?” I responded, with just as much fear in my voice as she had in hers.
For a split second I thought the car might actually bottom out in the middle and tip like a seesaw with its front and rear wheels off the ground. But the car held tight and we inched our way down the narrow, bumpy path, taking not one, but two hairpin turns, before finding a little landing pad with about seven or eight cars parked on it.
We parked in the tiny area left for our car (leaving for later the problem of how we were going to get out of that predicament). We grabbed some sunscreen and a…