Amalfi is a small fishing town in southern Italy. It is so small that it is rarely marked on maps. It is home to only 5,500 residents, but it is always crowded with tourists from all over the world. Getting there is never comfortable or easy, though. You have to take a long-distance bus ride from Sorrento, and spend two hours passing over a winding coastal road along the cliffs that can make you feel dizzy. After overcoming the fear and tension of such a commute is breathtakingly beautiful scenery. It’s a rough yet pleasant journey. The little houses along the sloped hill, the olive trees, and the pastel-blue sea are a piece of art, literally. You realize that the most dramatic scenery goes well with cliché. Amalfi is the name of the woman whom Hercules loved in Greek Mythology. After she died, Hercules traveled around the world to bury her body at the most beautiful location on earth. Praised as the most beautiful city in the world, Amalfi used to be the center of trade, and it was a military strategic point that was more crowded than Napoli. While walking between the Romanesque and Duomo, which are both UNESCO World Heritage sites, I take a bite off the lemon-flavored ice cream made with a local specialty. Spring is right around the corner.
You can see the most transparent sea in the world in Antalya. Antalya, which is famous for its blue flags (a system for evaluating safety and service for environmental education, management, water quality, and tourism) that were awarded by the global non-profit organization, FEE, may actually have the cleanest sea in the world. Voted as the second most popular tourist attraction in Turkey after Istanbul, Antalya is particularly loved by the Europeans, though it is less crowded with tourists unlike other more widely known destinations. Antalya is often referred to as ‘the resort of the gods by the Mediterranean’ because of its cozy and beautiful coastal cliffs and marina. You can come across many remains of historic civilizations, from the Roman Empire to the Ottoman Empire. It is not very far from Mt. Olympus where the Greek-Roman mythology was born. When you arrive at the top of the mountain via a cable car, you can enjoy the magnificent view of the Mediterranean and the surrounding steep mountain ranges. You can also witness the amazing Chimera, the flame that has been burning since the ancient times, and seems to have been a product of the mythology. That’s not all about Antalya. You cannot miss the taste of the fresh and healthy food grown amid such abundance of nature.