The Italian coast is dotted with amazing little villages, beaches and caves. There are dozens of places to explore the water, the sand, and the sun … and more than a few grottoes where you can check out the underground world of both the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts.
When we decided we wanted to see the Amalfi Coast, we never even considered stopping at a grotto. Instead, we signed up for a one-day mini tour and let the driver set the course. We knew two things: We didn’t have to drive so we could spend our time looking at the stunning views and we would be dropped off in four different towns to explore on our own.
Along the drive, Carmine pointed out very little. Mostly, he let us ohh and ahh at the scenery. As we left Positano, heading towards Amalfi, he asked the passengers (there were eight of us) if we would like to stop at Grotto dello Smeraldo. None of us knew what it was, but we were all up for the diversion.
He pulled into a tiny parking lot and let us out. We walked over to the elevator and rode it down to the grotto opening, paid a small fee and headed into the dark cave.
This grotto is a little different from others in that it doesn’t have an opening above the water line. You can go in through an entrance on the shore … or scuba dive in through an underground “tube.” The underwater entrance is what gives the inside of the cave a stunning green-blue glow.
The salt water filters out all the other light and “pulls” the light into the cave. For that reason, midday on a really sunny day is the perfect time to see it. Carmine knew this … so our stop just after lunch gave us the ultimate viewing opportunity.
In many ways, the cave is like most others … there are stalagmites and stalactites. There are fascinating structures created over thousands of years. A short boat tour takes you up close to see them as the guide explains some of the stories associated with the Emerald Cave. As we made one turn, our guide offered a little show — he used his oar to splash the water creating a fascinating spray of light.
He headed over to a darkened corner of the cave, illuminated by a light shining into the murky depth. He told the story of some fishermen who found the cave and wanted to pay tribute to the Holy Family. Several swimmers carried sculptures of Mary, Joseph, the Baby Jesus and some other figures from the Christmas Nativity through the tunnel and set them up in the corner of the cave.
As he told the story, he swirled the oar, creating a little eddy. The water cleared up and the Nativity Scene came into view.
It was a short tour but fascinating and well worth the stop. There were no crowds and we wondered how many people just drive by, missing out on the diversion.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. Find the hidden gems and embrace the diversions.
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