April 09, 2015

"H" is for Hairpin Curve

Many years ago I was travelling on a motor coach that hit a patch of ice, spun 360 degrees, plowed over a mailbox and landed in a snowy ditch. Fortunately no one was hurt, a tow truck pulled us out and we carried on our way. But ever since this incident I’ve been a little nervous about buses. And while touring the rugged Campania region of Italy I came face to face with the roadbuilder’s solution to precipitous terrain: the treacherous hairpin curve.


Hairpin Curve, Sorrento


Campania is where you’ll find the scenic Amalfi Coast, famous for steep cliffs plummeting into the sea while the highway clings to the vertical rock face. I haven’t travelled as far south as Amalfi but I’ve been to neighbouring Sorrento where the terrain is very similar. There’s a deep ravine slicing through the centre of town and if you peer over the edge you’ll find a classic hairpin curve.



Bottom of the Ravine in Sorrento



A short distance off the coast lies a rocky outcrop, the lovely island of Capri. The road linking the island’s two towns is narrow and winding. It snakes up the mountain in a series of hairpin curves with sharp drops to the valleys below. The local buses are small and they pass each other with scant inches in between. I heard a saying that the bus drivers in Capri are either very good or dead. Let’s just say I was a little apprehensive about making such a journey. On a BUS!



Approaching a Bus on the Island of Capri



Don't Look Down!



But you know what? The scenery was spectacular. I got so caught up in the unfolding panorama that I forgot all about being nervous. I joined my fellow passengers as they ooh’d and ah’d at our driver’s skillful maneuvers around the hairpin curves. And I was glad I hadn’t passed up a memorable experience on the island of Capri.

Next:  "I" is for Inferno

8 comments:

  1. The roadways in that first picture is amazing...awesome and yet scary too.

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    1. Yes, I'd certainly take my time with that bend in the road.

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  2. I went to Capri many years ago, in the 80s and I think we walked to the top. We drove on a road with hairpin turns in Morocco, but it was so slow, it wasn't really frightening - of course that's easy for me to say when hubby was driving. Your bus experience sounds terrifying.

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    1. The anticipation was much worse than the actual drive but I passed on the chairlift to the top of Monte Solaro. My daughter enjoyed it though.

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  3. I remember being in something like a VW bus on the Amalfi Coast drive. I couldn't look. The driver drove like a madman. Two years ago I was on a tour bus going around Lake Maggiore and we had those hairpin turns. I am amazed that they can make the turn.

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    1. It really is amazing how these drivers can maneuver in such challenging spaces.

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  4. Beautiful pictures! Hairpin curves are definitely scary, though, especially in the dark.

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    1. Thank you. Oh, I never thought of the dark!

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