With glamour asleep, the dramatic coastline felt as pristine and tranquil as a deserted rock. Who am I if not a lonely intruder into this serenity? Mastering a moment of no return, what is after I delve into the endless curves and seaside cliffs? Lithe beacons of light emerge from behind the walls of solid Lattari mountain base and one understands it’s an overture into grandeur. The svelte silhouette is my alibi and a pulsating knob reads engine start. A six-cylinder thumps to life while Costiera Amalfitana stands as a testament of what will be a day to remember.
Ghibli, A Grigio Maratea Lacquered Ghibli
Here we are, me and Ghibli, a Grigio Maratea lacquered Ghibli, the sole audience of a winding road where land meets the sea. Even though the sky is warming up as an oversized softbox, releasing light into this early morning, darkness still preys in some heavy corners. And with darkness comes moist, and moist may upset the dynamics of any given vehicle. There is lots of innovation in this Zegna mulberry silks inspired interior and LED matrix headlamps are one of them. Portraying beams onto parchments of asphalt seemingly unreachable, flooding spaces the night would steal away. Each individual LED in the system is autonomous and is computer operated fed by information from a forward-facing camera. For example, should another vehicle cross this stream of light, certain elements in the reflector would be silenced in order not to blind the driver. Pretty clever. While I and a Ghibli make delightful progress on an empty road, evading moist traps, the surroundings become more plastic, revealing details. Dawn finally gives way.
Talented Mr. Ripleys
Some infamous signs appear next to the road, names of towns usually appearing in novels of Talented Mr Ripleys. There is Praiano and Furore, Minore. Romantic getaways perched into metamorphous overhangs. It is a mere forty kilometre stretch of twists and turns, yet it feels like an ever capturing liaison, biting deep into the soul. At times it feels dangerous, thin, tunnels abound. Behind the steering wheel with a trident sign, it feels not only comfortable but reassuring, safe from harm. Cocooned from the beauty of the outer world. As we reach Positano, I am splendored by the view. Serenity in its purest form. Not even a church bell sound from Santa Maria Assunta. Just its majolica tiles playing in the light. Silence. I could as well rest here and call it the start of the day, but the road is calling on me. And so were the black Pirelli tires. The rear-wheel driven Ghibli through its 8-speed automatic transmission had found its playground.
Monastero Santa Rosa
As I detour from the shore into the mountains two things happen. A view for the gods opens on the horizon, revealing a coastline scene in its full. Only now can one appreciate the toughness of building a road in this setting. The second thing, a resting place for the gods. Monastero Santa Rosa. A seventeenth-century edifice which was transformed into a boutique respite for the travellers. Some say it boasts with the steepest, most vertical, call it precipitous, infinity pool on the whole coast. My advice is to have a look on your own. As I do right now, from a terrace, with an early morning glass of Limoncello. Not to further encourage me for a drive, but to enjoy this very fine moment. Fine moments are rare. Let’s relish them while they last. All about fifteen minutes before I am urged back to the Maserati and continue my swift epiphany. A realization between man and machine. Something that in a place like Amalfi Coast has a meaning to be understood on the spot only. An unrivalled emotion.
Svelte is the passing of Amalfi town, traffic traps are none at this very faint hour. I change to Sport setting, crescendo becomes more focused, the engine roar from four exhaust pipes substantially wilder. Under the bonnet is a diesel outputting 275 horsepower and this has to be the finest engine of its kind ever created. How gallantly, as it sits in a vehicle whose front-rear weight distribution scales at 49:51. Yet the Maserati Ghibli is much more than that, it is an event on its own, as long as there is dawn on the horizon, which needs to be chased away.