Peregrine Trip loves the Bay of Naples. He just has a problem with lifts. Well, one lift in particular…
We stayed at Sant Agnello. The brochure said Sorrento and it was only when we arrived that we realised the heart of the more celebrated Neapolitan Riviera centre was a 20-minute walk away. Quite a dodgy walk at times, too - nasty bends with little or no pavement.
But once you have made it to Sorrento, the delights of the Bay of Naples are at close hand. Pretty Capri and the delicious Amalfi Coast - a boat trip to Amalfi is an absolute must. And let it be said, Sant Agnello does have its railway station, where you can board the Circumvesuviana and make your way independently to Pompeii, Naples itself and Vesuvius.
Our hotel was pleasant enough: the restaurant was on the top (seventh) floor with a sea view; the pool was in the sun all day; and our room had a little balcony with a sea view, where we would sit and enjoy our pre-prandial refreshments watching the local youngsters working on football set-pieces of an evening. After dinner we would saunter into Sorrento for people-watching or pop down to a little bar overlooking the Bay near the hotel.
One evening we decided to take the lift up to dinner. We were on the third floor and Mrs was wearing heels…
The lift arrived at our floor empty. We pressed the button for the seventh but descended instead to the second, where four fat middle-aged British tourists joined us.
"Evenin'. Lookin' forward to dinner? It's all right here, in't it?" We smile agreement.
It's getting warm as the lift recommences its ascent towards the restaurant. But we stop at the fourth and there's a German couple - of similar girth to our British fellow passengers - waiting. There's clearly not enough room, but they squeeze in.
"Room for two more thin ones, ja?" The Teutonic gent laughs.
By now, Mrs and I are pressed up against the back wall of the lift and I believe I am beginning to melt. The door closes and we start to descend again. But this time we keep on descending past the third floor, past the second…
We finally come to a gentle stop at the foot of the lift shaft, a couple of feet below the reception floor.
The doors are opened by three smiling hotel staff, who take one look down at us and can barely control themselves as they give us a hand up - it takes two Italians to help each of the lardies.
We all, once in a while, find ourselves in horribly embarrassing situations over which we have no control. So I imagine, dear reader, that I need expend no effort describing my discomfiture.
One of the Brits pipes up: "Your lift doesn't work mate. It says it can take eight people."
I want to tell him that it might well have borne eight people the size of Mrs and me to the top floor, but not a load of fat bastards. It is clear that the Italian staff are being far too polite to say as much too.
Already soaking in sweat from the close quarters in the Italian heat and with embarrassment, I am fairly drenched after clambering seven floors by stair to dinner - which is customarily more than passable. It's an Italian hotel that doesn't try to be international in its cuisine, and sticks to what it's good at.
The next morning, we note that a handwritten sign has been taped over the plaque advising the number of passengers the lift can take. It says: "No more than six people, please." Mrs scribbles underneath:
"Fat bastards keep out! Use the stairs, lose the lard!"