Written by garymarsh6 on 08 Jun, 2012
Scenic drive along the Amalfi coast.The drive along the Amalfi coast is perhaps one of the most stunning drives in the world driving along roads built into the sides of the cliffs that drop steeply into the sea hundreds of feet below you. It is…Read More
Scenic drive along the Amalfi coast.The drive along the Amalfi coast is perhaps one of the most stunning drives in the world driving along roads built into the sides of the cliffs that drop steeply into the sea hundreds of feet below you. It is certainly not a drive for those who are fainthearted as the drive involves hairpin bends, twisting and turning along the coast road.Where is the Amalfi coast?South of Naples stretching from the Sorrentine peninsular the road continues south to reach the plains of Salerno passing towns and villages built into the steep mountains that drop hundreds of feet into the sea below. The Amalfi coast is not renowned for its beaches by any stretch of the imagination however what it does give you are dramatic views of the sea and the amazing towns and villages built in practically vertical formation along the coast and in the coves and inlets.Our drive.You are either crazy to drive this route yourself although there are some who do but we went on a bus tour. During the high season the locals who live in the towns are permitted only to drive every other day which will give an indication how popular this route is. It is amazing to see cars parked on parking lots that jut out into the air with drops of up to 1000 feet below the little platform they are parked on.We started our drive from the town of Sorrento one of the main tourist towns along the coast that juts out on a headland high above the Mediterranean Sea below. Driving up through the mountains heading past small villages some with their own cathedrals some looking no bigger than what we would consider chapels. The hills are covered in lemon groves and olive groves all along the Sorrentine peninsular. Everywhere you look are lemon trees and in the shops lemon decorated plates and bowls, table cloths and tea towels. It is no surprise that the most famous of drinks Limóncello is made here being made from beautiful fat juicy lemons that seem to be in abundance everywhere you look. Often in restaurants they will ply you with this alcohol more so as a digestive than as a long drink served ice cold and in small glasses it is a beautiful little drink!Along the coast are beautiful villas some owned by the rich and famous because to own a house along this coast you need to be somewhat loaded. Sofia Loren has a massive villa built here. Of course she also has her own helipad in her extensive gardens. Other houses are built quite high and are quite narrow.The main towns along the coast include Positano, Amalfi and Ravello and it is through these towns you either take the time to visit to eat or do the tourist thing or by pass completely. Most of these towns are geared up for tourists and most shops and restaurants supply over inflated priced goods or meals. What you are really paying for is the stunning views along this stretch of coast. You can also catch a glimpse of Capri off the coast which is easily reached by ferry or hydrofoil from Sorrento or Positano.We did the coastal drive from Sorrento to Ravello stopping on route to have a coffee in a road side café with a 1000 foot drop down below. This being Italy the coffee was absolutely fantastic the Italians certainly know how to make a good cup of coffee. Alternating sipping water to clear the palate and sipping coffee enhances the flavour so you get the real taste of the coffee while we admired the houses built into the side of the cliffs and the stunning views out to sea. We passed Positano far below us so that we could get to Ravello. Driving down through Amalfi we started the very steep climb up the hair pin bending roads to reach Ravello. The mini bus parked in the car park and we continued walking up the steps to reach the main square. Of course Ravello has its own Cathedral but we were heading to view the grounds and gardens of the Villa Cimbrone. Following our visit to this beautiful villa and stunning gardens giving unparalleled views of the 1000 or so foot drop across the valleys and out to sea. After a while we headed back to the town square and headed to a lovely restaurant overlooking the bay of Salerno and the resorts of Minori and Maiori far below us along the coast.Eating lunch in such a stunning setting is fantastic sitting on the terrace overlooking the bay with a nice glass of wine and wonderful Italian food what more could you want. We spent two hours here enjoying the views and general chit chat before we headed back to the minibus that rode its way back down the side of the mountain along the winding twisting road to the town of Amalfi. We were dropped off in the town centre and made our way to the Duomo Piazza where we visited the Cathedral of St. Andrew where parts of his remains are interred in the crypt. The cathedral is reached by mounting 6o odd stairs to reach the cathedral which towers over the Piazza.We continued our journey along the coast road until we reached the town of Positano where we were dropped off at the top of the hill. We walked all the way down to the cathedral passing expensive boutiques and restaurants on the way. Thankfully we did not have to walk back up the hill as it would have been quite a challenge to say the least. We managed to have a lovely ice-cream down in the town while we waited to be picked up by the minibus to continue along the twisting and winding coastal road. The coast road runs for approximately 40 kilometres from Sorrento and in the summer months it is extremely popular with tourists. There are hair pin bends and massive drops that will leave you with butterflies in your stomach especially if you are afraid of heights but due to the steepness of the roads and the winding and twisting most of the traffic is unable to drive very fast anyway so it is quite a controlled drive along the coast.Is it worth it?Yes I would say it is definitely worth it because of the wonderful views and just the experience of driving along one of the most beautiful and stunning drives in the world. The cliff clinging villages and towns are beautiful to see and are an amazing sight. The downside that really got to me was the over inflated prices in the area and the rudeness of some of the shop owners and waiting staff. Apart from that I thoroughly enjoyed my drive along the Amalfi coast and I actually do not like heights at all but felt really pleased I had done it. Close
Written by lovethecaribbean on 26 Jun, 2011
Restaurants in and around Positano- One thing to keep in mind is that most restaurants on the Amalfi Coast and in Capri charge a cover just to sit at the table (even if you’re ordering food and drink). This seemed to range from…Read More
Restaurants in and around Positano- One thing to keep in mind is that most restaurants on the Amalfi Coast and in Capri charge a cover just to sit at the table (even if you’re ordering food and drink). This seemed to range from one to four euros per person.Bruno’s- very close to our hotel. I had delicious gnocchi with parmesan, mozzarella and tomato. My husband had pasta with onion, egg and bacon which he also said was delicious. Sit outside- it’s on the side of the road, but has beautiful views of the town of Positano.Bar Mulino- right in town, we had an inexpensive lunch here. My husband had the small calzone with ham and ricotta and a slice of pizza and I had a ham and mozzarella sandwich. All were good. We did not really like the ambiance here though—they were playing Beyonce (who I actually usually like, but not expecting to hear in a restaurant in Italy).La Tagliata- This was a great dining experience. The restaurant is located very high up in the mountains, so they send a van to pick you up from your hotel. I think if the evening had not been so cloudy, we would have had a great view. For 35 euro each you got a bottle of wine and a bottle of water, then tons of things to try. First course included bruschetta, mozzarella and ham, eggplant parmesan, fava beans, risotto, cauliflower and broccoli and a few other things I’m sure I forgot. Then the pasta course included gnocchi, lasagna, and tagliatelli (I think) with a citrus sauce. Next up were the grilled meats including chicken, steak, lamb and sausage, served with French fries (I thought including the French fries was a bit odd!). The dessert included chocolate mousse, and two types of cake. Finally we were given a shot of limoncello. This was way too much food, so make sure you come hungry, but it was fun to try some different things.Il Choistro (in Amalfi)- I had margarita pizza and my husband had the four cheese pizza. Both were good, but they overcharged us for one of the pizzas. It was only two euros difference and we really didn’t feel like arguing about it, so we just let it go. But I wouldn’t go back there just because of that.Il Saraceno D’Oro- We really liked our waiter here. He was friendly and funny. We were taking some photos and he came over and offered to take one of both of us. Then he brought a basket of large lemons to put on the table to add a little color to our pictures I guess! We had an appetizer a fried stuff- zucchini, mozzarella, potato, and mushrooms and it was delicious. I had a calzone with ham and cheese—it was very good, and huge, but it was cold in the middle. That was ok, because it was big enough that I just ate the ends of it and was satisfied. My husband had a seafood salad and Sicilian penne and enjoyed them both.Ristorante Vittoria (in Ravello)- My favorite pizza of the trip! I had the margarita pizza. It kind of reminded me of Bertucci’s which is my favorite pizza in the United States—but this one was much, much better. My husband had pasta with clams and enjoyed it.Next 2- My favorite meal of the trip. They brought out a complimentary appetizer of bruschetta with tuna. I am not a fan of tuna, but my husband enjoyed it. I had ravioli for my meal and it was so, so wonderful. I think it had smoked mozzarella in it, so it was a little different than others I had on the trip. My husband had fish carpaccio as his first course, then the catch of the day for the second course. He enjoyed the meal as well, although I don’t think it was his favorite of the trip. Close
I twisted my foot in Pompeii and I was in a lot of pain by the time we arrived our hotel in Positano. I mostly relaxed in the room and enjoyed the gorgeous view from the balcony of our room. On our first…Read More
I twisted my foot in Pompeii and I was in a lot of pain by the time we arrived our hotel in Positano. I mostly relaxed in the room and enjoyed the gorgeous view from the balcony of our room. On our first full day, we still took it pretty easy and I walked as much as I could handle. I didn’t want my foot to get in the way of all the things I wanted to see and do on this vacation. I probably walked on it more than I should have, but took it easier than I had planned (for instance we did not walk the path of the gods like I wanted to). We just explored the town. There were so many picture perfect views in Positano that I found myself stopping every couple of minutes to take photos! We walked through the gardens of the Palazzo Murat, which I highly recommend. The next day we took the bus to Amalfi. We went to the maritime museum, visited the Duomo—there was a wedding there so that was fun to watch, and just explored the town. We had originally planned to go up to Ravello that day as well, but decided to save Ravello for the next day and walk to Atrani instead. The traffic was backed up from a strike—with cars completely stopped and people getting out of their cars and just standing around. We got to Atrani faster than the people with cars! It was a nice scenic walk along the water and the town was enjoyable to visit.The next day we took the ferry back to Amalfi, then took the bus up to Ravello. Our Ravello trip turned out to be an all day event, so we were glad we saved the time to go that day. The downside was that it was a little cloudy and hazy up there, so while the views were still amazing, I think they could have been better if it was clearer. By the time we were ready to leave though, it had cleared up a lot. Our first stop was Villa Rufulo. Beautiful gardens and views here. We enjoyed the visit, but found Villa Cimbrone to have even better views and gardens. Although Villa Cimbrone is a bit of a walk to get there, it’s totally worth it. And if you only have time to visit one, go to Villa Cimbrone. It was just one gorgeous vista after another. After the villa visits we just explored the town and the churches and had a late lunch. Ravello was my favorite place that we visited on the trip. It was just so serene and beautiful there. And we somehow missed most of the crowds that day—much fewer people than in Amalfi and Positano.Positano/Amalfi Coast Tips-Positano was pretty crowded with tour groups and day trippers during the day. I’d suggest trying to get out and about in the mornings and evenings for a more pleasant experience for exploring the town.Buses- We did not realize that there are two separate bus companies—the bus that takes you to Amalfi and other towns is a different company from the bus that takes you to different stops within Positano and their tickets are not interchangeable. Don’t buy the full day passes, just get single tickets—because you have to take quite a few bus trips to make it worth it. Also be prepared for the busses to not exactly be on schedule and crowded.Take the ferry to Amalfi! We took the bus the first time, and there was a strike going on which backed up traffic. It took about 2 hours to get to Amalfi from Positano. The bus was also pretty crowded and not exactly comfortable. On our way back from Amalfi, we took the ferry and it was a much more pleasant experience. The ferry was not crowded at all and afforded beautiful views from the water. A little more expensive than the bus, but totally worth it to us. We went back to Amalfi the next day to visit Ravello and made sure to take the ferry instead of the bus over.Go to Ravello on a clear day—we still had beautiful views even though it was a bit cloudy. But it would have been magnificent if it had been a clear day.Explore- Definitely take the time to explore the towns—walk up small side streets—you never know what beautiful and interesting things you might find! Close
Written by alias843 on 05 Apr, 2010
On a week-long trip to Rome I had padded my schedule a little bit so as to spend some time in Pompeii, using Naples as my base of operation. A quick look at a map of Italy told me that this might be the…Read More
On a week-long trip to Rome I had padded my schedule a little bit so as to spend some time in Pompeii, using Naples as my base of operation. A quick look at a map of Italy told me that this might be the perfect opportunity to spend a little time along the Amalfi Coast. Since this was a short trip I only had one day to explore. Also, in the story of my travelling life, no rental car. So this trip was going to be at the mercy of public transportation.The front desk clerk at the hostel where I was staying was very positive when I mentioned my idea to tool around Amalfi for a day. I had planned on one stop, probably in Amalfi itself and then a quick return. She had other, better ideas however. This is how I wound up boarding a regional train to Sorrento, armed only with a very basic tourist map featuring a hastily scribbled route and some basic bus information. On arriving at the Sorrento train station I checked to see the bus schedule to Positano, the next stop on my planned route. It turned out that I would have about 2 and a half hours to see the sights in this beautiful coastal town. I managed to pack in eating some delicious pizza with fresh sardines, a tour through a lemon grove and of course a lot of gelato. Then it was off again, this time by bus to the town of Positano. I may or may not have gotten off at the wrong stop in Positano, as I really had no idea where I was going I was left to follow the largest crowds and disembark with them in the hopes that the masses would know best. While I'm not sure if this was the "right" stop I am sure that it offered some really incredible views of coastal Positano. I verntured out a little bit but I only had about an hour and a half before my next bus ride. Enough time to wander some steep staircases and alleyways and plenty of time to take lots of pictures and savor some of the most incredible scenery that I have ever seen. With the purchase of another bus ticket at a convenience store I was off again. This time to the town of Amalfi.Amalfi was the busiest of all the towns I visited; the streets were bustling with tourists and locals, all trying to enjoy a gorgeous afternoon. Gelato and limoncello seemed to be in every store front. Since this was the final stop on my brief tour I was able to take my time, knowing that nothing was waiting back in Naples except for a very small hostel room. I wandered around, took in one of the most unique churches that I've seen, ate even more gelato (because that's what Italy's for!) and tried to just enjoy the gorgeous coastal scenery. When it was finally time to go I boarded a bus that advertised that it would return me to Naples. Instead it dropped me off at a train station well out of town. After a brief moment of panic (lost in Italy! speak no Italian!) I went inside and figured a way home with the regional train. It was dark by the time I arrived back in Naples, which meant that the very clean train took me by many piles of flaming trash (the trash strike was on and Naples was a filthy place). All told this self-guided tour took about 9 hours.If you're a go-with-the-flow traveller, this is a great way to pack one more thing into your Italy trip. You really don't need a lot of time or money to get a taste of the Amalfi coast. And once you've seen it you'll probably be trying to figure out how you can come back soon. Close
Written by Krys T on 29 Aug, 2006
Amalfi is famous. Apparently. Everyone seems to have heard of it, and let's face it, the whole area is called the Amalfi coast. So, you can hardly visit the area without visiting the town.Warning - parking here is a nightmare. Mostly because…Read More
Amalfi is famous. Apparently. Everyone seems to have heard of it, and let's face it, the whole area is called the Amalfi coast. So, you can hardly visit the area without visiting the town.Warning - parking here is a nightmare. Mostly because they don't seem to want you to park here at all. and have hidden the car park off by the sea wall of the harbour. Once you do find it, it's actually spacious, had spaces, and was reasonably priced...but it wasn't a good start!So, we were parked. We walked towards the town centre around the harbour, which has a shallow beach in it, lots of small boats, and lots of families splashing around. It took a while to find the Tourist Office, after avoiding a couple of places masquerading as such - one of which actually wanted to sell me the map you can get for free at the right place! So, we got the map, some advice as to where to eat later, and attempted to get our bearings.You walk through a sort of walled/arched sea-frontage to start at the bottom centre of the town, which is dominated by the steps up to the Duomo, many cafes, and is very busy. We "did" the cathedral, which I have to say was a little uninspiring, but then I don't think Italian cathedrals are my thing. After that we walked up the main narrow shopping street, which is allegedly pedestrian at allotted times. However enough people are allowed up on scooters and cars to make it a little hazardous walking through, as it's very busy - not a lot of fun for, or with, the kids. If you get up to the odd parallel little streets, they're far more fun - like little white labyrinths - a world away from the main stream bustle.We picked up the odd knickknack - a bag for me, some sandals for Dad, admired the displays of chillies, and then settled down for a cold beer to decide where to it. We ate at "Da Maria" on the main street, where a reasonable lunch came to 117E, but we deliberately skipped dessert, which we bought from a fab little ice-cream shop opposite instead - the most amazing flavours, and gooey chocolateness for small folk! (And grown ups too!) Just up the side street was a place specialising in lemon - sorbet, granita, whatever, and I had a gorgeous sorbet with strawberries.That pretty much did us however. I guess I just found it a little disappointing. Big reputation, not well fulfilled. Too busy, in a not well-managed way. Close
Written by italylover on 24 Oct, 2005
According to legend, while on his numerous adventures, Hercules fell in love with a nymph named Amalfi. Unfortunately for the strong man, she died. Devastated, he buried her in the most beautiful place on earth and, as a testament to both her and the spot,…Read More
According to legend, while on his numerous adventures, Hercules fell in love with a nymph named Amalfi. Unfortunately for the strong man, she died. Devastated, he buried her in the most beautiful place on earth and, as a testament to both her and the spot, named the location after her.
The Amalfi Coast is a popular destination for a fairly affluent crowd, so anticipate spending more on food and souvenirs than you would in other places. Prices are usually lower during the off-season (fall and winter). But even if you visit at the height of tourist season and can’t spring the extra Euros for an appropriately relaxed Campagnian day in the Amalfi coastal towns, no trip to the region can be considered complete without the meandering drive and the majestic view of the towns dotting the bluffs over the aquamarine water.
Written by Christy9 on 07 Jan, 2009
My husband and I already knew Italy quite well, except from the South. This time we wanted to do something really special: a vacation of one week including wonderful journeys in convertibles from the 1960ies and 70ies. Our first time driving a vintage car! Probably,…Read More
My husband and I already knew Italy quite well, except from the South. This time we wanted to do something really special: a vacation of one week including wonderful journeys in convertibles from the 1960ies and 70ies. Our first time driving a vintage car! Probably, most people would say that driving during your holidays can’t be a pleasure at all, especially in a country like Italy, and that classic cars were definitely a matter of freaks. Neither my husband nor I are going crazy for cars and still, what really appealed to us of that program was a rare concept of elegance and style and that was only one aspect that we would experience from the very first day. We had found this tour operator after a research on the internet: their vintage car program includes holidays in different regions of Italy’s South. Thanks to their detailed information and very kind advice, we decided for the Amalfi Coast in the off season in order to avoid the crowds. From the moment of our arrival we were taken under the organization’s wings: we were picked up at the airport of Napoli by a nice young lady and brought to our new residence which in the internet was presented just adequately to us as "the most beautiful lounge facing Capri". It was on that magnificent terrace that we got introduced to our tutors, the staff and the other guests. Every curiosity and detail was explained to us, besides, the possibilities of an optional program such as a tour on a yacht or sailboat on our free days. The official tours in vintage car were stipulated for Monday, Wednesday and Friday and the vehicles were presented to us before our first journey. Time to take beautiful photos, as the English convertibles of the 60ies and 70ies were shining in their pretty colors under the radiant Italian sun. I would say, already the first journey exceeded our expectations! Always one car was assigned to one couple, as they were two-seaters and finally all cars lined in a row moved slowly through this awesome countryside till we reached the famous coastline and its road above the cliffs! What an overwhelming nature! We immediately fell in love with this region. Our tour guide via a small headphone radio told us interesting stories about Campania and this amazing coast, its history and its people. We traveled with one car ahead and, closing the line, the assistance car, which our tutors called "garage on wheels": in this constellation we felt very safe and isolated from the traffic. (Maybe, some of you have read Steinway’s article about Positano and his complaints in this respect.) And then – how to describe the incredible lunch-breaks? Elegant restaurants, panoramas … that made my heartbeat accelerate. I was quite surprised of how the guide involved us in a story while presenting the menu and the vine. You can say that it was a sort of show, but the main purpose was to communicate each meal’s significance and connection to its region. There were so many unique experiences in the course of that week, also due to the small group of guests and the close contact to the staff that created a very personal and intense atmosphere! I can highly recommend this vacation to everyone who wants to try out something new and extraordinary! The tour operator’s site is www.meridianosedici.com Close
Written by jorisc on 17 Aug, 2007
1. Boat Boats are easy and usually faster (though not cheaper) than buses. Amalfi has regular connections with Positano, Sorrento, Salerno, Capri, and even Naples. Time schedules are put up on the quay where the boats leave. There is no need to buy a return…Read More
1. Boat Boats are easy and usually faster (though not cheaper) than buses. Amalfi has regular connections with Positano, Sorrento, Salerno, Capri, and even Naples. Time schedules are put up on the quay where the boats leave. There is no need to buy a return ticket: prices are the same as one-way and you must know in advance at what time you want to return. Jet-boats are more expensive than other boats. They are faster, but on the some of them you can’t sit outside which is a pity because you miss all the views. A small warning if you take the boat to Salerno: some boats dock at the Piazza della Concordia, a 5-10 minute walk from the railway station, others at the Molo Manfredi and that’s more than 1km away from that same railway station.
2. Bus whereas boats are ideal to travel along the coast (from one coastal village to another); buses will bring you to the smallest villages and up into the hills. The rides are usually quite spectacular: you’ll drive along the coast (great views, small road), or wind you way up into the mountains (great views, even smaller ways) and in both cases will be quite happy that you don’t have to drive yourself. Prices are very cheap (1 euro for a ticket) and tickets must be bought beforehand (in a tabacchi shop). One shop tried to force us in buying a 24-hour ticket for 5 euros, pretending that the other –cheaper – tickets could only be bought by the local people. The 5 euros ticket is only convenient if you want to visit several places along the coast in one day. SITA Buses in Amalfi leave at the harbor where the timetables can be consulted. (you will also find them on line at www.sitabus.it).
3. Trains are great for long-distance travel. It’s best to make reservations beforehand. They are – compared to buses – not very cheap but quite comfortable. We took the train from Rome to Salerno, and from Naples, but trains arrived with some 30 minutes delay, but don’t let that spoil your trip. In Naples some people will enter the train to sell newspapers, water etc., if you’re coming from the North you’ll suddenly realize that this is the South of Italy. A useful connection allows you to reach Pompeii from Salerno in about 20 minutes, for 1,5 euro. This train runs once/hour (with a few exceptions). All train schedules are available at www.ferroviedellostato.it. You can make on line reservations here as well but the site is not always stable.
Written by Krys T on 19 Sep, 2006
My family likes to walk a lot - not only it is good exercise, but it kills time and costs nothing! So before we went to Italy, I bought a book of walks in the local area.The book is called "Sorrento-Amalfi-Capri, car tours and walks"…Read More
My family likes to walk a lot - not only it is good exercise, but it kills time and costs nothing! So before we went to Italy, I bought a book of walks in the local area.The book is called "Sorrento-Amalfi-Capri, car tours and walks" and is by Julian Tippett and published by Sunflower books (ISBN 1-85691-245-0). I can't recommend it highly enough. There are maps to show the various walks in an area, with the distances and times for each, as well as the bus routes for them. Every walk is graded, with the height/descents measured, and the approximate time.Our favourite walk from the book was from Polvica to Maiori. We drove to Polvica, which is up in the hills directly behind Maiori, and left the car there for later collection. Then, book in hand, we set off. The instructions were clear and descriptive, making following them easy. It was an easy 2-hour walk that meandered down to Maiori, following the contours of the hills around the river valley. We passed through several different terrains, from vines to fragrant lemon groves to pine forest. The route is clearly not used a great deal and was a little overgrown in places, but never anywhere near impassable. The varying terrains mean that most of the route is at least slightly shaded, which, in the Italian summer sun, is no bad thing. There were little streams to cross, the occasional little waterfall tinkling away to one side. Looking up, there were beautiful views from the lemon grove-covered hills, up to the mountain tops. It was all just idyllic.We had it all to ourselves too, and felt a little like intrepid explorers! The locals we passed clearly thought we were slightly mad, but were cheerful enough about it. One typical old Italian gentleman, one-toothed and smiley, "helped" us on our way, and then bumped into us again later - I think he was checking up on us in case the "mad Englishmen" had gotten lost!Halfway along, we stopped at the church of Paterno Sant'Elia, where, as the book describes, there is a pretty little piazza with views, where we stopped for water and cookies to top up the blood sugar levels and rehydrate!To amuse the kids, there was a multitude of wildlife, lizards, butterflies - including a beautiful swallowtail - hummingbird hawkmoths, and big fat millipedes. As we came back down into civilisation in the little village of Pontepimario, one little garden gate revealed several small kittens too - very cute and a huge hit with everyone.The last segment of the walk brought us back down a long straight, and less attractive, road into the main shopping avenue in Maiori. Less attractive - but more interesting, as you see all the bits you don't normally see as a tourist. We arrived in the main street a little tired but happy, and just in time for lunch!Other walks in the book looked great. We did the little route from Minori to Maiori, which was lovely. We tried to do the one from Santa Maria de Olearia to Maiori, which starts at the church there, but that never seemed to be open, so we couldn't get in. Other than that, get the book, do the walks, and see a whole other side to the Amalfi coast. Close
Written by hagnel2 on 26 Mar, 2005
Ah, Italy, a vibrant nation of passionate, expressive people with a unique charm. It is renowned for its pasta and pizza; its emotive operas and wonderful works of art; and its sense of style, magnificent cities, and scenery. For me the Amalfi Coast epitomizes…Read More
Ah, Italy, a vibrant nation of passionate, expressive people with a unique charm. It is renowned for its pasta and pizza; its emotive operas and wonderful works of art; and its sense of style, magnificent cities, and scenery. For me the Amalfi Coast epitomizes the best of this scenery.
Naples is one of the ports that is easily explored independently, but the ships tours are well worth the money, except for Capri, which you can do alone because the ferry is a few minutes’ walk from the port. We had visited this port previously and took ships tours to Pompeii and Herculaneum. We have also visited Naples, and so we opted for a full-day tour of the jaw dropping scenery of the Amalfi Coast. We left the port at 8:30am and returned at 5:30pm.
What we Saw
We were one of the first to board the bus, and so had a good vantage point from a forward seat on the right side of the bus. We had looked forward to this drive having heard that it was stunning – it was all that and more. When you think you have seen the most stupendous view in the world, the next bend proves to be better. There are sheer drops plunging into an incredibly azure sea, tiny villages nestled upon craggy hills, and wonderful fishing coves along the bay.
Our lunch stop was Sorrento, a touristy town perched on a rock high above the sea. The bus parked about a 10-minute uphill walk from the main square Piazza Tasso. Our first stop was to a handicraft store where the famous inlaid woodwork in which Sorrento craftsmen have long excelled was displayed and for sale. The crowd was so huge that it was impossible to even see the craftsmen or hear the spiel, so we just wandered around the shop and admired the exquisite workmanship. Afterward, we wandered for an hour through the town before meeting for lunch.
Most of the beach area in this town is privately owned, and the harbour and sea are not visible from the center. We wandered up to the church of San Francisco, but unfortunately it was closed. However, the public gardens behind the church are a great place for viewing Mt, Vesuvius and the surrounding area. I do think this area is one of the hidden charms of the town - a relaxing spot.
Lunch was in a trattoria nestled above the harbour, but it was a set menu of undistinguished pasta, salad, and a pastry dessert that was instantly forgettable. The best part of the meal was the excellent red wine that accompanied it. I noted the staff was very rushed, and because this is an area swamped with tourists, indifference and boredom prevailed; it was not a place we would have chosen had we been on an independent tour. Next time we will skip the meal with the tour group and find our own place.
We continued our ride and marveled at the bus driver’s skill negotiating the perilous bends. Olive trees were everywhere, and huge nets crisscross beneath them to catch the harvest. Some of the dwellings were actually built right into the rock. As we passed these homes, we noticed that the car park was usually located upon a roof. As we approached Positano, I noticed houses built upon terraces and rock ledges almost like a mini Kasbah in pastel shades. The town itself is small, with a tiny pebbled beach, and the Amalfi drive is linked with the lower levels by two steep one-way roads. We stopped here for a 40-minute stroll, the tiny main street lined with upscale shops. The Majolica dome of the Chiesa Madre Church stands out from the surrounding buildings. It dates from the Middle Ages and is fascinating to view. We only had time for a coffee, and then it was time to board the bus.
Amalfi - tourist town worth a peek
From Sorrento and on through Positano to Amalfi, the Corniche Road and its serpentine bends continued to skirt the dramatic seacoast. At one bend, our driver had to back up to allow an oncoming tour bus room to pass. This was not a road for the inexperienced driver. We passed through a few tunnels and saw lemon and olive groves and grapes grown on narrow rock ledges, not an inch of space wasted. Finally, we came to Amalfi, once ruler of commerce and shipping in the mid-6th century and the first of the independent Italian maritime republics. The marine compass is said to have been invented here by Flavio Gioia. In 1343, a catastrophic tidal wave engulfed one-third of the city, destroying its harbour. Two halls and pointed arches near the waterfront are all that remain of the arsenal where merchant vessels, huge galleys, and warships were built. Amalfi’s main monument today is its cathedral, St. Andrews. The church was rebuilt several times, and its facade is a 19th-century reconstruction of the medieval original. A high stairway leads up from the town’s small piazza. The facade and portico are in black-and-white marble, and the inscription on the bronze doors indicates they were built in Constantinople around 1066. The interior of the church is baroque and stunning. Although we didn’t have time to really explore the interior, we did check out the chapel that leads to the Cloisters of Paradise, said to have been the patio of a mosque. Roman sarcophagi and fragments of the cathedral’s original facade are on view here.
The crypt of Saint Andrew contains part of the body of the saint. It was brought from Constantinople at the end of the fourth crusade, but his head is in Istanbul. His feast day is a cause for great pomp and ceremony. Every June 27, his statue is paraded to the beach commemorating victory over Barbarossa in the 16th century.
Amalfi’s narrow streets and stairways of the town lead under charming arches, linking the colorful old houses. Its shopping area displays all kinds of goods. It is almost bazaar-like with its collections of souvenirs and postcards. We found a lovely patio café overlooking the pebble beach and treated ourselves to the best ice cream ever. This area is definitely lovely, but it must be a nightmare visiting in the high-season. We were at the end of the tourist season and it was crowded, but the drive was wonderful and not to be missed.
Sorrento and Amalfi Tour - Adult $125
Capri - Full-Day Tour - $120 (includes lunch)
Herculaneum - Half-Day - $40
Pompeii – Half-Day - $40
No ship tour was offered for Naples, but despite its rough reputation, we had no problems exploring this city independently last year. Just take the precautions you would take visiting any city.