Next Stop: Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast stretches along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula from the Gulf of Naples to the Gulf of Salerno. It’s been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1997 and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Italy. The nearest train stations are Naples and Salerno. From either of these stations, you’ll need to take a taxi to get to your accommodation or hire a car. During the summer months, you can also hop on a ferry from Salerno to Amalfi town and Positano. We can arrange transfers or car hire to complement your stay.
Climate: Average temperatures range from 10 degrees centigrade in January to 27 degrees in July and August. If you want to swim in the sea, August is the best time to visit, when the water averages a luxurious 26 degrees.
Once the capital of a formidable maritime republic, Amalfi can still be said to be the ‘capital’ of the Amalfi Coast, with ferry services to many other towns and settlements along this stunning stretch of coastline. It’s also the least vertically challenging of the Amalfi Coast towns with paths meandering up in the surrounding hills rather than the more steep steps in other places. Highlights here include the historic Duomo di Sant’Andrea with its ornately decorated crypt and cloisters. You can also take a boat out to the Grotta della Smeraldo, so named for the intense green light that filters through from an underground opening in the cave floor.
One of the most popular resorts along the Amalfi Coast, Positano is also one of the most photographed. Not surprising considering its stunning pastel-coloured houses seemingly defying gravity as they jostle for space on sheer cliffs overlooking an impossibly pretty harbour and shingle beach. If you’re looking for a treat, this is the place to stay. Positano is ranked as one of the most expensive summer destinations in Europe.
Il Sentiero degli Dei
Literally ‘the path of the gods’, this stunning hiking trail leads from a small suburb of Positano called Nocelle to Agerola, a hilltop village. We would recommend doing the walk from Agerola to Nocelle rather than vice versa, since you’ll be heading gently downhill for most of the way, with sensational views over the coastline all the way. Not a walk for those with vertigo!
Villa Rufolo (Ravello)
Ravello perches majestically on the hillside overlooking the coast and at its centre is the Villa Rufolo. This exquisite villa was built by a wealthy merchant in the 13th century and remained one of the largest of its kind on the Amalfi Coast for many years. Bought and renovated by a Scottish botanist in the 19th century, the villa took on its current form, including beautiful terraced flower gardens which are in bloom for most of the year.
Vietri sul Mare
Vietri sul Mare, just west of Salerno, marks the beginning of Amalfi’s meandering coastal road and is the ceramics capital of the Campania region. Vietri’s pottery production dates back to Roman times and now there are an abundance of shops selling lovely ceramic products. Though beautiful, this is a quieter, more laid back village than Amalfi or Positano and has never relied on tourism for its livelihood, thanks to fishing and, of course, ceramics.
If you have a hire car, and really want to get away from the crowds, then why not visit Furore? The town is possibly named for the sound of the sea as it crashes through a natural fjord ( the only one in Italy), though no one seems to know for certain. There’s a lovely beach here as well as some pretty churches and walks in wonderful scenery.
What to eat: Locally caught seafood abounds here as do products of all kinds featuring the ubiquitous lemon, grown across the Amalfi Coast. Try Delizie al limone (a kind of lemon cake) or sprinkle some Colatura di Alici (made of anchovies) on your pasta for a delicious kick.
What to drink: Limoncello. You will find it everywhere. And you’ll grow to love it, even if you didn’t think you would!
Essential phrases: Dove il traghetto per Capri? – Where is the boat to Capri? Niente più limoncello, grazie – No more limoncello, thank you.