Why? Because it looks like a postcard. Every single town. Every single click of the camera – this is the Italy people dream of .
There are many little picturesque towns that make up what is referred to as “The Amalfi Coast” of Italy and the drive from the towns of Sorrento to Salerno is considered one of the top drives in the entire world. The real showstopper is the midsection chunk from the town of Positano to the town of Amalfi. Make sure that there is plenty of free space on your camera card.
The Amalfi Coast is located in South-Western Italy and is considered part of the Italian Riviera. It is definitely on many-a list of “must see” places in Italy. Like the Cinque Terre, it is no secret to travelers and if not done correctly, it could be frustrating. With towns built amongst the rugged cliffs with stunning backdrops, it is also similar to the Cinque Terre in this aspect, but Amalfi is slightly less laid back culturally in comparison. “Doing” the Amalfi Coast correctly, means visiting between October and Easter in order to avoid the crowds. If you want to take a dip in the water and the hustle and bustle of high tourist season doesn’t make you flinch, try your luck in summer.
The Amalfi drive will not disappoint, if you can overcome the sense of vertigo that is very likely to happen. The most popular way to complete this drive is by bus. Buses and cars take the most windy, narrow roads (that I have ever been on) alongside the cliff. You are certain that you are going to go right over into the sea at every bend. Make sure you sit on the right-hand side of the bus for the best view, and after all – that’s what you came for. Since we are talking about a coastal region here, it is also possible to reach the towns by boat, which will give a whole different perspective and also provide some beautiful views. Both means of travel in this area are breathtaking. I have done both of them. To experience it all in one trip, consider taking the bus one direction and the boat back.
Driving from Naples, more than likely, you will pass by Mount Vesuvius on the beginning of the journey. Side note: If you know (or want to know) the history of Mount Vesuvius erupting and covering the nearby town of Pompeii in volcanic ash, I recommend visiting. Pompeii is a fascinating piece of history to discover and learn about in this region.
You’ll know you’re driving along the Amalfi coast once you feel completely unsafe in whatever vehicle that you are in. If you aren’t driving, focus on the scenery – the rock formations along the coast are like works of art. There is one rock formation in particular which our local guide pointed out to us is shaped in the form of a bridal figure looking out towards the sea, waiting for her sailor to appear. There are plenty of fortress-like watch towers turned into mansions here. I’m jealous of their glistening “back yard” of the Mediterranean sea.
There are lemons absolutely everywhere in Amalfi. Lemon soaps, lemon foods/décor, and the Limoncello liquor. Lemon printed everything can be found often in Italy, but Amalfi really has a lot. The popular Italian liqueur, Limoncello, is from this region of Italy (Southern Italy/Naples region). The other popular Italian lemon liqueur is called Limoncino (found in the Cinque Terre region of Italy). The difference in the names comes from the different types of lemons used to make each.
There are Maltese crosses scattered all over signage and decor in Amalfi. Why would there be Maltese crosses in Italy? Shouldn’t they be in Malta? A monk fled from Amalfi to Jerusalem and eventually when the people fled Jerusalem, they went into Malta. This is how the Maltese cross got to Malta.
Stop and admire just how beautiful the Bell Tower (top left) is at St. Andrew’s Cathedral. It is one of the only Bell Towers of its kind. It is comprised of Arab, Byzantine and Romanesque elements.
The Town of Amalfi by boat or by bus, however you reach it, is so adorable. Wander the small quaint shops, enjoy a traditional style Italian meal, some gelato, or I’d suggest to do all three.
On one specific cruise visit that took us to this incredible area, there was a man who lived on the cruise ship approximately three hundred and fifty days out of the year (whaaaat). He runs his business from the cruise ships and selects his cruises based on the ship and the itinerary. He was interviewed while we were on-board, and he was asked the obvious question – “where would you recommend that people go to?”–Since, it’s obvious that cruising for the past X years for 350 days of the year, he has been a lot of places. His answer went something like this:
“Every place is neat in it’s own way. I do a lot of Caribbean cruises and I really like the Panama Canal cruises.. But, I’d have to say the Mediterranean. Everyone should see it.”
I’d say that he is spot on.