The Amalfi Coast is a long stretch of land that is located on the southern part of the Sorrento Peninsula, and one of the most beautiful of its kind to be experienced and imagined.
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The Amalfi Coast is a long stretch of land that is located on the southern part of the Sorrento Peninsula, and one of the most beautiful of its kind to be experienced and imagined. The Italians also lovingly refer to the Amalfi Coast as the Divine Coast, and you will soon realize why. The Amalfi Coast brings us to one of the most beautiful areas for vacation that God has ever created on this earth. Of course, this is our subjective opinion.
The Amalfi Coast is located in Campania
Holiday on the Amalfi Coast
The “entrance” to the coastal stretch is located at Vietri Sul Mare, which is situated slightly north west of the large harbor city, Salerno. The drive by car takes just over 2 hours when driving from either of the two airports in Rome, Ciampino and Fiumicino. You can use the highway E45 all the way down there, and there are plenty of signs to aid your navigation once you get closer to Napoli.
The enormous metropol of Naples is another option for flying in, and you can reach Vietri sul Mare in less than 1 hour from the airport in Naples.
While this might be a slightly odd heading, it is in fact the name of the road that has been built on this beautiful but also rather chaotic stretch. Chaotic because it can not possibly have been an easy job to lay the asphalt for this road when it was built.
In this article we will assume you have access to your own car, but of course there are other options, such as taking a public bus or traveling with a tourist company. But since my own experience was with a car that was rented in one of the two airports in Rome, that is what I will be covering. Be aware that it can be quite exciting to drive a car on the Amalfi Coast. The roads are small and they curve in and out from the coast, and sometimes you have to pull over or drive as far to one side as possible, in order to allow for larger vehicles going in the opposite direction.
July and August are the absolute busiest months, which makes for quite intense traffic on the small roads.
The Amalfi Coast is the stretch of land between Vietri sul Mare and Positano, so you can start your journey from either side. In this article we start from Vietri sul Mare. If you start your trip from Positano, you will cover Sorrento and the northern side of the Sorrento Peninsula, which is a very long route. So unless you are vacationing in Sorrento, I would recommend starting in Vietri sul Mare.
Vietri sul Mare is the most southern town on the coast, and an ideal choice when visiting the Amalfi Coast, if you also wish to experience more of the southern part of Campania. The town is most definitely a place to visit, as it has just as much charm as the many other towns and villages along the coast.
Experience the San Giovanni Battista Church, which is the most important historical building in town. The church dates back to the 1600’s, and the bell tower and dome are particularly beautiful additions to the church which mixes the Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque styles.
If you like ceramics, a visit to Villa Guariglia is definitely worthwhile. This is where you will find the Museo Provinciale della Ceramica.
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After a beautiful and substantial stay in Vietri sul Mare, we have now started moving towards the coast, where you will make your first stop at the small fishing village Cetara, which is located 7 kilometers from Vietri sul Mare.
Here there is an evident charm, with the small fishing boats moored in the very small but very charming harbor Cetara. The favorite food here is tuna, which comes fresh from the sea right outside the door.
This is an old and authentic fishing village that has maintained their strong connection to their maritime traditions for hundreds of years. Traditions that still flourish in the town and that characterizes the economic and tourist activity of the city.
The image/images from the picturesque village was taken in Marina di Cetara, which is an ideal place to stop by for a swim. Another and more wild beach is the Lannio beach which is almost hidden and accessible by foot.
By now we’ve driven around 18 kilometers on the SS163, and it will take you roughly 30 minutes in order to reach Maiori from the center of Vietri sul Mare.
Maiori is one of the largest towns near the Amalfi Coast. The city has been part of the UNESCO world heritage list since 1997.
Since World War II the city has been through an enormous expansion, and can now boast of the highest living standards in all of Campania. Before this period the city had been host to various dramatic events, such as a frightening tsunami in 1343, and the black plague in 1348. Pirate attacks and several floods are also part of the history that has led to our present times.
It is really quite difficult to name a favorite place on the Amalfi Coast, but my personal favorite must be this small gem which is raised high above the coast itself. When you are making the journey up towards Ravello, you should leave SS163 and follow SS373 which takes you the last few kilometers up to Ravello itself. It is impossible not to notice the massive incline as you are going up, and vice versa when going down. So make sure to keep your foot on the brake pedal, pretty much all the time.
The city center offers many opportunities for shopping, though we are not talking about large and tiresome shopping malls, instead here you will be presented with small and authentic stores where you can buy all sorts of ceramics imaginable, as well as enjoy the gastronomical wonders from the local kitchen and the many restaurants littered down along the coastline.
When walking around in Ravello you will undoubtedly experience the atmosphere and mood which is at its best, and you will of course need to see the Villa Rufolo, the undisputed marvel of the city.
Here you will join millions of other guests in being struck by the architectural charme and timelessness of the place. The villa was built by the Rufolo family around the 13th century, and is a massive architectural heritage, captivating millions of Italian and foreign visitors in Ravello.
The villa offers many sights such as the Coral Museum that offers an insight into the history of Ravello, but it is the terrace that will really grip you. Here you are presented with a fantastic view out over the mountains and ocean. The view covers the area from the Cilento Coast to the beginning of the Amalfi Coast. I am without words for how gorgeous and breathtaking it is.
The second villa in Ravello is not comparable with Villa Rufolo, but the historic building still emanates unspeakable beauty. Today it serves as a 5 star hotel, which makes it possible to visit the villa all year round. The road leading to the villa is itself a beautiful experience.
For more than 65 years Ravello has transformed into a massive theater for classical music, which begins early in July and in most cases ends as the month draws to a close. However it is also possible to experience the festival in both August and September as well. The classical concerts are performed in Villa Rufolo.
To reach Atrani you will need to continue down the SS373 and then merge back onto the SS163 again. Just a mere 500 meters after joining the SS163, keep to the right for the exit to Atrani.
The city has been squeezed in between the cliffs that tower over the city and the picturesque bay. This gorgeous setting makes Atrani a natural stop on your vacation to the Amalfi Coast.
It is difficult to truly explain Atrani, so you will need to experience the place for yourself. I recommend staying one or two nights in the town. The beauty and charm is found in the calm and peaceful surroundings, even during the busy season with many tourists around. We lived here at the end of September, where the weather was at its very best, and the town was not teeming with nearly as many tourists as it would be in July. We found the experience to be simply fantastic.
The city which lends its name to the coastal stretch from Vietri sul Mare and up to Punta Campanella, is one of the most famous cities along the entire Amalfi Coast. The city is well known and recognized for its beauty which is created by nature, and goes hand in hand with the clear blue ocean to create an amazing stay for you here.
Every corner, alley or street opens up for uncommon scenery and picturesque views, making this a scenario you will not forget or wish to leave behind. Large cliffs loom behind the city, as if keeping watch over the ocean.
Amalfi is a very popular city, just like the rest of the cities and towns on the coast, but you will most likely experience more tourists here due to the size and history of Amalfi. That might lead to congested crowds once you reach the plaza and church. And you will find that the crowds do not thin out as you reach the smaller streets and alleys either. But you will enjoy it!
Duomo di Amalfi is the largest attraction in the city. The facade on the cathedral is the reason why so many tourists try to snap the best photograph from the plaza itself. Duomo di Amalfi is located on the plaza by the same name, Piazza di Amalfi, and is located just a short distance from Piazza Municipio.
The cathedral is the symbolic monument of all of Amalfi, and with the fascinating and huge facade, this is no wonder.
At the same time the entire cathedral is built on a plateau which rises more than 20 meters from the surface of the earth, and which is comprised of a very hard and resilient material, namely volcanic pumice stone.
II Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi, which is located at Largo Cesanero Console 3, will enthrall you with the history of Amalfi and the maritime events from up and down the coast. The old seafaring republic has many stories to tell.
On the main square you can see the fountain named S. Andrea Apostolo, which was built in 1760. The current placement of the fountain is due to a move in the late 1800’s, where it was placed at the feet of the stairs leading up to the Duomo.
Even just a stroll through the old historic city center is an attraction and experience in itself.
We will leave Amalfi for now, but with a promise to return, for once again we move further west to find this small gem of a seaside town. Conca dei Marini is a wonderful place, situated down low on a rocky hill, squeezed in between olive and lemon trees.
The area was already a popular destination for rich celebrities in the 1960’s and 70’s, with stars such as Sophia Loren and Jacqueline Kennedy enjoying the azure blue ocean view.
Conca dei Marini famous for housing a large arsenal, and here trading ships were built, leading to immense wealth despite the relatively modest size of the area. This meant this town was richer and more grand than other cities and towns along the Amalfi Coast. But in 1543 the fortunes changed, and the place was plundered and destroyed by Turkish pirates.
Every tourist visiting the Amalfi Coast, every visitor will have at least one photograph taken at Positano, where the houses are wedged in between the hillside, and overlooking the exquisite beach in the foreground.
Positano is the last stop on our trip along the wonderful coastline, and if you are driving straight to here from Vietri sul Mare, the journey is just around 40 kilometers, but will require roughly 1½ hours of driving to reach. If you are visiting Positano from the north, from Sorrento, the drive will take just over thirty minutes.
Positano is an old seaside resort, characterized by the many houses wedged into the cliffs and hills. There is quite a distance from the beach and up to the top rows of the houses, but the view up here will afford you with a marvelous view out over the city and the ocean. Believe me when I say the trek up is long and hard, and calls for several stops along the way.
There are numerous hiking trails leading to Positano. The most famous begins at Agerola, where the route will lead you up to heights 650 meters above sea level, and with a distance of just shy of 10 kilometers to Positano itself. So be sure to bring proper hiking shoes, and plenty of water for the trek.
Positano is a natural stop on your journey along the Amalfi Coast, and is eventful in every respect. By the end your journey will have provided you with good food and beautiful natural scenery to the highest degree.
I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure you’ll want to go back again for more.