The Most Beautiful Place in Italy | Amalfi Coast
Jason Daniel Shaw
AMALFI COAST – ITALY
With little villages snuggled into coves along the Mediterranean shore and mountains in the background towering over them, the Amalfi Coast is a place made in someone’s dream. It is one of the most spectacular places that I have visited to date and definitely our favorite in Italy. Follow along as we explore this slice of Italian heaven, from Ravello and Amalfi to Praiano and of course Positano.
GETTING TO THE AMALFI COAST
We last left you in the hilltop town of Taormina on the island of Sicily. From there, we drove to Messina, dropped off our rental car and hopped on a ferry for the short ride across to mainland Italy. In Villa San Giovanni, where the ferry drops you off, you can pick up a train that will take you up the southwestern coast to Salerno. This is where our Amalfi adventure begins – from the south to the north (I do understand that the coast runs east and west but I refer to it as north and south). If you coming from Rome or the north, you can just read this while standing on your head.
GETTING AROUND THE AMALFI COAST
Driving along the Amalfi Coast is not for the faint at heart. The roads are extremely curvy and narrow with vertical rock faces on one side and sheer drop-offs on the other. To complicate it more, you share them with crazy drivers and full-size buses. Parking can be an issue in the towns and even in some of the less populated areas. With all of that being said, it is a great option for getting to the Amalfi Coast. Once there, park your car at your hotel and take the bus. There are city and private buses that will take you anywhere that you want to go. One important tip is to make sure to get as small of a car as you can to make navigating around the area as easy as possible.
FROM SALERNO TO AMALFI
We rented our car in Salerno and took our time exploring from there to Amalfi the first day. The drive up the hills out of Salerno offers you your first glimpse of what the coast is like as well as provides you with a great overlook of the city. From there, the road winds and twists it way past a few small villages before coming around one last outside corner and revealing Maiori. This small stretch of beach is a perfect place to stop for lunch and to calm your nerves from the drive. There is a boardwalk that is filled with eateries and shops. After lunch and gelato, it is time to press on but not before checking out the castle on the cliff at the far end of town.
Minori is the next town but we continued on, just stopping for the obligatory photo. It will depend on your timing and how many days you plan to spend along the Amalfi Coast, as to how much time you can spend in each place. We had two nights and three days which gave us a nice preview. If you are looking to add relaxing into your itinerary, I would suggest adding so more days. We approached the turn off for Ravello and decided to save that for the next day so we continued on to Amalfi. We spent the major portion of our afternoon and into the evening walking through the streets and along the beach of Amalfi. Each of these little towns are not big but have a lot of hidden places to explore. We found a nice place for dinner while watching the sun set on our first day in the Amalfi Coast.
WHERE TO STAY IN AMALFI
Where to stay will largely depend on how much time you have and what areas you want to explore. We chose a place in Praiano because it was halfway between the towns of Amalfi and Positano, the two main places that we wanted to see. If you have more time, it might be beneficial to split up your time and stay and explore one half during the first part and the other half during the other part of your stay. We also didn’t want to have to move hotels since we only had two nights. If you have a shorter time, Praiano makes a perfect base to explore from. We stayed at Hotel Le Fioriere which had another beautiful balcony with a view of the coast towards Positano. They offer free parking so we left our car there the next day and explored by bus.
FROM AMALFI TO POSITANO
We had a bit of back-tracking to do since we skipped Ravello the first day so we spent the morning there. Being from Brazil, Amanda wanted to see one of Oscar Niemeyer’s last works of architecture – the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium. We also paid our small fee to Villa Cimbrone to visit and take our photos on the Infinity Terrace which is a must-do, even if you are afraid of heights. After grabbing a quick snack, we made the journey back north. There is a beach just before you get to Praiano that we wanted to explore, called Furore. The road crosses this beach over a bridge and unless you know to look for it, you would drive right by it without knowing it. It must have become too popular with instagrammers because they have closed the path to the beach but you can still get some amazing shots.
POSITANO – AMALFI COAST
From the moment we stepped off the bus, I knew Positano was going to be my favorite. The bus drops you off in Positano at the top of a long sweeping road down the cliff. Along there you find some of the best views of the city as well as some great food. There are a variety of restaurants that have tables along the railing and where we committed to returning to have dinner while watching the sunset. Inside the town itself is a labyrinth of streets, filled with shops, hotels and restaurants. We finally made our way to the beach and spotted a stand offering boat rentals. It was 80 euro for an hour so after a quick introduction to make sure we knew how to drive the boat, we were off to take in the Amalfi Coast from the water.
The water was relatively calm so we were able to make it to Minori and back within an hour and a half. The water gives you a different perspective of the coastline and makes you appreciate the scale of the cliffs and mountains. Take some time to visit the Amalfi Coast from the water and and see what you can find. We were also able to find the beach at Furore and go under the bridge and get some great 360 degree photos.
Back in Positano, we kept our promise and found the perfect spot to have dinner and watch the sunset. It was our last one in the Amalfi Coast and it couldn’t have been more perfect. I had the best carbonara that I have ever had and Amanda had the best risotto of her life. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. The next day we took our time as we drove north, enjoying Positano once again, then Sorrento and finally making our turn towards Pompeii. If you want to follow along with our 25-day wedding / honeymoon trip, you can see more of our adventures in Malta, Italy, the Vatican, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro.