I recently spent a couple of weeks in Europe visiting both Spain and Italy. Barcelona and the beach of Sitges were the first stops in Spain followed by Venice, Florence, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast in Italy. Ahhhh wanderlust will spur you to places you can’t wait to see and share with someone you love.
Amalfi was absolutely the supreme destination it stands out as one of the most beautiful and breathtaking locations I’ve ever been to and certainly the highlight in Italy.
Out of the towering rock-cropping jutted colorful houses that looked toward the sea. This area is a striking picturesque labyrinth of stairways and alleyways dotted with flora, fauna and the fragrant smell of lemons top off the magical experience. Amalfi is pure sensory heaven and jaw-droppingly gorgeous.
Six highlights of the Amalfi Coast
Sorrento is located south of Naples and is a sunny coastal town with myriad Italian charm. This is a great destination to use as a home base to explore the Amalfi Coast. Lemon and orange groves are plentiful here and you’ll encounter an abundance of fruit stands and limoncello. Renowned throughout the world, limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur produced from aromatic, sweet, lemons grown only in this region.
The optimal time to travel to this area is outside of the late peak summer season because it can be unseasonably hot and congested with throngs of European visitors, however, you can still have a fabulous time with patience and planning no matter when you go.
Wandering the streets in Sorrento is a must.
Take a stroll in town through the boutiques, shops and be sure to indulge in the delectable gelato. See Marina Grande which is in the historic harbor and is entered through an ancient Greek gate. This area is a fantastic place to take colorful pictures and to indulge in the fresh seafood served right off the pier to your plate in the local restaurants. Il Buco is a top restaurant in Sorrento with an impressive wine list although there are many restaurants with fantastic authentic Italian food
It’s the people you meet that make travel fun and memorable experience. Meeting “Domenic” was no exception. He was very proud of his giant lemons in his ristorante and so charming in his Italian way of kissing my hands and cheeks!
2. Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. Driving along the Amalfi Coast is incredibly scenic yet also not for the faint of heart. We rented a car to drive the Amalfi Coast Highway; a femme fatale of a road, beautiful, yet absurdly dangerous with its twists and turns and motorcycles and cars traveling at high speeds. I have to say though in the end when we were safe and relaxed the ride was worth it. It’s a top 20 scenic road in the world.
You’ll see large chartered buses skillfully navigate sharp hairpin turns on the 700-year-old windy road and for this reason, if you’re not comfortable driving, you can opt for the bus or hire a driver. The scenery along this road is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.
3. Isle of Capri for a day trip
Buy tickets at the Sorrento Port for the high-speed ferry from Sorrento to Capri. Tip: you can also buy tickets for the ‘funicular’ at the port. This is the cable car like a lift that takes you from your arrival point in Capri to the top of Capri. These tickets can be purchased at the tobacco shop at the port which will save you time when you get to Capri.
The ferry is a quick, scenic and exhilarating trip.
If traveling in the summer, you are going at a peak time, so try to get a seat on the top of the ferry because it will likely be crowded below. We met a young newly married couple from the states on their honeymoon and had a great conversation about our mutual travels. Ironically, they had just left Rome and we were headed there next so we were thrilled to get some great travel tips and restaurant recommendations that turned out to be spot on!
You will disembark at the marina in Capri. From there you can walk to the base of the ‘funicular’. After a short ride, you’ll exit the funicular to a plethora of shops and restaurants. Have a limoncello, take in the views and get a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.
There is also another chairlift that will take you even higher than where the funicular drops you off. It is an old fashioned lift so be aware that you won’t be strapped in. I’ve not done this, however, others say it’s worthwhile and the views on the top of the Isle are incredible.
Tours are available via boat that will take you around Capri and you can view the island from the bay. If you can do this, it will be a treat. You don’t need a tour guide to explore the island by foot or by taxi, you can easily do this on your own. Another adventure is to have a taxi take you to the very top. Be forewarned you’ll have to navigate a hairpin road that is called Death Road of Capri Road!
Positano is so spectacular it’s almost like a painting. I have to say that photos do not do justice to how beautiful this town and the entire Amalfi coast are; you will have to see it to really get a sense of its wonder. If you stay or dine here be absolutely sure to get a room or table with a great view of the sea. Explore the streets of any of the Amalfi towns and expect to navigate an eternity of stairs and windy roads so wear comfortable shoes.
There is only one road that goes through Positano.
Most of the exploring will be on foot and will involve the stairs and steep inclines. Chartered buses cannot reach here, it’s less touristy than Sorrento and the village has pedestrian only accesses.
Since Positano has strict building codes it has looked the same for hundreds of years. Explore the area to find many cafes, boutiques, and views of the sea. Go south of Positano along the Amalfi Coast to see more spectacular views and stop in Amalfi, the namesake for the coast.
If the weather is nice definitely try to go to the beach and in the water.
In the town of Amalfi, we rented chairs, an umbrella, and towels on a beach which was one of our favorite days and time spent. Don’t be shy about asking to move closer to the water. We started out way in the back and eventually, we were on the water. At the end of the day, we had a place to change back into our clothes and go to a sunset dinner without having to go back to a hotel or other location
As you would expect, there are a lot of wealthy folks in this area. Next to us on the beach was a dad and his young teenage daughter who asked him if she could buy a $375 bikini she saw in a boutique. He said, “yes, where’s your credit card?” (insert shocked faces).
Italians who vacation here are remarkably beautiful people who have incredibly thin, toned bodies that look fabulous in very little beach wear. That said, as average sized Americans, we felt super-sized comparatively speaking although we didn’t let this impact the fun and frolicking in the water and enjoying the beach.
Arriving at Pompeii the aroma changed from lemons to the smoky scent of volcanic ash. Buried by Mount Vesuvius, this city was covered in cinders and ashes in 79AD forever freezing it in time and providing us an insight into the lives of lost Romans.
For nearly two days the volcano reigned terror on the town and then all was forgotten for close to 1700 years. Walking through the streets is surreal. The town is a city of the Roman empire that, at the height of its boom, was largely preserved.
A number of the bodies of residents caught off-guard by the eruption are on display at the entrance where it’s worth spending some time to get a bit of an orientation and appreciate the significance of the event.
It’s a walking experience.
Since this is an outdoor experience which involves a lot of walking be sure to check the weather. Guides and headsets are both available for a fee at the entrance, however, we chose to see the city at our own pace and get a sense of the place meandering in and out of the homes, structures, and artifacts. For us, this worked out very well because the day we were there it was unseasonably hot and we were able to quicken our pace.
You will LOVE the Amalfi coast! Grazi for reading this far. I can’t wait to hear about your fantastic trip.