The colorful villages of Amalfi Coast
A stretch of wild coast that winds from Salerno to Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast is like no other part in the world. It goes down from the hill to a blue sea like a sky, its colorful villages protected by UNESCO, surrounded by high cliffs and intertwined with fragrant lemon groves, all shine like pendants on a bracelet. Steep streets that zigzag up and down the beautiful vertical landscape offering glimpses of shivering, while tiny squares kissed by the sun invite you to stop and immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of everything, while sipping a good glass of fresh limoncello. But the coast is more than just dazzling blue bays, landscapes that wake up the soul and picturesque pastel-colored villages, set in the cliffs, is also culture, art, history and delicious food, all wrapped up in the sweet life. Over the decades, famous artists, writers and musicians have found inspiration in the cities and jewel villages of the Amalfi Coast, now it’s your turn to lose yourself in the magic of its geography and let yourself be seduced by its unbelievable charm.
Strait between two cliffs overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, Atrani is one of the smallest and most enchanting villages on the coast. Close to Amalfi, its people are friendly, it has intimate restaurants and a picturesque atmosphere of a typical fishing village. Life here is around Piazza Umberto I, the pretty central square, and its perfectly preserved medieval architecture, with old colorful houses, flowered balconies, ancient churches and evocative passages, a mix that offers a picturesque setting for whatever you arrive in Southern Italy. For a couple of hours of relaxation under the sun, head to the tiny black sand beach of Atrani facing the square, or sit down for an Aperol Spritz and a delicious fish lunch outdoors in one of the sidewalk cafes.
An exquisitely ornate 9th-century cathedral dominates Amalfi, the main town on the coast. In the shadow of its striped marble facade, with wide and steep stairs, Piazza del Duomo is full of activities. The shops sell handmade paper and limoncello, while the picturesque cobblestone alleys, and the sunny little squares attract passers-by with outdoor cafes serving traditional homemade desserts and a delicious espresso. Once the capital of a powerful maritime republic, this pretty port city with a decidedly Moorish flavor combines its historical and cultural treasures with beautiful coastal scenery and a lively beach. Flanked by colorful umbrellas and sunbeds, the large and gravelly Marina Grande is the most lively and famous beach in the area, while the small secluded cove of Santa Croce has some of the cleanest blue waters along the coast. Located halfway between Sorrento and Salerno, the city of Amalfi can be touristy, but its setting between the sea and the terraced lemon groves, will never cease to seduce.
Despite its popularity, Positano remains absolutely fascinating. Halfway between Sorrento and Amalfi, this former sleepy town transformed into a seaside resort, draws travelers with its enchanting views and the atmosphere of sweet life. This is the most picturesque and enchanting city on the coast, and no tourist crowd will ever ruin its charm. Exploring the fashionable boutiques or relaxing on the beach with a glass of rosé wine are the favorite hobbies in Positano, but the real magic of the city lies in its surreal topography, with thousands of stairs and tiny vertical streets that wind through colored houses down to the shimmering sea. Half public, half private, the main beach of Positano (Spiaggia Grande), with its black sand, the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the narrow rows of sunbeds and umbrellas where sunbathers enjoy the sun of Italy, it seems like a glamorous 50s postcard that comes to life.
None is as refined and romantic as Ravello among the several villages in the Amalfi Coast. An oasis of calm and beauty nestled in the hills above the bay of Salerno, the city is full of art, wonderful gardens and breathtaking views, all of a wonderful landscape. Once a favorite summer residence for the artists like Jacqueline Kennedy, Giovanni Boccaccio, Richard Wagner and Greta Garbo, Ravello still attracts the beautiful world with its fabulous hotels, world-class music festivals and timeless elegance. Stroll through the sumptuous gardens of Villa Cimbrone and admire some of the most evocative views of the world from its terrace with marble busts; attend an open-air concert in the beautiful Villa Rufolo, which inspired Wagner to compose Parsifal; and immerse yourself in the atmosphere of Piazza del Vescovado, dominated by one of the most beautiful cathedrals on the coast, the Cathedral of Ravello.
Perched above the Gulf of Naples, Sorrento is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, although not technically part of it. Even so, this beautiful, culturally rich city, which is a good base for exploring Positano, Pompeii and the island of Capri, is worthy of a longer stay. Immerse yourself in the charm of Sorrento with its historic Renaissance/Baroque center, a fascinating labyrinth of narrow alleys and picturesque squares animated by pretty cafes; walk along Marina Grande and enjoy fresh fish in one of the many waterfront restaurants; or stop at the romantic park of the Villa Comunale to admire the most amazing views of Mount Vesuvius. And of course, do not leave the city without visiting I Giardini di Cataldo, one of the most appreciated lemon groves in Italy. The city is also home to elegant buildings, a couple of tiny beaches of volcanic sand and a host of workshops and galleries specializing in handcrafted inlays.
Curved around a small bay right in the heart of the Amalfi Coast, Minori is a town that captures attention with a stretch of sunny sand, a proud tradition of pasta and the remains of a Roman villa dating back to the 1st century AD. Its vigorous cultural scene deserves to be experienced, but in Minori it is better to savor everything calmly, so take your time to explore delightful corners through its pedestrian streets, breathe the fresh sea air along the lively promenade, or indulge in a perfect Delizia al Limone at the Pasticceria Sal De Riso, probably the best pastry shop in Campania.
Maiori is an elegant, historic city with ancient towers, ruined castles and marvelous churches full of works of art. In fact Rossellini has shot four of his movies here. Its one kilometer long stretch of sand lapped by crystal-clear blue waters is the longest beach on the Amalfi Coast, and the Lungomare Amendola, the picturesque promenade, offers an ideal place where to enjoy a glass of wine accompanied by fresh fish and wide sea views. If shopping is your passion, Corso Reginna, Maiori’s main street, is just a few steps from the seafront promenade and offers a delightful selection of boutiques selling ceramics, high quality Italian shoes and delicious local products.
If you thought that the only way to get a real taste of this Italian paradise was to travel back in time, you could not go wrong anymore. About 15 km from Amalfi, Cetara is a delightfully calm fishing village with a small characteristic beach, an ancient Norman tower, a historic port and much more naval supply stores than tourists. The ruined village is located at the foot of Mount Falerzio, surrounded by vineyards and citrus groves, and has a gastronomic reputation worthy of its picturesque location. Despite its small size, it is one of the main Italian fishing centers, renowned all over the world for its tuna, anchovies and the exclusive Colatura di Alici. Needless to say that along the streets and the marina of Cetara there are a myriad of restaurants that serve traditional dishes based on fish and seafood of excellent quality.
Hidden in a secluded valley bordered by the Lattari Mountains, Erchie is a small fishing village of less than 100 inhabitants. Its relaxed atmosphere, the idyllic bays, the tiny and winding alleys, immersed in the flavors of citrus fruits, will be the setting for your holiday on the Amalfi Coast. The village is part of the municipality of Maiori, and its two lovely beaches equipped with restaurants are separated by a 13th-century Norman tower that juts out into the sea.
Vietri sul Mare
Famous throughout the world for its beautiful handmade ceramics painted in sea colors, the historic center of the city is a treasure of colorful boutiques and workshops that show ceramics in every model and style. However, shopping for ceramics is not the only reason to visit this characteristic seaside resort near Salerno. A picturesque sea shore, a beautiful majolica domed church and six charming hilltop villages complete the charm of Vietri sul Mare. Moreover, its coastal panoramas are among the best in the area, and its summers are full of festivals and animated events.
A collection of whitewashed houses that go down to green slopes towards a cobalt sea: this is Praiano, the city with the most spectacular sunsets of the Amalfi Coast. Spend the day relaxing on the beach of Marina di Praia, an enchanting crystalline bay set among the high cliffs and spend the dinner in the shade of lemon trees in one of the city’s nice restaurants. Praiano is also an ideal destination for art lovers, who will appreciate the splendid majolica floor of the Church of San Luca Evangelista and the extraordinary terracotta objects of Paolo Sandulli inside the emblematic Torre a Mare. Otherwise, the panoramic surroundings of the city are excellent, while its strategic position, halfway between Positano and Amalfi, makes it an excellent starting point for day trips to nearby villages and other important points of interest along the coast.
Known as the village that does not exist, Furore is one of the most unusual destinations on the Amalfi Coast, a small settlement scattered on the slopes of the Lattari Mountains, among olive groves, vineyards and lemons that overlook the Mediterranean Sea. A place to not miss is surely the gorge, Fiordo Di Furore, created by the ancient river Schianto and surrounded by high cliffs rising from the sea. In addition, the houses and walls of the city are adorned with colorful murals by local and international artists, earning the nickname of “painted city”.
Conca dei Marini
A group of old Mediterranean-style houses clustered on a promontory 400 meters above sea level, Conca dei Marini has long been a romantic destination for the well-to-do looking for a discreet escape. Famous people who looked for a quiet and discreet place, like Caroline of Monaco to nanme a few, have all been on holiday, yet the village still feels surprisingly quiet and traditional. Its beautifully preserved Mediterranean architecture, with Moorish and Greek influences, recalls the city’s past and the beach, a perfect area for the pebbles crowning one of the most beautiful crystal coves on the coast, is practically free from tourists. The most fascinating view of Conca dei Marini is the Grotta dello Smeraldo, a beautiful sea cave famous for its shades of green and the underwater ceramic nativity scene, which has made it a place of pilgrimage for divers, every Christmas.