Well, lovely readers, what a great time is to be had in the Amalfi Coast. Here’s a summary of my recent trip. Clocking up 500km in our rental car, we saw some pretty incredible sites, and ate some pretty darn fine food.
Read on to learn more about the different places we went to, the food we ate, and the ways to get around this lovely region. Oh, and did I mention the food? 🙂
First up, Amalfi… a beautiful down, surrounded by dramatic cliffs. We’d been talking about visiting Amalfi for so long, I was very excited to drive into this lovely place. It’s pretty hard to park (more on driving/getting around in this area below) but we managed to find a space and had a good wander around. It’s a very pretty place, with buildings set into the cliffside… it’s also very busy – lots of tourists buzzing about.
We walked up and into the town to see the cathedral (Duomo di Sant’Andrea), and had dinner at the foot of the steps leading up to it – a great restaurant called Sant’Andrea – one of the best pizzas we had during our trip. More on the Italian food later.
We didn’t spend that long in Maiori but it was a nice place, similar to Amalfi but smaller and quieter. We had a lovely walk along the sea front. Beaches are reasonably small all along the Amalfi Coast, and many sections are covered with sun-loungers and umbrellas. We had a wonderful Caprese salad lunch at one of the cafes.
Positano was, by far, my favourite of the places visited. I noticed there were more couples here (Vs more families in Amalfi), and it has a slightly different vibe; it’s still busy but somehow feels a bit less fast-paced. The only real road through is one-way, leading you down from a dramatic coastal road into the town, and back up again in a loop.
The buildings are an array of different colours – pale yellow, white, pinks, peaches… There are flowers growing everywhere, including lots of gorgeous vibrant purple-pink bougainvillea. There are some great restaurants with incredible views of the sea and the stunning landscape, I recommend Caffe Positano and Il Capitano. Both had exquisite views and superb food.
To be honest, we were a bit disappointed with Sorrento. It’s one of the most famous cities in Italy, and I’d heard how lovely it supposedly is. Maybe we were spoiled by the above places, but it didn’t have as much character or charm. It was nice, but unremarkable compared to the others. We didn’t stay long as it just didn’t excite us – we went early and had breakfast and a wander around, but ended up driving back to Positano for lunch.
Pompeii and Herculaneum
Both of these places were fascinating. From the crumbing buildings, mosaics and art… to the casts of the humans and animals who died when Vesuvius erupted in 79AD.
Pompeii is 170 acres, and on a hot day it’s a bit too much to see it all, but we wandered the streets, saw some of the human casts, and went to the amphitheatre. If you like history / visiting historical sites then it’s a must for your bucket list.
Herculaneum, just 15 minutes drive away, is far smaller but much more ‘in tact’ than Pompeii and I really enjoyed looking around, it’s well worth a visit, in fact I think I preferred it to Pompeii in some ways – it’s less busy for a start.
We didn’t stay long as the heat was over 40°C, even my hubs who loves the sun was melting.
Did you know that the Greeks inhabited much of southern Italy? No, me neither.
Paestum is another fascinating place, just an hour or so from Amalfi. The drive itself was interesting; you pass a lot of rural areas and it was nice to come away from the main tourist trail.
The ruins give you a real glimpse into the city that used to be there. The three temples are just wonderful to behold and reminded me of the Acropolis in Athens. Built to honour Neptune, Hera and Athena, they’re very well preserved, and you can wander around and into them for a good look. Wonderful spot.
Oh my. The food. Of course, it’s what you’d expect: we ate bruschetta, pasta, pizza, risotto, ice-cream. We are pretty much vegan at home but we revert to being vegetarians when travelling, and most menu’s had plenty of veggie options. It was all very, very delicious.
Except for breakfast. A good breakfast proved hard to find, and we had some unusual food to be sure (including cold custard with broken-up biscuits!) They don’t seem to ‘do’ savoury breakfasts either, everything on offer was very sweet. We didn’t do a lot of breakfast research, but if you like a good hearty breakfast you probably need to look this up in advance.
A word about driving…
In between all these places, are some pretty awesome roads with wonderful views, switching back and forth as you go up and down the coastal roads. You may have heard about the ‘mad’ Italian driving and it’s true – Italian drivers don’t appear (or at least to me) to have many rules, they zip in and out, honk their horns a lot, don’t always give way… there are tonnes of mopeds and many of the drivers seem to have no fear! So it’s not for the faint hearted. My husband has a lot of driving experience, but I wouldn’t want to do it myself. If you’re brave enough to hire a moped, I’m sure that’s the quickest way to get around and the easiest to park. There also appears to be regular buses running between all of the places I list above.
Overall, we had a great trip.