The Amalfi coast draws over five million visitors a year. Driving the 33 mile, two-lane road that hugs the natural coastline in high season may seem more like a parking lot, but since every square inch of real estate offers the most incredible views, it’s the only traffic jam that brings peace and tranquility.
A UNESCO world heritage site, this road is nestled between walls of rock on one side and the sparkling blue sea on the other. Full of white-knuckle hairpin bends, sharp curves, and cliffs jutting 650 meters above the azure blue sea for centuries it was a mule path and today the width is still the same. This coastal road connects the famous and other less known fishing villages that locals considered to be more like neighborhoods than separate towns. You can have breakfast in Ravello, lunch in Amalfi and dinner in Positano on the same day, yet this area is best to appreciate at a slow pace.
It’s easy to unwind here. The constant soft breezes scented with lemon blossoms, and a vast array of Mediterranean flowers all mingled with the salty sea; the brilliant colors of the Majolica domes, bright pink and fuchsia bougainvillea climbing against whitewashed houses, and the expanse of a shimmering sea, all under the warming yellow rays of the sun is pure bliss.
The Amalfi Coast is not for those with walking difficulties. The villages are built on a vertical terrain. It’s common to take 500 to 1,000 steps to reach a restaurant, hotel, or villa but you are always rewarded with breathtaking views. Let’s not forget the food – buffalo mozzarella made that very day from farms outside of Paestum, the birthplace of limoncello made from the Sfusato lemons found only in this area, and guarantees that the fish you had for lunch was swimming in the sea that morning. There are surprisingly good wines from the surrounding vineyards of Ravello and owners welcome you to visit. Don’t forget Naples, where they say pizza was created, and you can find a handful of small pizzerias in the Old Town center that make claim to this invention. It’s worth a trip to Old Town where you are also witness to the authentic life of the Neapolitan’s day, and the person next to you lives nearby.
Besides the three well-known villages of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello, there are 10 other fishing villages that are delightful to visit – each one offering something special in addition to great restaurants, good shopping and many with beaches or quiet coves ideal for a mid-day break. Take the hydrofoil to Capri or Ischia for the day, rent a boat with captain and have lunch at a restaurant reached only from the water followed by a swim off the boat in a small empty cove. Visit the ruins of the Greek city of Paestum and afterward visit a buffalo farm to see how buffalo mozzarella is made, stay for lunch. Visit the Palace in Caserta before heading inland to the small town of Caiazzo, for truly the finest pizza you will ever eat.
Patrice Salezze was co-owner of Appennino Ristorante and now Papavero Villa Rentals, offering a portfolio of villas throughout Italy. For our list of favorite restaurants on the Amalfi Coast, please call her at 610 224 1004 or email her at patrice@PapaveroRentals.com