The Amalfi Coast

 

No visit to the Naples area would be complete without taking a drive along the Amalfi coast. The Sorrentine Peninsula forms the southern portion of the Bay of Naples and to the south of the peninsula lies surely the most stunning stretch of coastline in all of Europe. The region was isolated and almost cut off from the rest of the world until the coastal road was constructed in the 19th century and today you can still traverse the old road that clings to the side of the steep hills which rise up from the Mediterranean.

Touring

It is best to allow more than one day to experience the Amalfi coast as there is much to see and many places you will want to linger to take in the views and the atmosphere. The area is a favourite with the rich and famous but also attracts a huge volume of tourists and so your progress along the winding route may be quite slow.

Your journey is best started below the coastal road in the village of Marina del Cantone which is close to the tip of the peninsula. This gorgeous little settlement has a small marina from where you can hire a boat to get out onto the water for a spectacular view of the entre coastline and to take a swim in the stunningly blue Mediterranean Sea. If you enjoy a spot of fishing you should take your fishing tackle out with you as you are permitted to angle in most of the local waters. As you move along the coast close to the shore you will notice the ruins of ancient towns beneath the water. These settlements slipped down the hillsides and into the sea during past seismic events. There are also numerous coves and beaches that are only accessible from the water which you can swim to from the boat.

After a pleasant sojourn in Marina del Cantone it is time to join the historic coastal road in the hills above the town. Here you will find stunning vistas around every turn as you make your way to the exquisite town of Positano where the largely white architecture is built into the hillside both above and below the road. If you can find a parking space (and it is not easy) then stop for a while here to explore the streets and if you have the time take a hike up the hillside behind the town to enjoy spectacular views of the region.

You should then continue along the coast passing beautiful villages until you reach the simply gorgeous town of Amalfi. You will probably encounter further parking problems but it is worth making the effort to find a space as Amalfi is a lovely place to have an al fresco meal and to explore the small shops selling local specialities like Mozzarella cheese and Limoncello, a lemon drink made with vodka. There is a picturesque Marina to explore and some historic architecture around the narrow streets to marvel at perhaps whilst tackling some of the rather delicious ice cream on offer!

After enjoying Amalfi climb the narrow and winding road up to the small town of Ravello which sits high on a ledge in the hills. This is a tricky drive and you will probably encounter many jams as tourist coaches edge their way past the on-coming traffic but Ravello should not be missed. It is a quaint and historic town with amazing views down to the coast, marvellous architecture and is the home of Mamma Agata the legendary cook. If you fancy picking up some culinary skills book a lesson with Mamma Agata to learn the secrets of Italian cuisine.

Unforgettable

You will surely never forget your drive along the Amalfi coast and it is hard to imagine anywhere so sublimely beautiful. In spite of the frequent crowds there is an air of peace and tranquillity here amongst the streets of the many towns and villages that rise up above the sparkling, blue waters of the Mediterranean. With an embarrassment of beauty around every corner and friendly local people this drive is an absolute must for any visitor to the region.