We left the Northern part of the Sorrento peninsular, rounded the point, and arrived on the Southern coastline, which is known as the Amalfi Coast and is the international star attraction of the Campania region of Italy. The drive and the views are absolutely amazing and stunning, with words hard to find to capture the beauty of the breathtaking scenery. The towns of the Amalfi Coast have become global tourist meccas, towns like Positano, Amalfi and Ravello. The Amalfi Coast is rightly described as one of the most beautiful coastlines in the World by millions of visitors each year, with each visitor probably taking many hundreds of photos.
Personally, we spent two nights in Maiori, a delightful resort on the Eastern part of the Amalfi Coast, right on the sea, popular with Italians but relatively unknown with international tourists. We found a very comfortable hotel, set back on a side street that was remarkably good value and a fraction of the cost of the glamour resorts. It took us nearly two hours to manage the coastal drive to Maiori of about twenty miles. The first day after getting settled in Maori, we went back up the coastal road and headed inland for the famous hillside resort of Ravello, with stunning views and exclusive five-star luxury hotels. For our part, we managed a couple of Coca Colas in the main square, listening to the brass band. There were, of course, amazing shops, all targeted to the customers in the hotels – Ravello seemed indifferent to the custom of passing tourists like ourselves.
Our first night in Maiori, on the busy main street facing the sea, we found an excellent, inexpensive restaurant for some fresh fish and like most “ristorantes” these days was also a popular “pizzeria“. It was noticeable this trip, that traditional Italian restaurant categories had caught up with fast food and many restaurants carried multiple labels including: pizzeria, osteria, trattoria, ristorante, with the faster end of the market including spaghetterie, pizza a metro, pizza a taglio or even rosticceria for takeaway roasted chicken.
The second day on the Amalfi Coast we spent the day in Positano. Alf had become slightly more comfortable driving on the roads but was glad to park up for the day and explore Positano on foot. We parked quite high on the hill and descended the single road down to the sea on foot. The views were spectacular, with lots of little bars, eateries and boutique type accommodation. We heard tourists from all over the World, often joking about the costs. As we reached the pedestrian only narrow shopping alleys, the range of merchandise was just amazing but prices were generally pretty high and most people were just looking. We eventually reached the beach and explored in both directions. We escaped the crowds and took a coastal path (to the right facing the sea). We discovered some secluded beaches and a wonderful pizzeria, set high up over the bay where we sampled a simple and surprisingly inexpensive lunch – it was nice to escape the crowds for a bit. Late afternoon, we climbed back up the hill, found the car and returned to Maiori along the incredibly narrow road and hairpins pins, with Alf feeling quite at home honking the car’s horn as every bend approached!
Sadly, the narrow roads are incredibly dangerous too, and Italian drivers, especially on scooters and motor bikes were often impatient with a right-hand drive, UK registered car. On the other hand, the drivers of the huge buses that plough up and down the Amalfi Coast every day were true gentlemen of the road, and wonderfully patient and skillful. On these roads, Alf often struggled to keep up with the buses.
Strictly, the famous Amafi Coast is the Northern Amalfi Coast, North of the busy port city of Salerno. Salerno has been our destination for picking up a ship to Cyprus but that’s another story and another blog, as is our exploration of the Southern Amalfi Coast which is largely off the tourist map…