If you like the seaside, good food and hiking as much as I do, then the Amalfi Coast is definitively the place to visit! The mountains called Monti Lattari which are part of a natural reserve arrive straight on the sea in this beautiful land with spectacular little towns built on the sides of those cliffs. I discovered Amalfi for the first time in September this year. I had planned to go to Salerno to see a gig of my favorite band when I was a teenager. Since it was on my 34th birthday and I find that beautiful places heal my soul and help me to cope with the family routine of washing up / dropping kids at school / going to work / ordering the grocery / ecc, I decided to give myself a mini break of 2 days and visit the area before going to the concert on the Friday night. It turned out that the trip to Amalfi itself was even more worth it than the gig! Here are my suggestions when you visit the area.
– It’s worth staying in Salerno (Amalfi can be very expensive due to his fame) where there are lots of bed and breakfast at very convenient prices. If you book around Villa Comunale area or in the main city centre the streets will feel secure and you can easily reach Amalfi by having a nice walk along the town little beach up to the port to catch regular ferries to Amalfi (€8 per person) and Positano (€12) with Travelmar, a reliable ferry company who was always pretty much on time when I used it.
– The other advantage of staying in Salerno is discovering Amalfi from the sea: when the boat gets closer and stops a few minutes to manoeuvre in the little port the view is absolutely breath taking!
– Wander around the busy and noisy streets of Amalfi full of tourists who speaks 20 different languages, waiters hot and bother by the heat and the amount of people they serve in a day, and arrive in the main square where Duomo do Sant’Andrea is.
– What is amazing about Amalfi is that you have the sea and you have the mountains all at once, so there is an amazing hiking trail called Valle delle Ferriere which starts from the city centre of Amalfi (just follow signed posts and white arrows on the floor) to slowly get you into the sides of those mountains and their woods. I strongly recommend this spectacular walk where you are amazed by the light that filters amongst the mountains, beautiful pines along the way with so many little steps to keep on going up and local houses surrounded by lemon trees cultivations.
Perfect stop half way through this walk is Bar Fora Porta, the last building before the woods starts which has toilets, a lovely terrace, tasty and refreshing granita and wifi. Then it turns into a proper woods trail that will lead the path to several beautiful water falls. You can continue walking more (I think is the walk called Valle dei Mulini).
– From the same area where you get off the boat from Salerno you can catch another smaller boat with a different company which will sail from Amalfi a bit further down towards Positano but will stop half way through to take you to the Emerald Grotto. It’s a lovely little tour which last 1 hour, 20 mins to go, 20 mins to visit the grotto, 20 mins to get back. The cost in Sept 16 was £15 per person in total. The peculiarity of the grotto is its inner colour that comes from the light filtering in an opening there is underneath the water, which shows a magnificent blue emerald shade. I had the impression that the older generation of American and German tourist did not appreciate the simplicity of our tour and found it not worth the cost of it. However you have to understand that Italy is a messed country where tourism alone help hundreds of families to survive. That is why sometimes you will not receive/see what you expected and may encounter the feeling that it’s no good value for money. Probably that’s one of the things that make those local families survive: if they did not charge a specific minimum amount, it would not be business worth for them costs wise (Italy is a land where every permission to obtain is so difficult and you have to pay so much – even corrupting the right MP).
Time well when you are going to do the walk and when the boat trip to the Grotto as Valle delle Ferriere can take up to 3 hours to go and come back if you do it all and in some periods of the year the last Grotto boat trip is early in the afternoon as afterward the light does not get in it anymore.
– Make sure you take your ferry back to Salerno at sunset, as the view of the little lights turning slowly on along the coast whilst the boat gets farer and farer from this land is breathtaking!
– You may want to take the bus from Salerno to Amalfi this time, admiring the view of all the little towns like Maiori, Minori and Atrani that were born on those same cliffs just before where Amalfi stands (which is just the most famous town that gives the name to the whole area). The fine art of the bus driver (usually grumpy and sweaty, sick of seeing tourists all day) to squeeze in those tourtuse roads and exchange with other cars in tiny spaces is worth the trip in itself for a picturesque (though sometimes a bit uncomfortable, squashed in the crowded local bus) scenario!
– Once arrived in Amalfi, catch the bus that from there takes you to Ravello. If you get off at Bivio di Pontone, there is an amazing walk to do from this little village that takes you to Torre dello Zirro, an ancient abandoned tower in the woods overlooking the sea with amazing views on Amalfi too!
– Get back on the same bus journey towards the same destination to get off at its last stop, Ravello itself. If everyone speaks about Amalfi, not as many hear about this little enchanting village which is on top of one of the mountains overlooking Amalfi and the sea underneath. Make sure you stop in its main beautiful square and have lunch in one the caffe which have tables all around it to taste a lovely ‘caprese’ salad with mozzarella di bufala (typical cow type of the area).
Ravello is so beautiful in itself that it is worth just wandering around. There are a few hotels where for €15 or so you can use their swimming pool even without being guests there, admiring an amazing view on the seaside and the mountains (hotel Ruffolo and Garden Hotel to mention 2).
– But the absolute must of this trip and my new favourite place on Earth now (until the next discovery!) is definitively Villa Cimbrone which is located at the very end of this village. The beauty of the garden full of history and the suggestive view from its famous terrace are really worth the long walk to get there! The Villa is now private so there is an entrance fee (€7 per person in Sept 2016), however it is absolutely worth it every cent!
So I hope to have inspired you to go and visit this astonishing part of Italy as there are many more places to visit around that area if you plan your trip well!
PS All pictures in this post were taken by myself in September 2016.