If you haven’t created your own Bucket List yet then when you do make sure that driving the Amalfi coast is on it! Surely Europe’s most gorgeous coastal region, the southern edge of the Sorrentine Peninsula attracts millions of visitors and is a popular haunt of the rich and famous. The area was virtually cut off from the rest of the world until the middle of the 19th Century when the coastal road was constructed and then word of the outstanding beauty on offer spread quickly attracting the wealthy to the region as well as many composers, artists and writers seeking inspiration.
As soon as your wheels hit the road you will understand why Wagner, Grieg, JMW Turner and Tennessee Williams were all drawn to the region. The coastal road clings to the side of the mountains which rise up from the shore and there is a spectacular vista around every turn. The striking blue waters of the Mediterranean sparkle beneath you as you pass through gorgeous villages and stunning towns on your journey. If possible spend two or three days on the road to give you the time to experience everything on offer. Start in the lovely hamlet of Marina del Cantone from where you can rent a boat to get out onto the water. Take a swim and marvel at the colour and clarity of the Mediterranean and visit one of the many small coves and beaches which are only accessible from the water. Take your fishing tackle with you and some lures too and try to hook your dinner!
From Marina del Cantone You will follow the road around the cliffs high above the sea until you reach the simply stunning town of Positano with its gorgeous white houses built into the hillsides that spill down to the water’s edge. The area has experienced many earthquakes over the centuries with previous towns simply slipping into the sea. Peer into the waters and you can see pieces of the ruins of former civilisations. Take a walk around the town and even up into the mountains to savour this special place.
The principle town of the region is Amalfi and you could spend a whole day here walking around the town, the marina and savouring an al fresco lunch whilst people watching. Visit some of the shops to grab yourself many of the local specialities like Mozzarella cheese and Limoncello and don’t forget the wonderful ice cream on offer. Parking can be a little problematic here, especially during the summer but it is well worth making the effort to find a spot as you wouldn’t want to miss spending some time in Amalfi.
Sitting high in the hills above Amalfi is the exquisite community of Ravello. The town can be reached via a narrow and twisty road which is subject to jams as coaches try to negotiate the route but your efforts will be rewarded. Ravello is a gorgeous place to walk around and affords magnificent views of the coast. It is also the home of legendary cook Mamma Agata and culinary enthusiasts can book a cooking lesson to discover her secrets. This is a great place to unwind and savour the atmosphere of the region.
There is truly nowhere quite like the Amalfi coast with its gorgeous towns and stunning views. Unfortunately this fact is no secret and so the roads can become very busy during the summer months making progress slow and parking difficult. To get the best from your visit try travelling in the late spring or September when the crowds are lighter but the weather still warm.
Article by Sally Stacey