La Dolce Vita on Italy’s Amalfi Coast
Judged an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape by UNESCO in 1997, the Amalfi Coast's natural beauty has been drawing people to the region for centuries. Its turquoise seas, dramatic cliffs and idyllic climate enticed even ancient Roman nobles to build villas there. Today the mountains and sea cliffs are dotted with sumptuous villas and pastel-colored holiday homes, creating one of the most fabulous and unique coastlines in the world.
The gateway to the Amalfi Coast is the town of Sorrento, a handsome cliff-top resort, is a great home base for exploring all the area has to offer. The town has lots of accommodation options and is a pleasant place to stay on its own with an unspoiled old quarter, a lively main shopping street and a spectacular Cliffside setting.
The area’s top destinations are Positano, Amalfi (the town) and Ravello.
Positano is the most photogenic of the Coast’s towns, awash in colors of sun-bleached peach, pink and terracotta. There’s a beach resort feel here, albeit Italian style. Indeed, your time here will be spent eating great Italian food, shopping at unique boutiques in the village center, enjoying the pebbled beach (yes, the beaches here have tiny pebbles, not sand) and oogling the views.
It’s popular to buy made-to-measure sandals from Positano – most sandal retailers can craft this handmade footwear in a couple of days.
Amalfi (the town) is ancient. It was founded in the 9th century and is Italy’s oldest maritime republic, once serving as a huge commercial hub in the Mediterranean. The must-see attraction here is the Duomo di Amalfi, the town’s 9th century church. The structure is a cacophony of architecture, drawing from Arab-Norman Romanesque, Byzantine and Rococo design. Its massive bronze doors were cast in Constantinople.
Amalfi also has several small, but interesting museums one of which is the Museum of Paper-Making, located in a 13th-century paper mill. Paper making has been a longtime industry for the town and the museum covers the history of papermaking as well as exhibiting the mill’s vintage water-powered machinery.
In the mountains above Amalfi is Sentiero degli Dei, or “the Path of the Gods”. It’s one of Italy’s most stunning hiking trails. The trail starts in Bomerano, a small village between Sorrento and Amalfi. The hike itself takes about 5 hours, but it’s considered an easy walk. You’ll see vineyards, caves, a gorge and breathtaking views. The trail ends outside of Positano. If 5 hours is too much, you can stop in Nocelle and take a bus back to Positano.
Ravello is a picturesque mountaintop town not far from Amalfi. Ravello’s Duomo and Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo are all worth a vist.
Villa Cimbrone is an 11th century palatial compound that is now a luxury hotel. Its on-site gardens are gorgeous and open to the public (there is a small admission fee). You’ll see a variety of flora and English-style landscaping along with stunning architecture. The star attraction within the gardens is the Terrace of Infinity. The terrace offers stunning, unobstructed view of the ocean and Amalfi’s cascading cliffs. Get your camera out!
Within the historic center of Ravello is the 13th century Villa Rufolo. It’s architecture is stunning, along with its Italianate gardens. You can visit the rooms of the villa along with the gardens. There is a small admission fee. During the summer months, Villa Rufolo hosts outdoor concerts.
BEST TIME TO GO
Between May and October, everything on the Amalfi Coast is operating at full throttle. June, July and August are the busiest months. If you are planning to visit then, make sure you book early. You’ll save some money and have less crowds if you travel during the “shoulder” months of May or in the fall from September through November.
The Amalfi Coast is spectacular – and popular. It’s important to plan ahead when visiting this region of Italy. Plus, there are many ways to experience this little piece of heaven – guided vacations, cruises or visiting independently are just some of your options. AAA can you decided which travel experience is best for you. Visit a nearby AAA Travel Office or give us a call at 800-444-8691. We’ll help you live “La Dolce Vita”!