Travel the World: Amalfi Coast, Italy

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

My spouse and I spent ten days in Italy earlier this year, including some time checking off a major bucket list stop - the Amalfi Coast! It was a pretty impromptu trip (four weeks before the new year, I spotted some tickets to Rome for New Year's Eve at just under $240, one way), so I had very little time to put together a real itinerary. 

It's a beautiful region with a long history. People have been carving homes into the cliffs for nearly two millennia. Long ago, it was an important port in the region but today it is mostly known as a popular destination for tourists.

There's a few options for getting to Amalfi. You can take the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Salerno or Sorrento, and either take the SITA bus or hire a private car to take you to the small towns on the Amalfi Coast. Even though the distance is not great, the roads are narrow and wind around the coast, so even the 25 kilometers to the town of Amalfi takes about two hours. In the off season, the bus is quite empty but when tourists come, the limited number of seats on board might mean a lot of standing.

The bus happened to be very empty that early afternoon, so a lady spread a blanket for her collie!

The SITA bus drivers are experts at driving those really curved roads, most people in my travel community group recommend against renting a car and driving it yourself as it requires a great deal of tenacity. Another option in fair weather is the ferry.

One of the reasons we opted for off season was to be able to do this incredible hike, called the Path of the Gods. In the summer or even spring, the heat makes it a less than comfortable experience. It was absolutely perfect when we went in January, occasional cool mists swirled over us while we did the 6km.

Plus it was crocus season, I loved seeing the delicate purple blossoms. As much as I enjoy seeing the sea, I don't actually like to go in the water, so I got the best of both worlds - no crowds, beautiful scenery. 

The Path of the Gods, or Sentiero degli Dei, takes you along the coast and it used to the main way that farmers in remote areas found their way to the small towns. I learned that some of these smaller towns didn't have a bus that stopped there or even a paved road until very recently, a little over a decade ago!
local cats feasting on fat balls of mozzarella 

As you walk along the trail, you might see the lone donkey or small cliff-side farmhouses with roosters. Also plenty of street cats and dogs.

To get to the trailhead, go to a tabacchi shop in the town you're staying at (denoted by a sign with a large T with a square around it) and buy bus tickets to the small town Nocelle, or the end of the trail, Bomerano. You could also do what we did (nope, don't recommend this) which is to climb the 1600 steps from Positano and then start hiking from Nocelle. That's one leg day I'll never forget. 

We stayed in the actual town of Amalfi, but there are many wonderful little towns that dot the coast. Nearby, accessible via a huge tunnel and a ten minutes walk is the town of Atrani, which gives you more dining options.

In the winter, we tend to go for Airbnb instead of hotels (I will spend a small fortune just buying hot drinks if I don't have access to a kitchen, learned that the hard way.) and we stayed in a lovely little flat accessible by many, many little winding steps (as our hostess Anna said, no steps means no view!).

There were beautiful views to be had from very single room, even the small porthole inside the closet.

Recommendations: eat a fry up of whitebait and calamari, get two plates of shrimp ravioli with clams (one simply will not suffice), get sloshed on limoncello. I'm scratching my head at the price of lemons in this region, Amalfi produces these irregular oversized lemons but they are 3 or more euro each. Lemon products such as limoncello and limoncello candies are somehow much cheaper!

 The clementines in this region are also wonderfully sweet and flavorful, so be sure to buy a few to snack on.

Amalfi's hours were interesting. Most restaurants and shops opened at When They Felt Like It o'clock, and then had a second wind late in the evening.

Amalfi square. Our little flat was just a few buildings away, you could see the Duomo from the windows!

I had such a strong, emotional reaction to seeing Amalfi. My chest felt like it was being squeezed tight, violent butterflies in the stomach kind of sensation. The Amalfi Coast is so beautiful, I dare you to go and not feel the same way.

This postcard perfect place makes me sigh with delight every time I look back at my photos. The memories I made here with my husband were incredible, everything was automatically +200% more romantic simply by being there. The candle lit, wine fueled dinners didn't hurt either.

Hope you enjoyed these photos, hope that your own wanderings bring you to the Italian treasure that is the Amalfi Coast some day!

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