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The Amalfi Coast

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Positano's beauty is breathtaking.

  The Amalfi Coast is an extraordinary natural treasure.  Here, the  hills of the southern half of Italy's Sorrento Peninsula flow sharply the sea, forming dramatic landscapes and spectacular coastal views.  Many of the towns in the Analfi are precipitously perched on small terraces, which appear almost stair-like as they cascade downwards, ending only when the sea  impedes their progress.   (Click the map near Positano to center it, then select Hybrid to see the terraces in a satellite view with the roads overlaid on the image.  Zoom the map to see greater detail.)

As noted in our main text, the best (and sometimes the worst) way to see the Amalfi coast is to drive it.  Many travelers head south from Naples to Sorrento, followed by a trip across the peninsula to the towns on the Amalfi Coast that surround the waters of the Gulf of Salerno.  The circuit is usually closed by traveling uphill to Ravello and north to the Autostrada (A3).  However, we recommend continuing along the coast to Salerno and heading south to see the amazing Greek temples as Paestum.  Finally, you may hear the road along the Amalfi Coast described by some as the "corniche", which is a French term for a road that winds along a steep coast or cliff.

Note than the traffic has taken its toll on the area.  Several of the cities have created parking lots away from the centers of the towns, while other towns have taken more direct action.  Positano, for example,  is officially a "slow city (Cittaslow)", which means that there are times when you cannot drive your car in the city, even if you are staying there.  Be sure and ask about parking and road regulations when you book your hotel reservations.

The Amalfi Coast is a popular tourist area and a seemingly mandatory inclusion on every  travel company's tour of Italy.  Be prepared for crowds and smoke-belching buses if you drive the Amalfi in summer. Be prepared for crowds, as  Amalfi's population trebles from its normal five thousand during the summer travel season. 

Those of you who have flexibility in their travel schedules, should  opt to see the Amalfi Coast in late spring or early fall. If you really want to enjoy the area, you need to take a room and spend a few nights exploring the cities after the tour buses have hit the time they need to return to Rome or Naples.


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The town of Amalfi has a dramatic setting

Positano is, perhaps, the most beautiful and the most crowded of the towns along the Amalfi.  In addition, Positano is preferred by many as the best location for an overnight stay in the Amalfi.  The town offers fine shopping, but lacks any buildings of historical significance.  Like most of the  coastal cities on the Amalfi, it is best seen from the water, so reserve some time for a local cruise.

The town of Amalfi combines beautiful scenery with an interesting history.  Its Cathedral of Saint Andrew is a popular attraction. Parts of the cathedral date from the tenth century and it is the burial place of Saint Andrew the Apostle. You may also want to see the Emerald Grotto or take a boat trip so you can see the town from the sea.  Amalfi is known for the unusually rich taste of its lemons, so look for the sorbet shops.  Or if you like your lemon a little tangier, try Limoncello, a lemon liqueur that can be used to make some wonderful desserts.

Ravello is a small village that sits a distance uphill and is detached from the coast.  It provides dramatic views of the Amalfi Coast and has been a magnet for the rich and famous over several centuries.  Be sure to see the city's two noted villas - the Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbrone, both originally built by local nobility.

Sorrento is the largest town on the Peninsula, but that does not diminish its beauty

Sorrento is not part of the Amalfi Coast is usually included in the tour, as it is the first major stop after Pompeii when heading to the Amalfi.  Sorrento is less scenic than the towns along the Amalfi, but it is a popular stop that attracts many travelers.  It is also relatively flat compared to the towns further south - which means that you can walk the town with a minimum of exertion, a statement that cannot be made about the towns along the Amalfi.   The Old Town (called the Old City Center)  offers several Palazzos (Veniero,  Correale) and the beautiful cloisters of Sant Francesco).    Along the coast you can tour the ruins of Queen Joan's Baths (Villa Pollio Felice), which was an over-the-top villa during the height of the Roman Empire.


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The Cathedral of Saint Andrew in Amalfi is well worth a visit.  It is filled with interesting religious art and is the final resting place of the Apostle St. Andrew

Click here for the information on Sorrento provided by the Sorrento Tourism.  Click here for the website of the Amalfi Tourist Office. For information from Ravello's Tourist Office, click here.

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The view from the gardens at the Villa Ruffalo in Ravello is world famous.

A close-up view of  Sorrento snuggled along the edge of its cliffs












Pompeii and Amalfi Coast Small Group Day Trip from Rome

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