Spotlight on the Amalfi Coast


            The Amalfi Coast Drive, located southwest of the city of Naples, is, arguably, the most spectacular drive in the world. The road (SS 163) winds its way along cliffs which hover precipitously above the ocean.  Nestled at various points along the drive are small, charming towns which cling to the cliffs of the Latari Mountains and tumble down to the Tyrrhenian Sea. The entire length is only about 48 kilometers (30 miles) but beautiful views are found throughout. The road is extremely narrow and is especially hazardous when large tour buses approach from the opposite direction. However, it is all worth the effort as long as there is no urgency.  Plan to stop at several of the Villages, such as Positano, Amalfi, or Maiori to enjoy the ambience and to experience the slow pace and charm. 

            Among the villages, Positano is one of the most popular. Its main street is lined with shops and restaurants and must be appreciated by walking.  Parking in all these villages is a potential problem; however, there are several parking lots available as well as some on-street parking. There is much to do at any time of the day in Positano, which adds to its popularity.  Admire the Santa Maria Assunta Church with its gold and green ceramic dome, on the Piazza Flavio Gioia.  Stroll along the flower-festooned Via Mulini and linger at its little squares. Find your way to the Spraggia Grande, the main beach, then to the stone pier at one end, and climb the staircase to the Via Positanesi d‘ America, a walkway which provides excellent views.

            Amalfi, at the opposite end of the drive, is the largest community on this section of coast, so also affords visitors a wealth of activities and makes a good base of operations for those staying on the coast. Its Duomo, with its Paradise Cloister, is one of the sights worth mentioning.

            Above Amalfi is the charming little village of Ravello, which has perhaps the best views along the entire coast. The main square is adorable, with its cute little Duomo, shops, and restaurants.  Take a walk from the square to either the Villa Rufolo or the Villa Cimbrone for unforgettable views of the coastline.

            Probably the best place to stay in the area is the city of Sorrento, several miles north of Positano and about 30 km (20 miles) south of Naples. Sorrento has many more lodging and restaurant choices than other locations in  the area, and offers ferry service to places like Capri or Naples.

            Isle of Capri is a beautiful spot and probably the most popular excursion from Naples or Sorrento or the Amalfi Coast. It is only a 20-25 minute ferry ride from Sorrento.  The ferry deposits visitors at the Marina Grande from which tourist can either catch a bus or funicular to Capri Town, the largest and most popular town on the island, or pick up a smaller boat to the famous Blue Grotto, a cave system on the southeast coast of the island which is notable for its bluish glow. To see the grotto, visitors must actually take one boat from the marina, then change to a smaller boat at the entrance to the cave and wait in line for the opportunity to enter. The experience is actually quite kitschy and is may not be worth the expense, although many who have been there are still mesmerized by the experience.

            Capri Town is a white-washed village which sits high above the marina, on the southern coast of the island. Its labyrinthine alleys are a delight to explore and there is shopping galore for those so inclined. Wander down to the Certosa di San Giacomo or to the nearby estate of the Krupp family for incredible views of the coastline at Punta Tragara and of the I Faraglioni, three huge offshore rocks which make a spectacular photograph.

            Other places on the island which are worthy of a visit are Anacapri, a smaller village which is even higher above the water, Villa Jovis, constructed by the Roman Emperor Tiberius, and Villa San Michele, which provides access to the Sphinx Parapet.


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