I often remember the words of an elderly aunt of mine, who used to tell me quite often that if I hadn t seen the Amalfi Coast, I haven t seen anything. The first time I heard these words, I was quite young, 12 years or so, and although I knew this is somewhere in Italy, I didn t pay much attention to the topic. Last summer, I remembered these words again, and since I was looking for a genuine Mediteranean experience, I chose to give it a try. I booked a flight to Naples and rented a car and a beautiful apartment with a view both to the mountains and the sea in Maiori, one of the coastal cities, famous for the large sandy beaches. If you decide to rent a car, the best option would be a really small one, since the roads are more than narrow along the rocky coast.
The first day, start fresh in the morning with a swim in the pool, and then, if you are into car races, put yourself in front the wheel and enjoy the dangerous ride. On your way to Amalfi, you shouldn t miss an amazing road going down through the mountain clifs to a small paradise beach, where you can have a swim in deep blue and green water and afterwards order a plate of risotto alla pescatora – rice with fresh seafood and a glass of wine. Also, don t forget to notice the lovely lemon orchards on the mountain coasts, as they provide the main ingredient for the well known local drink, limoncello, a lemon flavoured liqueur.
Passing through Amalfi, follow the coastline up to Positano, where you can have a gelato on a mountain terrace while prepairing for a mid day swim. Then, take the couple of hundreds stairs down to the beach, and notice the red flowers climbing up the white houses on the mountain.
Positano used to be a small fishing village that became famous after John Steinbeck published his essay in the mid fifties, Positano bites deep,in which he describes it as a dream place that isn t quite real. There” s also an old legend regarding the Byzantine black Virgin Mary icon, that rests in the Santa Maria Assunta Church, saying that while the precious icon was being transported by a ship of pirates, a great storm started and the sailors heard a voice telling them to put the icon down the shore ( in Italian : Posa !) which they did and then the storm vanished.
From Positano, follow the coastline to the beautiful town of Sorrento, have a walk down the narrow streets, and stop for a cup of full flavour Italian coffee on the amazing sea view terrace of Hotel Bellevue Syrene, right before going for a refreshing swim. Sorrento offers a great sea connection to the wonderful island of Capri and is also a short drive from the infamous Vesuvio peak, near Naples.
Vesuvio is an active volcano in the Gulf of Naples, best know for his strong eruption in 79 AD, that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman cities of Pompei and Herculaneum, whose ruins you can visit now at the bottom of the mountain. It is the only volcano in Europe to have erupted in the last hundred years (1944) and it is considered the most dangerous in the world also, because of the 3 million people living in the nearby region. But once you gather the courrage to put your feet on the mountain, don t stop until you reach the top, because there is an amazing view waiting to be discovered.
One last thing to enjoy once on the Amalfi Coast is renting a boat with or without sailor, from Amalfi harbour and take a 5 hour cruise along the coast. You will glide past the villages of Positano, Praiano, Minori, Maiori, see the Emerald Grotto and the Marmorata Waterfall and have a swim between the Faraglioni rock formation, after sunbathing on board.