One of those trips that can only be called unforgettable is a trip around the Amalfi Coast. The beauty of the landscape and views, has been carefully preserved in this area, and not only in the smaller, more unknown and difficult to reach coves. The journey outlined in this mini-guide to the area, is designed for those who have decided to take a trip around these parts, during the summer holidays. However, it should be mentioned that during the off-season, these places take on a different kind of magic, equally worth experiencing, with the added benefit of being able to do so without the crush the masses who flock here during the summer months.
We will start the journey a few kilometers before the junction that leads to Vietri sul Mare, the gateway to the curves of the Amalfi coast, and specifically from Cava de' Tirreni. A walk under the shady porticos of this town, which is steeped in history, accompanied by a visit to the Cathedral and the Abbey dating from 1011, are only some of the possible ways to discover the wonders of this part of Italy, and are a good warmup before facing the many curves ahead before we reach the heart of the Amalfi Coast.
Here, until a couple of decades ago, you would have found in the grounds of the town hall, a cart that sold paper cones filled with nose of pork and boiled corn on the cob, and in all likelihood they would have been our ‘what to eat’ recommendations for the place. Now that the old traditions have given way to new habits, the city boasts more than one proposal to stop and eat, with a good attitude to street food, to sink you teeth into as wander through its alleyways.
And if there are some keen walkers among you, from the mountains surrounding Cava de' Tirreni it is possible to set off and explore the Amalfi coast with a backpack and a great desire to walk, to see the scenery from the top down and have the opportunity to appreciate a hidden, but no less impressive side of this dramatic landscape. There is no shortage of proposals and itineraries online, selected according to the distance you feel you can manage, but it will certainly be a unique way of experiencing the area.
Driving by car in the direction of Salerno, after a few kilometers you will reach Molina di Vietri, a small village where you can stop to enjoy a hot ‘zeppola’ (Italian style donut), before getting lost among the many proposals that you will find for traditional pottery stopping in Vietri sul mare, a UNESCO world heritage site, as are all the other towns along the Amalfi Coast. Here, after a walk in the upper area of the town and a stroll down again, as far as the Marina, you will start to breathe a holiday atmosphere. And once you’ve re-energized yourself with a slice of thick crust pizza with sliced tomato (according to tradition it should be more than one fingers’ width high), and cooled off with an italian Gelato, you can enjoy a legitimate break dedicated to finding the hand-painted china set you’ve so often dreamed about.
If you suffer from the car sickness, hold on tight, because from here on there will be curves a plenty, all the way Positano, the end of our mini-guided tour, located approximately 40 km from Vietri.
Taking the state road 163 (strada statale 163 Amalfitana), from the very first curve you will be able to enjoy the magnificent scenery, stretching from the port of Salerno, in the background, to the points that can be seen beyond the bends, with mountains that descend steeply down to the sea.
After a few more hair raising curves we arrive at the small port of Cetara, with the town that extends behind it, at the foot of Mount Falerio. Once a place dedicated solely to fishing, Cetara today deserves its status as a tourist attraction, thanks to products such as Colatura di alici (a traditional, salted anchovy sauce), a real gastronomic gem of this place, which is none other than the modern version of the "garum" much used by the ancient Romans in their kitchen. A stroll along the arms of the port is a must, with fishermen preparing nets for fishing, and a wander through the lanes of the village, to discover small bars that have sprung up just behind the Via Marina. From Cetara itself you take a boat to explore the beaches and coves in the area, which are difficult to reach by land. From the ‘beach of lemons’, so called because it is surrounded by lemon trees that grow on terraces on the mountainside, to that of Cauco, in Erchie, there are plenty of distinctive places take a dip surrounded by beautiful scenery, admiring from the sea the breathtaking landscape of these very special places, with the Lattari mountains that plunge straight into the sea and the small towns that dot the territory.
After rounding the promontory headland of Capo d'Orso, we will take a visit to Maiori and Minori before arriving in Amalfi. But we will continue our mini-guided tour in part 2. If you want to book your next vacation on the Amalfi Coast, please contact Personal Travels HERE.
Originally published in Italian
Translation and adaptation for English by Ciarán Durkan