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There’s an allure to Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast, which is why the region has been attracting visitors for years. Home to dramatic cliffside scenery, seaside towns with pebbled beaches, the nearby ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, the famous Isle of Capri, and the stunning Mediterranean Sea, the Amalfi coast is a must-visit on a Southern Italy vacation. It is best to pre-arrange your itinerary, particularly between June and August, when tourism is in high season. This might include organizing day trips, car hire, accommodations, and even pre-booking restaurants (to get the best tables). After returning from from a week in Amalfi, here are my recommendations of where to go and what to visit:
Perched 365 meters above the sea, Ravello is a mountaintop town famous for its beautiful gardens and music and arts scene. You can spend the afternoon strolling the terraced gardens inside the 13th Century Villa Rufolo (note there is an entrance fee of 7 EUR per person), or take in the magnificent Duomo (cathedral). If you’re like me and always looking for a nice souvenirs, you can shop for handmade Italian crafts, art and pottery. In the summer you can catch an outdoor music concert, as part of the annual Ravello Festival (be sure to book your tickets in advance).
The ruined city of Pompeii is an absolute must-see, and is worth the drive from your accommodations in Amalfi. Pompeii is an ancient city frozen in time. In 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted, the entire city, including many citizens, was buried in ash and rock, preserving this civilization. Today, it is an active archaeological site where new discoveries are constantly being made. Pompeii itself covers a large area, and it’s not possible to see all of it in one day, unless you plan to walk for several hours. Most people spend around two to three hours at Pompeii (keep it mind it is quite hot in summer with minimal shade). You guide will take you on a walk to see the ancient houses, the theatre, and baths, taking your imagination back to what it must have been like to be part of Roman civilization almost 2000 years ago. I recommend visiting in the afternoon (we arrived at 3pm) as it is beginning to cool, and there weren’t too many other tourists. Booking ahead on a guided tour is a must.
The Marissa Cuomo Winery, located in Furore, near Amalfi and Positano, is not only a scenic stop for wine tasting and lunch but it has a fascinating wine making process. The grapes are grown on practically vertical slopes, at an altitude of 500 meters, which makes for a challenging harvest. Marissa Cuomo is a boutique, family-run winery, so the wine is not mass produced. The wine tours are well worth it. You can learn about their unique wine making process, and of course sample the high quality products.
Capri is a world-famous Island, and is a favourite day trip destination for travellers. It’s a must-see, but you can expect heavy crowds in July and August, so it’s best to have your itinerary planned ahead of time. If your budget allows, I recommend upgrading to a private boat tour. Upon arrival by boat, you can explore Capri and Anacapri at a leisurely pace, taking in the views, wandering around the towns, or stopping for lunch or a gelato. Afterwards, depending on your itinerary, spend some time cruising on the water – this is a beautiful not only for the natural scenery, but you can expect to see some pretty incredible yachts and super-yachts in the water. Capri attracts a VIP crowd! I recommend going as early as possible in the day.
The sun setting behind the Mediterranean Sea is the perfect backdrop for a tasty Italian wine, or a Negroni. A beautiful spot to watch sunset is at the Relais Blu Hotel, located in in Massa Lubrense, which has a gorgeous rooftop cocktail bar and restaurant with views of Capri. You don’t need to be a hotel guest to drink or dine here. Make sure to time your arrival with the sunset.
If you embark on the 3.5km, moderately difficult walk from the small fishing village of Nerano, in Massa Lubrense, you will arrive at the beach of La Baia di Leranto, a protected marine reserve and popular spot with locals. Here you’ll discover a stunning turquoise sea, home to many fish and coral, perfect for snorkeling and swimming. As it’s a protected area, no motorized vehicles are allowed to come into the bay. What’s great about this reserve is that since it’s in a fairly remote location, accessed only by foot or by sea, you won’t find crowds. Bring what you need for the day as there are no shops nearby. A packed lunch or snacks, water, good walking shoes, and a snorkel mask, and you’re all set for the day. Don’t hike in the heat of the day, and cool off with a swim – one of my highlights on the Amalfi.
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