Travel Diary - Amalfi Coast
From Vietri Sul Mare at one end of the rugged coastline to Positano and Sorrento at the other, the Amalfi Coast is laden with small fishing villages, pastel-coloured hamlets, wisteria galore and the most inviting azure ocean.
The area boasts a rich history and you’ll find crumbling mansions and ancient churches as you wander through old cobbled streets. I’m not a big fan of shopping and love the outdoors so we spent the majority of our time hiking (be sure to climb up the steps to check out the view over Fiordo Di Furore), swimming and meandering through the streets in whatever direction they chose with no real plan. Incidentally, we found the best food in those narrow streets... just as you start to think you’ve wandered too far from civilisation. Pasta, risotto, gelato... we completely indulged and didn’t regret a moment!
Alongside the culinary delights of the region, the area is also rich with artisans. in particular ceramics - present since the 1600s. Vietri Sul Mare is the place to shop for ceramics, where the authenticity is protected by Italian law in an attempt to preserve the area’s cultural heritage. The other big industry in Amalfi is lemons which are not only visually vibrant but fill the air with an incredible scent which wafts from shops selling everything from Limoncello to lemon-infused beauty products.
We visited in Spring (most of the amenities are closed over the winter months) and it proved to be the perfect time with the tourist season slowly cranking into motion. The coastline is hugged by one narrow and busy coast road which isn’t for the faint-hearted but is a necessity if you want to explore. Luckily Italian cars are small and nifty so be sure you opt for a compact hire car and bring little luggage rather than piling yourselves into a people carrier and hoping for the best. On-street parking is also a bit of a nightmare so be prepared to pay tourist prices in the car parks (particularly in Positano).
We stayed at the historic and family-owned Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi, a late 19th century villa cut into the rock face above the Tyrrhenian Sea. We were treated to clear panoramic coastline views from the restaurant balcony with wisteria providing cover from the morning sun at breakfast. The layered gardens are beautiful, taking you from stone balconies covered in flowers of all colours, down to fragrant lemon groves and finally the outdoor swimming pool. But be sure to take the elevator down at some point too.... we loved descending down the cliff-face and watching through the glass window!
One of the highlights of our Amalfi Coast trip was the breakfast at Hotel Santa Caterina where and the morning hot chocolate enjoyed whilst still dressed in fluffy white bathrobes. Other delicious memories include the deep bath, the room service menu of classic Amalfi dishes given a modern twist, hot tea in the lounge area surrounded by antiquities and soft cushions, and wonderful staff.
Below are some of my favourite experiences from our trip....
- The viewing point at Villa Cimbrone Gardens in Ravello
Set away from the coast and up in the mountains, Ravello is just so incredibly romantic and the views are picture-perfect. It wasn’t on our to-do list originally but we stopped there on our drive out of Amalfi. I’m so glad we did and it’s the place I most want to go back to.
- Bold and bright ceramics in Vietri Sul Mare
I thoroughly enjoyed browsing the shops in this colourful village. You don’t really need to shop to be exposed to the incredible ceramic artwork here; the walls and floors and water fountains and houses are covered in beautifully painted tiles.
- Marina di Praia
We stumbled on this sweet little marina during one of our adventures with no particular destination. Traditional fishing boats head out every morning and then bring their catch back to the restaurants in the bay. It's a lovely spot for a lazy afternoon.