Dear reader, lover of our beautiful country and culture, especially of the slow and colorful lifestyle that distinguishes us, this right here is a guide to the most beautiful places on our beloved Amalfi Coast – easy for me to say, less so to do, considering that 99% of the towns and villages on this coast have been defined as “the most beautiful”. Below, you will not find historical information that might confuse you with dates and events, nor big and renowned names such as Sorrento, Amalfi and Positano, while incredibly beautiful in their uniqueness, they are definitely overcrowded. So, consider what follows an emotional review of some of the small gems set in the Campania region, exactly between Naples and Salerno. Here, as the great Italian singer and songwriter Lucio Dalla taught us with the unmistakable song Caruso, “where the sea shines and the wind blows strong.”
The Amalfi coast is a real love story. There are no rules to follow. From the first time you visit a relationship of complicity will be established. You will want to know it even more deeply and discover, step by step, the secrets that belong to the coast. Don’t hurry, and don’t be discouraged when you find it overly crowded, as they say, beautiful things are admired by everyone, but at the same time they make you wait. So have patience, let yourself be carried away by the landscapes and the air scented with sun and iodine. Find a bit of an escape in the list below, some small and valuable tips for taking refuge in magical and out of the ordinary places.
If your journey starts from Naples, Vico Equense is the first of the villages you will encounter when arriving on the Amalfi Coast. It’s the village overlooking the sea par excellence, and its narrow streets full of fountains and tiny roundabouts light up like fireflies in the evening. It is the perfect spot for breathtaking sunsets thanks to its strategic location; it is located exactly in front of the gulf of Naples, offering one of the most breathtaking views of Mount Vesuvius.
A few little secrets: Once you have reached Vico Equense, don’t miss out on an excellent meal at Torre del Saracino. The cuisine, prepared by chef Gennaro Esposito, is next level, flavorful and at the same time delicate, filled with harmonious contrasts, varied combinations all cooked with a lot of passion and respect for the local culture and tradition with a never lacking pinch of innovation. Furthermore, the name is not misleading. The restaurant is located inside a tower, made entirely in stone, dating back thirteen thousand years, a place where the sea meets the land and tradition meets innovation.
It feels like a ghost town but before you even know it, you find yourself catapulted into it as the main road, the same one that crosses all the Amalfi coast, runs right through its center. Its landscapes will certainly not go unnoticed. The Praiano palette is made up of three simple, unforgettable colors: the white of the buildings, the pinkish mauve of the climbing bougainvillea and the blue, the crystal, cobalt blue of the infinite sea ahead. Hidden, a few hundreds steps below the main center, on route towards Marina di Praia beach, you will surely notice a rocky tower, dotted with the presence of prickly pear plants on the path leading to its entrance. The tower with a conical structure and circular plan is one of the thirty-four remaining today on the Amalfi coast, and can be visited for free.
If that’s not enough to convince you to pay it a visit, the fabulous artist and sculptor Paolo Sandulli’s studio housed within it will definitely get you going. Every time, I stop and spend a few minutes in his company. His conscious gaze towards the coast transmits a new perspective and reveals a passion for his land with every breath.
Along the road, after moments of awareness together with the artist, going up towards the main road, on the paved path covered with colorful mosaics here and there, you will suddenly feel an incredible hunger devouring your stomach and fatigue will suddenly spike. The slope’s incline is tough but it is not necessary to be in good shape, only willing to take the journey. Don’t worry, right when you will feel all the energy leaving you, Caffe Mirante is there to save you, to give you the perfect break between one step and another, and remind you why this hike is worth every drop of sweat. You might have missed on your way down due to the number of steps just taken and overwhelmed by the beauty you’ve just experienced, but you will definitely notice and need it on your hike up. A refreshing pit stop for the body and soul. Caffè Mirante, a small open air cafe perched on the edge of a cliff, with tiled tables and breathtaking views, just one of the many secret wonders this one street town reserves for its visitors.
Atrani, nestled between sea and mountains a few steps from Amalfi, is Italy’s smallest town by surface, a place that cannot be missed.
Being so small, is not a place of many attractions, yet it will capture the attention of the traveler in search of peace, meditation and silence.
Fiordo di Furore
Ah … dear reader, no words will do this place justice. As unique as it is rare. Only Big Sur in California can vaguely resemble it. In the past the Fiordo di Furore served as a place for bandits looking for a hiding place; today it is a tiny cove with a thin strip of sand filled with swimmers during the summer months. Until a few years ago, every year, a diving competition was held during the month of July. Crowning the magnificence of this place is a natural rock arch above which the main panoramic road passes. If you are at the Fiord in the colder months, linger on the nuance of the clear water that enchants, and climb the stairs, taking the path that extends to the right. You will enter a path with a mesmerizing view, overlooking the sea. Walk and enjoy the clean air and the sense of freedom, in an earthly paradise that is unique to say the least.
Vietri Sul Mare
Along the winding and panoramic road that descends from Naples to Salerno, Vietri is the last town you come across. Renowned for its unmistakable craftsmanship, it excels in the production of ceramics ranging from pots to tiles, from pastel colors to the more gaudy fuchsia and cobalt blue. For those born there until a few generations ago, craftsmanship was the only possible profession. A local gentleman told me with the light in his eyes that he was the only one in the family who was not interested in producing and decorating ceramics, therefore among the first to leave his town to look for work, thus traveling every day on those roads impossible to memorize but forever imprinted in the heart. The best advice I can give you all is to immerse yourself in our country, do not follow any maps, get lost in the alleys and talk to the locals, chests of stories to treasure. Live like a local. Stop in one of the thousand dairies or resale points in the center and ask for a fresh mozzarella cut into cubes so you can enjoy it while walking. On foot, walk towards the Villa Comunale, an all-round open-air museum. The path inside the villa, entirely decorated with colored majolica, will lead you to the sea. Between the bright colors of the majolica and the green of the luxuriant vegetation, stop for a few seconds to take it all in.
Elevated compared to other cities, Ravello exudes a different feeling. It feels as if isolated from the world. You can observe the splendor of the coast from above and the sparkle of the sea from afar. Don’t worry if you feel like the protagonist of a fairy tale, it happens to everyone. And finally, savor a glass of white wine at sunset in the gardens of Villa Cimbrone and the infinity terrace, a real earthly Eden.
Conca dei Marini
Conca dei Marini is located between Amalfi and Furore. It is said that the sfogliatella of Santa Rosa was invented here, in the convent of the same name. In Naples it then became the sfogliatella riccia, slightly varying the recipe; while in Salerno they still use the exact same recipe today. Embraced by the rocks, boasting the wonderful Grotta dello Smeraldo, a karst cave of thirty meters, partially flooded by the sea and so called because the light that penetrates inside is reflected, making the water emerald green. During the year it hosts few inhabitants, but in summer it turns into one of the most exclusive locations on the coast. Nobody would know that this was once a very simple fishing village.