Italy's Amalfi Coast (Part 03): Swims, Hikes and Other Explorations
Atrani is a small village directly northeast of Amalfi accessible by a short walk through the tunnels dug into the mountainside for the Luna Rossa car park. The town is noticeably slower paced and less visited than its big brother, especially on the beach, which is where we spent most of our time while visiting.
Cetara is a charming fishing town a 40-minute bus ride east of Amalfi. Picking the buses up from Amalfi can be a bit hectic because of the large crowds and the fact that Amalfi is the terminating stop for many of the routes, but we learned a little trick that made things much easier. Instead of waiting for the bus to pick you up at the designated pick-up bus stop (40.633769, 14.602907), wait instead around the drop-off bus stop (40.633539, 14.602105) where passengers are let off and the busses turn around to start their next journeys. In addition to making the bus boarding experience much smoother, getting on early allows you to snag the best seats (on the right when travelling eastward and on the left when travelling westward). After a quick stop in the beautiful San Pietro Apostolo and taking the view of the town in from the end of the Via Galea jetty, we set up shop on the beach to sunbathe. We grabbed lasagna and gnocchi takeaway from Punto e Pasta—eating pasta on the beach is something that feels OK only in Italy!
While the seaside towns are an obvious draw in this part of the world, do not miss out on the views and cool breezes awaiting you up in the mountains. No visit to the Amalfi Coast is complete without some time in sky-high Ravello, famous for its summertime music festival. Once again, the reliable (which isn’t standard for public transit in southern Italy) SITA busses whisked us from Amalfi’s port up a series of winding roads and deposited us right near Ravello’s center. We visited Villa Rufolo (well worth the price of admission for the views alone), the elegant Duomo, and enjoyed gelato in Piazza Centrale. Rather than taking the bus to get back down to Amalfi, we walked down a series of streets, alleys and staircases. The path is well marked, but be sure to bring water!
Arguably our most memorable day started with a hike on the Sentiero degli Dei (“Path of the Gods”). The name is no joke. We have done many scenic walks and hikes in our travels in the last year and a half, but this one has to be very near to the —if not the—top. Ride the bus 40 minutes from Amalfi to Agerola (Bomerano) and then walk from there to the trail head (40.625050, 14.534750). Do the hike early in the morning before it’s too hot, though be sure to bring plenty of water either way. There are a couple of fountains along the way where you can top up your bottles. We did the hike from east to west as it’s more downhill that direction (though still moderately strenuous, especially in the summer months), ensures the best views (along the coast pointing toward Capri) are always right in front of you, and also means that the morning sun is always behind you. The path ends just before the town of Nocelle at 40.629110,14.506810 and is well marked. It took us about 2 hours, but plan anything from 2 to 3 depending on how often you stop to rest (while admiring the views of course!) and also how fit you are. We could write and write and write about what we saw, but we’ll let the pictures do the talking.
Once we recharged with a funky lemon drink from a strategically located stand in Nocelle, we set off to get back to sea level. There are 1,700 steps down to the coast from Nocelle and they are a pain after the strain of the hike, but we powered through, especially since we knew we’d be rewarded with Bagni d’Arienzo, a beach hidden away not far off from the picture perfect town of Positano. Our bodies have never before (or since!) needed a dip in the sea as much as they did that day. We also recharged with some food at the beach’s restaurant—captivatingly good ravioli with lemon in a red sauce. Feeling refreshed, we grabbed a small boat to Positano.
Positano is perhaps even more famous than Amalfi and rightfully so. The town is just straight out of a postcard, with a perfectly manicured beach, stacks of colorful houses rising up into the mountains, and a web of little streets to explore. Our legs weren’t quite in the shape to explore a hilly town, but we did our best! We started in the Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, walked through the grounds of Palazzo Murat, and then looped up some of the smaller streets and alleyways to Nana di Caiazzo Anna. You’ll find these little custom shoemakers all over the Amalfi Coast and we had heard good things about this one. Britt ordered some custom sandals and we got to watch them made right before our eyes! They are now a staple in her wardrobe that remind her of our trip with every wear. After making our way back down to the center, we walked up and down the beach and grabbed gelato and lemon sorbet (served in a lemon!) at Brasserie del Covo before hopping on the ferry back to Amalfi.
Italy was host to our very first European trip together back in 2013 and has since held a special place in our hearts. Our trip to the Amalfi Coast was our first time going back to the country since and we were both a bit afraid that it wasn’t going to live up to our expectations. We think it’s safe to say that Italy once again shattered our expectations and proved, as it always does, why it’s one of the most visited countries on Earth. This was truly the perfect trip—warm weather, good food, friendly people, nature, hiking, swimming, picturesque towns. The list goes on. Luckily Italy has a lot to offer and we know we’ll be back to another region of this boot-shaped peninsula someday in the future!