The Amalfi Coast, Italy (la Costiera Amalfitana) is a
beautiful and renowned stretch of mountainous coastline south of Naples,
in Campania. The southern end of the Bay of Naples stretches out in a
steep and rocky peninsula that reaches towards the Isle of Capri.
Sorrento, another major tourist destination, looks back towards Naples
from the north coast of the peninsula. The southern side of the peninsula
is dotted with picturesque villages and towns clinging giddily to cliffs;
this is what is known as the Amalfi Coast.
For decades these fishing villages, stacked precariously above the sea,
have been one of Italy's major tourist attractions. Nowadays the area's
principal industry is tourism, and a staggering number of hotels have been
squeezed into the restricted spaces of the small towns. Well-accustomed to
catering for affluent foreign tourists, the area offers a generous
selection of restaurants, bars, boutiques, boat trips.. just about
anything self-indulgent that you can spend money on.
Although prices are generally high, there are affordable options in the
area. Some visitors find the region over-developed and over-crowded,
especially in the height of summer, but for many the little boutiques,
ceramics shops and the welcome laid on for tourists is part of the
coastline's charm. The views are undeniably breathtaking, and away from
the main road and the tourist hot-spots you can still discover the peace
that charmed earlier visitors.
Amalfi Coast holiday information
The main town of the coast is, of course, Amalfi, and this makes a good
base for exploring the area. Other popular destinations are Ravello,
Praiano and Positano. Ravello is famous for its beautiful gardens perched
high in the mountains above the sea, and for its classical music concerts.
Positano is on the coast to the west of Amalfi, and is a traditionally 'posh'
resort, where incredibly well-dressed tourists wander past exclusive
boutiques before dining at even more exclusive restaurants.
Tourism is of prime importance in the area, and is the major employer.
Consequently, almost everyone you meet will be friendly, obliging, speak
very good English and will do their best to help you.
Amalfi Coast travel information
The coastal road along the Amalfi Coast is famous for its hairpin bends,
fantastic views and general scariness. The busy artery winds along the
cliffs, affording glimpses of blue sea directly below. The towns are all
built at a very steep angle, so streets zigzag backwards and forwards.
Many buildings - including hotels - are only accessible by steep alleys
The public transport along the coast is cheap and fairly efficient. A
company called SITA runs blue buses along the coast, from Salerno to
Amalfi, from Amalfi to Sorrento, and from Amalfi to Ravello. Other small
buses provide transport within the towns.
Ferries connect the principal towns of the Amalfi Coast area, and can be
much quicker than buses. Travelmar (tel. +39 089 872950) run connections
between Salerno, Minori, Amalfi, Positano and Sorrento. In Salerno there
is a tourist information office to your right as you leave the station;
they can give you a timetable for the boats. Salerno to Amalfi takes 35
minutes, and costs €4, with eight departures daily in each direction.
The nearest airport to the Amalfi Coast is Naples Capodichino.
If you're travelling to the Amalfi Coast from Rome or other parts of Italy,
there are a number of options for getting to the area: You can take a
train to Naples or to Salerno. From Salerno you can get the SITA bus to
Amalfi, and then a bus connection onwards if necessary (or take a ferry
all the way from Salerno). From Naples you can take the Circumvesuviana
train to Sorrento (see Sorrento page), then take a SITA bus to Amalfi via
An alternative option is to take a bus all the way from Rome. This is a
much better idea than it may sound at first. A bus company called Marozzi
run a fast efficient coach service from Rome to Amalfi (summer season only)
or to Sorrento (all year round). Obviously this method of travel depends
upon road congestion, but the buses are usually fast and comfortable.
In 2002 Rome-Amalfi bus service operated from 1st June to 30th September,
every day except Sundays. The daily bus leaves Rome at 6am, and stops in
Sorrento, Praiano and Amalfi, arriving in Amalfi at 10:30am. The cost will
be around €20 each way. Before planning your journey call to confirm these
details, as timetables can change. The telephone number for information is
(+39) 06 4424 9519). Alternatively you can enquire and buy tickets at the
Marozzi kiosk by the bus station. (This is outside Tiburtina station;
cross the area where orange ATAC buses are parked and you find a smarter
covered area for long-distance coaches.)
Bear in mind that the buses may not stop close to your hotel, and roads
can be steep or no more than staircases. Ask your hotel for precise
directions, and if necessary carry the address in your hand, and ask the
first locals you see. Some hotels offer their own minibus service for
pick-ups, trips down to the beach etc.; find out about this if your hotel
is one of them.
Capri and Sorrento
Capri, in the Bay of Naples, can be
reached easily from Naples and Sorrento by hydrofoil or ferry. All boats
dock at Marina Grande, from where it's a funicular, bus, or taxi ride up
to Capri Town, the main settlement. Capri is well served by road, but on a
few major ones only cars, taxis, and buses are permitted -- elsewhere foot
power is the mode of transportation.
Sorrento's population (less than 20,000) swells with
tourists in season, all of whom are here to luxuriate in Italy's prettiest
Belle Epoque resort. Winding along a cliff above a small beach and two
harbors, the town is split in two by a narrow ravine formed by a former
mountain stream. To the east, dozens of hotels line busy Via Correale
along the cliff -- many are "grand" (an enconium sometimes included in the
hotel's very name), and some, indeed, still are.
Farther east (and usually out of sight of most tourist
itineraries) is modern Sorrento, engulfed in a wave of "concretitis." If
you make the wrong turn, you can easily think the city is only made up of
apartment blocks and other modern detritus, so beware. To the west,
however, is the historic sector, which still enchants -- it's a relatively
flat area, with winding, stone-paved lanes bordered by balconied buildings,
some joined by medieval stone arches. This part of town is a delightful
place to walk through, especially in the mild evenings, when people are
out and about, and everything is open. Craftspeople are often at work in
their stalls and shops and are happy to let you watch; in fact, that's the
visitors arrive at the Stazione, the end of the line for the
Circumvesuviana Railway; a 10-minute walk to the left along Corso Italia
will bring you to the Piazza Tasso and the center of the historic quarter.
At the station (which also functions as the main bus terminal), note the
bust of Ernesto De Curtis, composer of Turna a Surriento, that
music-box anthem you'll find yourself humming or whistling long after you
Beyond Sorrento, narrow Statale (State Road) 145 winds
westward around the tip of the peninsula and, as Statale 163, returns
eastward along its southern edge. This stretch, from Positano through
Amalfi to Vietri sul Mare and Salerno, is the Amalfi Coast. If you think a
road is just for getting from here to there, the twisty Amalfi Drive is
not for you. The natives joke that to drive it end to end in the English
manner takes three hours; Italian style, a half hour.