The Amalfi Coast is a dream. I’ve wanted to visit this special part of the world for a few years now, and was excited to start my European adventure off in such an idyllic location, incorporating Sorrento, Capri, Amalfi and Positano.
Despite the warnings to be extra cautious in Naples to its notorious reputation for robbery, mugging and affiliations with the Mafia, I wasn’t going to forgo my only evening in the city without trying the one thing that they’re famous for: pizza. At 10pm, my venture out from the safety of my hostel in search of pizza led me along steep, narrow and dirty streets into the heart of the old town. Dark alleyways branched off the bright the main roads which bustling with mopeds and motorbikes, honking their honks whilst stuck in traffic even at this late hour. The main street in the centre of Naples Old Town was filled with people at this late hour, bustling outside bars and restaurants, the dim street lights reflecting off the brick roads and stone arches, the whole area buzzing with live music and delicious smells. Whilst my pizza experience in Naples was tasty, and cheap, but I wouldn’t say it was my best ever.
The next day I travelled to Sorrento on a busy local train down the coast, unfortunately not having time to visit Pompei or Herculaneum but hopefully next time. Sorrento was a last minute choice for me, originally just as a convenience on the way to the Amalfi Coast, but I’m really glad I choose to stay here.
My accommodation was set one stop before Sorrento in a tiny town called Sant’ Agnello, surrounded by high rocky hills and hot dry country. The area is set high upon upon a cliff overlooking the ocean. The walk from St Agnello to Sorrento is easy and pleasant, showcasing fantastic panoramic views along the coast. Pontoons line the base of the cliffs, lined with beach chairs and umbrellas surrounding large perfect swimming areas in the crystal clear ocean.
The streets of Sorrento are narrow between buildings at least 4 stories high, but bright and lively, lined with flags, fairy lights, restaurants and shops selling lemonchello, local trinkets and fragrances. Criss-crossing for quite a way, it’s difficult to choose which way to go and if you’ve already visited a particular road. Further from the main streets, ivy covered stone walkways and archways lead you down the cliff to the port where there more restaurants, lemonchello and fisherman offloading their day’s catchment and washing down their boats in the warm setting sun.
Even late into the night the streets feel safe as they are busy with tourists enjoying amazing Italian pasta or gelato whilst listening to the accordion artist who moves between a restaurants playing lovely music (and of course expecting a tip).
I especially enjoy this time of night as the street cats emerge from their cool sleeping hideouts and roam for food and attention, often entering restaurants to hide under tables or beside the kitchen.
Capri was high on my list to visit, so I decided to take a day trip on a boat which looped the whole island, stopping at the white, emerald and green grottos, natural arch, Faraglion and stopping for swimming and snorkeling before lunch on board. The boat was beautiful with the whole front was designed for sunbathing, relaxing and admiring the views. After many swims, photos and unbelievable vistas later we moored in Capri. The town of Capri is stunning on top of the hill with huge ocean views. It’s a posh little village consisting of high end fashion brands, expensive jewellers and 5 star hotels. The main town of Capri sprawls over the cliff top, providing panoramic views from various spots, including the beautiful Giardini di Augusto offers spectacular views down to Faraglion. The weather was a warm 33degrees meaning an icey lemon slushy, or granita, worked a treat, even better than gelato. Despite the loads of tourists arriving on boats every 15 minutes, the town has a relaxed, calm retreat feeling to it and I enjoyed wandering the many twisting alleyways in isolation, finding hidden doorways or stairways to private terraces.
The following day I journeyed to Positano. I believe the Italians aren’t great at choosing where to build towns, and Positiano is a prime example. The bus ride was crowded, hot and went along some very scary cliff edge roads. However the mission to reach the village adds to its charm and makes you appreciate it more.
My accommodation was situated very high up on the hill and had the most amazing views of the town below from both the social terrace and a private one off my room. Here I met two Australian travelers who I spent the next two days with. The hike into Positano town is a very steep one (over 750 stairs!) which we were happy to adventure down, but always took the bus back to the top to save us the hour long climb. The town is very quaint and filled with shops selling lemonchello, beachwear, lace and crochet clothing, jewellery stalls and eateries. It winds down the hill and every corner is a picture perfect location, with the view peeking through at many surprising moments. The port is a bustling little area, lined with restaurants, pizzerias, gelaterias, pasticcera and more lace/croacit shops. The main beach is lined with orange and blue beach chairs but I prefer to take the small path at the right of the port which takes you on a short walk over the hill to Spiaggia Fornillo which is a smaller, cleaner and more seculded beach. I’ve enjoyed multiple swims at the far end among the rocks, castles and clean crystal water.
Pasta, pizza or gnocchi every night as per the waiters’ suggestion added to my stay here in Positano as the food is just amazing – authentic Italian cuisine at equally beautiful restaurants with equally stunning views.
A small boat with a friendly Italian skipper will take you for free from the main port to the next beach to the east called Arienzo. We spent the day at this idyllic location, sunbathing, swimming and adventuring around the coves to find perfect places to jump off the rocks into the ocean. This was what I’d dreamed of doing in the Amalfi Coast for a long time – seculded bays, crystal water, hot sunshine and rocky bays. I highly recommended choosing Arienzo, or at least Fornillo over Spiaggia Grande as it quieter, away from the busy port and has a nice costal relaxing feel.
Venturing a bit further than Positano itself, we also took a boat ride to Amalfi, where we explored this small but lovely village. The bus up to Bomerano, the start of the Walk of the Gods was closed that day unfortunately, so instead we choose to visit Ravello, which is just a 25minute bus trip up the hill. Winding up into the mountains gives you stunning coastal views reaching for miles. Similar to Capri and Positano, the village has small winding alleyways and stone walkways between the houses, sprawled across the top of the hill. I believe I’ve chosen the perfect time of year to travel as the weather feels still very much like Summer, but there are much smaller crowds. I’ve explored towns where there’s been no other tourists around making it very pleasant and giving me a feel for what it’s really like for the locals who live here. I like to leave the main streets and venture into the roads where local people live, tiny restaurants are hidden and secret back entrances into churches can be found.
In Ravello I also found many tiny friendly kittens which made me very happy. All the small towns I’ve been to on this trip seem to really look after their stray cats, as multiple times I’ve seen locals with bowls of food and water left out and you can tell by how friendly the cats are they they’re used to human contact. We also saw two weddings and the beautiful venues ready for their reception parties – one was so magical that from the viewpoint at the top of the stairs were tables covered in white roses, Cinderella terraces and low lying cloud over the mountains making the whole area feel like a fairytale.
Mornings waking up to the wonderful sea view overlooking the town and the ocean made it very hard to leave, but I’m excited that I was able to call Positano home for a few days and can’t wait to bring family and friends back in the future. Small town Positano is a perfect reflection of everything I dream Italy to be, and at the same time the friendly, helpful locals really do live by ‘Italian time’. This makes an organized traveller like myself often frustrated and confused at cancelled buses, changes in ferry times and shop closures so the owner can have their afternoon sleep. If there’s one this this adventure is going to teach me its flexibility, as things are bound to change and its best to just roll with the adventure as it happens.