Italy is full of scenic drives. There are the honey-colored sunsets of Tuscany, sepia-toned ruins of Ostia, and the snow-capped cityscapes of Torino. But if you want a ride with the bluest of blues then the only place to find yourself is along Campania’s La Costiera Amalfitana, The Amalfi Coast. This coastal road links Sorrento with Salerno and is dotted with candy-colored fishing ports and fortified ancient towers. There is so much to see on this magnificent stretch of road that your agenda should include several different itineraries because it is difficult to tackle it in just one day. So, rent a car and explore the road that is sure to take your breath away as you climb the hills out of Sorrento and head toward key stops along the way to Salerno.
1. Positano – There is a lovely little lemonade stand just before reaching Positano. It affords those postcard views you always see of this famous cliff-side town. The rest stop itself caters to tour buses but ignore the masses and climb down the steps for some of the best photo ops you can imagine. Parking is extremely difficult in the heart of Positano and after taking your great shots from the rest stop you would be much better off bypassing the center and heading further south.
2. Furore – is an ancient municipality highlighted by a beach at the bottom of a towering fjord, which then rises some 550 meters to the village of Agerola. Furore is at once majestic in its raw beauty with mountains that reach toward the sky and waves that crash along the fortified towers which dot the coastline. Furore itself is comprised of several smaller villages, one of which is the pretty port of Praiano.
3. Praiano – is an ancient fishing borgo. (OK, so all of these villages offer fishing but that’s just how it is when you’re a coastal community!) Again parking is difficult but a stop in Praiano is worth it if you can climb down to the piazza in front of the oft-photographed Church of San Gennaro. Its dome rises before you as you come around the bend and is even more spectacular when viewed from a boat on the water. You should also make your way down the steep and winding road which leads you to the beach. It may be small in size but is enormously full of charm and the warmth of the locals who greet everyone as old friends.
4. Amalfi –comes upon you as a pleasant surprise, as the road directs you to the port and the bustling area around the marina. It is hard to imagine that this tourist-filled area was once a major maritime powerhouse for over 400 years. A leading trading port in the Mediterranean between 839 and 1200, Amalfi has kept many of its ancient traditions alive in the 21st century and has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Parking here, as in most of the ancient Amalfi Coast villages, is difficult but is best found if you turn right at the central taxi stop and head toward the end of the pier. Then journey up the hill and absorb the view that awaits you in Amalfi’s central Piazza del Duomo. Your first glimpse of St. Andrew’s Cathedral is something not easily conveyed in words or photos.
La Costiera Amalfitana is more than just scenic drive in Italy. It is a road of dreams and I have but barely scratched its surface.
Lisa Fantino is an award-winning journalist-turned attorney and nearly fanatical vagabond. Her passport is always at the ready and she is the Italy travel consultant behind Wanderlust Women Travel and the Italy destination wedding site Wanderlust Weddings; she also writes travel features for MNUI Travel Insurance.