The Amalfi Coast has long been one of my travel goals and I was elated to finally get to this region of Italy. Its colorful old houses that perch impossibly on the sides of steep cliffs over the ocean are just astounding to look at. A picture perfect storybook of a landscape. I had already fantasized about all of the shots I planned to get of the place. Unfortunately fate is a cruel mistress and near the end of our Rome visit I tore my calf muscle and have had a slow recovery over the last leg of our trip. I could barely walk around and when I did it was painful. So this magical place which is comprised of thousands of stairs winding up magical mountainside paths, became the worst place for me to be at this particular time. *sad grumpy face* So instead of my intensely ferret-like activity of deep exploration one town at a time, I hired a driver to take us to the scenic panoramas and drive us close the center of towns to minimize the amount of wear on my leg. It turned out to be an amazing day of breathtaking vistas and quaint little sea towns. I don’t regret any of it. And I’m so happy I got to see this amazing landscape for myself.
Positano is perhaps the most visually stunning and postcard famous of the Amalfi coast towns. Its steep mountainside location is absolutely unbelievable. Tiny roads wind back and forth through a vertical landscape slowly down to the coast and small beach at the water’s edge. When we started our adventure I had dreams about staying here and taking all of the amazing shots that I had seen through the years. But when you have a sprained calf, it’s not an ideal place to spend the day endlessly trudging up and down stairs. But I did the best I could under the circumstances to see the city.
Some of the best views are from the water and the beach which I didn’t get down to. But I stopped at both side panoramas and we walked down through the lower part of the town and saw the main church. Honestly the town was pretty stretched out across the steep hills. I didn’t really get a good sense of a central Positano. Maybe if we had spent a few days there.
Amalfi isn’t quite as visually spectacular at first glance, but the town of Amalfi is much more centralized and easy to navigate. There’s quite the lovely town once you get inside with an amazing cathedral and lots of great places to eat and explore. The views from the beach are quite lovely too. We actually enjoyed our time in Amalfi more than Positano and it was a better place to stop for lunch for sure. Even though I was walking slow we got to see a lot of the city and enjoyed it. If you’re looking for a town on the coast to call home base, this city was more livable than the others we visited.
A great discovery in Amalfi.
While eating lunch in Amalfi, a cruise ship had recently landed so the main square was absolutely polluted with tourists. It was unmanageably crowded for us so we took a turn down a narrow alley and found a less popular part of town and ran into this little deli with no one around it. I asked the deli guy what he would eat and he made us one of the best sandwiches we have had in a while. A crusty white bun, pancetta, whole olives, and smoked provola, which was an amazing discovery. Provola is like a fresh mozzarella but a bit more aged while still being soft and wet. It’s then smoked so you get a really fresh cheese with big smoke flavor. It was amazing. I bought an entire round of it later and took a good 2 weeks to finish it. I also tried a caponata napoletana, sort of a local bread salad with olives, tomatoes, and anchovies. Not to be confused with the Sicilian caponata which is entirely different (even though you can literally see Sicily from Amalfi).
Ravello is near Amalfi but instead of being on the coast it sits at the top of the mountain. A narrow, often one lane road, leads up into the heavens until you find yourself at the quaint little town perched on the mountain top. All of the hillsides nearby are terraced and little houses dot the mountains with steep stairs connecting everything. The town center has a little square with restaurants and coffeeshops and a church. A big villa to visit. The main road passes through a tunnel and on the other side amazing views of the coastline below. It was a cute little town to visit.