From Salerno to Positano and Sorrento
Overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Amalfi Coast extends in the Gulf of Salerno and includes some of its most famous places, from Positano to Ravello and naturally Amalfi.
The road unwinds like a balcony suspended between the cobalt-blue sea and the slopes of the Lattari Mountains along alternating valleys and promontories between small bays, beaches and terraces cultivated with citruses, vineyards and olive groves. It’s a unique place that has been included in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites.Our journey starts in Salerno, a wonderful city in the homonymous gulf of the Tyrrhenian Sea between the Amalfi Coast, the Sele plain and the Cilento area (to the south), in the spot in which the Irno Valley opens towards the sea. To get a feel for it, take a stroll along the Lungomare Trieste seaside promenade and visit the medieval d’Arechi castle dominating Salerno from above.Vietri sul Mare is 3 km away. It extends inwards from the coast, while the Marina area overlooks the sea. This marvellous town is the cradle of majolica artwork and it’s no coincidence that the dome of the splendid church of San Giovanni Battista and the façade of the Archconfraternity of Annunziata e del Rosario is covered with these colourful ceramic works of art.The fishing villages of Cetara and Maiori - among the most popular seaside resorts for their fine-sand beach - boast churches whose domes are finished with majolica tiles (respectively the church of San Pietro and the church of Santa Maria a Mare). However, make sure to tour the extremely scenic point of Capo d’Orso (Bear’s Cape) and the abbey of Santa Maria de Olearia dug out in the rock , which are before Maiori.Then head inland from Maiori towards Tramonti, land of master pizza makers. However, if you continue along the coast, you’ll come to Minori, which is considered heaven on the coast thanks to its airy, fresh climate.
Atrani is not at all involved in mass tourism, and therefore its seafaring authenticity has remained intact.There is a turnoff here for Ravello, which is nestled at 350 m asl. Its elegant villas have made it one of the coast’s most enchanting towns: The gardens and panoramic viewpoints at Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone are absolutely breathtaking.Heading down towards the sea is the town of Amalfi, the ancient Maritime Republic after which the coast was named. The Arab-Sicilian cathedral of Sant’Andrea Apostolo - rebuilt in Baroque style in the 1700’s - with its marvellous flight of steps and charming cloister must be toured.After having crossed delightful Praiano, you’ll reach Positano, a holiday resort since Roman times with its white houses heading down towards the sea and surrounding the church of Santa Maria Assunta (its dome also has majolica tiles).Its little alleyways are typical and have numerous shops where local crafts can be purchased, along with the flights of steps taking people from the top part of town down to the beach. Among the most important beaches are Spiaggia Grande and Spiaggia di Fornillo, which can both be reached on foot; La Porta, Arienzo and San Pietro Laurito beaches can all be reached by boat.The road to Sorrento which is then wedged in and takes travellers to Sant’Agata dei Due Golfi (the due golfi or two gulfs being Naples and Salerno) is quite charming.Lastly, Sorrento - the city of citruses - embraces the Gulf of Naples, the ideal starting point for a trip to Capri, Ischia, Naples, Ercolano and Pompeii.This town extends harmoniously on a high tufaceous sheer terrace dominating the sea from 50 metres asl, surrounded by lush vegetation. The old town centre still has ancient traces of Roman origin and is surrounded on one side by 16th-century walls. It is also home to the cathedral (rebuilt in the 15th century) and its Neo-Gothic façade, and the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, with a significant 14th-century cloister and Arab-style portico. Visitors should also visit the Correale museum, take a stroll in the park where they will enjoy a magnificent view of the gulf, and take a tour of Punta del Capo, which is the location of the ruins of what is believed to be the villa of Pollio Felice (1st century AD).A short detour is a must, towards the hamlets of Nerano, Marina del Cantone and the renowned Ieranto bay, which although are part of Massa Lubrense located on the Sorrento stretch of coast, overlook the Gulf of Salerno and are considered some of the most popular seaside resorts on the Amalfi coast.In particular, Ieranto bay is a true natural paradise, where access by all motor boats is absolutely prohibited. The bay can be reached by taking a path that starts out in Nerano.
Another less well-known but charming route crosses the nature reserve of the Mulini Valley (or Ferriere Valley), just outside Amalfi, at the beginning of which is Amalf’s Museo della Carta (Paper Museum) in an old paper mill from the 1300’s. People from Amalfi learned how to process paper from the Arabs starting in the 1100’s, and soon they had the monopoly of production in Europe, so much so that paper from Amalfi is still renowned and exported abroad.
ARTISTS AND FAMOUS PEOPLE IN LOVE WITH THE AMALFI COAST
Pablo Picasso, Luigi Pirandello, Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica and Elizabeth Taylor went for walks in Positano.Rudolph Nureyev purchased the Li Galli islands in front of Positano, making the villa of choreographer Leonida Massine his refuge.Actress Anna Magnani had a house in the Gulf of Furore. Goethe described the coast as charming, Giovanni Boccaccio immortalized it in his Decameron, Richard Wagner and Edvard Grieg composed Parsifal and Peer Gynt in Ravello, where Greta Garbo, Henrik Ibsen, Joan Mirò, William Turner, Edward M. Forster, Virginia Wolf, David Herbert Lawrence, Graham Greene, André Gide, Gore Vidal, Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein and Mstislav Rostropovich also stayed. The Kennedys, Aristotele Onassis, Sofia Loren, Gianni Agnelli and Caroline of Monaco adored Conca dei Marini beach. Lord Byron, John Keates, Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and Neapolitan tenor Enrico Caruso stayed in Sorrento, which was part of the Grand Tour starting the 19 century.
TYPICAL PRODUCTSMajolica ware and colourful pottery are quite characteristic and many of these products replicate the image of the Sfusato Amalfitano, the typical lemon cultivated on the coast and protected by the PGI mark (protected geographical indication).
Recipes for fish dishes include spaghetti with short-necked clams, soups, fried anchovies, swordfish roulades, small octopus with sauce and peppered mussels.
Also try Sorrento dumplings, spaghetti with walnuts and cream horns.
Local cheese products are also well-known: Mozzarella served plain or roasted on lemon leaves and filled ravioli seasoned with melted butter and lemon rind.
Every good meal must be completed with a glass of limoncello. This is a traditional liqueur distilled from the rind of lemons only cultivated here.Sweets include Santa Rosa, a traditional puff pastry filled with ricotta and dried-fruit custard, with black-cherry marmalade. Quality wine: Cilento.
For more information: www.incampania.com; www.regione.campania.it