Adventures in Amalfi: Part I
My mama and I have a tradition of going on a girls’ trip each time she is in Europe. So when she suggested meeting in the Amalfi Coast, I jumped at the chance. Fast-forward a few months and I found myself landing late at night in Napoli, with Frank Sinatra’s “That’s Amore” floating into my head even before the moon hit my eye. The drive to the coast takes an hour and a half, and although stunning, is one full of hairpin turns and toe-curling, cliff-edge views. My passenger break was well-used by the time I joined my mama just before midnight.
The Amalfi Coast is not cheap. We had initially planned on staying in Positano, but after a quick search we realised the price range for rooms there contained one too many zeros and chose to stay in the town of Amalfi itself. We found a perfectly adequate place called Hotel Amalfi. Our room was high up in the garden, with a little juliette balcony bathed in sunlight and citrus. Breakfast on the terrace each morning was a delightful way to start the day, although the numerous sweet cakes on offer chafed with my self-discipline and plans of afternoon swimming.
With three days in the area, we spent a day each in Positano, Ravello and Amalfi. Positano is the star of the three, a feast for the eyes with stacked sorbet-coloured houses and a hefty dose of la dolce vita. Ravello - high up in the sky - feels like the slightly more sophisticated, intellectual of the three with the historically rich Villa Cimbrone and its UNESCO heritage stamp. Sandwiched in-between the two, Amalfi provides a more relaxed, chilled vibe, combining sights like the Duomo and the Chiostro del Paradiso with down-to-earth beach clubs and plenty of public bathing spots.
My Mum had spent the eight days prior to my arrival trekking high up in the hills along the coastline, working off morning pastries and the previous evening’s pizzas well before ten. Inspired by the views she saw on her walks, we dressed in shorts and sneakers and headed for Positano on our first day together. Ferries and buses are the most common modes of transport, and even in non-peak September it’s a bit of a jostle to get on. We got lucky and nabbed open-air seats on the half hour cruise to Positano. The ride over gives you the best view of the coastline, and I sat there the entire time stunned at people’s ability to build such splendour into the hillside. Seriously, how did Italians look at the rocky cliffs and jagged caves and go ‘you know what, I’ll build my house here’? I’m dazzled.
We spent the morning following our nose up to the highest road in Positano, drinking in views of the pastel hued town from all angles.
We then headed back into town to pick up lemony granitas to refresh ourselves and set about finding somewhere to eat - preferably that wasn’t too busy (no small ask!) I can highly recommend Casa E Bottega for lunch. You’ll find it slightly off the beaten path and full of the freshest produce we enjoyed during our Italian vacanza. If I could live off one salad for the rest of my life, it would be their heirloom tomatoes mixed with greens, buffalo mozzarella and balsamic. And because you’ve had salad for lunch, it’s only polite to counter it with some of their heavenly gelato. It also houses some lovely artisanal goodies.
Post-lunch, we took a lazy stroll to the water for a dip in the Med. The typical, bright umbrella loungers take up most of the prime space directly in front of Positano, but short walks around the headlands in both directions get you to the public beaches. The water is divine, but the stones play havoc on your feet. Entering and exiting the water has everyone performing a hybrid of the chicken dance and a windmill impersonation. A wonderfully refreshing dip, but I’ve definitely had a more relaxing beach experience.
The six o’clock ferry back to Amalfi had Positano bathed in a lovely pinkish glow. We finished the evening with pizza on the steps of the Duomo, and a la Delizia al limone each from Andrea Pansa. The limoncello-filled dessert is native to the area, and well worth the calories. We packed so much into day one that falling into bed at nine felt glorious.
Stay tuned for Part II next Tuesday