Scenic Drives on the Amalfi Coast
There are few more scenic routes than Italy's Amalfi Coast. We spoke to Stephen Oddo, co-founder of Walks of Italy, to discuss the best routes to take along this stunning stretch of land. Whether you're planning on driving up the coast or taking a few long hikes around some of the picturesque towns and villages, there's something for everyone on this serene route...
Set off in Spring
First things first - Amalfi is definitely best seen in the late spring as it is far less crowded, according to Stephen, and the weather warms up in May.
"I recommend avoiding Sorrento, except for perhaps a quick visit, as it's generally overrun with tourists for much of the year," he said. "Although it's a popular spot, it doesn't really give you that "authentic" Italian charm."
Find the right mode of transport
"You'll find many sources recommending that you take the SITA bus along the Amalfi coast," said Stephen. "Personally, I don't think the SITA bus is such a great experience especially in the high season, so once again travelling in an off-peak time of the year will make a major difference.
"Having your own car or hiring a car on arrival into Italy makes it better, because you at least avoid crowds and non-air conditioned buses, but then you're driving the roads yourself. But as long as you navigate the roads carefully, plan where you're going in advance and just go slowly, the journey can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the trip rather than one of the more harrowing!"
Revel in Ravello
"It's tough to pick just a few favourite spots when there are so many to choose from!" he said. "But my personal favourite town is Ravello. The city is famous for music and the Ravello Festival sees many top symphonies, operas and composers frequenting the many concert venues, including an Oscar Niemeyer-designed theatre."
"In the summer time definitely go to one of the concerts on the infinite terrace overlooking the sea at Vila Rufolo. Also, I highly recommend eating lunch at the terrace of Hotel Parsifal called Da Nino — it's wonderful!"
Ravello sits high above the coast, and is a winding, scenic route from the ground level. Take your time on your journey to the top, and make the most of the incredible sea views from the mountaintop.
Lap up the limoncello lifestyle
There are various limoncello makers along the Amalfi coast, and one particular is quite easy to reach, at about two-thirds of the way into the hills from Amalfi town to Ravello. "You can frequently watch them preparing the lemons for making that famous liqueur — and best of all, taste some!", said Stephen. "If you fancy a trip to a distillery, there's one located in downtown Ravello."
Sail away along the coast
"I am a big fan of taking the Travelmar boats along the coast," said Stephen." These provide great views of the actual coast, which is breathtaking." The trips make for a great break when you need to take a few hours out from driving - hop aboard for a few hours, before continuing your journey into the town of Maiori.
"There's a beautiful ruined abbey and some gorgeous maiolica tiled domes in Maiori," said Stephen. "For hikers, I recommend the Sentiero degli Dei for incredible views. There are several agriturismi, which are traditional Italian farmhouses, for you to lodge in around the local area to break up your hike."
Veer off into Paestum
Paestum, while not officially on the Amalfi Coast (it's on Costiera Cilentana instead of Amalfitana) is definitely worth the short drive, suggests Stephen. "It's just past Salerno, and I guess it's proximity to the actual coast makes it relevant," he said. "It's about a 50 minute drive south of the end of Amalfi, and has the best preserved ancient Greek temples on Italy's mainland. You can also stop off at the real buffalo mozzarella makers - some would argue the best in the business - along the drive between Salerno and Paestum."
Take a tour of Pompeii
"If you're planning on visiting the famous sites of Pompeii or Herculaneum while staying on the Amalfi coast, I'd recommend getting a guided tour," said Stephen. "You want to make the most of the short time you have there, and a tour of the ruins will really bring them to life for you."
Road Trip Photos
Image Credits: Under Licence from Shutterstock:
Amalfi Resort, Italy, Europe – Image Number: 164294018, Copyright owner: Mikadun
archeologic ruins of Pompeii in Italy – Image Number: 167009873, Copyright owner: edella
Paestum – Image Number: 143328313, Copyright owner: LianeM