Yes it is a little cut off from the rest of the very well connected Italy.. but the trip to Amalfi coast is SO worth it!
Summary- Why Visit Amalfi?
·For the lemon farms which are perpetually everywhere you look
·To experience some amazing local delicacies using lemons eg their lemon pastries, lemon liquor etc
·To see some amazing Ceramic work (Amalfi is famous for its ceramic craft)
·To experience the small-town life in Italy, which you will miss in big cities like Rome
Arriving at Amalfi
We went to Amalfi directly from Rome, via a booking a train from Trenitalia. It was a comfortable overnight journey. Most people consider travel in Europe super expensive, mostly because of the exorbitant train tickets. However, for travel in Italy I would strongly advice AGAINST buying a euro pass as most places in Italy are fairly well connected through Trenitalia network which DOES NOT consider Europass. And yes, if booked in advance (the booking opens 3 months from the date of Travel) you can get tickets for as low as 35 Euros!! J To reach Amalfi, you need to select your destination as ‘Salerno’ station. One of the sites which helped me plan how I would reach Amalfi is http://www.amalfiscoast.com/inglese/information/how.htm
Once we got off from the train at Salerno station, we took a bus to the main Amalfi City, tickets for which are available right outside the station, the prizes being different for local and for tourists.
The bus ride from Salerno to Amalfi is simply BREATHTAKING with some amazing views of the cliffs; so please don’t sleep off in the bus!! And what will simply fascinate you is the way people drive in Amalfi..yes I am from Delhi in India, with a lot of foreigner friends who ask me each time they visit us: ‘How come you don’t end up with a large number of accidents , the way you drive in Delhi’..Since my return from our Amalfi trip, my response to them is: ‘Oh you HAVE to go visit Amalfi then!’ Narrow roads, steep cliffs, and cars zooming by so close that you can’t afford to have your side view mirrors open! 😉 But what an enthralling experience all this! I went via a bus, but I am sure if you are planning to drive your car, you will have a beautiful drive, with the lovely sea breeze. However, in case you plan to take halts, be prepared for a heft parking fees that you will be required to pay!
There are a lot of places you can choose to visit while in Amalfi- Amalfi Town, Positano, Sorrento, Ravello.Pompeii..I was in Amalfi for 4 days, including transit. Which meant I reached at 10:00am on Day 1 and left at 3:00pm on Day 4. Now when I retrospect, I feel I could have easily added another day to my itinerary. Reason being, you need an entire afternoon to soak in the beauty of Ravello, one entire afternoon to walk through the charming markets of Amalfi town, enjoy the wine with same pasta, half a day to spend in Sorrento, and window shop at the high end fashion shops (Sorrento is about an hour from Amalfi city) and further away from Sorrento (about another 1 hour distance) is Positano, which we just couldn’t visit. 😦
The Amalfi Town
If you are planning to visit Amalfi cost, I think its best to chose a hotel near Amalfi town. Key reasons being, most eateries & most shops are around here. While staying in Amalfi, while you will love the small town culture, but you will also experience the challenges that any small town faces, limited accessibility to goods. eg. Being a vegetarian I struggled to find anything vegetarian to eat except plain Cheese Pizza, and if lucky, them some Pasta..I mean how many fruits etc can you have all day??!! (vegetarians/vegan advised to carry their own packed food, you definitely wont find much to eat in Amalfi). Also, I stayed at Hotel De Cavelieri, which was great- pleasant staff, lovely view of the sea..but they did not serve dinner and there was no eatery for at least 750 mt around.
The main Amalfi market is in Amalfi town. It is a vibrant place where we would end up every evening. Eateries, a large church, children running helter skelter, and shops selling fashion accessories, ceramics and the local Amalfi lemon liquor, lemon soaps etc, I simply loved the vibrance and energy this place exuded.
Another reason to stay close to Amalfi town is that it is fairly centrally located on the Amalfi coast with all other places worth visiting, at almost equal distances on either side of the Amalfi town. Also, it is convenient to get the tourist bus from here. Another option to consider staying at while in Amalfi is Ravello. Its not as centrally located, but it is just so beautiful!
Once in Amalfi, the first thing that strikes you is the amazing Lemon farms- every house hold seems to have their own private lemon farm. Yes you can look, but you can’t pluck! And while you may try to do so, going unnoticed, almost every lemon available will be out of your reach, leaving you wishing your arms were a little longer!
Travelling within Amalfi
Depending on where you want to go on a particular day, you could either choose to walk, rent a cycle or use on of the tourist buses, some of which are open roof, providing you not only a complete view of hte amazing scenery, but also the fresh Amalfi air. If you plan to drive down to Amalfi, be prepared for heavy parking duties and some courageous driving!
Oh Ravello! I think of it and the first thing that comes to my mind are the flowers!! Set at an altitude, Ravello offers a stunning view of the entire Amalfi cost. I am sure some of the stunning pictures you see when you Google Amalfi cost, have been captured as views from Ravello. The small town of Ravello can easily be explored by foot. Ravellow has to its credit a beautiful church, some lovely walled houses with their beautiful colorful flowers and lemon farms.
And yes, if you were to do ceramic shopping at Amalfi, the Ravello is the place!
Must Dos/Buys/Takeaways from Amalfi
- Limoncello- Be sure to try/pack home the local Amalfi Liqueur made of lemons. The come in really cute packing which make it an ideal gift to take back home.
- The interesting ceramic work- from salt and pepper shakers to entire coffee table tops made of ceramics!
- The gelatos, not just in Amalfi, but in ALL of Italy..I lost count of how many types of Gelatos I had while in Italy
- The local lemon pastries (cant recall their name though) 😦
So enjoy your trip to Amalfi, and for any queries, please feel free to post in a comment here and I will be happy to help 🙂