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Are you dreaming of the Amalfi Coast? So are we! Constantly it seems. This stunning stretch of coastline is recognized as an area of great physical beauty and natural diversity by UNESCO. Combine that with a rich culture, colorful houses and the azure blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and you get one of the most beautiful places in the world and a favorite place to visit in Italy.
This episode was recorded in mid February 2020 before Italy and the world were plunged into the coronavirus crisis we are experiencing today. We decided to release this episode, largely unedited, for those of you who need some escape and to hold onto their dreams of visiting the Amalfi Coast and Italy in their future. Our voices are upbeat and happy and we laugh a lot. We hope it makes you smile.
One of our favorite places to visit in the world, the Amalfi Coast is the stuff dreams are made of. If the incredible sea views and rugged natural coastline don’t grab you, the cobbled streets shaded by draping wisteria surely will. In this episode we explore the highlights of the Amalfi Coast – from the picturesque beauty of Positano to the sweeping vistas of Ravello. We share the best places to stay and do a deep dive into the best day trip from the Amalfi Coast – the beautiful island of Capri.
For more information, check out our Positano travel guide with tips and articles on where to stay and what to do and see in this most beautiful town on the Amalfi Coast.click here to subscribe to podcast updates
What you’ll learn in this episode
- Our top must see sights on the Amalfi Coast
- Where you should stay when you visit the Amalfi Coast and why
- How to approach the best day trip from the coast – a trip to beautiful Capri
- Where to experience the best views of the coastline
- What local Amalfi Coast souvenirs to buy
- Where to go for sweeping views of the city
Places mentioned in this episode
- Amalfi – one of the major towns on the Amalfi Coast
- Positano – picturesque town with colored buildings overlooking the sea popular with honeymooners
- Ravello – Town overlooking the coast with spectacular views – Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone
- Sorrento – city close to the Amalfi Coast that many people use as a base to explore the area
- Praiano, Atrani, Furore, Maiori, Minori – smaller towns on the Amalfi Coast
- Capri – island off the coast in the Bay of Naples, popular for day trips
- Restaurants – Da Adolfo (Positano), Ristorante Michel’angelo (Capri)
- Positano guide – includes best beach clubs, things to do and restaurants
- Where to stay on the Amalfi Coast– accommodation guide for the major towns along the coast
- Capri boat tour – our experience visiting Capri on a semi private boat tour. We took this tour
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning
- Italy Travel Planning – the FREE Facebook group where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? Below is a full transcript of our episode conversation. Unfortunately it does not pick up our lovely Australian accents however!
Ciao and benvenuti to Untold Italy. I’m Josie and I’m Katy and we’re here to help you plan your trip to Italy. Between us, we have many years of travel experience and we want to help you uncover your own as yet untold stories and adventures in Italy. Each episode you’ll hear practical advice, tips and ideas to help you plan your own trips to the magical land of history, stunning landscapes, and a whole lot of pasta. We’ll have interviews from experts and focus on local destinations and frequently asked questions about travel in Italy. Thanks for listening and make sure to subscribe to our show now. Let’s get started on your regular dose of Bella Italia
Hello everyone. Welcome to Untold Italy and our episode on the beautiful Amalfi coast. We recorded this episode in February, well before the crisis that is facing our world today. You’ll notice that our voices are upbeat and excited and really, absolutely thrilled to be able to share with you the Amalfi coast as we know and love it. We really thought long and hard about releasing this episode. However, there’s so many of you that need some hope and want to get some escape from the news of the world today. So please bear this in mind as you listen to our episode on the Amalfi coast highlights. Like all of you, we hope to be there very soon, drinking limoncello, and enjoying the beautiful Amalfi coast sun. So without further ado, let’s start this week’s podcast. Thanks for listening.
Ciao a tutti! Today let’s go to the Amalfi coast, Katy.
Oh, let’s go Josie. I love the Amalfi coast.
I agree. I think when I think of the Amalfi coast, I just think of how amazing it is and just that drive into for me into Sorrento. Yup.
Well, Sorrento is not even the Amalfi coast actually. You know, that’s just the bit to Sorrento. But I guess your heart’s beating really fast and you’re like, “Oh, there’s the sea, either side, the Tyrrhenian sea is approaching” and you can see maybe Capri in the distance, but you get there and then you go along that really windy road and you get to Positano. And that’s like, wow.
I just think it’s really one of those places where we’ve read, we’ve seen movies. I mean there’s so many movies on that road that, you know, you can see yourself in a sports car with your hair flickering with the scarf behind you, whether it’s Audrey Hepburn or whoever it is. And I think when we drove up and we had the girls with us and my husband and I were coming from Naples to Sorrento. We decided to go to Sorrento because it was easier to get to everywhere. I think you’re right. It’s that excitement. But then everyone changes, they’re more relaxed and you’ve got a bit of everything and everyone in that place.
I know. And it’s just the sunshine and it’s the blue sea and dramatic cliffs and the pretty colored houses and, Oh, I just want to go there now.
Yeah, I agree. I think so. The main towns are Positano, which is amazing, Amalfi and Ravello. I love Ravello up at the top where you can look over everything.
Yes there are so many little towns along that way and you really need to spend a few days there just to discover them because you could easily could easily spend five days in Positano. That’d be a lovely holiday or vacation I think. But each of the towns has its own specific qualities. So maybe let’s talk about some of them because that’s a question we get a lot is “where should we stay when we go to the Amalfi coast?” And I’ve got a few ideas and what I think where people should stay, but you might have some different opinions.
well, I think it depends, right? I think. How many times have you been, what have you seen? What do you want? For me, the reason we chose Sorrento to stay there was four of us and we wanted an apartment. We decided that we wanted to go to Capri and we also wanted to make it easy if we were going to go by ferry. So that was an option at that time. So we wanted the easiest way to get to everywhere. And we’d heard during the summer that it was easier to get from Sorrento to everywhere. Because let’s, let’s be real and, and honestly, listeners, this place is busy.
It’s so busy in summer and I would say summer starts, maybe end of May through to the end of October. You’re looking at very congested roads. Well, there’s only really one big road, the coastal road from Sorrento to the Amalfi coast and it gets jammed. So I heard someone say last a few last year actually, that it took I think two hours to go 10 kilometers, which is just crazy stuff. So that’s why you want have access to the ferries. And Sorrento is an excellent base for that as well as other day trips around the area. So a lot of people do choose to say stay in Sorrento. And it’s a great idea because you can get the ferry to Capri to Ischia and Procida (which are two other islands, which I haven’t been to, but I’m kind of obsessed with going to), Pompeii and even Naples. So there’s so many options from Sorrento, which is why many people will choose to stay there.
Yeah, I agree. I think, and again, but now if I went back, we’ve stayed in Sorrento and probably my husband and I, would stay in Positano. I think that it is just amazing being up there with the atmosphere. So for me the second trip probably would be around doing Positano. I have family that have stayed in Amalfi. And again, there’s different reasons you go to different places.
Yeah. So Positano, from a romance perspective, there’s nothing really that can beat it. It’s that view and that scene from the beach that you just look up at these colorful houses that look like they’re tumbling into the sea and it’s just a very emotional experience for me just to talk about it now. But it’s like nothing you’ve really ever seen before and it’s a very beautiful place. But guess what, it’s also really, really steep and a lot of the hotels are quite a way up the hill. So you get those amazing views of the sea. And I think if you had very small children or toddlers or, or if you had some mobility issues, Positano probably isn’t the place for you because it would be very challenging. Cause the only way to get down to the sea is to walk. They do have these cute little luggage carts. But honestly it’s probably not worth it.
Yeah. And I think again, when we talk broadly, I mean the two of us are quite mobile. So when we talk broadly around what is it that you’re looking for, you know, this is why we’re here to help you. So mobility is one Sorrento is easy to get around. Lots of restaurants, easy to walk around. Something we did in Sorrento as well – my family loved to sit by a pool and have a nice relax when we’re on holiday. Some of the five star hotels have pools and cabanas. But they also have beach clubs (but not sand beach clubs) that we went to. They are built out over the water and you buy your beach bed. I think it was something like 50 euros. You’d have to check cause they’re all different. And then you would order food and there was a cost to that. It is very expensive. I must admit, my husband was going, Oh my gosh, there’s four of us there. And it’s really, really expensive. But it’s one of those things, again, we’ve talked in many our podcasts and sometimes you do things because it’s the once in a lifetime thing. And so for us, we loved it. It was amazing.
It’s quite interesting for us as Australians. Beaches are all free in Australia and you can take your drinks to the beach and what have you. But over there it’s not the same. So they have spiaggia libre, which are the free beaches, but then they have these beach clubs. And if you’re used to not paying to go to the beach, you need to start getting used to it if you go to Italy. I was a bit skeptical at first, but then I decided I loved them because there’s nothing quite like having a cappuccino or a glass of wine brought to your lovely lounge chair by the beach. And the other thing about Italian beaches is that they are a little rocky. So we used to Sandy beaches in Australia and it was a little bit unusual to get used to rocky beaches. But, I quite like them as well cause I don’t like getting sand in my swimming costume.
So I think again, look at what your family like to do, you know? I get a bit seasick. So when I have to go on ferries or on the boat to Capri, I take my seasickness tablets only because I’m quite sensitive to the motion sickness. But we need to talk about the blue grotto and booking the Capri grotto because to be honest I did it when I was 13. When I went back four years ago, it wasn’t planned and I didn’t book it. I thought, “Oh no, we’ll just see.” Cause we didn’t know whether the kids wanted to do it. Bu if you want to do it, you need to to get it organized.
So Capri is one of the best day trips to do from the Amalfi coast or Sorrento. And we did it a couple of years ago and it’s one of the best days of my life so far. We had an amazing time. We actually took a semi-private boat tour over there. So that was about eight people on board and it was a smaller boat. And what we did was – they picked us up from our accommodation and they took us down to the pier and we got on the boat. And then we zipped off to Capri and you can just see it coming at you in the distance and it’s just amazing. And it was just after the recent Wonder Woman movie was released and it’s actually shot there. So that was Themyscira, the mythical Island where the Amazonians lived. So we get there and you do a lap of the Island on this little boat and it was amazing. Now we didn’t get to go in the Blue Grotto because you can’t actually predict if the sea or the weather is going to let you. So the only way you can get to the blue grotto is, when you get to Capri, you have to organize a separate boat tour. But anyway, it didn’t matter because we just kept going around the Island and our boat was small enough to go through the middle of the Faraglioni rocks. And did you know that if you get a kiss from someone when you go through the middle that they’ll be yours forever. Well my little son, he was three at the time, he gave me a little kiss. So that was cute. I’ve got a photo of it.
Beautiful. And I agree. Capri. We did the same. Semi-Private. What I love also, I don’t know if you did it, but you actually could stop and swim which is amazing. You didn’t feel that you were under time pressure to get somewhere or do something. So, which is what we loved as well.
Well, we went in April, so it was a little bit cooler. But in summer they do stop. But I think if you can, it’s one of those splurge things. You would never regret it. And as I said, it is one of the best days of my life. And what we did was, we kept going in and out of these little grottoes. There’s lots of them around the Island. So even if you miss out on the blue grotto, don’t worry too much. You still have an amazing time. But the thing to note is you can get over to Capri by ferry and you can do a boat tour, which is on a big boat and it’s much cheaper. But my goodness, Oh I’ll never forget this big boat with 50 people hanging off the side, trying to take photos and not being able to get as close as we were because we had the smaller boat. So I felt very lucky that we were on this small boat, so we were able to go duck in and out of the little coves and stop for our lunch or swims if you wanted to as well. So it was a little bit of a different experience and I think you need to think about that. If you’re on a budget and you can’t stretch, but if you can stretch, I would personally get a private tour. I just thought it was magical. I loved it.
I agree. We tend to do private boats wherever we can purely because of the fact that it’s at your leisure. I think we’re busy doing everything and when we get to Italy, we want to feel like we’re just relaxing and really enjoy that time. So definitely private boat. Do we want to talk more about Capri?
Sure let’s stick with Capri at this point. Okay. So what did you do after you got off the boat? Did you go up?
Yeah, so we went up and had the walk and then we bought a gelato and had a look around. And really we take things a little bit slower when we’re on holiday, so it was really just soaking up that atmosphere on Capri, the people, the shopping. We love a bit of a shop and it’s a unique shopping destination as well. They’ve got very bespoke stuff and some beautiful luxury shops. Capri is an amazing place to shop. I use some of these luxury shops as a bit of a museum. So I’ll walk in and out just to see how they present their stock.
I know. Well, I’ve got one of my favorite perfumes from there. It’s called Fiori di Capri and it’s by Carthusia and it’s one of those really nice perfume shops there. very time I put it on I’m like, “Ooh, Capri.” I love it. And one of the things that we did up there was go and visit the monastery. And not very many people go there, but the views down to those rock formations are just incredible. Like there was hardly anyone there. Everyone sort of rushes up to the gardens where it’s quite up high. But we didn’t. We went to this little monastery and the views were stunning. But you can also go, and I’m not really good with heights, but you can also go on a gondola.
Yeah, I have not done that. But it looks amazing.
It does. But for me, I’m not good with heights. So that was enough. So after that, if you’re coming on a day trip from Sorrento, and it really is a full day, so don’t really plan anything else. Then you go back down the hill and you, wander along the sea front of Marina Grande. And it’s a lovely, just a gorgeous place. Capri.
And I think also remember the Capri is expensive. So when we look at food to eat, it’s one of those once in a lifetime experiences. That’s the way we look at it when we get there. Because again, you know, just sitting there having a plate of pasta, having a bit of a wander the day trip, the whole day is about going on the boat and having stopping where you can. Then get to Capri, have a bit of a wander around and have your lunch and you know, find a nice gelato shop and see the monastery or do the gondola rides and then come back. And for us in the middle of summer, it was hot. So you just get back on the boat, you go for a bit of a swim and by late afternoon, you’re back in Sorrento or Positano.
Yup. But I think, just do it. And in fact, I would love to just stay on Capri. That’s my dream as well. I really would love to just for a few nights and just soak it all up. There’s some amazing little restaurants. And there’s an Australian lady that’s married an Italian guy and they organize picnics at certain beaches, et cetera. But enough of Capri, cause I can talk about it forever, but maybe just go back to Positano cause there’s quite a few things to do in Positano that are fantastic. And as Josie mentioned in Sorrento, they have the beach clubs. But they have beach clubs all along the coast there. And they range in level of luxury. So at the very high end you can expect very exclusive beautiful service. You know, the whole white towels and luxury amenities. However, at the other end of the scale, there’s more rustic experiences. And I want to tell you about one which is called Da Adolfo. And this one is by a little private boat that you get down by the pier in Positano. And you take this boat and it takes you to a private beach where there’s a seafood restaurant and they’ve just got a little private beach and a little cove and their restaurant. They serve pretty rustic, yummy dishes. And you can stay there all afternoon, eat your lunch and go swimming.
Okay. I’m booked. We’re going. Amazing.
And then the other really popular thing to do in Positano is to do the Path of the Gods hike. It’s about, t 12 kilometers long. I haven’t done it myself but it’s very popular. I have some friends that have done it. Basically, it’s a long day hike that you want to pretty early in the morning. And it starts at the village of Bomerano and winds its way down to Nocelle, which is just above Positano. It’s a beautiful walk that follows some old mule trails and on a clear day you can see as far as Capri. So it takes around three to four hours and you probably, as I said, want to do that in the morning because it gets pretty hot in summer and very hot and it’s about12 kilometers long. And at the end you think, “Oh, I made it to the end,” but there’s another 1600 steps that take you down to Arienzo beach at the end. So just prepare yourself. But I think, if you’re into hiking, it’s one of those ones you just have to do and tick off your list because it’s a very special view along that coastline. I haven’t done it myself, but I have friends that have done it and they all absolutely loved it. So what about other things to do in, in Positano? Josie, what were your favorite things?
For me it’s about walking around, finding a beautiful restaurant and now if I close my eyes and I picture Positano, it’s the vines and flowers that hangs over the trellis that they have as you walk down the pathway and all the wisteria. It’s amazing. And the smell. And in between that you get wafts of pasta sauce and pizza. And then as you walk down there’s lots of vendors and craft. So there’s a lot of artisan work that they do throughout the Amalfi coast.
Yes. They do a lot of ceramics, those beautiful majolica ceramics, which are the very colorful blues, yellows, ceramics. They make a lot of those, particularly in Ravello actually. Also soaps. And bespoke sandals.
And also something my husband loves is the limoncello. And we’ll get to Ravello, but we bought ceramics and had them shipped home from Ravello. So definitely do that. And they’re ceramics that you just wouldn’t get anywhere else in the world.
It’s they’re very unique, and one of those things to choose if you’re looking for a beautiful souvenir. The ceramics are some of the best, but obviously they’re not on the cheap side. But they are artisan made. And people will comment on them if they see them at your place because they are definitely beautiful. But Positano is an excellent place to go shopping. IThere’s a lot of really beautiful boutiques there. And if you’re into shopping, do that. And again, look for the sandals, because you can get bejeweled sandals. And you can have them made especially for you. You can design them yourselves and they’re very beautiful leather sandals that again, people will comment on when they see you. So the next main town along the coast is Amalfi. And that’s actually where we stayed last time. And the reason was because our children were pretty small and we didn’t want to be going up and down very steep hills with them. But it’s really fun, Amalfi. I really liked it. And it’s got some secret tunnels you can just go in and out of. These secret tunnels are built into the cliff face there. And there’s a beautiful cathedral there.
The cathedral is beautiful. I think as you come up those stairs, and then as you come into that sort of area that, that little Piazza that they have, and you look up to the right, there’s that cathedral. It’s amazing.
Yeah. It has got gold mosaics on the outside and it’s beautiful. You can go right down into the crypt. Actually. It’s a very interesting church. And again, it’s got the majolica tiles on the roof there. So it’s very evocative of the Amalfi coast. And just down from there you can walk along the cliff edge to get to Atrani. And that’s a little town that’s very within walking distance of Amalfi. And it’s so cute and has a really tiny beach all lined up with beach umbrellas and chairs, et cetera. And it’s a really beautiful village and one of those places you can’t miss.
Don’t you think Katy, that the more you go, the more you experience because I mean your experience is different to my experience depending on where you stay. And I think this is the beauty of what we’re trying to explain to everyone is that we can tell you, but it’s just an amazing place to go. We then went from Amalfi up to Ravello and that is just beautiful and you can’t really beat the views from up there.
Did you go to Villa Rufolo?
New Speaker (22:20):
Yes. Villa Rufolo. And then we walked around cause I was actually on the hunt for ceramics. But the view is beautiful. I would actually even stay there.
I think so. And there’s some amazing places that you can stay up there such as Villa Cimbrone, which has got the Terrazza dell’Infinito (Terrace of Infinity) a very famous view with statues up there. You can even have dinner or lunch up there. But the Villa Rufolo is really lovely because it’s got these gorgeous gardens, which you can wander around. It’s actually the ruins of a villa. They’re restoring some of it, but the gardens are actually spectacular and it’s well worth having a look around there. And at certain times of the year they have concerts up there too. So I think that would be a pretty amazing backdrop to watch a concert.
Yeah, we just grabbed a drink and then we sort of wandered around and then just sat in the gardens. It was actually amazing. I have to say, that really surprised me. I’d heard so much around Sorrento and Positano and Capri and Amalfi, but Ravello was actually that hidden gem that I’m like, wow, “I would probably come and stay here as well”.
Well there’s so many little towns like that along the coast and I think people do flock to these main ones. But I’d like to tell you about a few other smaller ones that you might want to consider staying in. There are some places that probably better for people depending on their interests. So Praiano, which is near to Positano is a small village and a lot of people like staying there for its more local feel. So a lot of Italians will have their vacations in Praiano and it’s within easy taxi and taxi boat distance from Positano. And it’s just, it’s a bit more laid back than Positano and a lot less busy. The other one is Maiori, which unusually for the Amalfi coast, has a sandy beach. So that’s a really good one for families to have a look at. So I would take a look there and the other one, which is more of a day trip, I probably wouldn’t stay there is Furore and that has got a Fjord, which you normally associate with places like Norway or New Zealand. But this is an inlet and it’s covered by this bridge. And at certain times of the year they have bridge diving competitions. So these, I would say crazy local guys and people from all around the world that are into these cliff diving competitions, dive off the bridge into the fjord because it’s very deep. It’s a very spectacular place and it’s one of those beautiful places that you can only find on the Amalfi coast.
While that’s amazing. Now Katy, how do you get around?
Well, I think it really depends on the time, time of year. So we went in April last time and we had a car. And we really needed a car actually because the ferries weren’t working and they don’t really start until May. So the ferries go from May to October. And if so the only other option is really bus. We had a car. Now my husband is a very confident driver and we live very close to a very similar road actually in Australia, which is called the Great Ocean Road. So we’re used to driving these windy roads, however it is a bit narrower. So so look, I think if you want to drive the Amalfi coast, it’s definitely possible. But you need to be a confident driver and be aware that it is a narrow winding road.
Look, we’ve spoken about this. I drive. I’m happy to drive in certain places, but that is not somewhere that I’m comfortable with and I’ve been three times to the Amalfi coast. And every time I get onto that road, I do get a little bit of heart palpitations. So for me, what we did last time was when we were in Sorrento, there’s lots of tourist areas where you can go and find a driver and they will drive you. They will take you to each town, which is what we did. And then they ask you how long you want to stay.We ended up in Amalfi and the gentlemen, the driver said, “Oh, would you like to have some lunch?” And we thought, Oh, here we go. And we said, “yeah, we’ll have some.” And I have to tell you, it was one of the best restaurants that we’ve ever had lunch at overlooking the water. The food was amazing. The limoncello was the best limoncello we’ve had. But is it that it was the best, or was it because we were all together as a family and it was the memories that we were making? So that’s the way we did it because we felt I wasn’t confident to drive. I’ve heard that the buses in summer can get very, very busy too. From the girls when they’ve traveled as a group of girls, they’ve tried to save money. So they’ve tried to do the buses and they can become quite packed and very difficult to get on. But it really depends on your budget and how and much time you have.
And I think the roads do get very busy as we mentioned earlier. And so your options in summary is to use the ferries, which I think is a really good idea. And so for me, I don’t get seasick. So my idea of heaven is actually going on the seas. So for me that, that sounds like a great way to go. You can also rent a private boat, and there’s boat tours and I think there’s no better way to see that coastline than from the water. It’s just amazing and it’s actually on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It’s absolutely stunning. And you would never, ever regret going to the Amalfi coast.
No, I don’t think you would. And something else to note. Each of these cities, what they look like during the day is very different to what they look like at night. They come alive. So Sorrento at night, everyone goes for their passegiatta. They go out their dinner, then they’ll go have their gelato. So it’s an amazing feeling and everyone is doing it. You walk the main road of every town or city and it is a very cultural thing to do. And I think in the middle of summer when it’s just beautiful and the sun’s going down. Everyone’s gone back and they’ve all cleaned themselves up from being at the beach or whatever they’ve done during the day. Everyone’s all dressed up and everyone’s ready for dinner. And it’s just an amazing atmosphere at night as well.
And did you know Josie in Positano, they have a famous nightclub, called Music on the Rocks and it’s actually built into a cave. And I think that starts at one o’clock in the morning. But by that stage, I’m well and truly asleep these days. But I think for all the people that, like the night hours or that like to go and have a bit of a party, that would be quite an incredible experience to go to the nightclub inside the cliffs. Oh. So I could talk about this forever, but I think we do need to sum it up. So if you’re going to the Amalfi coast, how long do you reckon you should stay there, Josie?
Four to five days but have a think. I mean, is it your first time? Are you going to go back? Definitely a minimum of three to four nights. But if you can stretch it to six to seven nights, it’s amazing. So really are you excited about the Amafi coast? If you have questions about the trip, come over to our free Italy travel planning Facebook group where you get lots of suggestions for planning an amazing stay there.
Oh look, you’ve got to go, you just have to go. I’ve also put a link to our city guide for Positano and the towns of the Amalfi coast in our show notes to help you plan your time there. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast for all the latest episodes and if you have some time, we’d love it if you gave us a rating or review. Thanks for listening and ciao for now.
Ciao for now.