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In this episode we are taking a trip to the incredible Amalfi Coast, a place many of our listeners love or can’t wait to visit. It’s a dream destination for good reason, with a stunning coast line, mountains, a fascinating history, azure blue Tyrrhenian Sea, and, of course, wonderful food.
We talk to Pierpaolo Guida of Joe Banana Limos & Travel (read the bio to learn how this curious name came to be!). Their family-run company has been helping travelers explore the coast for over a decade and in normal times Pierpaulo loves taking visitors around the Amalfi Coast, enjoying their laughs and smiles as they soak up the scenery.
What you’ll learn in this episode
- The Amalfi Coast, not only has beautiful sea, sky, and mountains but its coastline has been inhabited and terraced for centuries so there is so much of interest to see and admire (“satisfaction for the eyes” as Pierpaulo eloquently puts it!)
- Driving can be fun, but even for the most confident driver, it can be a challenge and at times nerve-wracking. The Amalfi Coast roads are pretty much just the one road, originally designed for chariots and donkeys! Hiring a driver means you can relax, enjoy the views and scenery and let someone else deal with the unexpected (a road closure due to rockfalls or a long wait, waiting for a crossing goat herder)
- Take care when you are looking for a good driver or company to take us around the Amalfi Coast. Check for Registrations, Insurance, Experience, and Reviews
- The Blue Grotto is popular for a reason, but it can get busy – try the gorgeous White Cave instead
- Tours can be tailor-made. Think about what you want to do, see and eat, and don’t be afraid to splurge – the memories will last forever. As Pierpaolo put it, it’s “like a bank for the happiness!”
- Lots of restaurants can only be reached by boat, or by lots of steps. The steps might not be too bad on the way down, but after a long lazy lunch can feel more of a challenge!
- Forget 50 Shades of Gray, as Pierpaolo says, the waters on the Amalfi Coast offer 50 shades of Turquoise!!
About our guest – Pierpaolo Guida
Pierpaolo runs Joe Banana Limo & Travels with his brother Giovanni. They have more than two decades of experience in the tourism business.
Giovanni’s nickname ‘Joe Banana’, is the inspiration for the name of my company. Nicknames are really popular in the southern part of Italy, where basically, every family has one. Giovanni was given this nickname when he was 9 years old. His Grandad used to sell fruits using a three-wheel minivan, and he used to sit on the back trailer as he drove street by street through their little village. One day he was eating a banana while riding on the back of his grandad’s trailer when a few of his school friends saw him, and from that moment his nickname became “Banana”.
Giovanni began his career as a tour director and driver of tour buses, taking tourists from all over the world to visit the main cities around Europe. In 2010, he started his own little business with driving and guide services. He was soon joined by brother Pierpaolo, who started his career studying management of touristic enterprises and who with further studying and a lot of experience under his belt, in 2015 became a licensed professional tour guide.
Year after year they have grown and have added private boat tours, private guided tours, and other services, until the realization of their dream that was to become a travel agency. In this way, they feel they can meet all the needs of their guests.
You can find Pierpaolo and Joe Banana on these channels:
- Trip Advisor: Joe Banana Limos
Food & Drink
- Sfogliatelle – a shell-shaped filled Italian pastry from the area
- La Torta Ricotta e Pere di Sal De Riso – Ricotta and Pear tart, famously invented in Minori
- Limoncello – the divine lemon liqueur that is the taste of the Amalfi Coast
- La Tagliata, Positano – Pierpaulo says: “your mouth eats but your eyes eat as well looking at that view – it’s kind of like a double satisfaction”
- Buca Di Bacco, Positano – A restaurant on the water run by a friend of Pierpaulos. Phone ahead to get a table in the little corner that is right out on the water
- Le Bontà del Capo, Conca dei Marini – Great value with views of a 14th-century watch tower and waterfront
- Torre Normanna, Maiori – a Norman watch tower set right in the middle of the water. Pierpaulo says: “you go on that terrace – you feel the owner of the world even when you have nothing!”
- La Gavitella, Praiano – Either reached by boat or down (and then back up again) 200 + steps!
- Da Adolfo, Positano – run by Sergio, a friend of Pierpaulo, Da Adolofo is part beach club and part restaurant, reachable only by boat
Places mentioned in the show
- The 13 towns of the Amalfi Coast:
- Amalfi, Atrani, Cetara, Conca de’ Marini, Furore, Maiori, Minori
- Positano, Praiano, Ravello, Scala – where all the missions started, is full of convents and monasteries, Tramonti, Vietri sul Mare
- Massa Lubrense – a wonderful place to visit, not quite on Amalfi Coast, but between Sorrento and Minori
- Villa Cimbrone – in Ravello this stunning villa was bought and renovated by British Lord Grimthorpe
- Raito – charming little village
- The White Cave – a beautiful alternative to the famous Blue Grotto of Capri
- APE 3 wheeler vans – the iconic 3 wheeler vehicles, synonymous with Italy and particularly the Amalfi Coast
- The Grand Tour – the 17th and 18th-century custom of a traditional trip through Europe undertaken by upper-class young European men of sufficient means and rank. Adopted by many a tourist in later years – including Buzz as a young Aussie tourist.
- Marcel Proust – French novelist considered one of the most influential authors of the 20th century
Resources from Untold Italy
- Find more about the many towns and villages along the Amalfi Coast in Best places to stay in Amalfi Coast: towns, villages, hotels and villas, how to get to the great Amalfi Coast base of Sorrento in How to get from Rome to Sorrento
- as well as our guide to Capri boat tours – the best way to spend a day in Capri
- Heading to the Amalfi Coast soon? Our digital Positano Guide is now available at the Untold Italy shop, full of lots of useful info to carry with you, including beach clubs, best restaurants, walks, shopping, a packing list, local dishes to try, and more – untolditaly.com/shop
- Listen: to more of Pierpaolo in Episode #073 Pizza from Naples – The Full Story and Episode #090 Limoncello! Simply the Zest. Discover more about the Amalfi Coast in Episode #014: Amalfi Coast highlights, the historic side in Episode #061: New Discoveries in Ancient Pompeii, the romantic side in Episode #059: Romantic Amalfi Coast weddings, and our most popular episode Episode #042: Come away to Capri!
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can avoid our mistakes
- Italy Travel Planning – our FREE online community 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? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.