The amazing Amalfi Coast

by Stacy Roman
Stripes Europe

Full of glamour, beauty and stunning scenery, Italy captivates our imagination and leaves us breathless. The Amalfi coast is one such place. Tucked along a 50-kilometer-long stretch of rugged coastline, lemon and olive groves flourish in the rocky and jagged hills above the crystalline waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. While visitors often flock to the busier and more well-known cities of Positano, Salerno and Sorrento (and rightfully so), there are plenty of tiny villages dotting the landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage site yearning to be discovered.

Praiano
A mere 25-minute drive from larger Positano, it’s easy to see why the ancient fishing village of Praiano was a favorite summer residence for the Amalfi royalty. Sun-bleached houses line the craggy hillside above the idyllic beaches below. Take a hike to the ruins of Torre a Mare, a tower which once protected the town from pirates. During the summer, catch the time-honored festival Luminaria di San Domenico in the Piazza San Gennaro. More than 2,000 lights and candles illuminate the square, with locals performing heart-stopping fire dances.

Conca Dei Marini
Nestled into the rocks of the “Valley by the Sea,” this charming village is a fantastic spot to eat, drink and be merry. Visitors can take a short boat trip to Grotto dello Smeraldo, a cave with stalactites jutting from the ceiling and stalagmites piercing through the floor. Filled with turquoise water, the light emanating from fissures in the grotto give it an ethereal glow. Once you’ve got your land legs back, head to one of the quaint cafes for the local delicacy “sfogliatella Santa Rosa.” This mouth-watering flaky pastry was invented by local nuns and has become so popular, a weeklong festival is held in its honor every August.


Atrani, Italy | Photo by khunaspix

Atrani
Escape the hustle, bustle and mass tourism of neighboring city Amalfi and head approximately 10 minutes east to the quiet village of Atrani. This peaceful hamlet is one of the best-preserved ancient fishing villages in this part of Italy. With less than 1,000 people, visitors get a more genuine Italian experience and gorgeous vistas of Amalfi minus the crowds. There are plenty of medieval churches and castle ruins to explore, as well as a golden, warm beach to relax on.

Ravello
With jaw-dropping vistas of the rocky cliff sides and the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ravello is one of the few villages along the Amalfi coast which isn’t directly on the water. Tucked three kilometers above the shoreline, this bustling town is known for its beautiful, locally handmade pottery and the stunning white-washed Duomo di Ravello. Built in the 11th century, the cathedral features an ornate pulpit and colorful mosaics. Need a breather from sight-seeing? Why not try your hand at Italian cooking? The famous Mamma Agata Cooking School offers delicious, family-friendly culinary classes in authentic cuisine.

Maiori
A summer paradise since the Roman Empire, Maiori is a fantastic place to unwind. Boasting the longest stretch of sandy beach along the coast, there are plenty of spots to soak up the sun. As you walk through the village, you’ll notice the architecture may be more modern than expected. In 1954, a devastating flood ravaged much of the original historical center. Luckily, the exquisite Santa Maria a Mare cathedral was spared. With a uniquely tiled dome, colorful artwork and panoramic vistas, it’s well worth the 200 steps to get to the top.

Erchie
Vibrant lemon groves, winding vineyards and olive trees abound in the sleepy fishing village of Erchie. Less than 100 people call this tiny locale home, which lends to an old-world feel and charm. Take a boat through the crystal clear waters of the nearby grotto to reach the secluded Spiaggetta degli Inamorati, or lovers’ beach. Don’t worry too much about traffic and congestion in town – the seaside area is inaccessible to cars and motorcycles.  


Veitri sul Mare, Italy | Photo by Selina Irina 

Vietri sul Mare
Only 15 minutes west of Salerno, the dividing line between the two cities is literally a concrete harbor wall jutting out in the azure waters. Vietri sul Mare is more industrious and less reliant on tourist dollars than its neighboring villages. Dating back to the Roman Empire, they’ve perfected the art of ceramics and porcelain-making. With distinctive hues of greens, blues and yellow, the quintessential pottery is sold in storefronts along the steep, narrow alleys and streets. You can’t miss the distinguished tiled dome and bell tower of the Church of St. John the Baptist, which dates back to the 1730s. Sip on locally made limoncello cocktails while watching the sun fade into gorgeous hues of pink and purple.

Whether you’re looking for regional specialties, one-of-a-kind adventures, dazzling sandy beaches to relax on, or just an authentic Italian experience, you won’t want to miss the amazing Amalfi Coast.

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