Road trip along the stunning Amalfi Coast

Road trip along the stunning Amalfi Coast

by Genevieve Northup
Stripes Europe

Amalfi Coast: Beaches, Early Civilizations and an Infamous Volcano (165 kilometers, 5-6 nights)

The going is slow on the Amalfi Coast route due to reduced speed limits, hairpin curves and heavy traffic. Don’t be in a rush to get from point A to point B, because the scenery along the way is part of the coast’s allure.

Naples (1-2 days, 1-2 nights)

Long accredited with being the birthplace of the beloved food, have a slice or two of Neapolitan marinara or margherita pizza. With your appetite satisfied, it’s time for some culture. The Sanservo Chapel Museum houses an impressive collection of baroque sculptures, including the Veiled Christ, Disillusion and Anatomical Machines. If contemporary works are more your style, look no further than the Madre Museum of Modern Art. Marvel at the fantastic acoustics and lavish décor during an opera, ballet or symphony performance at the Teatro di San Carlo.

Uncover a different side of Naples in the catacombs and aqueducts. Pick up a new addition for your holiday Nativity at Via San Gregorio Armeno, where craftsmen carve customary, non-traditional and even irreverent figurines, like R2-D2, T-Rex and Barack Obama. Before visiting the ghost city of Pompeii, check out excavation findings at the National Archaeological Museum.

Pompeii (4 hours)

In August A.D. 79, a torrent of volcanic ash from Mount Vesuvius buried the city of Pompeii. Shrouded in hardened ash 30 feet deep, the people, animals and buildings were suspended in time. You can almost hear people chatting, dogs barking and carriages clattering over cobblestone as you walk through the active archaeological site. Grooved tracks in the roads from chariots and steps worn from constant use are evidence of the past. Buildings, frescoes and graffiti chronicle work, play, worship and the more provocative aspects of Roman culture. Show up first thing in the morning to avoid crowds and the stifling afternoon heat.

Sorrento (1 day, 2 nights)

As soon as you arrive in Sorrento, go to Bagni della Regina Giovanna to swim. It is a bit of a hike to reach this secluded lagoon hidden behind towering cliffs, but your efforts will be rewarded. The unobservant tourist can easily miss what is one of Sorrento’s most interesting sights, the remains of primitive grain mills covered in vines tucked in a gorge below the modern city. If you like lemons and adult beverages, you need to try Limoncello, which is said to have been invented here. Limonoro is a favorite tasting shop among travelers.

Capri (6 hours)

Book a high-speed ferry from Sorrento to Capri, a bustling beach destination with a rocky coastline of grottos. Join a boat tour to explore the caves, including the famous Blue Grotto, named after the vibrant hue of the water when the sun is shining.

Positano (1 day, 1 night)

It may be surprising, but the town of Amalfi isn’t on the agenda because it is more expensive, hectic and touristy than Positano. Often called one of the most picture-perfect places on the planet, you won’t need to Photoshop your images of this incredible seaside village. Pink, beige and yellow buildings cascade from jagged cliffs down to pebbled beaches dotted with colorful umbrellas.   

Paestum (1 day, 1 night)

It’s a two-hour drive to Paestum, home of one of the most significant historic sites in Europe. Originally a Greek settlement in 600 B.C., the area was later a Lucanian city and eventually a Roman colony. Three temples, city walls, an amphitheater, Greek theater and forum make up the well-preserved ruins of ancient societies. Indulge with a stay at a high-class resort to enjoy little luxuries without sticker shock. Paestum hotel prices are 50 to 80 percent lower than in Positano and Capri.

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