THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO THE AMALFI COAST- let’s get started (5 part series)

Once a wealthy maritime power few regions of Italy are as gorgeous as the corner of Campania that is home to the hilly Sorrentine Peninsula and the Amalfi Coast.  This is also the home of Naples, and the Islands of Capri, Ischia and Procida. Smack dab in the middle of the Mediterranean the sea is the most alluring blue green color and if that doesn’t win your heart the warmth of the sun and the people certainly will. From the Sorrento Coast to Salerno the views don’t disappoint. They take you to Mount Vesuvius across the bay of Naples and then across the sea to the Island of Capri.  It is a world made up of stairs!  Thousand and thousands of them so bring your most comfortable walking shoes.  This is no time ladies for fancy high heels that will only get caught in the cobblestones!

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Cultural highlights are everywhere from the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum to the ancient history in Sorrento and Naples with sights and adventures that take you back to Roman times. The Amalfi coast is a UNESCO World Heritage site which hopefully will help preserve its charm and history.  The landscape is dotted with alluring, charming towns and the most beautiful churches.

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Praiano

The food is “bellissima”! Make sure if you go to have the pizza! The pasta extruded using bronze dies creates a rough texture better supporting the sauce tastes nothing like ours here in the US and the mozzarella, gelato and limoncello are divinely delicious! The vine-ripened tomatoes beckon at every meal and the lemons and olives… well you get the idea! The hills are terraced with lemons, oranges, olives and grapes with Sorrento itself being known for its lemon production.  They all thrive in this volcanic soil. Did someone say “Limoncello”! Be prepared for lots of seafood, desserts and more desserts!

 

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Pizza with carciofi (artichokes)

All that walking though will let you eat and drink your way around.  Did I mention the wine!!!!! Divine!!! Hang out and relax and enjoy the wine and the sunsets. Savor the slow pace and forget all those “To Do” lists, if even just for a little while.

What would a coastline be without the hidden coves and beaches that will try to lure you away from your intentions. These are not the beaches of the Caribbean however! First and foremost, you must plan to see the coast from the water, especially on Capri!

Conca dei Marini Amalfi

Of course, for those so inclined there are plenty of hiking adventures to be had.  (coming in an upcoming post)

For those more adventurous, the cliff hugging Amalfi coast road, one of the world’s most beautiful scenic roads, with its 1,001 hairpin turns and breath taking views will test even the most accomplished driver. If you love roller-coasters then this is for you. Luckily there are taxis, private cars and buses that make travel easy and convenient because of course, you don’t want to miss the scenery because you had to concentrate on the road!

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Amalfi Coast Road
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Oh yeah that’s the coast road thru Positano!

Sorrento is known as one of the world’s most charming and a old towns with it’s many cafes, shops and historic sites. (see upcoming blogs) Ravello is most famous for its extraordinary gardens and the Ravello Music Festival. Amalfi is the main coastal town and port. Positano is the jewel of the coastline with shops and houses cascading down the ravine to the sea. Don’t miss Capri or one of the other islands to the west of Sorrento in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Tourism is the major industry on this coast.

I am debating on the best way to tackle this blog so you don’t miss a second of my trips to the Amalfi coast so I think I will cover a few towns in separate blogs as there is too much to be said. Are you ready to continue on to Part 2 in this series? “Positano Bites Deep”

If you want to travel to Italy I can highly recommend a fabulous planner Ashley Turney of L’Esperta.

See you next time! Ciao!

 

 

Sorrento and Capri (Part 5 of 5)

Sorrento is known as one of the world’s most charming and romantic old towns with it’s many cafes, shops and historic sites. It is located in southern Italy about an hour south of Naples, wedged on a ledge and separates the Gulf of Naples from the Gulf of Salerno. This is a land of high hills and valleys and mountains surrounding the entire peninsula. The area is surrounded by smaller villages like Meta, Sant’ Agnello and the area known as Massa Lubrense.  Sorrento is a good home base for your Amalfi Coast excursions.

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Bay of Naples

Piazza Tasso is the central square in Sorrento and the hub for fancy hotels, artistic and cultural events. There are many side streets, almost alleyways I would call them lined with all manner of shopping from high end boutiques, gelato shops and cafes everywhere just to stop and relax and remember why you are here! The town is laid out on an East – West orientation to take advantage of the most sun and North – South to get the prevailing winds.  This was originally a Greek town plan. The 13th century palaces that dot the back streets have no balconies and this was for security.

 

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Sorrento

The limestone rocks here create a soil that is very suitable for various types of vegetation. The most popular and well known product from the region is of course lemons and that oh so famous liqueur: Limoncello!  Of course, we won’t forget to mention the olives, vineyards, vegetables, tomatoes and orange groves also.

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Limoncello
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Peppers, peppers and more peppers!

For our final stop on this Amalfi Coast tour: Capri

You definitely can’t miss Capri!  This island is romance on steroids!!!  The views are mind boggling dramatic and the ocean is a glorious turquoise color. Capri and Ischia are the islands to the west of Sorrento in the Tyrrhenian Sea.  You are hooked immediately upon your arrival to this busy marina and you are in love immediately.

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Marina Grande Capri

Villa Jovis, one of the most magnificent of the Roman Emperor Tiberius’ island palaces is located on Capri’s second highest peak and is a great spot for hikers.  He was the first “tourist” they say who fell in love with Capri looking for a refuge from the hustle and bustle in Rome.  The island is famous for hiking and if that is not for you take the chairlift to the top of Mount Solaro and gaze down upon the towns of Capri and Anacapri and the famous Faraglioni rock formations (see top photo).  Mount Solaro is the highest and most panoramic location on the Island of Capri. From this vantage point you can see all the way down to the center of the town of Capri and to the town of Anacapri and all the way to the Sorrentine peninsula and the Gulf of Naples.

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Anacapri from Monte Solaro chairlift

Of course you will find the most fashionable shopping square anywhere in southern Italy with high end boutiques just calling your name.

Be sure to explore the island both by land and sea.  The Grotta Azzura- The Blue Grotto is a true adventure.  Both times I have been the sea was too choppy for us to enter but it is supposedly absolutely breathtaking.  If it is anything like the other grottos I did see… well- you decide!  I have never seen water this color- anywhere!

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Are you convinced yet!

 

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View back towards Sorrento and Positano

 

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Enjoying JK Place Hotel

 

I have loved every minute of my time on the Amalfi Coast and frankly can’t wait to return again and again! Thanks for traveling with me!  Ciao for now until my next adventure!  If you missed parts 1-4 you can find them here on the blog and all the photos are on my Flickr album.  Hundreds to enjoy and way too many to put in this blog.

When you are on the Amalfi Coast hire a private driver or take a taxi.  Both are experts in the sights and history of the area and will make your journey that much more memorable. Again if you are interested in going to Italy considering working with either of the ladies below and tell them Robin Lensi sent you. I suggest you contact either:

Capritime Tours– Rebecca Brooks or

L’Esperta – Ashley Turney

 

 

 

 

Hiking on the Amalfi Coast (part 3 of 5)

So let’s continue our tour of the Amalfi Coast!

For those so inclined there are plenty of hiking adventures to be had.   We chose the Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods), which winds its way from Agerola for 5 miles to Nocelle and then down to Positano. This is the Amalfi Coast’s most famous walk. The views are astonishing of both the Mediterranean and the mountains. The Amalfi coast is a World Heritage Site. You will see mules and people, abandoned buildings and remote hillside farms. On any given weekend the people of the Amalfi coast get out and enjoy nature. Many can be seen walking or picnicking on the trail and just relaxing on a Sunday afternoon. So let’s begin!  Here is a sneak peek at what you might see while on your hike on the Path of the Gods.

 

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Our welcoming party!
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Which way will you travel? We went from Agerola to Positano

 

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How will you travel?

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Need a home? These hermitages cling to the hillside seemingly suspended in mid-air.

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The views are so special
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Looking in every direction the view unfolds with untold beauty with plunging views of the Mediterranean and the towns below

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Praiano

 

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Have no fear the trail is well marked

 

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People out enjoying the day
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Be prepared of course as you are hiking, bring snacks and water since there are obviously no services along the way

 

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The path is a little tricky at times but easily negotiable. The walk is moderate but the path can be narrow in spots. Do NOT step to the left!The path is a little tricky at times but easily negotiable. The walk is moderate but the path can be narrow in spots. Do NOT step to the left!

 

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Just around every corner the views are expansive of the coastline here from Positano to Capri and beyond.

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Finally our destination – Nocelle and then down to Positano.  You can walk down the 1500 steps but we took a ride.

 

There are many other paths we also did Ravello to Minori.

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Stopping for a breather.  A long way down.  We took a cab back uphill to Ravello!
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Stairs, stairs and more stairs! Look up the view towards Salerno was gorgeous!
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Figs, olives and grapes greeted us all along the paths

You might also check out Ravello to  Atrani via the Valle del  Dragone or on Capri, one of the most beautiful coastal walks in the world, the “Path of the Forts”.  Get out and enjoy the views like the locals.  You won’t be disappointed! Did you miss Part 1 and 2 of this series? Here you go: The Amalfi Coast part one.  Ready to read Part 4: Come Fly with me to Ravello and Amalfi – here you go!

 

Ciao!  See you for the next in the series: Ravello and Amalfi

“Positano bites deep” in the words of John Steinbeck (part 2 of 5)

Continuing on our tour of the Amalfi Coast we come to Positano!  The jewel of the Amalfi coast is most likely Positano, the most photographed fishing village in the world is southeast of Naples.  John Steinbeck when he visited in 1953 wrote “Positano bites deep.  It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” The houses seem to be sitting on top of each other as they cascade down the slope.  “The artist Paul Klee described it as “The only place in the world conceived on a vertical rather than a horizontal axis.”

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Positano from Path of the Gods

Are you in search of beaches?  Well look no further than the Spiaggia del Fornillo or the Spiaggia Grande in Positano.

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Spiaggia Grande

Positano’s 3 town areas are connected by an endless series of staircases.  This is not for the faint of heart!  Wander down the Via dei Mulini among the shops and bakeries or just sit by the pool.

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Covo dei Saraceni

 

Maybe get a pair of sandals made while you wait.

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Don’t miss the Palazzo Murat!  It looks like a palace with its bougainvillea covered balconies.

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Palazzo Murat- Positano

 

At the heart of every town is a church.  Here it is Santa Maria Assunta with its green and yellow majolica dome which is visible from everywhere in town.

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Santa Maria Assunta

At every turn the views are dramatic and memorable.

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Amalfi coastline – Positano to Capri

All over the Amalfi Coast you will stumble upon wedding after wedding.  Beautiful spot for a destination wedding.

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Weddings in every church all along the coast

While you are here try your hand at a cooking class.  There are many offered all over the coast.

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Making Bruschetta

 

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Eggplant Parmigiana anyone?

So plan your trip but leave time to relax, eat, drink and soak up the magic that is the Amalfi Coast!  See you on our next leg of the journey when we travel to Sentieri degli Dei or “The Path of the Gods” above Positano.  The views are breathtaking!

See all the photos from my trips to Italy on my Flickr page and be sure to Follow my Blog so you don’t miss the next installment. Part 3: Hiking on the Amalfi Coast!  Did you miss Part 1? Here is a link!   I would love to hear about your adventures on the Amalfi Coast. Post comments below.  Follow me on Facebook.

Ciao!

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