The Amalfi coast is both legendary and mythical. It is believed that here lived the treacherous Sirens, as described by Homer in the Odyssey. In fact, the Li Galli islands in the Gulf of Salerno are shaped just like the legendary Sirens, and the city of Sorrento itself was named by the Greeks as Syrenusion or Syreon which means Siren's land, as they believed that it was here Odysseus met these alluring creatures.
The part of the Italian coast better known as the Amalfi Coast stretches from south of the Sorrento peninsula, all the way from Punta Campanella to Positano up to Ravello and Vietri Sul Mare.
For stunning views that embrace the whole area, head up into the hills to a spot called Sant’Agata dei due Golfi, where you can experience a breathtaking sight. This hill overlooks both gulfs in the area, the Gulf of Salerno, in front of the Amalfi coast, and the Gulf of Naples, in front of Sorrento.
The Sorrento coastline, which faces the famous Vesuvius volcano, is mostly made of compressed volcanic ash, and benefits from a mild climate. Ssummers along this coast are never extremely hot, and winter never becomes icy cold. This favors agriculture, which you can tell from the many olive groves, orange and lemon trees, an explosion of palm treet, and large numbers of visitors each year. Tourists are definitely part of the crop in these lands, brought as they are by the natural beauty of the region.
On the other side of the coast, in Positano, the sun rises and the sunshine favors a myriad varieties of flowers such as wisterias, bougainvilleas, rhododendrons, geraniums, and gentians.
The city of Sorrento is strategically the best starting point to reach the Amalfi coast. Locations such as Capri, Furore, Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, Paestum, Ischia, Ercolano, Pompei and Vesuvius are within 35 miles of Sorrento and are all easy day trips. With the city's nearly 12,000 rooms ranging from farm holidays, luxury villas, private residences, holiday villages, bed and breakfasts, and 5-star hotels, it's possible to cater to both the high end luxury set and budget mass tourisms. However, it strangely hasn't left any room for tourist traps!
This area of Italy isn't the best for beach holidays. There are only a few beaches, but you do get an abundance of piers located by the foot of the cliffs, that give you access to the water via ladders. In the warm waters of the Amalfi coast, you can not only swim but rent kayaks or boats to spend more time on the dark blue waters. For true Italian beach holidays lazing in a beach lounger, we recommend Elba, Puglia, and Venetian Lido instead.
The history of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento is rich and long. Stemming from times before the Roman Empire, it spans Turkish conquests in the 16th century and the tourists' Grand Tours of the 19th century. In the spirit of the beautiful waterscape, the best way to relish the beauty of the coast and old Roman villas, natural caves, and Saracen fortified towers is to rent a boat. The classical wooden gozzo is the most authentic and charming option.
Eating, drinking, and sleeping on the Amalfi Coast
There are far too many good options to really point you in a single direction for hotels. However, we have found that Hotelscombined provides the best range of hotel deals.
As far as restaurants, here are a few with excellent reputations:
Il Teatro in Amalfi
An inexpensive family run restaurant with great home cooking. It's located up a few flights of white stairs off the main street in Amalfi, and the charming ristorante with an open kitchen is a real find. Tasty pasta dishes and side dishes of vegetables come cheap, the house wine is more than acceptable, and the chocolate torta with walnuts is delicious. With friendly service and dinner for two costing less than Euro 35, it's recommended. Via E. Marini, 19. Phone number is 089 872 473.
La Taverna dei Sapori in Monte di Procida
Wonderful regional dishes, specializing in seafood though other choices are available. Seating is by reservation only. A little hard to find, but worth it! Monte di Procida is a small town at the far edge of the Campi Flegrei near Naples. This restaurant is on the right (near the Farmacia), close to the edge of town when arriving from Torregaveta. Prices are higher than normal for the region, but this is reflected in the quality of the meal. Corso Garibaldi 215. Phone is 081 868 4347.
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