#SETRAVELS: Panoramic Views along the Amalfi Coast (and the Path of the Gods)
For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to go to the Amalfi Coast (and Bali, and Fiji, and Tahiti…and the list goes on). There was always something intriguing about this part of Italy and earlier this month, we made our way to Rome and then headed south along the coastline. We only had a week to play with but we made the most of our time and checked out a few stunning cities.
First, we had to decide whether to rent a car or take the trains/buses. After many calculations, we decided to go with the latter. We decided against renting a car because A) driving in Italy is crazy if you aren’t used to the roads, and B) finding parking would be a hassle. I wasn’t sure how the trains and buses would be but it was actually a breeze. We decided to start in Rome and do Sorrento, Positano and Capri (with brief stops in Napoli and Amalfi). It was the perfect route. After one night in the Eternal City, we hopped on board an early train to Napoli (about $70) and then took the the Circumvesuviana (it’s like their subway, about $10 round-trip) to Sorrento.
We stayed a few nights in Sorrento, as it was the perfect place to set up base to visit Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius. It was a great little city and easy to walk. The streets were relatively flat and we met a few tourists and locals along the way. Bed and Breakfasts start at about $80/night and hotels start at $120/night. After two nights, we decided to venture further south. Although you can take a bus, we decided for the more scenic route, the ferry (about $20 one way).
Next stop, Positano. If there was ever a city that epitomes the Amalfi Coast, this would be it. The city is built on a hillside and although the views are breathtaking, so are the steep winding roads and stairs – literally, you will be left breathless, as in without breath. We stayed at La Rosa Dei Venti (for about $200/night), which is an adorable family run hotel, complete with seaside views from the comforts of your room. During the day, many tourists flock to Positano but in the evenings, many leave the city and you’re left with calm and tranquil roads and streets.
A trip to the Amalfi Coast, isn’t complete without visiting Amalfi. But instead of staying a night in Amalfi, we just took a quick day trip ($5 one way by SITA bus from Positano). The first thing I noticed were the lemons – yup, the lemons. The lemons in Amalfi are about the size of my head (no joke) and delicious. At every other corner you’ll spot a lemonade, gelato or granita stand, and with the beaming midday sun, a granita will do just the trick. We wandered around this peaceful town and eventually situated ourselves at the Piazza Duomo at the foot of the Amalfi Cathedral. It was the perfect place to sip on my granita and just relax and people watch.
For incredible panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast, you have to do the Path of the Gods, also known as Il Sentiero degli Dei. The Path of the Gods is a good walk (about 8km) but not a difficult one. From Positano, we made our way to Praiano via the SITA bus and from there found a set of stairs (about 1,000 steps) that led up to the Convent of San Domenico. That’s where our hike began. We hiked along the coast and stopped constantly to take photos – and the photos don’t even begin to do the coastline justice. After 3 hours, we found ourselves in Nocelle and started down (this time about 2,000 steps). When we reached the bottom, I was sun-drenched, tired and sweaty. To my surprise (and relief) there was a granita stand and a lovely gentleman made me the coldest, freshest granita, I’ve ever had – it was just what I needed. As I sipped on my granita, we began to walk back to Postitano, which was another 15 minutes. Looking back at the photos, I don’t know how anyone could visit the Amalfi Coast without taking the Path of the Gods. It wasn’t a short hike but it wasn’t a hard one. It was however, worth every minute.
Before heading back to Rome, we made a quick stop at Capri. After hearing so much about this island, I knew I had to stay at least one night to soak it all in. The first stop was the Blue Grotto. Although slightly overpriced for a 15 minute adventure ($40), the Blue Grotto is actually quite spectacular. We took a small row boat into a sea cave where natural sunlight passes through an underwater cavity, to create a blue light that illuminates the cavern. There are a plethora of restaurants and shops to wander in but we decided to grab a bite in the Piazzetta, their main piazza. Knowing that we only had one night in Capri, we had to pick our attractions carefully. At sunset, we made our way to the Gardens of Augustus (1 Euro entry fee). The gardens are beautiful but the real vision are the stunning views of the coast, a direct view of Via Krupp and the Faraglioni rock formations.
One week in the Amalfi Coast is not enough. Staring down at the cobalt blue waters at the edge of a dizzying cliff, it’s hard to believe such villages could be so picturesque. After visiting, you understand why this cultural landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A return trip to this beautiful coastline cannot come soon enough.
– Chenessa Lam