The Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is situated in the Northern part of Southern Italy. The Province is that of Salerno and theRegion is Campania. Geographically, the term Amalfi Coast refers to a long strip of coast, set between the mountains and the Tyrrhenian Sea that from the Sorrentine Peninsula by way of the road SS163 leads to the city of Salerno. The State Road 163 branching off from the Sorrentine Peninsula and, from Positano, the most Westerly city of the Coast,reaches the city of Vietri sul Mare, the Eastern limits of our territory.
It is about 50 km of road, looking out on the Gulf of Salerno, characterized by natural landscapes, smallcities,and romantic villages of extraordinary and renowned beauty.
Since 1997, the Amalfi Coast has been listed by UNESCO among the 'World Patrimony of Mankind' sites. We are very proud of the fact that Italy holds the record of 43% of the sites that UNESCO has defined 'Patrimony Site of Mankind' and is the nation that holds and hosts 60% of the world's artistic patrimony. In the Region of Campania alone and in the area closely bordering the Amalfi Coast, it is possible to visit-in a few short hours drive-eight sites voted World Patrimony of Mankind and world-famous archaeological and architectural jewels.
Nevertheless, the best thing to do is to discover them on the spot, here, where they are inabundance and where there are still artistic treasures to be unearthed.The archaeological sites of Pompei, Ercolano,Oplonti, Stabia, the Valley of the Temples at Paestum, the Reggia of Caserta and it's park, San Leucio and it's silks, the park of Cilento or the historic centre of the city of Napoli are easily reached from the Amalfi Coast and Capri, Ischia, Sorrento are but a few kilometres or nautical miles away.
Geologically, the Amalfi Coast is characterized by typically Mediterranean conformation. The harsh rock of themountains, promontories and cliffs dominate the vast deep sea, whose depths are rich with hidden marine grottoes and are of great naturalistic interest. The entire area is covered with a lush green vegetation typical of the Mediterranean bush, rich in centuries-old trees, fragrant shrubs and typical Mediterranean cultivation. Citrus, age-old olive trees and the cultivation of grapes represent an ancient agricultural tradition that is still practiced today without the intervention of machinery and with purely biological and eco-compatible methods.
Politically and administratively the Amalfi Coast is made up of 13 municipalities (Positano, Praiano,Conca deiMarini,Furore, Amalfi, Atrani, Scala, Ravello, Minori, Maiori, Tramonti, Cetara, Vietri sul Mare) and the city ofAmalfi which, geographically and historically- represents the centre and principal reference point.
Although it appears to be a unique and relatively small territory, the Amalfi Coast is in reality an area that is both culturally and geographically intensely heterogeneous.
Each of the 13 towns that make up the Amalfi Coast has it's own character , administration, it's own history and it's own historic and cultural identity that are greatly conditioned by the geographical location that each town occupies. Mass tourism and the development of activities connected to tourist reception has intelligibly concerned and , in part, 'internationalized' mostly the towns of the Coast that directly look out on the sea, because they offerbathing possibilities or because they are easily reached along the state road. They have had an easier time transforming themselves into vacation spots, with the consequent development of commercial activities and entrepreneurial opportunities tied to tourism.Towns, such as Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello have bynow firmly scaled the classification of the towns with the highest revenue in the world. The development of hotel and restaurant businesses, local handcrafts and the exportation of local products have made them employment centres and economic drawing vehicles for a great part of the Coast.
Nevertheless, a more active local entrepreneurial spirit exists and has been gradually reinforced. It proposes to defend and preserve the natural environment of the Amalfi Coast and the enormous (and often unknown) artistic, historical cultural and alimentary heritages that characterize it.
Towns like Praiano, Furore, Conca dei Marini, Atrani, Minori, and Cetara have become authentic jewels with thedevelopment of agro- touristic concerns, bed and breakfast operations, rental possibilities, events and culturalinitiatives which, besides highlighting the legitimate business of hospitality that the area enjoys, aim to offerthe traveller the possibility( which was so prized by great aristocrats in the past) to enjoy and to visit the Amalfi Coast with the heart and the eyes of those who live here and understand it's charms.
It isn't by chance if- while going through the travel notes of someone who has visited us- you discover theenthusiasm that the foreign tourist shows for one of the least known and smallest towns on the Amalfi Coast. Towns like Praiano, Atrani, Furore still keep intact the archaic charm of fishing villages or farming communities that they once were. As far as we are concerned, it is there that the true spirit of the Amalfi Coast is accessible and the traveller can best benefit from a more refined, reserved and enjoyable vacation.
The Amalfi Coast looks out over the Mediterranean Sea, in a geographic position that guarantees mild, sunny climate for most of the year. The summers are very hot, but pleasant-compared to other regions of Southern Italy-with fresh sea breezes. Spring and Autumn offer an ideal climate, with splendid sunny days interspersed by showers which are concentrated mostly in these seasons. Winters are generally mild and especially between December and February there can be cold periods or cold winds coming from the numerous mountainous gorges that cross the territory and blow down sweeping the Coast. Snow is a sporadic and very rare event.Less rare, in the heart of winter, is the spectacle of the highest peaks covered in snow contrasting with the intense blue of the sea.Tourist seasonThe tourist season on the Amalfi Coast officially begins during Easter week, which is the real beginning of the busiest period for hotels, pensions, shops, restaurants.For this reason, the period from March/April to the end of September is considered the best period to visit us.Actually, this is just the period when most of the conveniences and all of the typical benefits that thevacation industry offers can be guaranteed to the tourist. During the summer on the Amalfi Coast, everything isopen, well- organized and certainly more efficient than in other periods of the year. For the same reason, during the summer period, everything is more expensive, crowded and chaotic than during the rest of the year. The summer is also the key period for Italian holidays, with the traditional month of August which overwhelms everything, especially the Coast and the cities along it, while the cities are practically 'closed for holidays'. As much as Roma, Milano, Napoli, the many other 'art cities' and most of the nation are magnificent to visit in August. they can seem deserted to the passing tourist. Shops, restaurants,and bars are closed for holiday for the most part of the month. Given these conditions, it is not surprising that the tourists love to visit us 'out of season', as it is preferable then, especially if one intends to combine a holiday on the Coast with a few days in one of the art centres nearby ( e.g. Napoli, Caserta, Roma.) In fact, visiting us outside of the traditional tourist season is economically advantageous, climatically more pleasant and more advantageous from a tourist point of view. In spite of the limited disadvantages, during the magnificent off season you can enjoy the best that there is to be offered. Those who already know this take advantage of the fact year afteryear, season after season. From September to January and from March to June the Amalfi Coast is full of foreign visitors , especially people who visit us for a taste of the spirit of a place that is magnificent in every season. Besides, a sweet little restaurant that is open, a beautiful shop, monument, street and beach finally peaceful again are pleasures that can be better appreciated far from the summer crowds. As far as the Christmas season is concerned,the Amalfi Coast is, in the period between Christmas and New Year, truly enchanting.
Beginning with the Easter Holidays, the Amalfi Coastis rich in manifestations, cultural and historical eventsnot to be missed. Starting with the rites of Easter and theprocessions during Holy Week, imposing religious rites thattake place in almost every community. May is the month ofthe monuments in Napoli. Between June and October theRavello Festival offers classical music lovers a calendar ofconcerts and artistic events of great cultural and artisticintensity. In June, for anyone who wants to see a trulyItalian, historic event of great beauty, at Cava de' Terrenithe festival of Montecastello with flag-waving contests,andfireworks displays is an truly local art form. Between thefirst and fourth of August there is the Luminaria of SanDomenico that is celebrated in Praiano. The Feast of theAssumption, August 15th (the famous Italian Ferragosta) theremembrance of ancient rites and local legends thatculminates with fireworks spectacles exploded in thenight-time skies above Positano and Maiori, with hundreds ofboats, some richly decorated, that come from every angle ofthe Gulf to admire them.
Another spectacular rite not to be missed , theByzantine New Year commemorating the splendour of theancient Marine Republic of Amalfi, offers the opportunity toadmire a magnificent historic procession in sumptuousperiod costumes. This is celebrated every year on the 31stAugust. Also in Amalfi, is the Feast day of the city'spatron Saint Andrea, one of the the oldest and amazing localrites; the run of the fishermen carrying the statue of thesaint on their shoulders down and up the majestic staircaseof the magnificent Duomo. It is repeated twice a year, 27thAugust and 30th November.
The Christmas season officially starts on December 8th,the date the population traditionally begins to decoratetheir homes with trees and, of course, the prescepe orChristmas crib which is a true art in the entire Region.Prescepes of every type and fashion, some very old or builtinto the rocks, can be admired in every church, home andangle of the land amid the splendour of the thousands oflights that decorate streets and houses. The entire Coast,itself, becomes a living prescepe. New Year's Eve iscelebrated in community, with piazzas and beaches becomingsites of collective parties, with music, song, fireworks,sweets, traditional meals and rivers of great ItalianSpumante.
Hotels, Bed and breakfast and Co.
Except for the all-inclusive, mega-village which,fortunately, is impossible to develop here, the Amalfi Coastoffers several types of tourist arrangements. First off,there are the extra- luxurious hotels that, you will haveadmired many times in romantic comedies if you are a filmbuff.
The concentration of luxury hotels - especially in thestretch of the Coast between Positano and Ravello ( thereare 10 , one after another) offer suites and dream-likerooms immersed in real paradises of comfort. We hope thatyou can be a part of the chosen few who can afford to stayin these hotels, even though we must warn you that theprices in these hotels are very high.
On the other hand, as far as demand is concerned, theAmalfi Coast has never had a lot of rooms to offer and theprices during the high season are quite high. Consideringthe morphology of the area and the limitations that thelandscape imposes,it is impossible then, to imagine thathere- sooner or later-a 100 or 200 room hotel will be built.Fortunately, this is not going to be part of our future andour hotels, even the largest, offer a limited number ofrooms and can cost more here than anywhere else.
The boarding houses( pensioni), the numerous bed andbreakfasts and the rental rooms offer excellent alternativesto hotels at a lower price, even if here, in terms ofcomfort,there can be great variations and for the same priceyou could find yourself in a well cared-for home or a hovel.It is best, therefore, to evaluate and inquire, perhaps viainternet, if this type of arrangement is suitable for you.
The same holds true for the rental apartments and villasthat,in photograph or via web, are all beautiful andequipped with pools or are 2 steps from the sea. Actually,seeing the demand for beds, everyone or almost everyonerents houses in the area. Internet has made it possible foreveryone to put his little domestic business on the web. So,if you don't want to find yourself in a field, lost in themountains and looking for a bungalow that is in anunreachable suburb , or if you don't want to waste 4 dayslooking for your landlord or someone who can help you tofind your bearings, help you with your luggage, give youinformation in English, it is best to put yourself in thehands a trustworthy organization that can offer you all theguarantees necessary; beginning with secure and protectedmeans of reservation and payment and continuing with thepossibility to give you all the information that you requireconcerning the property that you have chosen to rent. Beyondany doubt, Villasamalficoast.com is this type oforganization.
House to rent
As you have noticed by looking through our website,there is a wide range of villas and apartments tochoose from. We try our best to have something to offer toeveryone and we personally oversee the texts and thedescriptions of the home that are offered to assure thatthey are accurate and conform to reality. We do so becausewe believe that it is better to be honest than devious. Thisway we avoid trouble, and since we are typical Amalfi Coastcitizens,we dislike conflict.
We dislike it, when our description of a house mentions asmall swimming pool, and the same property is described onanother web site as having and olympic-sized pool. Theliving quarters that we offer are , like fashion, chosen atleast one season before and the proprietor of the propertymay be sure that there will be an olympic-sized pool readyfor the next season. The difference is that, contrary to theother agencies that offer the same property, we live here.We know that the construction of a swimming pool that willbe, but isn't yet, depends on many factors. Therefore, wepromote only what is actually finished or characterizes theproperty. We do not deal in conjecture. And, if the touristarrives and finds a pool that is better than he expected,the property has succeeded in providing more than what waspromised and the client is satisfied. We would hate it ifthe contrary were to happen.
We personally select all our properties and thanks to adirect, long running and friendly rapport with theproprietors and our friendships with them as residents, thevillas and the apartments that we offer, are chosen from thebest of all that are on the market. In the first place, weoffer comfort and security , and a little special andpersonal treatment never hurts.
We like to find homes and living solutions that aredifferent from the rest and in out-of-the-ordinary locationsof our little community in order to meet the needs andpreferences of our clientele who come from all over theworld and have varied tastes, cultural prerequisites anddifferent ideals of the perfect holiday residence. Imaginegiving a property that is not air conditioned to anAmerican, or not offer privacy and peace to an Englishman,splendour to a Russian or refinement to a Frenchman. Imaginerenting a property in a busy, noisy area to someone who goesto bed early, or a quiet, deserted spot to the client wholoves nightlife and mundane pleasures.... if you are goingto take 10 excursions in a week you need to be near transitconnections, if you are travelling with children, you mayneed a pool or at least know how far it is to the nearestbeach.
It may sound trite, but what we are trying to say hereis that we try to do our best for every customer. All thesame , our properties are particular and can surprisesomeone who is not used to them. For this reason we haveincluded architectural notes on our website which help tointroduce the potential client to our way of living and thebasic layout of our homes. Probably the best way to choosewhich property is best for you is to contact us via e mailand clearly explain to us what you want from your residenceon the Amalfi Coast......A love nest?......a solitaryhermitage?.....A villa fit for a king or a place where thekids can have a good time????? You can speak to one of usand and ask pertinent questions. Leaf through our guest bookthat we will scan on our site and ask, ask, ask. Obviouslyit is best if you do so before your arrival, but if need be,you will always find someone from Amalfi Coast Accomodationready to help you when you arrive.
There is something that we must warn you about: youshould forget about hot water heaters that offer anunlimited amount of hot water. Had you come here in the1970's you would have hardly found any water. We have come along way since then but you must keep in mind that, as faras water resources are concerned, we have just lately gottenbetter. You can use this opportunity to learn that water isa precious resource and not to be wasted. As far aselectricity is concerned, all of our properties are equippedwith plugs...and 220 volt current. Will you bring your ownadapter of shall we do that for you?
How to reach the Amalfi Coast
Visas and Necessary Documents for Entering Italy
Italy is a member of the European Community and withthe Shengen Agreement there is no longer border controlbetween member nations. All citizens of the EU can enterinto Italy without need of a visa. Citizens of Canada,Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the United States can stayin Italy- for a maximum of 90 days- without a visa. Driverslicences from these nations are valid for the duration ofthe visit.
Principal Connecting Airports
The Napoli Chapodichino Airport is the most convenientairport for anyone wishing to easily reach the Amalfi Coast.It is well connected -with daily flights- to all majorItalian and European airports. Many large airlines (Alitalia, Air France, British Airways) fly into Napoli andguarantee efficient connection with principal Europeancities as well as the airports of Roma and Milano, usualoverseas arrival venues. Several 'low cost' airlines (Easyjet, Transavia, Alpieagles) connect Napoli with numerousBritish and European cities at reduced rates. Euroflyprovides three flights weekly to and from New York. Whateverthe case we highly recommend that you choose a flight withtransfer to Napoli Capodichino. If you are unable to do so ,it is best to fly into Roma but you must be prepared for arather complicated and tiring transfer to the Amalfi Coastif you intend to use public transport.
Roma is connected to Napoli by an excellent railway and byhigh speed trains (Treni TAV) that connect the two cities inonly 1 hour and 15 minutes. The Roma Termini train stationwith numerous trains daily for Napoli, can be reacheddirectly from Fiumicino airport by a comfortable train ridein ½ hour. The train arrives in close proximity to thetrain for Napoli and if you have bought your train ticketfor Napoli at the FS ticket office at the airport all youneed do is change trains. In any case, be sure to programmeyour arrival and departure times well, including transfertimes. We also advise you to begin your trip from Roma tothe Amalfi Coast early in the day. From 21:45p.m. reachingNapoli from Roma by train is practically impossible andarriving at Napoli in late evening, considering the timenecessary to reach us from there, could be a very bad idea.
From Naples to Sorrento and viceversaThe Capodichino Airport at Napoli is directly connectedto the terminus of the SITA bus line at Sorrento and Amalfi by a comfortable bus run by Curreri SPA. The coursesare quite frequent in the summer season but there is dailyconnection from Napoli Capodichino Airport to Sorrento evenin the low season. During the low season, the courses arefewer but nevertheless quite numerous. We think that it isworth using this connection as it means only two transfersfrom Napoli Capodichino airport to Amalfi , Positano orPraiano.
Once you arrive at Sorrento, all you need do is takethe first SITA bus for Amalfi that leaves from the piazza infront of the train station. After approximately 40 minutesof curves and breathtaking views you will arrive atPositano; Praiano is only another 10 minutes and the ride toAmalfi is approximately 1 hour from Sorrento. If you preferto take a taxi, you will find the fare much lower than fromNapoli. Sorrento is approximately 25/30 km. from Positanoand Praiano and so the fare is much lower than from Napoli.If you decide not to wait for a bus at the airport, if youlove to get mixed up in local customs and love travelling tothe rhythms of the locals, the alternative is to take theVolaviabus, run by AMN, that connects the airport with theNapoli Piazza Garibaldi train station.
Follow directions there for the Circumvesuvianotrains, which connect Napoli with the entire area aroundthe base of the famous Vesuvio volcano ( which you will beable to admire during your trip). The Circumvesuvianaconnects Napoli to the city of Sorrento with frequentservice from 6:00 a.m. until Midnight. These trains can bevery crowded with students, commuters and workers who commute every day to the capital of the Region of Campania.
During the summer tourist season there are also thebathers on their way to the beach and the hordes oftourists. The 55 minute trip necessary to reach Sorrento (often standing, heated by the sun and without airconditioning) can be a real undertaking. Even more so if youhave a lot of luggage or are travelling with children.
Travelling via Circumvesuviana is economical and thecompany is part of the UNICOCAMPANIA society. Therefore, thefare from Napoli to Sorrento is only 3,20 Euro per personand includes the bus fare from Sorrento to Praiano orPositano. It costs a bit more for Amalfi as the ticket ispriced by kilometre and Amalfi is in the next fare range.
Certainly, travelling by Circumvesuviana as manyguides suggest -is the the cheapest way to get here. As faras we are concerned-it is also the most tiring and riskyway, especially because you are just arriving in our Regionand not used to things as they are here. During your stay ,you will have many occasions to enjoy this picturesqueexperience. The Circumvesuviana is, in fact, the best meansfor reaching the archaeological sites of Pompei, Ercolano,Oplonto and Stabia, all of which are stops along the way. Bythen you will be a more expert traveller, less tired andwith just a light backpack in tow. On your arrival, you willbe tired, jet lagged and weighted down with luggage and notprepared to affront Napoli and it's worst aspects.
The area around the train station in Napoli iscertainly not the most pleasant part of the city and thepickpockets , who hang out here and work the crowded transitsystems are plentiful. Travelling by above ground transit inNapoli, such as the bus from the airport to the trainstation isn't pleasant because of the chaotic traffic thatcharacterizes the city. Last but not least, it is a realtorment dragging heavy luggage through the maze of streetsaround Napoli Centrale station. This is especially true ofthe tract from the main station to the undergroundCircumvesiana station as it is presently undergoingrenovations. Keep in mind, also that there will be 3 meansof transportation changes, train schedules to fit in andluggage to drag up and down stairs.......and at the end ofall this you will have to deal with the notorious SITA busthat will take you from Sorrento to the Amalfi Coast.
I would like to make something clear here. Napoli is a wonderful, exciting city, rich in art, architecture andgastronomic delights. It is one the most characteristic cityin Italy and certainly no more dangerous than any otherlarge city in the world. Shopping is excellent and bargainsabound in the latest fashions. It is, however, notparticularly 'tourist friendly' as monuments are not clearlymarked, often not easy to locate and difficult to reachbecause of the chaotic traffic that plagues the city. In myopinion and in spite of it all, Napoli definitely deservesyour visit.....just keep your eyes open your wallet in yourfront pocket and without heavy luggage in tow..
If you really like adventure, why not come by sea? TheVolaviabus besides connecting Capodichino airport to theNapoli Centrale train station, connects the airport directlyto the Molo Beverello one of the Ports of Napoli , and , inevery season of the year, ferries connect from there withthe port of Sorrento which is connected to the SITA bus forAmalfi by way of a shuttle.
During the summer season, the 'Metro del Mare' connectsMolo Beverello to Sorrento as well as Positano and Amalfi.This is probably the best way to begin your holiday on theAmalfi Coast....by sea on board a comfortable, modern boat,after an hour and a half across one of the most beautifulgulfs in the world. Tickets can be purchased at the ticketoffice in the port and cost about 15 Euro per person.Children pay only 5 Euro each. With a calm sea and a shiningsun there is no better way to get here.
One little suggestion: if your destination isPraiano, take the boat to Amalfi. The walk up from the portof Positano to the bus stop is long and difficult. There is,of course, baggage service , but the prices are quite high.From the port in Amalfi,instead, you need only cross acomfortable ramp to reach the SITA bus stop. The first busgoing towards Sorrento will take you to Praiano or Positano after a 15 or 20 minute ride.
The same holds true if you decide to visit Capri.However, the trip from Positano to Capri, without luggageand hand- in- hand with a lover, and the walk from the portup to the orange bus stop and the short ride to Praiano ispure romance.
From Sorrento to Positano, Praiano, Amalfi and viceversa.
Sorrento is well connected to the Amalfi Coast thanksto the SITA bus lines which, especially in the summer,provides service until late at night. In low season,however, the last SITA bus for Amalfi leaves Sorrento a8:00p.m. In any case , in the piazza in front of theSorrento train station, you can always find a taxi all yearround. This is true not just in Sorrento. Where there is aSITA terminal, there are almost always many taxis to takeyou to your hotel or wherever. The fact that thousands oftourists use the services of the SITA bus every year istestimony to it's services.
For the exclusive use of tourists and nonresidents theSITA organization has made available a special ticket calledUNICO COSTIERA that is valid for a 24 hour period from thetime that it is validated ( on entering the bus). The costis 6 Euro per person. It can be purchased at the trainticket office, most newspaper vendors, tobacconists,and barsnear the train station and|or the main bus stops. With thisticket you can change as many buses as you wish in the 24hour period . You will find this very practical andcomfortable during your stay on the Amalfi Coast as you canhop from one SITA bus to another as often as you wish.
The UNICO COSTIERA ticket is valid for all urban andextra urban lines which are part of the UNICO society. TheUNICO ticket is valid on all SITA buses, the trains of theCIRCUMVESUVIANA, all regional FS trains, the line #1 and#2lines of the Napoli subway ( Metro) system, all funicolare (cable railway) lines of the city of Napoli and internaltransport lines of the cities of Sorrento and Napoli. Theticket is not valid on the orange bus that connects Praianoto Positano. This fare is 1.10 Euro for a one way ticket ineither direction.
The SITA guarantees service to the entire AmalfiCoast area ; the towns along the SS163 as well as inlandtowns and localities on the hills around the Coast. The SITAalso connects Salerno to Napoli with frequent service andonce a day there is a bus that connects Amalfi, Positano,and Praiano with Napoli. The trip is long and thedeviations into the towns, are decidedly too many. Theadvantage to this is that there are no changes.
Getting here by Car
We strongly advise not using private transportationon the Amalfi Coast, especially if the driver is not used todriving on tortuous, narrow roads with continuous curvesthat are literally imbeded between the rocks and theravines. But, if you must, you must.....
Napoli and Salerno are located along the tract ofhighway , the famous Autostrada del Sole, which runs fromthe north of the country to the south. The tract of thehighway that turns towards south and the cities of Napoliand Salerno is called A3.
From the A3, after passing the exit for Napoli,following the indications for Penisola Sorrentina/CostieraAmalfitana you will exit at the Castellamare di Stabia exitand from here (do not enter the city of Castellamare)-always following the road signs for Positano -you arrive atMeta di Sorrento. Approximately 1 Km. after the big churchon the left in Meta,turn left following the signs forPositano, Amalfi and you will find yourself on the legendarySS163, 50 km. of breathtaking curves that run along the sea towards the city of Salerno, along the entire Amalfi Coast.
Along the state road #163, coming from Sorrento atabout 20 km. from Meta you will arrive at Positano.Continuing along the state road ( do not enter into Positanounless that is your destination) for 7 km. or so, you willarrive at Praiano and 10 km. further on is the city ofAmalfi.
If you should miss the cut off for Castellamare ( itis the next one after Pompei) follow the highway to Salernoand you can pick up the SS163 by exiting at Vietri sul Mare.You are approximately 40 km. out of your way but you can nowdrive the whole Amalfi Coast road with it's breathtakingpanoramas, lovely localities,,dream-like little towns andromantic vistas......road and driving conditions are anotherthing.
The SS163 is not legendary by chance. The road isnarrow and especially in summer it is suffocated withtraffic that can leave you blocked for hours. Add to thisthe roadblocks that are set up every year in an attempt toregulate traffic entering the Amalfi Coast. Road closingscaused by manifestations, accidents,fires, or landslides arefrequent and it is wise to be informed about road conditionsbefore arriving.
If you are renting a car, choose one that is small andeasy to handle. Power steering helps, too. Prepare toconfront many manoeuvres and travel light, and most of all,sober. You will probably want to a 'as few' on your arrivalto calm your nerves and celebrate your victory over theSS163. Don't believe, as you may tend to, that gettingaround is easy on this road. Fender-benders are frequenteven though speeding is practically impossible and thus fatal accidents are rare. The 'fools of the road' that youhave heard about are a metropolitan legend. Not even we liketo get squashed against the rocks or fly in the car over aprecipice.... you can count on it.
Taxis, Rental Cars, etc.
Save money on everything but not on your security andcomfort. It is true that getting here by taxi directly fromthe airport or renting a car and driver are not the mosteconomical ways to get here. In the end, especially if youare travelling with friends or family, it could be a lotless expensive than you think. Especially if you trustyourself to a local agency and give them the honour and theburden to organize and advise, directly from here yourtransfer to or from the airport. In practice, we will sendyou a car with one of our famous local drivers. We do notdo this to make money; this is not our business; 'the carand driver' is an old custom or tradition here on the Coast.
The 'driver' is a part of our history and a characternot easily found elsewhere. They are usually men, alwaystrustworthy and discreet, they don't work for largecompanies or agencies. They usually own 1 or 2 cars, andhave chauffeur's licenses to drive them. They accompanyresidents and tourists alike. It is possible that theirfather did the same thing with horse and carriage. Thepresent day veterans carry on the career with luxury carsand excellent driving skills.
It is hard to believe, but not long ago most inhabitantsof the Amalfi Coast did not own automobiles and even upuntil the 1960's- if they had to go to Napoli, Roma orSalerno for special events- they trusted, almostexclusively, the driver of their community.
Giovanni, Mimi, Gennarino and all the old, mythicaldrivers of the Amalfi Coast are still institutions in thecommunity. They are still respected as authentic ' men ofthe world', capable of manoeuvering in the city and placesthat previously seemed exotic and far away. These figuresshare important moments in many people's lives.
For example, they took us to choose our wedding gown inthe city, to take an exam or to discuss our thesis for ouruniversity degree or to visit a loved one recovering inhospital in Salerno or Napoli. They drove us to pick upfriends or to accompany our relatives who had emigrated toAmerica, Argentina, Venezuela, or Australia. Only theybecame confidants to the foreign tourists, the manyaristocrats and the people who used their services to getaround the Coast, to arrive for or leave from theirmagnificent, long and expensive holidays.
As much as the companies and organized co operatives oftaxi services have overshadowed these figures, the family-run rental car service still lives on in every town alongthe Coast, ready and willing to be of service to the manytourists who visit us every year.
For a rather stiff ( but inferior to the charges ofthe local taxi companies) price, they will take you anywhereyou wish to go....with a personal service that no taxicompany can offer. It is easy to become friends with theAmalfi Coast driver, and you will remember his personality,discretion and gentility for many years to come. Few of themspeak English fluently, but they can understand you and makethemselves understood. No matter where you want to go, theyknow how to get there, even if you want to go to the mostout of the way place on the Coast. And they won't abandonyou ever- until you have reached your destination ( which isusually farther and more difficult to reach than youimagined or were told.)
Living on the Amalfi Coast
WHAT TO PACK
As we have already suggested on our web site, no highheels or uncomfortable shoes. Light luggage and practicalfoot wear is our suggestion. You may want hiking boots orathletic shoes for mountain walking, a bathing suit, shorts,beach towel, comfortable sandals and water shoes to protectyour tender city-feet from the stones on the beaches, awaterproof jacket and a light sweater against any coolevening breezes, and at least one nice dress for her and ashirt and slacks for him for those romantic dinners out.Suit and tie or long dress??????? ....you can do without andfind yourself finally free from many conventions and socialhypocrisies. Bring lots of sun screen and after- sunpreparations and in every season bring a hat to protectyourself from the sun. Kids? Visit the site or go to page for details.Mosquitoes? They can be kept at bay by vases of basil,citronella and natural candles that can be purchasedeverywhere on the Coast. They are healthy, ecological andmuch more romantic and perfumed than insect sprays.
WHAT TO DO
Looking through the remarks that our guests havewritten in the guest books that are found in all of ourproperties, we have become aware of many things. The first,quite simply, is the frequency which our guests mention howmuch they 'enjoyed life' while staying with us. Next, theymention the panorama that left them speechless and many notethat they felt like they had found paradise. You can readthese messages left by previous guests by leafing throughthe pages of the guest books that we have scanned for ourweb site. Enjoying life and contemplating the beauty ofnature are the preferred activities in this area. Even if weshouldn't say so, it's quite clear to us that many of ourguests have chosen a sane ,rich, lazy domestic life wherethe terrace, the swimming pool, the barbecue, thebreathtaking views, romantic walks became a way of life. They write little love notes, and enthusiastic dedicationsto their partner on our pages...and suggest littlerestaurants by the sea where they felt right at home.
Some have even used their time here to immersethemselves in the joys of cooking. Many of the proprietorsof our homes or the chefs of some of the villas arefantastic cooks and nothing makes a southern Italian womanor a first class chef happier than to find a foreigner whoappreciates our gastronomy. The neighbours of many of ourvillas have often complained about wild revelry, laughter,music and mirth until dawn. We are happy to hear this and webelieve that this is the proper spirit for visiting andenjoying a vacation in Italy. It is easy to make friends andrelax and everything is more pleasant where rhythms are slowand convivial.....and stupendous historical centres. So, ifyou want to, go ahead and party. But take a hint from yourfellow travellers who have visited the art centres and don'tmiss out on that side of our life. It will be an opportunityto savour another slice of pure pleasure.
WHAT TO SHOP
There aren't any mega, hyper or super markets in theseparts. Just little, colourful, mini emporiums and smallshops where you can find the fundamentals and then some.They open early in the morning, about 8:00 a.m. and are openuntil 2:00 p.m. They reopen at 4:00 p.m. or 5:00 p.m. andclose at 8:00p.m. in the winter and 10.00 p.m. in the summerseason. Every town on the Amalfi Coast has a tobacconistwhere you can also buy tickets for public transport, postagestamps and stationary supplies, a news stand, a butchershop, a greengrocer, at least one grocery store where youcan usually buy bread, fresh dairy products, wine, mineralwater and drinks , detergents, batteries and light bulbs.These are the basics. You can usually add at least one bar,apharmacy, and a souvenir shop- that sells stockings and underwear, the local weekly outdoor market and a pastry shopand you have a good idea of the simplicity and of our basiccommercial network. In the larger, better- known towns (Amalfi, Positano, Sorrento) you will find good choice butprobably not to the extent of the large shopping centres youare used to. In compensation, there is at least one ATMmachine, a post office and all Amalfi Coast Accomodationclients get free home delivery of groceries. Our personalassistant can procure absolutely everything our clients mayneed. If you were to interview husbands and lovers of ourpersonal assistants, you would be shocked and surprisedwhat they have had to put up with in order to ensure thatAmalfi Coast Accommodation guests enjoy an unforgettableholiday.
Gifts and souvenirs
What to buy and what to avoid. Let's start with thebeautiful and truly typical things from the Amalfi Coast.You should buy some hand- made paper note cards or a notebook of hand-made paper from Amalfi. It is a pleasure towrite on and is unique in the world.
Don't go home without something in ceramic from Vietrisul Mare. Choose it in one of the many ceramic workshopsthat offer the possibility to order something custom-designed and created together with one of the many, talentedand famous ceramicists in the area.
Fall in love with a piece of embroidery and bring homea handkerchief, a cushion, or blouse with our typical,beautiful embroidery inserts made by the nuns or someone whoprobably learned the art from her grandmother.
Sorrento is famous for inlaid woodwork and even a smallobject makes a wonderful memory of you stay here. If you area fan of talismans, you can find wonderful coral horns. Theyare our most typical good luck charms and are used toprotect the owner from the 'evil eye', and envy that canjeopardize your success and that of your loved ones.
Plunder a book shop and find at least one of thewonderful photography or illustrated books in which famousartists and authors have attempted to gather the colours,the nuances and the ambiance of this land. Raid a pastryshop of it's dry pastries, biscuits, pralines and handcrafted liqueurs.....limoncello,of course, but also Concertoand fennel ( finocchietto) liqueur.
Get yourself a pair of made- to- measure sandals. Theyare cool, comfortable, elegant and original and you can,with not a lot of money, take home some world-famous, handcrafted Italian footwear and be like Princess Carolina ofMonaco who wears them even on the red carpet.
Discover some of our DOC wines, especially one fromFurore or other parts of the province or region and havethem sent directly to your home. Copy the recipe of thatdish, that cake, those pastries that your landlady charmedyou with. Tony will be happy to help you with thetranslation. We get lots of requests for recipes from guestswho have vacationed in our houses. One Australian lady wroteto ask us when the lady who had rented her a villa , wouldbe giving another cooking course. We had to tell her thatthe lady in question did not give cooking lessons, she justliked sharing her talents with her guests. Sometimes famespreads by improbable means and sharing or exchanging arecipe here is considered a true pleasure. Take home a jarof spice, too. Rockerfeller used to have braids of our hotpeppers sent to his home from here. What Italian dish isn'tenhanced by a touch of hot peperoncino? You will think ofus every time you use it, wherever you are in the world, tomake that Italian dinner that you will certainly dedicate toyour favourite memory of your stay here.
WHAT TO EAT
It would be ridiculous to say that you eat well on theAmalfi Coast. Above all, you eat Mediterranean. That meansthat you eat a varied diet, high in vitamins and rich innutritional value, but low in fats. Obviously the cooking onthe Amalfi Coast is at the apex of this culinary tradition.You are also in a Region and in a territory that has aparticularly high percentage of DOP (denominazione di originprotetta)-guaranteeing that the product is produced only inthe geological area and DOC wines ( denominazione di originecontrollata) which guarantees that the grapes are grown andbottled in the area. These categories are made to tempt themost discerning gourmet. When you decide that you want totry out your own cooking talents, you will discover thatmost of our homes have well -equipped kitchens and wonderfulbarbecues to better let you enjoy the fragrance of our freshsea food, meats and flavourful vegetables. Charcoal cookingis among our favourite pastimes-and thanks to our favouritecondiment,our extra virgin olive oil-we do it well.
The notorious Italian pasta is , of course , another of our specialties and you might be surprised at how we cook it. Our sauces are ready in a minute with few, carefully chosen, and always fresh ingredients. There aren't any ''ragus or 'Bolognese' in these parts. Here we eat spaghetti, linguine and penne in fresh tomato and basil ,with zucchine or eggplant and especially with fresh seafood. Fresh cuttle-fish, sword fish, tuna, pezzogne and fragagli at their freshest. And wonderful desserts.... The three that must not be missed are: Caprese ( hazelnut and chocolate cake), delizia al limone ( little lemon cream cakes) and torta ricotta e pera ( ricotta cheese and pear cake) ....but , don't miss out on the mulberry or citrus sorbet, either. Take a look at our web site and you can find out a lot more about our cooking methods and our gastronomy.
The bar for Italians is a meeting place and we go there at every hour of the day, not just for a drink after work.They open early in the morning and in every season of the year, they close late in the evening. We do everything at the bar; breakfast , coffee break, aperitif, snack, happy hour ,after dinner drink. The bar is a social place and everyone, children included go there every hour of the day or evening, summer or winter. You should forget the classic idea of the smoke filled pub for adults. Italian bars are for everyone, adults and children alike. You can get a glass or milk or a flute of champagne, a package of cookies for grandma and the bartender knows us all and our particular preferences. He probably knows everything about everyone in town and can be more helpful than the tourist office.
The enoteca is something quite different. It is a meeting place for adults, usually crowded in the late evening . It is the ideal location for tasting wines, grappas, spumantis which are almost always accompanied by 'munchies' appetizers, cheeses, salamis or sweets to sharpen the taste buds or the conversation. You can also buy vintage wines to take away that are recommended by the proprietor who is usually a wine buff, if not a fully fledged sommelier.
Restaurants? Pizzerias? There are many, they are all different and there is one for every pocket. Some are open both lunch and dinner and some just for dinner. You may be surprised by 2 things...the length of our lunch and dinner hours and the subsequent late evening opening time. There isn't a restaurant on the Amalfi Coast that won't serve you dinner at least until 10 o'clock. We eat late at night and you never have to go to bed hungry. Which pizzeria or restaurant should we choose? We have our favourites but it really is difficult to eat poorly here. A glance at the guest book in our homes might help with the choice. Someone from home might have your same tastes or expectations.Eating is a cultural thing, don't you think?
Fast food restaurants have never caught on here and where they have, many are already closing down. Could you ever compare a big mac to a fragrant slice of pizza?....to a traditional arancini (rice ball) or a neopolitan panzarotto? A 'big fish' sandwich to a fresh local tuna sandwich?..... You can't. But if you have kids in tow, don't worry. We have french fries, hamburgers and hot dogs. And lots of mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup.
You can find them in bars, paninoteca (sandwich shops),and road side trucks that are found everywhere, especially near tourist attractions. Or, you can buy the ingredients for your snack in a salumeria and make it yourself. The same goes for salads. It's called cultural exchange. Many of us remember our friend Mary's fried chicken or the hamburger that only Sam knows how to make from our visit to your country.