The Amalfi Coast, stretching along the southern shores of the Sorrento Peninsula in the Campania area of Italy, is famous throughout the world for its natural beauty. An area suspended between the deep blue sea and the Lattari mountains: a succession of bays, terraces bursting full of citrus trees and flowering shrubs, beaches, vineyards and olive groves.
The Amalfi coast, UNESCO protected, is also renowned for some typical products such as “Limoncello” (liqueur made from home-grown lemons – “Lo Sfusato Amalfitano” ), its locally-caught anchovies, or hand-painted ceramics from Vietri sul Mare. Each of the little villages along the coast is a little world unto itself with its own character and traditions, but what they all share is their wonderful position, all facing south, with groups of houses clinging on to steep cliffs in unimaginable positions connected by a labyrinth of alleyways and steps.
The whole coast takes its name from the Amalfi Commune, the ancient Maritime Republic, which for centuries was a place of transit on the Tyrrhenian Sea and trading place for the commerce of spices, perfumes, jewels and textiles coming from the East. When exploring the town, it is impossible not to be bewitched by the Arab-Sicilian architecture of which the Cathedral of St. Andrew the Apostle is a perfect example: its various features in 18th century Baroque style, its delightful steps and the heavenly Cloister called the Cloister of Paradise – make the Cathedral one of the most visited attractions of the coast.
All along the road connecting the many sun-kissed little villages there are surprises in art and folklore: there is Vietri sul Mare, famous for the exquisite ceramics which cover the dome of the Church of St. John the Baptist and also the facade of the Archconfraternity of the Annunciation and Rosary. And then Cetara, a little fishing village which still retains its other-worldly charm. A broad picturesque beach heralds the visitor’s arrival in Maiori while the Garden of Eden along the coast, is to be found in the Commune of Minori with its particularly pleasant cool and airy climate. Not to be missed is a visit to the smallest Commune in Europe in Atrani, and the Church of San Salvatore de’ Bireto where the investiture ceremony used to be held for the Doges of Amalfi. Then Conca dei Marini with its Emerald Grotto, and then Positano, the real pearl of the Amalfi Coast, a holiday venue right from the times of the Roman Empire, with row upon row of white houses on various levels right down to the sea, all inter-connected by many flights of steps which wind their way down from the top of the village to the beach. Its many little streets full of boutiques selling all sorts of locally made products and handicrafts.
The view of the sea is also spellbinding when seen from the little mountain villages along the coast such as Scala, Tramonti, Raito and Ravello. The latter, at 350 mt, is one of the jewels of the coast for the elegance of its villas: the panorama from the gardens and belvedere of Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone is breathtaking. Finally, on the slopes of the Lattari Mountains, we come to Saint Giles of Mount Albino, famous for the Abbey of Saint Mary Magdalene in Armillis and its pretty historic centre.