The Amalfi Coast puts one in mind of the classic car chase scene, driving fast around hairpin curves with the aqua-blue sea miles below, stunningly steep cliffs, James Bond style, theme music playing..
We rented an Alfa-Romeo for our three-day trip in December, the perfect ride to navigate sharp turns and squeeze into tight spots. Not that we had much of a challenge with parking in the off-season. What made this an ideal time to go was that the squares and piazzas were filled with Italians rather than the cruise ship veterans of summer travels. The locals addressed us in Italian before realizing we were American, a compliment we did not receive from Romans, who instantly knew by our lack of sartorial splendor that we were American. And then there is the winter climate – mild days and crisp nights made for wonderful walking, hiking, sightseeing and working up an appetite.
And hiking you will do. It is a steep descent to the ocean and back up, winding around stores, shops and hotels, some of which are closed for the winter months. We stayed at L’Anchor, a wonderful boutique hotel I highly recommend for the private balcony views at night, charming rooms and substantial breakfast on the patio overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. There are many choices of hotels, Airbnb’s and villas for rent – just do your research beforehand.
In a world filled with awe-inspiring, dazzling views, what is it that makes this one of the most desirable places to be? Perhaps it’s the sense of history, scent of lemon groves, the majesty of the views from cliff to sea, the steeply-stacked pastel villas, the church bells that ring in the evening, the shops, resorts and restaurants built into the sides of cliffs, fishing villages nestled into niches far below, and the fresh-from-the-sea catch of the day.
We traveled down from south of Naples to Sorrento stopping in Positano, where we stayed. Day trips took us to the town of Amalfi and several smaller villages that dot the coast along the way to as far as Ravello. My husband, Bill, who usually has a heavy foot when behind the wheel of a sports car, was constrained more by the picturesque views than the hairpin turns. It is sensory overload, but then so is all of Italy. We saved Salerno, a larger city, for a separate, Christmas-lights trip we took several days later with the rest of our family.
It’s hard to overstate the beauty in this little slice of heaven!