With fine hotels, Michelin-starred restaurants, exclusive bars and spectacular scenery, the Amalfi Coast has long been a magnet for the rich and famous while still the ultimate romantic getaway.
The narrow ‘road of a thousand bends’ snakes in sinuous curves along a coastline of such dramatic beauty it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Fairytale towns and villages cling to cliffs on mountains that plunge straight into an iridescent sea.
Half way between the blues of the sea and the sky, the Amalfi Coast Drive twists and turns, dives through rock-cut tunnels, crosses narrow bridges above deep gorges and follows a Corniche trail edging precipitous rock faces. It’s nail-biting, heart-stopping and spectacular, a visual treat for all but the driver. Keep the romance of your trip alive, by eliminating travel stress using a local guide and plenty of pre-planning thanks to Globus and a certified travel agent!
The town of Amalfi is impossibly beautiful.
Lingering over the finest fish and pasta at a simple restaurant by the harbor, my view is of tumbling tiers of pastel-painted villas and palaces clinging, limpet-like, to the cliff with lemon groves filling terraces held tight by drystone walls. A nearby plaque states boldly: ‘When the Amalfitani go to Heaven on judgment day, it will be a day like any other’.
Intrigued by the network of steep alleyways and lanes I explore where the locals live and arrive by a circuitous route at the busy Piazza del Duomo. Here, weary legs are forgotten as I climb the long flight of steps to Amalfi’s magnificent Cathedral and feast my eyes on the gorgeous interlaced arches, the Byzantine patterns of colored stone and the great bronze doors made in Constantinople in the 11th century. While the interior has had a Baroque makeover, the old Moorish cloisters enclosing a lush tropical garden are magnificent.That a small town should boast such a splendid cathedral comes as no surprise when you learn of its history.
Once upon a time, before most of the town slid into the sea during a violent storm and earthquake in 1343, Amalfi was a maritime city of renown. A republic in fact, with its own Doge, like Venice, and adventurers and traders to rival those of Pisa and Genoa.
The town is so picture-postcard perfect I want to see it from the sea. A boat trip along the coastline reveals high cliffs, strange rock formations, soaring seabirds and secret coves. Whitewashed villas, stacked giddily above, have infinity pools carved into the rock. Stalagmites, stalactites and multi-hued limestone columns decorate the Emerald Grotto, where the water is an intense emerald green.
Seated inside a comfy group bus, you’ll negotiate the dizzying corkscrew road up the Valle del Dragone to Ravello. It’s a magical little town, elegant, serene and mercifully traffic-free. The famous classical music festival is in full swing, the villas are stunning and the gardens are glorious.
It’s easy to see how Ravello has long inspired writers from D H Lawrence and E M Forster to Tennessee Williams and former resident Gore Vidal. Richard Wagner found his enchanted garden of Klingsor for his opera Parsifal at the Villa Rudolfo.The aroma of coffee entices every passerby to a table at one of the cafes clustering in the piazza around the 11th-century cathedral and fortifies the body for the walk up to the Villa Cimbrone, where the roses are said to have captivated Greta Garbo. It’s certainly idyllic, the gardens are truly spectacular, and the panorama of mountains and sea from the legendary Belvedere of Infinity is something you’ll never forget.
While in Ravello be sure to check out the Palazzo Sasso, a 12th-century pink villa perched high on the cliffs with a two-star Michelin restaurant and unforgettable views.
Positano spills down from the Corniche in a waterfall of color-washed villas.
A vertical town in a vertical landscape, it’s so endlessly photogenic the camera practically works of its own accord. Although nearly 60 years since John Steinbeck wrote of this “dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”, the description still holds true.
One main street and a warren of steep stairs and steps descend through the valley to the sea. Vines drape over terracotta walls and shade terraced restaurants. Bougainvillea in vibrant shades of red, pink and purple, dazzle in the sunshine against little white-faced houses. Lemons scent the air. Fashionistas strut in the high-end boutiques and celebrities zip across from Capri in their glitzy motor launches to indulge in Michelin-starred menus and drink at exclusive bars.Three islets sit in the bay, mythical home of the Sirens whose seductive songs lured seafarers to the deep in Homer’s Odyssey. More recently they gave sanctuary to Rudolph Nureyev.
Chic Positano attracts the crowds. A bus-ride away, the little mountain villages of Montepertuso and Nocelle perch quietly on sky-high crags, looking down on an indented, lush green coastline washed by an impossibly blue sea. Amid a tangible silence, kestrels soar above tree-shaded pathways that meander amid high cliffs and skirt deep gorges.
Known by the Greeks and Romans, a favorite on the Grand Tour and now a popular port for cruise ships, Sorrento of cobbled streets and scenic squares is famed for its table linens, hand crafted pottery and the region’s intensely lemony Limoncello liqueur while luxury hotels are cool clifftop retreats.From a waterfront table down at the marina, your authentic spaghetti alle vongole is accompanied by a postcard view of Vesuvius – the wonders of Pompeii are only half an hour away.
Of course this is but a taste of what you adventure will hold! An escorted vacation with Globus ensures you are free to enjoy the moment, while the travel details are handled perfectly.
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