I am so happy to be writing about the Amalfi Coast on these separate posts! It gives me a chance to not just re-live all the memories from each place, but it allows me to dive in a little deeper into each town providing more “local” tips for anyone who is reading this blog. I hope you have enjoyed it so far!
As we continue down the beautiful coast, our next stop is the city of Amalfi. This was the capital of the maritime republic – known as Duchy of Amalfi – which was an important trading power in the Mediterranean around the years of 1200. The name Costiera Amalfitana – or Amalfi Coast – was in honor of this town which is now part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Situated between breathtaking groves, the Lattari mounts and the sea, Amalfi is considered the pearl of the coast. As you arrive, you will notice the white houses on the rocks and the port from which boats to Capri and Sorrento will depart.
The most famous sight is the stunning Duomo of Saint Andrea Amalfi, also known as Sant’Andrea Cathedral. Its long staircase is made of 57 steps and a poly-chrome facade. The view from the bottom of the main piazza is simply one that you will not forget. The bell tower was built in 1180 and the bronze portal made in Constantinople in XI century. Without a doubt, this is a must-visit sight. You must be dressed appropriately if you want to go inside the cathedral. Ladies will be asked to cover their shoulders if they are wearing a summery top so keep that in mind!
During the high season, which goes from May to the end of September, you may get lucky and randomly witness an “au fresco” concert in the middle of the piazza. I was fortunate enough to be there one gorgeous night in August and was blown away to witness a full orchestra with an opera singer singing nothing less than “Nessum Dorma”.
As far as dining goes, one simply cannot go wrong with the restaurants in the area in general. Everything is so fresh and locally grown. Fish are delivered daily from the local fisherman and the produce is mostly grown locally in the Amalfi Coast.
I do have one favorite restaurant I would like to mention and it is Lido Azzurro. It is right on the water and has the most incredible view of the Amalfi marina. The menu follows the authentic traditional cuisine of the region with a touch of a modern approach. Everything is fresh and based on what products are available and in season. One appetizer is a “must-try” and it is the “carpaccio di polpo” – local octopus carpaccio. Simply the best you will ever eat! You can go for lunch and enjoy a beautiful sunny afternoon while admiring the comings and goings of boats and tourists, or at night for dinner on a more romantic atmosphere.
Let’s talk dessert: I would strongly recommend a quick ride to a neighboring town for the most exciting, fun pastry shop I have visited in the area. In 2009 Salvatore de Riso opened up his pastry shop, Sal De Riso , in his home town of Minori (just a few minutes from Amalfi along the coast). Inspired by the staple of the local cuisine, Riso uses only noble ingredients from the area – lemons, walnuts, honey, figs, chocolate and butter are some examples. His recipes come down from generations passed along through his family and can now be found on a book, “Dolci in Famiglia”. Every pastry, dessert or gelato in his shop are to die for. There is a vast variety of “lemon inspired desserts”, one of the main fruits in the area. You can spend quite a long time admiring how beautifully perfect everything looks… it is almost as good as eating all his creations, but not quite! Take my word on this: enjoy your dinner but SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT!!! I have to share a video so there is no doubt on what I am telling you.
Now let us move on to the next town you should visit for a day. One of the only towns in the Amalfi Coast not located by the sea, Ravello is famous for its beautiful iconic cliff edge gardens and also known as City of Music. Some of the world’s greatest artists such as Wagner, Toscanini, Greig and painters like Miro and Escher have come to Ravello searching for inspiration. You may take a private car or the local Sita bus to arrive Ravello which is about 3 Km upland from Amalfi.
Some of the sights you will not want to miss are Villa Rufolo which was constructed in the 13th century and was originally served as a watch tower. It is also home to the Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium, designed by the worldly renowned Brazilian architect. It is quite a controversial modern building built in the heart of a UNESCO world heritage site. Then you have the stunning Villa Cimbrone, famous for its gardens of rare botanic species, statues, temples and artificial grottos. Last but not least, your visit would not be complete without the Duomo di Ravello. The cathedral is located in the main piazza and dates all the way back to 1086, being completed in the 18th century and featuring a bell tower interwoven with mullioned windows and arches from the 13th century.
Every year during the summer months, the city hosts the Ravello Festival – or “Wagner Festival“. The famous composer, who was so taken with the natural beauty of Ravello, made reference to the town in his Opera Parsifal as “Here is the enchanted garden of Klingsor” with the intent of spiking the local tourism in the difficult years following World War II.
If you have worked out your appetite after all the walking around – you will mostly be sightseeing by foot – I would suggest having lunch at the Terrazza Belvedere for the most spectacular views. It is located in the beautiful Palazzo Avino Hotel which is also the home of the highly rated Rossellinis Restaurant – this restaurant is only opened for dinner during the high season (March through September) so make sure to make a reservation.
Well, this is it for Part 3 of the Amalfi Coast! By now you should be able to visit these towns like a local, experience the best food they have to offer while being blown away by the natural beauty of the area.
Make sure you follow Eat.Travel.Repeat! for more exciting travel tips! On my next post, we will continue to explore the breathtaking towns from the Province of Salerno, Italy. As always, comments, feedback and likes are always welcomed! Ciao!