Travel Journal: Italy – Part 5, Amalfi Activities

This Travel Tuesday takes us to Italy’s beautiful beaches

This part of our journal is technically about all of the Amalfi Coast, but we stayed in Amalfi specifically, so that was our home base.  You’ll notice a lot of what determines how much I liked a stop on our trip was how touristy the place felt.  The Amalfi Coast was entirely tourists, but I didn’t mind because it was supposed to be that way.  It was truly a resort area so yes it was filled with tourists (including Italian ones), but in this case that’s was gave it the vacation vibe.  FYI: check here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

Night of July 8th

We pretty much woke up and went straight to the train station on the morning of the 8th (a Saturday).  We grabbed a coffee at the station and were off.  Here, I was reminded how much better European trains are than American ones.  They’re more comfortable and way more efficient.  It was a 2.5 hour train ride from Florence to Naples, where we were picked up by a driver.

On the way to Amalfi we stopped at Pompeii.  I wasn’t originally that excited about Pompeii but once there, I realized how cool it was.  This entire ancient civilization was burned to the ground (from a volcano), but pieces of it are still remarkably preserved.  Here, you can see the amphitheaters, bathouses, and the ruins of what must have been a baker’s home.  We only toured a very small corner of the massive city (which took about an hour and 45 minutes) but felt like that was enough time to get the gist…and it was ridiculously hot (there’s no shade there).

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By the time we got to Amalfi, it was early evening so we checked into our B&B and walked through the town/along the sea before heading to dinner and then bed.

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Night of July 9th

The next morning we woke up, grabbed some breakfast in the B&B, and hopped on a ferry to nearby Positano.  Positano is the part of the Amalfi Coast that everybody wants to stay in – it’s got more cliffs and views like those you see in photographs.  I actually enjoyed the ferry ride itself.  It’s just nice to be out on the water, staring at gorgeous scenery.

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We spent all day on Positano, walking around, eating an amazing lunch, and laying out.

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I love the beach chair situation on the Amalfi Coast.  Basically, you pay to rent a beach chair and just relax.  The chairs themselves are amazing.  In addition to having umbrellas by each one, the chairs all have an overhang so your face is protected from the sun.  If you’re the kind of person who likes to lay out but is concerned about sun exposure, this is the perfect place for you.  It also makes reading by the beach way easier – no glare!

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When we got back to Amalfi, we decided our next excursion should be Capri, the fancy shmancy island, so we booked a private boat to take us there the next day.  Then we showered up, went to dinner, and got some gelato that we ate on the church steps before going to bed.

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The coolest fountain!

Night of July 10th

The morning of the 10th we went straight to meet our boat captain but apparently the boat broke down.  They refunded our money, but we were left with no plan.  We had already walked around most of Amalfi and wanted to see something different, but at that point it was too late to go to Capri, which is further away.  We decided to go back to Positano because it was a short ferry ride away, there was a bit left to explore, and we knew we liked their beaches.

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On the way to Positano we took a mini excursion to check out one of the grottos.

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Once back in Positano, we knew the drill.  We walked around a bit and then made a beeline for lunch.

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We originally intended to get a romantic cocktail at a well-known bar, but by the time lunch was over we just wanted to lie on the beach with some rosé (well, rosé for me, a Peroni for Albert).

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This time, we went back to Amalfi about an hour and a half earlier than the day before so we wouldn’t feel rushed for dinner.

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Can you see the heart in the rock formation?!

On our way back to the B&B we decided to stop in the cathedral because I wanted to check it out – I was so intrigued by such a big church in such a tiny town.  The church was beautiful but even better was getting to watch the wedding that was taking place!  The bride was STUNNING and we got to give her our well wishes after the ceremony.

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Dinner and bed.  Done and done.

Night of July 11th

For our final day in the Amalfi Coast we had a driver take us up to Ravello.  This is an entirely different experience than the rest of the region.  Here, it’s less about laying on a beach, more about looking at the beautiful gardens.  The views, particularly from Villa Rufolo, are stunning.

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After walking around Ravello, we met back up with our driver who took us to a nearby winery called Tenuta San Francesco.

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The vineyard’s owners told us all about the property and what makes it so special (having volcanic rocks in the soil and surviving the phylloxera plague).  This was probably the largest operation we toured on our trip and also the first time we really got to see the vineyards up close.  Fun fact: Mario (and Anthony) Cuomo’s family is from the area.  Everyone loved to point that out when they heard we came from New York.

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After eating lunch at the vineyard, we headed back to Amalfi where we had one final dinner and went to bed.  It was only as we were heading to bed on our last night (when we were most exhausted) that we saw some people partying in Amalfi.  It had seemed to us that everything shut down and there were no bars (that’s more of a Positano thing) – where were they going out?!  At that point, I guess we missed our chance.  Oh well.

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Amalfi Details:

  • Accommodations: We stayed at a bed and breakfast called Sharon House.  It was nice and roomy in a great location right in the middle of everything but still quiet.  It was also easy to get to without a ton of crazy stairs to deal with.  There was also a great roof deck!
  • Tips:
    • Visit Pompeii: If you fly or train into Naples, Pompeii will be on your way to the Amalfi Coast.  I highly recommend stopping there because it is unlike anything else.
    • Private Boat Ride: Our plan to take a boat ride to Capri were cancelled, but I would recommend one of the small boat tours.  Even if it’s not just two of you, an intimate boat ride with 2-6 people can be lovely.
    • La Siereneuse: This is probably the most famous hotel in Positano – maybe on all of the Amalfi coast.  The bar, Franco’s, is a great place to grab a cocktail and take in what is likely the best view of the coast.  We had every intention of going there but didn’t want to hike back up after entering a post-lunch food coma and getting so comfortable in our beach chairs.  If you stay in Positano, it’s probably worth stopping for a drink during the sunset.  Thankfully, I snapped some great photos from the same spot on our walk so I got the view without sitting down and paying for an expensive glass of champagne.
    • Ceramics and Lemons: Lemons and lemon-themed things are big here.  If you told me it was the number one thing they produce, I wouldn’t be surprised.  In addition to the food and the limoncello, lemons make an appearance all over the ceramics that are so prevalent here.  Bringing home something ceramic is a great souvenir.
    • Hike:  Though beaching is great, there are some great hikes in the area, like the path of the gods, which takes you from Amalfi to Positano.  This was originally on our agenda but we cancelled because it was so crazy hot the day we were going to do it.  Also, we just wanted to relax.
    • Top Locations of the Amalfi Coast:
      • Positano:
        • A lot of people will say Capri, but I would probably recommend staying in Positano and doing a day trip to Capri if you’d like to see that island.
        • To be honest, we wanted to stay in Positano but everything there was already booked by the time we got around to planning our trip.  Positano is definitely bigger with a better beach scene, great views, and a great nightlife.  It is the quintessential Amalfi Coast experience.
      • Amalfi:
        • While Positano may have been our first choice, Amalfi is still beautiful and had a slightly more local feel so it was nice to go back there at the end of each day for a more chill supper.  Other than the lack of bar scene, we didn’t really feel like we missed out on anything by staying in Amalfi.  If we were going with a group of people – or even just another couple – we probably would have cared more about being in Positano for the bars.
        • Amalfi is central when it comes to the towns along the coast so if you’re planning to hop around (as you should) to places like Positano, Ravello, and Capri, it’s a great spot to stay.  Of all the towns, I would recommend staying in Positano or Amalfi and then taking day trips. (I definitely recommend those spots over Salerno.)
        • We skipped the nearby Atrani area but would actually recommend checking it out if you stay in Amalfi during the day (vs. going to Positano like we did).  The restaurants looked lovely with breathtaking views and it would be a nice little hike.
      • Ravello: It’s so nice walking around the gardens and checking out the many ceramics stores.  It’s also a big music town with a huge festival – if you could manage it, try to go during that time.  They’re not as big on the beach here, so if you stay, I highly recommend staying at a hotel that offers a nice pool with a view of the ocean.  We spied on some of these hotels during our walk and they looked lovely and relaxing.  These hotels also seemed to be where the good restaurants are.  We felt we saw the entire town in a very short amount of time so it’s worth it to splurge on a hotel that will become your haven here…otherwise, you’d probably get bored there.
      • Minori: This town looked really cute with a nice boardwalk.  That said, the views are not quite as good so you won’t be getting as many Instagram pics.
  • Bottom Line: You’ll notice there aren’t a ton of activities in this “Amalfi Activities” post.  That’s because the point of traveling here is to totally relax.  So much of our honeymoon was go go go with lots of sights to see that we wanted to chill, look at some pretty views, and not do much of anything.  It was the perfect break between the two very busy and museum-filled stops of Florence and Rome.  Of all the places we went to, we probably talked most about returning to the Amalfi Coast on a future trip because it was so nice and we would happily re-live the experience.

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