The Amalfi Coast
Suspended between earth and sky, the Amalfi Coast is a stretch of coastline in Southern Italy that leads from Vietri sul Mare to Sorrento towns. Its famous road SS 163 (Strada Statale 163) passes through the towns of Cetara, Maiori, Minori, Atrani, Ravello, Amalfi, Conca dei Marini, Praiano and Positano, giving spectacular views of Gulf of Salerno and of its cliffs that plunge into the Tyrrhenian Sea. Since the 19th century this part of Italy has attracted and hosted many travelers, artists and writers.
Goethe described this enchanting coast as well as Giovanni Boccaccio immortalized it in his Decameron, Richard Wagner and Edvard Grieg composed Parsifal and Peer Gynt in Ravello, Greta Garbo, Henrik Ibsen, Joan Miro, Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, Graham Greene, Andre Gide, Gore Vidal, Arturo Toscanini, Jacqueline Kennedy and Leonard Bernstein among others found here their quiet and relaxing retreat.
For its unquestionable beauty of the landscape, its history and its monuments, Amalfi Coast has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1997.
Wherever you can admire a unique natural scenery, with towering white cliffs that plunge into the deep blue sea, groups of houses clinging to the mountains, terraces of sweet-smelling lemon trees and colorful wisteria flowers, eighteenth-century mansions, and secluded coves. If you come from Salerno, the first stop on the Amalfi Coast is Vietri sul Mare, famous as a seaside resort and especially for its ceramics (ceramiche di Vietri); to follow the village of Cetara, famous for its anchovies souce (colatura di alici), and tuna fish salted and sold in ceramic pots. The ruins of a Roman villa at Minori show that the coastline has always been a popular vacation spot; Ravello is for those who love peace and quiet and stupendous coastal views, but also for two of architectural highlights and wonderful gardens: Villa Rufolo e Villa Cimbrone; Amalfi is perennial favourite with visitors for its scenic beauty, original architecture and a glorious history as a powerful maritime republic. You can visit its cathedral (Duomo di S. Andrea) and its natural reserve (Valle dei Mulini) once used for the traditional paper production. Positano is a village clambering down a vertiginous slope to the sea. A top spot for the jet set, a good place to catch the ferry to Capri, the island enjoys its well-deserved reputation as a Garden of Eden, without detracting from the other two islands Ischia and Procida equally beautiful and picturesque.
Starting from the coast, you can easily reach the town of Paestum, the most important site of ancient Greece nearby, with three Doric temples in excellent condition, and the famous town of Pompei, preserved for thousands of years because of the lack of air and moisture derived by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. Impressive and extraordinary at the same time is the detailed insight into the life of a Roman city of two thousand years ago.
In the very center of all these attractions, you will find il Giardino del Fauno. It is located in Maiori, a lovely town overlooking the coast, like an amphitheater at the end of the valley of Tramonti. The fine beaches and good bathing facilities have made it one of the most visited towns on the coast. It is famous for its promenade, secret beaches (Salicerchie, Cavallo Morto), defence towers (Torre Normanna), middle ages castels and fortification (Castello San Nicola de Thoro Plano, Baluardo di San Sebastiano), mountain caves (Grotte di Capodorso), sea caves (Grotta Pandora) ancient abbeys (Badia di S. Maria de Olearia - XI sec.) and historic churches (Santa Maria a Mare, San Francesco).
And if you like trekking, il Giardino del Fauno is a perfect starting point for your Amalfi Coast trails. You are on the path that leads to Monte Avvocata, the mountain overlooking the entire coast (945 meters). It hosts a quiet and holy sanctuary (Santuario dell’Avvocata) where you could find just another good reason to visit the lovely Amalfi Coast.