Amalfi | September 2011

After our quick Paris stop, we were off to Italy. We had wanted to go somewhere warm, and settled on the Amalfi coast. Then it was a matter of picking where along the Amalfi coast we would go. Given the scarce parking, we did not want to drive. We wanted to be someplace where we could just relax and walk around a lot; somewhere big enough to keep us interested (in terms of walking paths, restaurants, etc.) for a few days. We didn’t want to deal with the hustle and bustle of a big town (like Positano), but also didn’t want a really tiny place (like Atrani). In the end, the town of Amalfi seemed to fit the bill, so that’s where we went.

Due to rush hour traffic in Paris, we barely made our EasyJet flight from Paris Orly to Napoli. We were picked up at the Napoli airport by our scheduled driver, and a 1.5-hour, often hair-raising drive along narrow mountain roads brought us to the town of Amalfi. We made our way up the main street and fortunately saw the tiny sign pointing to our hotel, the L’Antico Convitto; we ducked into the little alleyway and pretty soon we were checked into our spacious suite. We didn’t have a view, but that was fine — the room was large enough for us to spread out and we were away from the noise of the main piazza. We then went out exploring Amalfi.

Piazza Duomo, the main town square
Duomo di Amalfi dominates the town
The piazza from the cathedral
The cathedral interior (typically entry is fee-only, but because of a wedding, we were able to get a quick peek)
Cathedral columns
One of the many outdoor cafes
We climbed the steep steps to get a view of neighboring Atrani
I love maps, so it’s no surprise Aman does too – here he is figuring out where to go next
Limoncello, the local specialty
And of course, the delicious Italian gelato
We were fortunate enough to catch fireworks over the harbor that night

The next morning we decided to explore west of Amalfi. We walked along Via Annunziatella, and then took the very steep, seemingly unending steps of Via Sopramare up towards Pogerola. By the time we reached the town, Aman was getting pretty tired. Since we still had to walk all the way down and back to Amalfi, we turned around before exploring Pogerola.

View of Amalfi from Via Annunziatella
Climbing Via Annunziatella
The steep steps of Via Sopramare
Amalfi playground
Amalfi steps

While Gen and Aman took a nap at the hotel, I went out exploring by myself.

The church bell tower
Viagra naturale
Mediterranean colors

I then found a tunnel that connects Amalfi to Atrani, bypassing the steep steps that climb up and down.

Atrani
The main piazza in Atrani

I came back to Amalfi and then wandered around random alleys and stairs for quite a while. Climbed yet another steep set of steps up to the cemetery for some great views of the town.

View of the Mediterranean and lemon groves from near the cemetery
The town from up high

After Gen and Aman woke up, we walked over to Atrani via the new-found tunnel.

In Atrani
Atrani piazza

Dinner on the main street of Amalfi, Via del Duomo afforded great street scenes of both tourists and locals.

Explaining the menu
Some local gossip?
Gelateria

The next morning we decided to check out the Museo della Carta, the Paper Museum. Amalfi was one of the first places where paper was made in Europe, with Amalfitans having learned it from the Arabs across the Mediterranean. The Museo della Carta has a guided tour of the old paper mill, including making one’s own paper (which Aman tried).

Museo della Carta

After that, it was a lot more walking around random streets and alleys. It is amazing how many people we saw, both young and old, some wearing high heels, some carrying heavy bags/groceries, walking up and down the steep, unending steps. In America we put in elevators for anything more than 2 stories high. And here, there’s no option other than to walk. Aman did great, running up and down, up and down, the numerous stairways for hours on end.

On our walk
More steps
The advantage of all those steps = great views

At sunset, we came down to the waterfront for a great light show.

Amalfi twilight

The next day we decided to explore inland, among the lemon groves. We walked north and caught Via Paradiso, which led us on a gentle climb up the towards the cliffs, among fragrant lemon groves.

Amalfi lemon groves
Via Paradiso
A warm day on Via Paradiso
The sweet scent of lemons was in the air

We walked until the road became broken rocks and then finally gravel. By that time (about an hour of walking), Aman had started to grow hungry and tired, so we turned around. Lunch on Via del Duomo again afford people-watching opportunities.

Amalfi street scene
Amalfi street scene
Amalfi street scene

On our last evening in town, we went down to the harbor.

Amalfi harbor
View from the pier
Not a bad view from the dinner table
Eating pizza in Italy – what every 4-year old wants

While Aman and Gen played at the playground, I climbed Via Annunziatella for one last sunset shot Amalfi.

Amalfi sunset

On the last morning of our stay in Amalfi, I woke up early for one shot at a sunrise picture. Unfortunately, the colors did not pop as hoped for.

Amalfi sunrise

Amalfi was a great trip. So many little alleys and streets to explore.  Great to go without any set plans or schedules. Not necessarily a lot of specific historical sites to see (e.g. Rome), but more of a relax-and-explore kind of place.  And the timing worked out great — it was warm, just late enough to avoid the crush of tourists, but still early enough that all the restaurants and sites were open. We were a bit too late for any of the ferries to be running, but all in all, it was very relaxing. I’d been to Lake Como in northern Italy several years ago, and while Como was more upscale, Amalfi had a more down-to-earth vibe; no mansions, just locals living and working normal lives.

Pretty soon we packed up, took our shuttle back to Napoli. The flight back to Paris Orly was uneventful. Then a quick Metro ride from Orly took us to Gare du Nord, where we caught the Eurostar back to London to finish off our vacation.

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