The Costiera Amalfitana is one of the most breathtaking coastlines
in Europe. It stretches 50km east from Sorrento to Salerno. A narrow
asphalt ribbon winds along cliffs that drop to crystal-clear blue
waters and passes through the beautiful towns of Positano and Amalfi.
Peering down from its lofty lookout is the stunning hillside village
of Ravello. The area is also famous for its ceramics.
Positano is the most picturesque and photographed of the coastal towns.
Positano is split in tow by a cliff bearing the Torre Trasita. West
of this is the smaller Spiaggia del Fornillo beach area. East is Spiaggia
Grande. Positano’s most famous sight is Chiesa di Santa Maria
Assunta, its ceramic dome gleaming under the sun.
Amalfi might no longer be a maritime superpower but its name lives
on in tourist brochures across the world. In Conca dei Marini, about
4km along the coast towards Positano is the Grotta dello Smeraldo,
a grotto so named for the emerald colour of its sandy floor. The Regatta
of the Four Ancient Maritime Republics, which rotates between Amalfi,
Venice, Pisa and Genoa, is held on the first Sunday in June.
Ravello is a stylish town affording spectacular views. Ravello sits
like a natural balcony overhanging Amalfi and the nearby towns of
Minori and Maiori. The 7 km drive from Amalfi up the Valle del Dragone
passes through the soaring mountains and deep ravines that characterise
the area. The Festivale Musicale di Ravello is held in the second
half of July.
Atrani, just round a headland, is a pretty extension of Amalfi. Further
on are the towns of Minori, Maiori and the fishing village of Cetara.
Salerno is an important transport junction and an excellent base for
exploring the Amalfi Coast to the west and Paestum and the Costiera
Cilentana to the southwest. Important sights are the cathedral, the
Castello di Arechi and the Museo Pinacoteca Provinciale.
Paestum: one of the enduring images of southern Italy is that of three
Greek temples standing in fields of wild red poppies. The site is
a Unesco World Heritage Site. The small town nearby is close to some
of Italy’s better beaches.
The wild and empty highlands of the Parco Nazionale del Cilento e
Vallo di Diano are the perfect antidote to the holiday mayhem along
the coast. Occupying the area southeast of Salerno up to the regional
borders with Basilicata and Calabria, it is a little-explored area
that boasts barren beauty and a number of worthwhile sights. There
are two cave systems, the Grotte di Pertosa and the Grotte di Castelcivita.
The World Wide Fund for Nature has a wildlife sanctuary, Oasi Naturalistica
The beaches on the Costiera Cilentana are not as popular as those
further northwest or southeast in Basilicata and Calabria. Agropoli
is perched on a high promontory overlooking the sea and topped by
a crumbling old castle. It makes an excellent base for Paestum and
the beaches to the northwest. The beaches from Ascea to Sapri are
good and the water usually crystal-clear.