Considered to be one of the most beautiful coastlines and UNESCO world heritage; the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. It seems to be one of those destinations that’s on every traveller’s bucketlist. Including mine.
So when I gave my boyfriend free reign to choose a travel destination for our week off work in November and he mentioned Amalfi, I was immediately game.
November is not the ideal season to head to Italy. It’s the wettest month of the year and the temperatures aren’t very southern-like anymore. But that also means that the masses of tourists stay away. A risk I was willing to take, because summer and high season in Amalfi apparently feels more like a trip to Disneyland than a relaxing drive along a gorgeous coastline. Not my idea of an ideal vacation…
Because the weather was so unpredictable, we decided to book only our flights and rental car before departure. This way we’d have more freedom to change our plans according to the whims of Mother’s Nature. And yes, she was a bit whimsical. But because of our ability to adapt our itinerary a bit, we managed to make this trip another one to remember!
Driving along this coast is a series of highlights, but among those highlights I still want to mention the most memorable places for me.
Path of the Gods
Just driving from place to place with an occasional stroll around town may be nice but if there is an option to be a bit more active on my holiday, I won’t say no. So before departure I googled if there were options to go on a hike in the area. The Path of the Gods immediately caught my eye. A six kilometer one way hike from Nocelle to Bomerano, higher up along the coastline with gorgeous views over the coast. Count me in!
We parked our – typical for the area – small Fiat 500 rental car on a small parking lot at the end of the road leading to Nocelle. There are only a limited amount of places, so I can only imagine what a hardship it must be to find somewhere to leave your car during high season.
Up and down the stairs of the small center of Nocelle we made our way to the start of the trail. Off we went! It was a bit of a rainy day, but the views were still pretty darn amazing. And on the entire part of the trail we took, we didn’t encounter a single other soul. Just how I like it! Just us and nature! Bliss!
Stupid as we were, we didn’t put enough money in the parking meter in Nocelle so before making it all the way to Bomerano, we had to turn around in order to be back in time. Bummer!
But this hike is in my opinion a must when you’re in the area. It’s not that hard or difficult and it gives you a view from higher up over the coast. And most importantly; it’s a bit of an escape of the more crowded towns and roads.
This place offers what is probably the most famous view along the Amalfi Coast. The view on the coastline from the gardens of the villa in the town of Ravello. And with a reason; it’s stunning! The day we were in Ravello, the sun was happy to accompany us, which also helps to make a place shine a bit brighter.
Entrance to the villa costs 6 euro, but there is more to see then just the gardens. A tower – with view from the top – was transformed into a museum holding old objects and artifacts. Not entirely my cup of tea, but nice to check out quickly and make yourself aware of the long history of Italy.
Unfortunately for us, the gardens weren’t at their prettiest as they were redoing the flowerbeds to get them ready for winter. But that didn’t change the magnificent view, so it’s still something you cannot miss out on.
Fiordo di Furore
On our first day along the Amalfi coast we actually just drove past this place without stopping. My boyfriend was driving when in a flash I noticed a small inlet with what seemed like a building on my side. Considering we didn’t see any major signs indicating a viewpoint we just let it be and didn’t turn back to check out what exactly I had seen.
Until the next day when we got a message of a friend informing us of a beautiful fjord and beach of Furore he’d visited on his trip in the area a couple of years ago. Immediately I though of what had briefly caught my eye the previous day. And I just had to know. Was it that place? So we returned!
And thank god we did. Such a beautiful little gem. We once again had the place all to ourselves and enjoyed our lunch there on the beach with just the waves as company. So peaceful.
Sipping Limoncello in Sorrento
You simply cannot visit this area in Italy without at least once having a shot of limoncello liqueur after dinner. This ice cold lemon drink is typical for the Amalfi Coast and is often presented with the bill in certain restaurants.
Especially Sorrento is thé place to get your supply. Supermarkets have a big variety but of course there are also plenty of souvenir shops selling this lemony goodness. Do pay attention to buy bottles with the IGP label, because only those are produced in Sorrento and from the famous Sorrento lemons. But be careful, Limoncello is rumored to end in the worst hangovers! Don’t tell me I didn’t warn you! 😉
Sunset in Positano
At the end of our first full day of the trip we arrived in the town of Positano. We had just enjoyed a day along the coast, soaking up the bit of sun that was offered. After being extremely lucky to find a – albeit very expensive – parking spot, we made our way down, down, down to the beach.
A glass of wine, a beautiful view on the town and the sun setting behind the mountains. Is there a more perfect way to end your day? I don’t think so!
After sunset we strolled around the town for a bit, but quickly noticed that many places were sadly closed for the season, as we had encountered quite a few times on this trip. So we quickly found ourselves in one of the restaurants along the beach for a nice dinner. A slow evening never hurt no one!
Views along the coastline
Okay, this technically doesn’t help you much on what to see on the Amalfi Coast, but it’s just the way it is. The entire drive is already a sight on its own. It’s one of those places where driving doesn’t feel like just a way to getting from one place to another, but is an activity just like that. If you don’t get a pretty view on a coastal town, you’re being spoiled with a view of waves crashing into the rocky coastline.
You’ll simply want to stop more times than is possible in a day. The lesser known view on the town of Vietri Sul Mare was among my favorites, but that list of favorites seems endless.
One very important tip if you want to actually enjoy this little roadtrip in Italy and save yourself a major heart attack every day; don’t attempt this with a big car! Our small Fiat 500 already often felt like a gigantic vehicle when driving these roads or finding a place to park the car. Italians are also very dominant and often even aggressive in their driving style, so the smaller the car, the easier!
We were fortunate that traffic wasn’t that bad in November, but if you’re visiting during the high season, take into account you might encounter loads of congestion. In summer, it is advised to just take the bus or a vespa to get from place to place.
So while November may not be the ideal time of the year to visit the Amalfi Coast, it’s definitely the best option if you want to drive it yourself. I wouldn’t do it any other way!