There are no words that can convey the magic of Italy to a person who has not visited it and experienced this magic firsthand. Something in the language, the colors, the food and maybe the air creates a special land that makes visitors feel as if they have visited an old movie or a sweet dream. The charm of southern Italy comes from the small and colorful villages that climb on high cliffs, from the clear sea that the cliffs stand above, from the lemon groves and the fine homemade limoncello, from the delicate paintings on ceramics that replace the metal signs, from the hot pizza, from the blazing sun and from one of the roads included in the list of the 10 most beautiful roads in the world. So if you are a couple looking for a romantic vacation, friends who want to take a girls trip in style or simply people who want a short break from the race of life, what more do you need?
A trip to villages in southern Italy – general essential information
So where are you going?
The Amalfi road, which is considered one of the 10 most beautiful roads in the world, is a road that winds between the city of Sorrento and the city of Salerno, which are on the mainland south of Naples. From the moment you get on it, you can’t stop stopping to look at the view that stretches out in all directions and changes with every bend. The road is named after the town of Amalfi located in its center. It is bordered on one side by high cliffs topped by clouds and on the other side by high cliffs ending in a calm sea studded with islands. During it you pass through villages and towns, all consisting of delicate buildings in pastel colors hanging over the sea and separated by narrow and winding streets. Tourists discovered the area many years ago – well-known poets and rich kings built luxurious vacation homes there where they could find peace and enjoy the wonderful view. Even today, tourism there is thriving and everywhere you can find a hotel facing the landscape, a restaurant with fresh fish, ceramic shops that could each be a museum, and pastry shops with wonderful smells.
It is possible to combine the Amalfi road with an organized sightseeing day as part of a trip to Naples. This is a good option because you don’t have to worry about driving or parking, the local drivers know the places that are worth seeing and this saves long organizations.
It is more recommended to visit the beautiful country independently for 2-5 days. This way you can get a more authentic experience, linger on the small places and be in a lower gear – a pace suitable for the calm zone.
The public transportation in the area is good but very cumbersome to travel with, so it’s worth renting a small car or motorcycle at the airport or in Naples itself. It is important to note that every time you get on a highway (from Naples to Sorrento for example) you have to pay a toll of 2-3 euros. Driving in the area is experiential but requires a lot of attention – the roads are narrow, winding and bordered by cliffs and the Italians like to drive them at top speed. It is impossible to enter the centers of the villages and towns with a car, so park the car in an organized parking lot, the price of which is usually one euro per hour.
at any time of the year. The tourist season is in the summer – at the height of the season the whole road is jammed and full of tourists, but the heat of the sun and the sea makes up for all this. It is recommended to come to this area in winter as well, the weather is very similar to Israel so you can conduct yourself as usual but hear only Italian around you – the hotels are more vacant, the roads are emptier and you see the local residents in their normal lives, without tourists.
Where do you sleep?
There are two main options – the first is to sleep in Sorrento and do star trips (travel every day in a different place and return to sleep in the same place) and the second is to do a journey trip (sleep every day in a different place along the way and progress according to the location of the next hotel).
The recommended one among them is the second because Sorrento is beautiful but its beauty is dwarfed by the villages on the way. In addition, this way you can experience the road without the stress of traveling in the dark or long trips back and forth and you can also experience the night life of a different town or village each time. Beyond that, when travelers see the hotels hanging on the cliffs on the way and it’s simply impossible to resist them. It is important to note that Sorrento is the cheapest city to stay in the region.
What do you take?
In terms of clothing, as mentioned, the weather in the area is very similar to that in Israel but a little colder so you can dress similarly. If you come in the summer, you can’t do without a bathing suit and a towel, and if you come in the winter, it’s important to bring an umbrella.
Besides, you should have a little money for parking and tips, comfortable shoes if you want to combine a walking route and toiletries of course.
It is highly recommended to buy an Italian SIM card (internet package) at the airport or a navigation device through the car rental company. Without any navigation app it is very difficult to get around and it is easy to miss places worth seeing.
what are we eating?
First thing – pizza. The favorite dish was invented in Naples and its surroundings, so you can find here the most delicious pizza.
Second thing – lemons. Between all the houses there are floors of small lemon orchards and the lemon has become a symbol of the Amalfi road. The limoncello was invented here and almost every house along the way will claim to make the best limoncello in the world, and who are we to resist a taste? Besides, almost every dessert combines lemon or lemon zest, and the most famous dessert is a round sponge cake with a divine lemon coating. It is impossible to be here without tasting it.
And last thing – fish. During the whole trip you can see the sea to your right and you can understand that fish is a big part of the local meals. The best fish restaurants are found in the small fishing villages common along the way.
A little tip: in order not to fall into expensive and less tasty tourist traps, look for places called Taratoria and not Ristorante, that is, restaurants of locals.
And the main course…
There are so many things to see on the way to Amalfi and the best way is to drive with an open mind and just stop and go into any place that catches your eye. But, nevertheless, we are here so that you don’t miss the gems on the way – here are the most special and beautiful villages, towns, itineraries, shops and attractions that the area offers, in order of arrival (if traveling from Sorrento to Salerno). Of course you don’t have to be in all the places, so you are welcome to choose from them and create the perfect trip for you.
Sorrento – a beautiful and lively port city, full of restaurants and shops (mainly on the main street Corso Italia), which is in a valley surrounded by high mountains. The hotels in Sorrento are relatively cheap and it is recommended to sleep there the first night (or all nights if you do a star trip). From here the Amalfi road begins and from there you can take a boat to the island of Capri or to other places in the region.
Queen Giovana bath (Regina Giovana bath) – a pool surrounded by cliffs that flows into the sea located at the edge of the city of Sorrento. It is named after Queen Regina Giovanna, Queen of Naples from the 14th century, who used to come to this pool to bathe with her female companions. You can drive your car to the parking lot (for a fee of about 2 euros) and after a light walk of about fifteen minutes you will reach the pool with the clear turquoise water that looks like it was taken from a dream.
Termini – a village in a less touristed part of the area, with several home restaurants, small B&Bs and beautiful views of the island of Capri. A lovely hiking trail called Punta Campanella leaves from it and reaches the western end of the tip of the continent and back with cliffs on both sides that have their feet in the sea. The village and the route leading from it are not part of the Amalfi road, but you should not give them up.
Positano – the jewel in the crown. A town where all the houses are painted in light pink and honey colors and look as if they were built vertically, one on top of the other, because of the steep slope on which it is located. At the bottom of the city there is a magical beach with black colored sand that completes the picture that can only be found this way. Here too you can find many restaurants and hotels, all with a balcony or a window to the sea. You can park your car in an organized parking lot there (Cafe Positano parking lot is the cheapest among them), walk on the main street and climb the stairs up the narrow alleys. One of the most beautiful ways to experience Positano is to see it from above and for that you can go up to one of the villages above it – Nocelle or Montepertuso, which also offer meals in small, homey restaurants. In addition to this, you can reach the village of Santa Maria de Castello by car and from there go down the stairs to the city itself. This way you get a nice view, a little walking and also don’t worry about parking spaces inside the town.
Marina di Praya – in a narrow gorge between cliffs sit a few restaurants, a few hotels, a place to rent boats and a beach. A unique place that is too small to be called a village but requires a short look or a meal in an out-of-this-world location.
Fiordo di Furore – a beach that is easy to pass by but must not be missed! Between two steep cliffs rising to a height there is a very narrow strip of beach where bathing provides an experience that can only be dreamed of. Any further words are unnecessary.
The Emerald Cave (Grotta dello Smeraldo) – an elevator descends from the road level to the sea level and from there you go to a natural stalactite cave whose floor is a clear and deep pool. You enter it by boat and are exposed to the wonder that takes place there, the pool’s water glows an emerald color (hence its name) thanks to the sunlight coming from an underground opening. Entrance costs 6 euros per person.
Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) – a walking path that connects the town of Bomerano with the village of Nucella. In addition to the path itself, the road to it is amazing in its beauty – you go down from the Amalfi road and go up, you pass through small villages, the lemon groves turn into vineyards, and you see a new angle of the landscape. The path itself is about 7 kilometers long (takes about 3 hours) on a not difficult road route with every Amalfi road visible on the left. Park the car in the free parking lot in Bomarno, and from there there are two options: you can end the trail in the village of Nocella, from there take a bus to Positano (a good opportunity to walk around the town a bit) and from there another bus back to Bomarno (which is about 3 hours long). It is also possible to do part or all of the trail and retrace our steps back to Boomerno. Hiking trails add another touch to the trip – it is highly recommended to combine this trail, the best known and most beautiful of the trails in the area.
Amalfi (Amalfi) – the town is named after the road. A beautiful and pleasant settlement in the center of which stands its Domo: a huge and ornate cathedral from the ninth century that one cannot remain indifferent to. On the main street you can find gourmet restaurants (the most famous of which is da Gemma), food and clothing stores, confectioneries and a mesmerizing chocolate shop. Like Positano, it’s worth seeing Amalfi from above, and for that there is a free lookout called Torre dello Ziro.
Minori (Minori) – a magical town with ancient houses and a patisserie that should not be missed (Paticceria Sal De Riso). Even if you’re just passing through, you should slow down, feel the atmosphere and buy a round lemon cake or a pie with ricotta cheese. From Minori there is a walking path leading to the town of Minori called the Lemon Trail (Santiero Dei Limoni).
Vietri sul Mare – a ceramics town that looks like one big museum. To experience the town in an authentic way, you can walk around among the ceramic and art shops and get lost among the narrow alleys and winding stairs.
End the journey in the city of Salerno (Salerno) – a beautiful city with an ancient quarter and a long history. At the end, the road leaves the beach and the magical Amalfi road ends.
And in conclusion…
“The way is happiness”. This is the essence of the trip. You don’t go on a trip to the villages in southern Italy to get to the end, but for the road and for the experiences it gathers. As soon as we return from the trip to life itself, the road becomes happiness even in everyday life and we find the good things on the way to the destination we are walking, studying or working towards, but in the end we mainly dream of returning to the little paradise we just left.