Ahoy’s guide to the Amalfi coast
The Amalfi Coast is definitely one of the most beautiful ones in Europe. The area will offer visitors fifty kilometres of steep cliffs and the sea beating against them, many colourful cities clambering uphill, and hundreds of picturesque terraces covered with lemon trees. Naturally, these places are prefect to be visited on a yacht. Ahoy Club is happy assist you with choosing an ideal vessel to sail the region and gives a short guidance on the area below.
Amalfi, which now has only five and a half thousand inhabitants, was once the capital of a powerful maritime republic with a population of seventy thousand. Unfortunately, little has been preserved from those times: the city and the citizens, had actually crawled into the sea during a strong earthquake in the 14th century.
Once you get in the city, at first you think that it has only one street, via Lorenzo d’Amalfi, leading up from the piazza del Duomo to the mountain. This is not a very wide street, paved with cobblestones and framed by houses, the first floors of which are occupied by all kinds of shops, restaurants and cafes. However, turning into any of the small alleys, you understand that a whole system of passages is hidden in the back of the houses, sometimes so narrow that you cannot stretch your arms out in them. Outside a door somewhere in the wall on such a tiny street, it is often not a flat at all, but a magnificent green patio surrounded by houses.
Amalfi is a half-labyrinth, a whole network of streets and alleys connected by steps, and not just the central via. These streets and alleys often rest in squares, so tiny that it seems as if you are not in a public place, but in the courtyard of some small villa.
Along the sea, there is a promenade, almost all along its length occupied by coastal restaurants with a magnificent view on the numerous yachts at anchor. Staying in a restaurant or on an open deck of your yacht in the evening, you can watch the unusually early southern sunset lighting up the mountain, while listening to the waves splash at the beautiful coast.
The city centre is Piazza del Duomo with St. Andrew’s Cathedral. A wide staircase leads to the building, part of which dates back to the 10th century. The two-tone masonry of the facade of the cathedral is Sicilian-Arabic-Norman, while the interior is mostly Baroque. In the Duomo, the relics of St. Andrew the First-Called are stored, taken from Constantinople in the 13th century and exuding a wonderful liquid called St. Andrew’s manna. From the Cathedral you can get into its courtyard of amazing beauty, Chiostro del Paradiso, surrounded by many carved arches.
The main beach in Amalfi is a pebble strip of several hundred metres, on the one side limited by a pier, and on the other by cliffs. Strong waves do not normally occur there, however pebbles are rather large on the shore.
A little further from Amalfi towards Naples, Positano, a city whose fame as an aristocratic resort originated in the 19th century, lays. Its beauty was admired by Diaghilev, Stravinsky, Picasso, Steinbeck and many others. It is still almost the most photographed one in Italy. Still, the best way to arrive there is definitely by water: thus, in front you will see an amazing panorama of mountains covered with greenery and a colourful waterfall flowing down to the sea, houses and terraces entwined with flowers. Near the sea, this colorful monotony is also turned by the yellow-green mosaic dome of the Duomo.
Positano has not lost the glory of an artistic city, the entire embankment is dotted with artists, striving to capture the beauty of the local landscape. The city has a lot of galleries and art shops. Here, even the ingenuous watercolours of street painters acquire special value, although, even they cannot convey the richness of colours and the piercing brightness of the surroundings.
There are no direct streets in Positano, only one promenade stretches along the sea. All other streets and alleys are built up of steps, small serpentines, or pavements that simply climb uphill. Climbing them is sometimes difficult, but there is no other way: most of the city is closed to transport, so one has to rely on their own feet.
The main object of interest there is Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, above the altar of which there is a Byzantine icon dating from the thirteenth century – the Black Madonna and Child. There are no other historical attractions in the city, but Positano itself is an attraction.
The beach there is sandy, with rather rough grey sand; the water is warmer than in Amalfi. The basis of the relaxation there is sweet idleness: sleeping, sunbathing, swimming in the sea, food, wine and admiring the surroundings.
On a smaller boat or tender, you can go around Lee Galli islands, visit neighbouring towns or the Blue Grotto, where the water has an unusual blue colour.
Paraphrasing Steinbeck, Capri seems unreal both when you are on the island and when you leave it. It is a true pearl of the Mediterranean and one of the most beautiful places in Italy. It has not been spoiled even by the abundance of tourists, because one can always hide in-between its narrow streets and white walls of houses, palm trees, cacti and pines, flowers, the sun and the sea, merging on the horizon with the sky.
Everything at Capri is saturated with beauty, and so much so that even people far from art world start to think of renting or buying a house here and doing creative work.
It is better to come to Capri not in the high season, but in late September or October, when the tourist wave is subsided. On a yacht, one would definitely need a pool since there are practically no beaches on the island – only rocks.
There are two cities on the island – Capri and Anacapri, the difference between them is noticeable. Capri is an oasis of luxury, full of fashionable hotels and expensive shops. Anacapri, which is in ten-minute drive, is calmer and a bit more rural.
If the glory of Positano as a resort began in the 19th century, the glory of Capri started at the very beginning of our era. The second Roman emperor Tiberius had a villa there, the ruins of which have remained. It is called Villa Jovis. Near the villa at a 330-metre height there is a point from where the emperor, according to legend, dumped objectionable into the sea.
Another local attraction is associated with the name of another emperor, this time Augustus – Augustus Gardens, a beautiful oasis with breath-taking views of the sea.
Near the gardens is a fourteenth-century monastery Certosa di San Giacomo with several surviving seventeenth-century frescoes. The main church is located on piazza Umberto I and is called Chiesa di Santo Stefano. It is there that you can see the magnificent marble floor, transported from the villa of Tiberius.
Acquaintance with the island cannot be complete without the highest local mountain – Monte Solaro. At a height of almost six hundred meters, when there is no haze in the sky, the Italian coast can be seen from above. If the sea merges with the sky, then it seems that Capri is in the middle of the endless blue of the sea. Upstairs there is an observation deck, from where probably the most delightful view opens. This is the edge of the cliff, green pines, layered, different coloured rocks, menacingly rising from the sea, and the sea itself, which beats against them almost half a kilometre below.
Another nice town with a population of just over 2500 people. Its peculiarity is that it is located above other towns of the Amalfi coast, giving visitors unforgettable views of the azure expanse of the sea. Two main attractions of Ravello are Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone.
A fishing village, known since ancient times, has turned into a famous resort. More geographically “scattered” than other towns and villages along the coast, Praiano has nevertheless retained the charm of the countryside amid the natural beauties of which the Amalfi coast is so famous. The most famous attraction is the church of St. Luke, considered the patron saint of Praiano.
A very small village with a population of just over 800 people is perfect for those who want to avoid mass tourism, but enjoy the views of Amalfi and use the proximity of less “twisted” places. Furore is famous for its picturesque paths for pleasant walking, and good wine.