Just imagine, gliding along the stretch of coastline that hugs the indigo Tyrrhenian Sea, on the southern coast of the Salerno Gulf, bound for Italy’s Amalfi Coast. More importantly, there’s always time for a cheeky Prosecco in Positano…
With the invitation to join my good friend from Rogliano on a day tour to the Amalfi Coast and Positano, who would be mad enough to decline another chance to see this gorgeous piece of Italy?
Travel – Rogliano to Salerno
The bus departure from Piazza San Domenico, Rogliano at 05:30hrs for Salerno, set the scene for a very long day ahead.
The day tour costs €55 per person, which covers the comfortable bus and ferry trips only. Pack your lunch, towel, and swimmers as it’s hot but also expensive during peak season!
A three-hour smooth trip on the highway meant that we arrived at the marina at Piazza della Concordia in Salerno early.
Apart from the stunning coastline that graces the Tyrrhenian Sea when travelling by boat or car, there is much history and gorgeous architecture to explore, whilst wandering up the cobbled alleyways in Amalfi and Positano: I can’t wait…
Salerno to Amalfi
Although waiting at the dock, the TravelMar ferry did leave without us as the tour guide took some time buying the 40-plus tickets for our bus passengers. So, a long hot wait of an hour for the next ferry at 10:40 hrs and our 40-minute trip.
With only an hour in Salerno, there’s not much time to take in any sights apart from the port’s vicinity. Although over the Christmas period of 2015/2016, a road trip along some of the the Amalfi coast resulted in quite dramatic scenery.
With a human presence dating between the 9th and 6th centuries BC, this would be an amazing city to explore further as Salerno also hosts a plethora of wonderful architecture, churches, and museums. The Archaeological site of the Etruscans and Samnites in Fratte, which is famous for a large Necropolis, would also be a worthwhile visit.
Although just thinking of driving the infamous and dangerous snake-like road along the Amalfi Coast sees many travellers breaking into beads of cold sweat, taking a ferry is much more picturesque. A ferry trip treats a traveller to a very different perspective. One of calm and serenity for starters. But also, taking in a panoramic view of this whole stretch of dramatic coastline on your private cruise (well almost), which isn’t possible when driving – just wish I had a much wider lens on my camera.
This craggy piece of coastline is incredibly famous and stunning! So, of course this part of Italy draws an abundance of local and global visitors.
I imagine that the town of Amalfi is a more tranquil destination, when visited out of ‘madness’ season.
Sadly, today being in the peak of summer, which means high season, thousands of visitors’ flock to this town – it’s madness and seems slightly claustrophobic for some.
Not only is the temperature soaring in the 40-plus degrees, but packs of sweaty bodies move leisurely around this famous town, vying for any scrap of shade just to rest in some cool. A cafe, restaurant, or tree, also makes a great escape from the heat, but today, even air-conditioners are struggling – an icy Granita is the favourite of the day…
Still, when in Amalfi…
Lying at the foot of Monte Cerreto, this town was popular with the British aristocracy and upper class as a holiday destination, back in the 1920s and 1930s. Looking around, you can understand why – it is simply glamorous and beautiful.
The actual town is easy to walk around in a short time, although there are many cobbled back streets flitting off the main drag that warrant exploring. I’m sure these alleyways provide a much more local feel than the town’s tourist strip; after all, locals do still live in Amalfi. The small beach at the base of the town is great for cooling down or just for a stroll.
During the earthquake of 1343, most of the old town and Amalfi’s inhabitants “slid into the sea”, which is the reason that only a few historical buildings of note remain today.
Duomo di Amalfi and the Piazza Duomo
Hoards of tourists congregate at the steps of the Duomo or just to take in a refreshment in the Piazza. A Byzantine facade graces this cathedral and although a stunning example, the interior is built in a late Baroque style.
Next time, I’ll look for the Ancient Staircase – I hear it’s worth the steep climb up many stone steps!
Food in Amalfi
Although we didn’t indulge in lunch here as we brought a picnic basket from Rogliano, we did partake in the obligatory coffee and pastry.
Bar “Lo Scugnizzo”
On Via P. Capuano 15, this tiny little place with a few tables and chairs at the back, was an interesting experience.
Not sure what is happening today but staff and owner are having heated arguments. So, not a great ambience when the owner venomously yells at her co-worker that she should shoot her husband/partner!
Two average coffees, one small nut tart, and a Ricotta stuffed Sfogliatella (common local pastry), cost €11, which is slightly exorbitant for the quality provided…but after all, we are in Amalfi and in the height of summer.
Bar Flavio Giola
Walk along Via Lungomare del Cavalieri 2 and you’ll bump into this extremely busy rest spot. Again, staff seem agitated with much arm waving and shouting. A super sugary lemon Granita will set you back €6. After a few mouthfuls, it was left as it was so very sweet and not how a Granita should be at all.
Travel – Onwards to Positano
Scheduled to meet at the ferry (€8) wharf for the 15:00 hrs departure bound for Positano, the Tyrrhenian Sea is feeling kind today. The 25-minute glide along stunning cragged coastline is smooth and comfortable.
I’m continuously amazed at how buildings are beautifully draped over mountains and hills in Italy, or perched high atop impossible-to-reach positions. And on this brief journey along this striking piece of coastline, we passed many.
Regardless of the village’s sheer beauty, famous for having been featured in several movies, and the published essay “Positano bites deep” by John Steinbeck, Positano is not for the faint-hearted, during high season. A deluge of clothes shops all selling similar garments, souvenir shops selling olive oil soaps, spices, shells, and Limoncello; coupled with cafes, restaurants, and Gelato shops vying for your Euro, it can be tiring. But unlike SE Asia, there isn’t constant badgering here, which is refreshing.
Still, Positano is intoxicating. The vibe, colours, impressive buildings, and plethora of great restaurants, makes for a memorable visit.
Bursting with tourists sunbathing on precious available beach or walking every cobbled alleyway imaginable, Positano proved draining for some today. Frayed tempers and the heat are overwhelming for parents and young children.
Still more bodies baking in the dying sun rays…
Food in Positano
Bar Buca di Bacco – Restorante La Pergola
Settled comfortably on the water’s edge on Via del Brigantino, Bar Buca di Bacco is a restaurant, Bar, come pizza stop, and has everything on offer, including wonderful ambience for a well-earned extended stop.
Rest your weary feet here for a Prosecco or two. At €4.50 accompanied with Sicilian green olives, crisps, nuts, and tiny cracker biscuits, served in tiny delightful dishes, this is a meal on its own and excellent value.
Good service and staff friendly here, even for a super touristy destination where you expect waitstaff to lose their cool, whilst dealing with the onslaught of a demanding public.
If you’re buying from the self-service Bar, you can’t sit at the waterfront part as this is purely for restaurant patrons and provides table service. Instead, you need to sneak around the corner to the tall tables and bar stools. Not so bad as you can still see sea glimpses whilst sipping your refreshing bubbly.
A lovely and relaxing way to finish off an exhausting but fun day, whilst waiting for the ferry to whisk us back to Salerno.
Travel – Positano to Salerno
Hopping on the 18:30 hrs ferry (€12) for the 70-minute trip to Salerno, whilst the sun sinks slowly into the beautiful Tyrrhenian Sea, allows for one’s imagination to run wild. As the ferry whisks you away from Positano’s stunning coastline, the rugged clifftops dotted with impossibly perched homes fade away in the distance, painting a memorable canvas.
Salerno to Rogliano
With an exhausted group, it is now time to walk the short path from the ferry terminal to the coach, for the three-hour journey back to Rogliano. Everyone is hoping to arrive before midnight. Although, not even an hour into the journey and the bus stops at a Services on the highway for a 45-minute dinner stop. With much grumbling as everyone just wants to go home, the time was agreed to 40 minutes. But in true Italian fashion, by the time the bus departed once again, it was about a 50-minute stop.
The return journey and western hills, saw a large fire sweeping along and burning everything in its path – evidence of the drought and extreme heat that Italy is currently experiencing. Everything is so tinder dry from the lack of rain this season.
The air conditioning on the bus decided to break down on the return journey. We sweltered even further during the three-hour journey, and finally arrived in Rogliano at almost 1 am. A very long, exhausting but excellent day was had by all!
If someone asked me if I would do this trip again, I would say yes, but definitely not in August.
Walking around in this heat and the enormous crowds that swell in both Amalfi and Postiano, do not make for an optimal experience.
As you can imagine, prices are at their highest during August and it seems, there aren’t too many places in which you can just sit and have a cool drink, without having to buy food.