Amalfi Coast offers stunning sights from every angle
March 22, 2013
No one could ever confuse the Amalfi Coast with an off-the-beaten-path destination.
For most of the year, its rocky beaches are covered with sunbathers, its winding roads overwhelmed with tour buses, and its picturesque shops and restaurants among Italy’s most crowded.
But during southern Italy’s moderate winters and mild springs, when rain showers are a near-constant threat and snow dusts the crests of the nearby Lattari Mountains, the Amalfi Coast can be a peaceful oasis marked by deserted walking trails and quiet piazzas. Especially in the smaller towns, visitors will have a hard time spotting other outsiders as locals greet each other by name while walking from church or stopping for coffee.
There’s still time to visit this picturesque area before hordes of tourists descend on it. Piazza del Vescovado, or Bishop’s Square, in the village of Ravello, is a good starting point.
On a recent winter morning, locals gathered along the modest exterior of the Cathedral of Ravello, some reading newspapers, others chatting with friends. Across from the church, the charming Bar Klingsor offers pastries and hot beverages. The outdoor seating area is lined with generous flower pots.
On the other side of the square sits Villa Rufolo, a popular attraction because of its immaculate gardens, which overlook the shore. In the winter and spring months, visitors largely have the Gothic-style home to themselves and can leisurely explore its vine-covered stone buildings.
Next to the 11th-century home, Via Dell’Annunziata marks the start of an easy walking trail that takes visitors from Ravello down to the even tinier village of Torello and onto the shores of Minori, a beachfront town with quaint ceramic stores and seaside restaurants. The 40-minute walk to the bottom of the trail is composed of large stone steps and curves along lemon groves, stone walls and attractive homes.
From Minori, visitors can either make the formidable walk back up to Ravello or, for an enjoyable detour, take a bus to the nearby town of Amalfi, where another bus connects to Ravello’s historic center.
A stop in Amalfi, a UNESCO World Heritage site, demands a visit to its stunning cathedral. Inside, visitors will see huge granite columns and Venetian glass chandeliers. There are many religious attractions in Italy, which can easily result in church fatigue, but the Duomo di Amalfi is easily among the most breathtaking and worth a short tour.
Crossing the short walk back to the bus station, a wide beach showcases rollicking waves smashing against the rocky coast and candy-colored homes stacked along the mountainside. Nearby shops and cafes offer warm interiors and unique souvenirs. In short, there is something beautiful to look at from every vantage point.
Directions: From the Naples area, take Autostrade A3 toward Salerno/Reggio Calabria, exiting at Angri. From there, take the Stada Provincale 122 toward Ravello. Or continue on and take the Castellamare di Stabia exit and follow directional road signs for the costiera amalfitana.
Times: Villa Rufolo in Ravello is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Amalfi Cathedral is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. November through March, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. the rest of the year.
Costs: Admission to the Villa Rufolo in Ravello is 5 euros for adults. The walking trails along the coast are free.
Food: There are many restaurants in Ravello, Minori and Amalfi with waterfront views.
Information: For information about Villa Rufolo, visit villarufolo.it or call +39-089-857-621. For bus travel times, visit sitasudtrasporti.it.