Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Most Beautiful Drive in the World, The Amalfi Coast of Italy

wonderous site, an ancient villa on the Amalfi Coast.
When one is visiting this region,  seeing
these awesomly beautiful structures seems normal after a while.
Around every curve of this asthonishing drive is a new breathtaking vista.

     Once you discover The Amalfi Coast I am certain you'll be in love for life.
the waters here are hypnotic, all you want to do is gaze over the sea

My husband & I went to Sorrento a few years ago and stayed at the magnificient
Hotel Bellevue Syrene in Sorrento, see below.
The drive from Sorrento to Amalfi itself is considered by many to be the best coastal journey in the world. The road clings to the cliffs of the
Sorrentine Peninsula above the Mediterranean Sea
and passes through the towns of
Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi and Atrani, before heading inland to Ravello.

It’s not a drive for the faint-hearted as the roads are very narrow and winding
and it’s not always easy to fit two cars through the gaps in the road.
But the views are worth it and there is some stunning scenery.

    and, you see here the terracing where the people farm abundently
    imagine waking up to see this every morning

this is a typical tunnel through the mountain...note how very narrow the entry is, yet
cars try to pass each other, and it's dark inside even in daytime

this seems normal too, and we think the goats are really pretty

these guys are all over the roads, as well...along with big buses filled with people
who were too afraid to drive

in every marketplace & by the side of the road, there are masses of fresh fruits & vegetables available, usually grown on the surrounding hillsides, you absolutely must get out of the car, touch & feel, ohhh & ahhh over all of it, buy a little & eat it in the car...just part of the holiday, and it's wonderful.

    workaday for these donkeys, winding around the small streets and steps
    this is present day

Hotel Bellevue Syrene

formal dining room open air overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean

 terrace al fresco

WE did not stay in this room, can you believe anything is so
beautiful & romantic 

  • this is something else seen everywhere on the coastal road
    beautiful flowers abound endlessly.

  • we made friends immediately with a local Italian family who owns

  • Chaplin's Pub (my husband thought they would be English)
    but, turns out this is where all the tourists off the cruise ships, etc. eventually land, so knowing these people was wonderful.  Their 2 teenaged daughters went with us on the drive to Positano one day (we had no idea how to get there). 
    We communicate to this day.

  • A couple of years later we decided to rent a villa between Sorrento & Positano in Massa Lubrense, a beautiful place with a 180 view of the Med in front of us, my son, his soon-to-be wife and some friends joined us for this holiday.

  • We lived like the locals, we put mounds of fruits & vegetables on the huge kitchen table, cooked, sat by the pool, and sometimes ventured out to see the sights.

  • This is truly one of the best ways to learn about an area.

  •  We were there for 2 weeks and still didn't want to come home.

  • My son is a commercial photographer, and some of his work follows...most doesn't need explanation, but I like to talk & won't be able to resist commenting.

  • can you imagine natural light such as this,

  • only my son could see it

  • shot from the beach over the edge of a little boat looking up at Positano

little shopping street in Positano, the tiny jewel-box city is built on the side of a mountain sloping down to the sea, the streets are extremely narrow, there's no where to park, and the walkways, like this one, are always crowded with tourists or residents.  Everyone talks to everyone they see.  The shopkeepers and residents all know each other, and after a couple of days we felt like we knew all of them too.

shot from the higher corniche looking back down on Positano

we were invited to dine at the 5-Star Hotel in Positano by Americans we met on the beach who were staying here.  Please take time to visit their website:
where you will be able to view this magnificient place,
my copying the photos simply will not give you enough information. 
It's a once-in-a-lifetime place, much like the Cipriani Hotel in Venice.
One of my friends who inherited great wealth told me
like the Cipriani, the Hassler in Rome or San Pietro.
I don't speak to him anymore because I can't figure out what he does except complain about spending  money which was given to him.  LOL.
Me?  Of course, if I could afford to stay there I would gladly pay the price...and I'm very very fortunate to have a husband who totally agrees and has taken me
all over the world on fantasy trips one could never ever forget. 
And, know what, when we remember...
what we remember is what happiness and fun we found in these trips...
never do we remember how much money we spent!

  • Trattoria perched on the very edge of the sharp drop-off & the roadway. Vesuvius in the background

  • One of the reasons I was happy my son was there is that maybe we would never have gotten to Capri without them.  You take the hydrafoil from Sorrento out to Capri, it's a very big boat, much like a very comfortable bus with high-back chairs, and voila you're there in a flash.

  • This is where you arrive, The Marina Grande

  • Well, WOW, was I disappointed - I thought Capri was supposed to be beautiful,

  • this looked like a fishing village.


  • things changed rapidly.  You take the funicular to mid-mountain and upon arrival you are right in the middle of Rodeo Drive on the Mediterranean Sea.

  • I was astonished at the array of label-concious people hanging out,

  • table-hopping, talking on their cell phones,

  • sitting in the sidewalk cafes, packed like sardines.

  • my favorite place on Capri


  • then anywhere on Earth.  Positive.

  • There is every single Italian designer label with their own free-standing boutiques, more fine art galleries, luxury hotels.  I was not at all pleased to be in what looked like Las Vegas in Italy.

  • Capri was my only disappointment, & it's only a day trip from  Hope I haven't spoiled it for you

  • Villa San Michele in Capri

    wandering down one of the residential lanes in Capri - this

  • IS truly beautiful

  • Hotel La Canasta Pool & Facade
and another exquisite Capri establishment is the Hotel Quisisana, here's the link to this one
We decided the high-profile movie-star like people, Victoria Beckham, Myriah Carey, come here to shop  
 because, truthfully, this girl has never seen fine fine jewelry shops anywhere
in the world to equal what's in Capri. 
The other people flocking around seem to be EuroTrash
or people with HUGE pocketbooks from the Middle East
There were really no Americans on Capri that day.  And, I forced myself to buy a pair of Gucci shoes for my son, the casual ones with the red & green ribbon across the top, because I knew it would never
happen anywhere else.  He does quite like them.
Another thought, seeing the incredibly beautiful residences & hotels on Capri, one realizes only the very wealthy can be comfortable here; they would entertain in their homes & gardens, go to the shops when no one else is there, and probably stay for long periods.
Understanding this, I realize the serenity one could experience here with your friends and family.

  • so from Sorrento, Positano & Capri we decamped to Amalfi

Amalfi, Italy
this cathedral is one of the rarest architectural accomplishments in Italy
it is also the main tourist attraction in Amalfi
The Byzantine arches are absolutely beautiful and awesome in their size as you will see below

 Under the porch of the cathedral in Amalfi.


Amalfi’s cathedral dates back to the ninth century, though the bell tower was constructed in 1276 and the exterior was somewhat redesigned in the 16th and 18th centuries.

The town of Amalfi is one of the highlights of the Amalfi Coast. The town rose to prominence a thousand years ago as a major naval power in the Mediterranean and is now one of the most popular resorts on the stretch of coastline.
It is ringed by mountains rising from the sea on three sides and is a labyrinth of streets that wind past numerous shops and the cathedral.

  • Interior of Pansa

The cathedral notwithstanding, for me the most important thing in Amalfi is this place, the most famous Pastisserie in the world.  One stands at this window, even when the shop is closed, just to look at the beautiful
creations, like glazed orange slices encrusted with sugar crystals, dipped in chocolate
and millions more delectible goodies.  Our presentations in the U.S. are far too pristine to
accomplish this look.  Apothecary Jars of all sizes filled with crystallized fruits which become candy.
A treat for all the senses.  It's just on the right before the cathedral.


Orange slices encrusted with sugar then chocolate dipped

Looking down from the high road to Amalfi itself

road just down from our rented villa, note the little road, pic of road taken a curve downhill

  • Shops in Amalfi town

no matter where you look there is a beautiful vista

  • coming out of a tunnel

well, we had to locate the hairdresser, you know?

another exquisite tiny hotel, view of 1 of their 18 rooms

roadside again, we all loved these little shops & bought gifts for everyone

  • at home ... great way to Christmas shop

  • just normal life

local 7-11.  i think i could get used to this

 lovely photo of the little boats at anchor

looking up the mountainside one sees the terraced land with homes, everyone having their own little gardens,
this land is so very fertile flowers, fruit trees, vegetables are plentiful and flourish...

  another old structure wrapped with time's vines, steeped in history

everywhere, you will see these old structures, left untouched for 100's of years,
no one tears them down
to rebuild some modern condo project or strip mall...
just one of the many reasons to actually spend time in these areas,
to understand the culture of the people, and to learn how they live...
for the most part it's a simple life, but a really good life. 

can you even believe this water ?????

  • this is one of the "smaller" yachts, and I do mean smaller.

this was my boat

just another day in paradise

  • these pics courtesy of

so, cheers to you from the Amalfi Coast,
below a pic of me and my poodle, FiFi,  taken by my son
somewhere in our travels of the coast of Italy

we were sad to leave (again) and know we left part of our souls
in Italy...I'm sure everyone who goes to visit this land comes away
with the same feelings

arrivederci per ora e soggiorno affascinante


A Life More Fabulous said...

This just looks idyllic! Looks like you and Fifi had a fabulous time!

Bonnie said...

Your trip to Italy and the Amalfi Coast looks like it was amazing! Your photos brought back some wonderful memories of the time I took the same trip... and loved it so much I went back to Capri a second time. Thank you so much for posting so many beautiful pictures!!!