The Amalfi Drive, Italy
If your travels are taking you anywhere near the Italian coast around the city of Sorrento, then this scenic coastal drive just has to be at the top of your list of things to do. The Amalfi Drive is widely considered to be one of the most scenic coastal drives anywhere in the world; you can look at pictures of the view for hours, but nothing can fully prepare you for the astonishingly beautiful sights that will greet you around every corner of this scenic drive along a stretch of coastline which has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. The route runs along the edge of the ocean, past pastel villages that literally hug the hillsides, with the azure ocean on one side and verdant green forest on the other.
The most accessible spot to start your Amalfi drive is probably the port town of Salerno. From here you head out on the Autostrada A3 and then choose the SS163 at Vietri sul Mare, a village renowned for its pottery, and from where you will get your first glimpse of the dramatic coastline. Then your roller-coaster ride will commence, as one-by-one each of the bends in the road reveal a new and more exciting vista as you drive from one view point to the next – don’t miss the one at Capo d’Orso – one of the best.
All along the route there are tempting side-excursions if you have the time to explore properly; at Minori you can visit the ruins of a 1st century Roman villa, while Atani has two note-worthy churches. Continue to Ravello.
Beautiful and romantic Ravello clings to the steep terraced slopes of the mountain, almost suspended between the ocean and the sky; take some time to walk the little lanes, visit the 11th century cathedral and the beautiful gardens of the lovely Villa Rufolo. Then drive on towards the town of Amalfi.
The road drops dramatically from Ravello to the seaside town of Amalfi which was a very prominent maritime republic in days gone by. Now it is a most scenic resort with many cafes, bars and restaurants along the sea-front. Visit the beautiful Duomo di Sant’Andrea, before leaving the bustle of the town to enjoy one of the very scenic walks in the hills overlooking the town.
From Amalfi, the drive will take you west along an ever-increasingly spectacular section of the coast. Be sure to stop at the Grotta dello Smeraldo – a stunning emerald cave which you can visit by boat or reach via many stairs (or an elevator!). Just beyond this point the road passed the Vallone di Furore, an impressive gorge (you can hike it) before arriving at the picture-perfect villages of Praiano and Positano which you can explore on foot before continuing to your final destination, Sorrento.
The best time to do the Amalfi Drive is during the shoulder seasons, mid-September to October and May, when the road will be less clogged by tourist buses.