As my trip winds down like the hilly streets near my soon-to-be-no-longer home, I have been trying to soak in as much of Southern Italy as possible. With Campania being the most densely-populated region in Italy, it’s harder to choose what cities to visit than it is to choose what flavor of gelato to order. Here are my top five favorite towns on the Amalfi Coast:
Vietri Sul Mare:
One of the major industries on the Amalfi Coast is ceramics, as demonstrated by the tile-coated duomos you see in each city in the region. The first sight you see when you hop off the train at Vietri Sul Mare is the panoramic view of the city, and the second thing you notice are the dozens of technicolor ceramic shops and sculptures. It’s a hike down to the beach (avoid flip flops), but the vibrant, quirky buildings make the walk just as stunning as the view from the water. The public beach was flooded with families, but for a small fee you can rent an umbrella and chair. The train from Salerno was only 3 euros round trip, so you can have a beach day for less than 20 euros!
The namesake of the coast and its largest city, Amalfi is a neat representation of the region. We took a tour of the Museum of Paper, which highlights one of Amalfi’s traditional industries. The Duomo is also a must-visit, with its beautiful blend of Arab and Sicilian influence. The several steps leading up to the church are as grand as the inlaid marble designs throughout the Church. Amalfi was busier than most cities, but I say it’s the best city to visit on the Amalfi Coast if you want a balance of culture and picture perfection.
There’s a reason the ancient Romans chose Positano as one of their major vacation spots. There aren’t as many historical sites compared to other Amalfi cities–it’s definitely a resort townー but the ocean and candy-colored tiles are beyond worthwhile. The water was the clearest out of any beach I visited, and the town itself was straight off the set of “Mamma Mia.” Food and souvenirs are more expensive than in smaller towns on the coast, but that is the perfect excuse to bring your own food and have a picnic on the beach!
Salerno has been home base for me for the past three weeks, and I couldn’t have picked a better place to stay. It is not a touristy town, but if you plan to stay on the Amalfi Coast for an extended period of time, it is a good starting point. As a major port city, you can take boats to most cities on the coast for less than 10 euros each way. Because it isn’t a city that is focused on tourism, there are a plethora of amazing restaurants, bars and shops that are cheap and perfect for a college budget. In Salerno, I could truly live like an Italian and perfect my language skills. Salerno is also not lacking in history. Minutes away from my home were the first medical school in the world and the relics of the Apostle Saint Matthew, the patron saint of Salerno. The medieval Castello di Arechi has the best views of the city and will make you feel like you stepped onto the set of the Princess Bride.
I cried of happiness when I visited Minori. It isn’t the largest or the most popular, but it has the best bakery I have ever visited, with breathtakingly artistic and mouthwatering pastries for only 5 euros. With perfect pastel buildings, the archaeological site of a Roman villa, and sparkling beaches that aren’t overcrowded, it is not to be overlooked. You can also visit limoncello shops and see how the regional speciality alcohol is made. Even though it’s called “Minor,” it has a major place in my heart.
No matter which city you choose, I can guarantee you’ll find good food, good views, and good vibes if you look hard enough.