Naples and The Amalfi Coast
The real beginnings of Southern Italy start in the beautiful region of Campania, arguably the most culturally rich region in all of Italy. Known as the “happy land”, this stunning part of the country is home to the beautiful and dramatic Amalfi Coast that stretches from Positano to Salerno, the historic, chaotic city of Naples, birthplace of the Italian pizza and the historic city Pompeii, known for its ancient roman ruins and infamous volcano, Vesuvius. With its jumble of cultural heritage, delicious cuisine, and natural highs this is a region you will certainly want to spend plenty of time in, and possibly never want to leave.
Top Attractions in Naples
Known as Napoli in Italian, Naples is Italy’s third most populated city and is a fantastic base in which to explore the surrounding Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Sandwiched between the sleeping volcano of Vesuvius and the blissful Amalfi coastline, the city of Naples is chaotic mass of contradictions. Its noisy, hectic palm fringed streets and boulevards, crumbling buildings and markets are all part of the city’s charm. It’s a lively, vibrant city full of historical wonders and artistic treasures just waiting to be explored.
Located south of Naples, the historic city of Pompeii is world famous for its Roman ruins and probably one of the most visited sights in the region. This legendary city has been frozen in time by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79AD. Ruled by the Greeks, this ancient city was once full of exotic villas and home to some of the wealthiest of Romans. Its tragic eruption buried the city, preserving forever in layers of ash and pumice the town and its people. Visitors who come to see the ruins can explore this vast area of extensive villas and forums as well as human casts of victims that were trapped in the eruption over two millennia ago. There is also the option to walk up to the rim of the volcano’s crater from where you can enjoy spectacular views of the Bay of Naples.
Upstaged by the neighbouring ruins of Pompeii, Herculaneum also boasts a wealth of archaeological wonders including carbonised furniture, victim’s skeletons and stylish preserved mosaics. This tremulously preserved Roman fishing town suffered a similar fate to that of Pompeii, falling to destruction by an earthquake in 62 AD which was then covered in a thick layer of sea mud that fossilised the entire city after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius that buried Pompeii. Although much smaller then Pompeii, Herculaneum is a great place to visit for history buffs with plenty to see to keep you entertained and educated.
Marking the beginning of the infamous 43 mile coastal road of the Amalfi, Sorrento is an attractive town full of cobblestone streets, picture-perfect views of Mt Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples. Sophisticated in style, Sorrento is the place to visit for stylish designer shops, glamorous bars to sip cocktails and fantastic restaurants to try some of the regions finest culinary delights. Its old town is a delight to explore, a maze of narrow streets, impressive churches, a monastery and a cathedral that boasts beautiful frescoes. And of course there is the beach too!
As the largest city on this famous stretch of UNESO-listed coastline, Amalfi is an intimate and romantic city full of quaint villas and churches that sit perched on the Cliffside, flowing all the way down to its beach below. Most visitors to Amalfi come to relax on its half kilometre stretch of shingle beach and to explore its winding alleys and medieval architecture. Visit the towns highlight – St Andrew’s Cathedral, situated in the centre of town. This beautiful 13th Century Duomo features a frescoes crypt containing the relics of St Andrew as well as a peaceful Moorish cloister and magical gardens.
Known for its jaw dropping beauty, Positano is one of Italy’s most romantic and luxurious towns. Built vertically on the side of a cliff, this one time fishing town has now become the playground for the rich and famous. With its pastel coloured buildings and plush boutique hotels, Positano is the ideal place to visit for a stroll along the beach or an up-market lunch in the town centres many restaurants. During the summer month the beach is lined with deckchairs and loungers and local families can be seen spilling into the empty areas, their towels creating multi-coloured carpet against the dark sand.
Boasting lush gardens and majestic views, Ravello is one of the Amalfi Coast’s most loveliest towns to visit. Perched high up on the mountains this historic mountain village is popular with visitors looking to escape the fast paced streets of Naples, retreating to Ravello’s quiet, traffic free streets and peaceful squares. Here you can discover the town’s dozens of trattorias and pizzerias, ceramic shops and boutiques. Its main attraction is its 11th Century Duomo located in the main square, celebrated for its bronze Romanesque doors and fine marble pulpit.
Capital of the province of Campania, Salerno is a charming postcard pretty town filled with historic buildings and fantastic restaurants. If history is your passion then take a visit to Salerno’s archaeological museum full of exhibits and collections that cover the history of the region and its local traditions. Alternatively visit the 11th Century Church of San Benedetto or take a laid back afternoon to relax with a glass of wine in one of the traditional bars.
Accessible from Naples, Sorrento and Positano, this beautiful enchanting island it Italy’s most famous island. Popular with day trippers this fashionable island boasts a whole host of ritzy hotels, peaceful piazzas, ancient Roman ruins and some lovely beaches that can be found scattered around the island. The island’s top attraction is the famous Blue Grotto, otherwise known as Grotto Azzurra. Take a boat trip to this natural cavern which is illuminated by sunlight passing through the underwater cavities, creating a surreal blue reflection inside the cave. Although it’s a popular boat trip with tourists, local fishermen still believe it to be haunted by evil spirits and during your trip you will hear of the many tales and legends about this enchanting cave.
Best time to visit
Tourists visit Naples from April to October
The ideal time to visit this beautiful region is between April and June, when the air is filled with perfumed spring flowers, and the spectacular stretch if Italian coastline is not to overcrowded and the sun is warm enough to make swimming in the sea a delightful experience. Summer is the season for cultural events and festivals but it is also the busiest period when celebrities and VIPs arrive on their luxury yachts and fill all the fashionable bars and restaurants along the coastline, so avoid this period unless you are interested in visiting one of the many events.