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A Postcard from the Amalfi Coast

Postcard from the Amalfi Coast    

By Inntravellers, James & Fiona Clarke, travelling in May

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 1: Woken unexpectedly by a hedgehog, we are in plenty of time for our flight from Stansted to Naples, which lands early due to favourable winds. On the way to Naples railway station, we are so relieved that someone else was driving – people, cars and motor bikes seemingly in every direction. In Salerno, our taxi is waiting for us, and we are soon at the friendly Hotel Scapolatiello in Corpo di Cava – we have a nice room, where we have time to relax ahead of an excellent supper – we’d forgotten that Italians have four courses including pasta, and so are soon ready for bed!

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 2: We awake to a sunny day and have a leisurely start with a super breakfast of fresh fruit, meats, cheese and honey, listening to the beat of a local band practising in the square below. Today, at the start of our walk exploring the Amalfi Coast & Villages, we decide to visit a viewpoint overlooking the sea and Salerno, making our way through shady woods and then along a limestone path lined with flowers – cistus, rock rose, pimpernel with scarlet and blue flowers, orchids and daisy, plus masses of lizards! The views over Salerno and the coast are amazing, with the brilliant blue sea and white wakes of boats. After our picnic, we return to Corpo di Cava, and visit the abbey – some very nice paintings and a huge chapel with marble pillars. Over another good dinner, we discuss going ‘up’ Pompeii tomorrow.

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 3: We are soon on our way, rattling along in an old train, planning our day ahead with our guidebook. First stop, the huge, well-preserved Amphitheatre, though our favourite is the restored Great Theatre. Despite the crowds, we are amazed by the scale of the ruins, the sophistication of the buildings, and the insight into the lives of the people – lots of houses, and eating places, the forum and the theatre; plus plenty of bakers, too, including one where we eat our picnic, while a hoopoe searches nearby for grubs. There are huge queues for the brothel, so we left it until later, but weren’t overly impressed. After four-and-a-half hours wandering the hard streets, we are ready to put our feet up, so return to our hotel for a final dinner. On to Ravello tomorrow!

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 4: On a warm sunny morning, we are taken to Maiori, where our walk starts on the beach. From here we begin to climb steps – a lot of them – but despite it being very hot, it’s very enjoyable and the views are great. We walk through lemon and olive groves, vineyards and woods, before entering a limestone landscape where we see our first swallowtail butterfly – and a viper chasing a lizard! We meet an old lady planting tomato seedlings, and a man with a mule, before arriving in bustling Ravello. First thing: a refreshing swim in the hotel pool – before heading into town for dinner in a local trattoria.

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 5: After breakfast by the pool, we slip into town to take some photos of the Duomo before the crowds arrive. Today’s route takes us down a valley and up the next ridge to an old castle and a watchtower. The views are spectacular over Amalfi and Atrani, and so is the wildlife – another swallowtail, a peregrine falcon and lots of flowers. After an excellent salad lunch in the main square in Atrani, we take the bus back to Ravello and set off to explore the gardens of Villa Cimbrone. It’s been another very hot and sunny day, so we’re looking forward to a late evening swim before dinner.

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 6: The first half of today's walk is probably the best so far. We go through hamlets and farms where goats are being milked, rounding a headland to enjoy excellent views back to Ravello; we pass crops of potatoes, tomatoes, grapes, lettuces and beans – and a man with two mules. Later, we enter a limestone gorge of immense cliffs and sheer drops. There are flowers, butterflies and lizards everywhere. After a picnic lunch, we descend an ancient mule track to Amalfi, stopping for a very welcome cold beer on the way down. After all, we can’t holiday on the Amalfi Coast without visiting Amalfi itself!

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyIn the town we find it hard to adjust to the crowds after our tranquil walk. We get the bus to Bomerano and our next hotel which has a wonderful surprise in store. On arrival, we are driven down the road to be shown into a room in another building. Our confusion turns to wonder as we see the most amazing view over to Capri from our balcony. Simply breathtaking! The hotel came and collected us for dinner – a very good meal washed down with water ‘frizzante’ and red wine, plus a complimentary Limoncello to finish!

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 7: After an early start, we enjoy a fantastic walk along the ‘Path of the Gods’, high above the coast. The path is lined with beautiful flowers, including bee orchid, and painted lady butterflies. We pass through the pretty streets of Nocelle before reaching Monte Pertuso, where we stop for lunch. A final descent into Positano – “even more steps” – and we’re in our hotel enjoying complimentary Prosecco. We head off to dine in a neighbouring cove with beautiful views over sea. I am so taken by the wood-burning oven I just have to have a pizza. We have a lemon ice cream on the way back.

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 8: We enjoy a good breakfast on the balcony, overlooking Positano beach, getting ready to climb more steps! It’s getting very warm and the steep path is a mass of colourful wildflowers and more butterflies. There are spectacular views all the way up – but we find a bar at the top! After a beer and iced tea, we begin the descent into welcome shade – an excellent walk, which takes us back to Positano and our hotel by the beach. We enjoy a very good meal overlooking the sea – fish accompanied by good local white wine. We retire to bed for our last night of our holiday, exploring the Amalfi Coast & Villages.

Self guided walking holidays in ItalyDay 9: We are leaving today but have some time to kill so visit the duomo and take a short walk along the coast, finding a shady spot from which to watch the world go by. We find a restaurant for a salad lunch, but it is so hot and there’s little breeze, so we decide to return to the cooler atmosphere of the hotel lounge. All too soon, our taxi is here and we are on our way back to the airport, Sorrento and Pompeii flashing by the window. We arrive home at half-past midnight, reflecting on what has been a very good holiday, indeed.

[All photos by James & Fiona Clarke.]