Slow travelling in Amalfi.
Heard of slow cooking? What about slow travelling?
My trips in recent years have been the slower variety. Quite different to the break-neck speed we used to travel in our youth with barely 24 hours in each spot.
My slower travel is possibly for a number of reasons. Personally, when I travel by myself I like to be a bit more settled. I like to get to know the area, the people, the changing colours of the days. Spending a few days or a week in one location gives me the chance to explore the area more and suss out the less known tourist activities.
Spending five days in an area doesn't mean I'm lounging around (although you can do that too!) It means I'm doing more walks, tasting more food, seeing more. I'm absorbing the scenery and taking in more of the local culture.
A world away from Amalfi is Atrani.
I looked at all the things I wanted to do and then decided how many days I should stay on the Amalfi Coast. I also researched where was the best place to stay on the Amalfi Coast. I decided to stay six days in Atrani, the quiet commune next door to Amalfi. This small quiet village became my home. I ate at every restaurant in Atrani (there were four!). I wanted to share my tourist dollar around.
Also being next door to Amalfi meant I was close to the great transport hub for the whole coast. Buses, ferries, tours, water taxis were all incredibly close.
I could walk between Amalfi and Atrani in seven minutes. The daredevil option was to walk along the edge of the road - always watching for trucks and buses that needed all the road they could get - and would mean I would step up onto the railing edge to give them a wide berth. The boring option was to walk through a safe concrete tunnel - although you still had to run the gauntlet of traffic to enter it.
I explored so much in those six days, catching crowded, crazy buses up and down the peninsular and up into the hills. Having six days in the area meant I could do so much because I wasn't rushing.
Walking back to Atrani from Amalfi.
The gardens of Ravello!
I absolutely love gardens. I was so excited to head up to Ravello and explore these legendary places.Taking a bus way up into the hills above Amalfi early in the morning was a great way to avoid the crowds. I was enchanted with Ravello and spent half a day exploring the town. The gardens were simply out of this world, and arriving early I was first in the gates before the crowds and buses arrived.
After finding a deli for my takeaway lunch I found the perfect spot under a tree in a park to sit overlooking the ocean and the knotted gardens below. I was in heaven.
I loved it so much I went back there another day to see it all again! Now that's the joy of travelling solo and slow!
From Ravello I then walked down to Atrani passing through villages, gardens, vegetable plots, and groves of lemons. I wasn't rushing my walking either as I was just loving taking it all in.
On my second visit I walked down to Amalfi through the Valley of the Mills - an idyllic valley which was nice and cooling under the trees in the afternoon heat.
A gardener's dream!
Sentiero degli Dei - The Path of the Gods.
On a busy cruise ship day I really didn't want to be anywhere near Amalfi, so I headed for the hills and walked the stunning 'Path of the Gods' - giddyingly high up.
Years earlier a friend had a slide evening of their trip to Europe. Her pictures of this hike had me hooked. And the dreaming began.
This stunning hike high up in the hills of the Amalfi coast, looking down over the ocean far below starts from Bomerano to Nocelle. A well marked track and quite a few people to follow meant I had no way of getting lost, although I always refer to my maps.me app to double-check.
It was lovely to pass the houses, gardens, vineyards of the locals at a nice pace. It is quite a rugged track and rugged scenery, which makes a nice contrast and respite from the manicured gardens. (I didn't feel so bad about my overgrown vege garden back home!)
Arriving in the pretty and tiny hillside village of Nocelle was a large open spaced courtyard where a woman was selling freshly squeezed lemon juice. It was so well received by everyone as we all crowded under the single tree in the courtyard to escape the sun and share our stories.
Nocelle is built on the hillside and the houses and footpaths tumble down the hill. Overlooking the ocean it is absolutely breath-taking.
Walking from Nocello to Positano.
From Nocello you could either walk down to Positano or carry on further along the hills to Montepertusso. I'd originally looked at an Airbnb in Montepertusso so I wanted to check the area out. It didn't disappoint. A small village with a deli that catered for my insatiable need for fresh bread, mozzarella cheese, tomato and basil! Again there were more views to take in, and it was from here that I started my descent into Positano.
The 1000's of steps seemed to go on forever, and Positano still seemed so far below. Frequent stops were needed to smell the roses (a disguise to stop my knees from shaking!) But eventually I made it down into the pretty pastel town I'd read so much about over the years.
Positano in pastels.
When I think back to Positano I see pastel colours - pinks and peaches were the stand out colours for me. I was launched into a rather glamorous lane of overhanging vines and flowers, well styled holiday makers, and super stylish shops. I didn't linger long as I wasn't really dressed for the occasion. Instead I headed for the beach, where my feet enjoyed being released from my hiking shoes and plunged into the ocean.
I happily sat and watched the passers by, found a gelato seller and then wandered through the streets and up a maze of steps. I knew I was on the right path when meeting hot and bothered tourists asking, "how much further to the bus?". It was quite a hike back up to the bus stop from the beach and the shop by the bus stop does a roaring trade in cold drinks and ice blocks!!
My bus was quick in arriving and even though the queues were long I was lucky enough to get a seat on the seaward side (ha, lucky?? until I experienced the sheer drops down the side of the road.) It felt like there were only inches to spare as the road seemed to disappear from under the wheels. I wasn't the only one gasping and leaning over my fellow passenger in my effort to stop the bus tipping any more precariously towards the cliff!
The Amalfi Blue Grotto.
The Amalfi blue grotto is well-worth the short boat trip from Amalfi.
A group of us from the hostel caught a boat out to the caves, just round the corner from Amalfi. We transferred to small boats and entered the cave with us all watching our heads. High tide or rough seas make it impossible to enter the cave. The entrance is small and the boats bobble into the cave. The sunshine comes through the deep entrance and lights up the water in the cave, bathing you in blue light.
The cave also has knarly, golden rock formations like stalectites, that shine brightly with torches or flashes. Only a couple of boats went in at a time, meaning it wasn't too crowded or noisy. And while we didn't stay in the cave long, it was enough to experience and enjoy it all. And to add an Italian touch we were treated with a singing boatman.
The return trip gives you an amazing view of the Amalfi coastline and a great view of the houses and villages perched on the steep hills.
I just love the blue glow here!
Shopping for ceramics, leather, linen and silk on the Amalfi Coast!
No visitor to the Amalfi Coast could avoid the shops adorned with ceramics, linen and leather. The shops spill onto the street displaying their wares. And it's a stronger person than me that can walk past.
Being in the area for nearly a week I had plenty of time to compare prices and styles - although I'm not actually a huge shopper and of course I didn't have a lot of space to carry it!
I bought ceramics in Ravello, a silk blouse in Amalfi and saved buying sandals until I got to Capri. My mistake though was putting off buying linen until I got to my last port of call in Genoa before flying home. But It simply didn't have the range of styles I'd seen in Amalfi and Capri. So I had to settle for a linen scarf that I'm wearing as I write this! Note to self - buy it then post it home!
The shopping was easy. It was the carrying it that was my issue!
Enjoying the pace of slow travel.
Often setting off to my daily destinations from Amalfi, it was lovely to return back and wander home. The streets of Amalfi later in the day were much quieter now that the cruise ships and day-trippers had departed.
Travelling slowly meant I could see a place in different times of the day and night. I could revisit places. And if I wanted to sit on the steps of the Amalfi cathedral and watch the world go by (with my third gelato for the day in hand!!) then I could.
Atrani became my home for a week and a haven from the crowds of the Amalfi Coast.
Solo travelling on the Amalfi Coast.
I felt incredibly safe all over the Amalfi Coast. There were plenty of people around, both locals and tourists. It was easy to navigate the buses and ferries. There was so much to keep me occupied.
I particularly enjoyed walking after sunset around Atrani and seeing the families out and about.
Dining was easy at the many restaurants - I never felt like I stuck out. In Atrani there were only four restaurants so I enjoyed dining at them all. By the end of the week they possibly recognised me.
As a solo, female, light and slow traveller the Amalfi Coast was perfect. For such a relatively small area there was so much to see and do. I could go back there again for a week and have a completely different itinerary (hmmm...now there's a thought!!)
From the Amalfi Coast I then ventured to the island of the jet-setters - Capri - for two and a half days. Click on the link below to read all about that!
Dusk in Atrani.