Everyone has heard of the Amalfi coast but has everyone who has been to this beautiful corner of the world visited the town of Amalfi itself?
Possibly not, situated as it is just a little further along the coast and arguably not as glamorous or talked about as it’s more illustrious and well known coastal neighbours, such as Positano, Capri, Sorrento and Ischia. However, do not be put off for it is most certainly worth slotting into any itinerary to this area of glorious Italian coastline.
Picturesque and pretty, pleasing on the eye, and in a sumptuous setting, it is nestled into the rocks and has glorious views. It is cool, compact, colourful and with a certain charm. Whilst not as outwardly perfectly picture postcard-like as Positano is, it comes a close second and should not be dismissed lightly. Ignore a trip here at your peril.
The town is really focussed on the busy yet attractive port and the bustling Piazza Duomo.
The port is now for people not produce, as it once was in a bygone era. Now day trippers come and go at regular intervals. It seems to be the centre for all travel in the area yet somehow seems to have a chaotic calm about it. ‘Locals’ in their patched up Puntos think nothing of stopping and having a roadside chat with a fellow ‘local’, seemingly oblivious to a tourist bus which may be waiting immediately behind them. There is an occasional horn but everyone just seems to accept this is just a way of life. Buon Giorno. There are even a few colourful umbrella -filled beaches here at Marina Grande too for good measure, and pleasure.
The Piazza Duomo is dominated by the glorious Duomo di Amalfi, which is dedicated to St Andrew. It really is quite magnificent and it peers down from the top of some imposing steps casting an eye on all the jollification and joie de vivre taking place below. This is the buzzing heart of the town, from where cafe bars, restaurants, shops and people spill out and enjoy la dolce vita.
As always such costal towns are largely defined by their setting. Away from the marina, Amalfi has a largely linear form as the main road from the Piazza Duomo runs directly inland into something of a valley, where awe inspiring rock formations rise spectacularly on either side of the narrow streets. It is quite something.
Shops selling leather, linen, lace and lemon line the narrow streets. Limoncello is a local favourite and there must be no better place to purchase. There are even some shops that are based on the glorious and perhaps curious concept of designing your own sandals, which will then be made for you, whilst you wait. The ultimate in personalisation for the local signore or, more than likely, the ladies, on their vacation.
Amalfi even has its own paper museum, which is something akin to Keswick in the English Lake District having its own pencil museum. Well, it takes all sorts.
Amalfi has a good feel about it. It is not pretentious yet is comfortable in its setting and its place in Amalfi coastal life.
It is very Italian in so many ways. Italy is all about piazzas, places of worship, pizza, pomodoro and pasta; Fiat, fiore, family, finery and frescos; chic clothing and colourful ceramics; aqua azzuro, alluring art and architecture and all with sophistication and style.
You get all that here and more. Do not miss it.
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