Saturday, July 23, 2016

10 things I loved about the Amalfi Coast

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Hiking the Path of the Gods
Walking towards Punta Campanella with Capri following you
View from atop Mt. Solaro
The Terrace of Infinity, Ravello
Pretty Positano
Sorrento
View from the top of Vesuvius
The limoncello chill




Seafood gluttony

Selfie paradise
Cooling off


Ceramics abound in Positano
Blue, blue waters, high cliffs hugging the shore, the narrowest roads, lovely little towns – what is not to love, you say? Quite a bit, to be honest. When you go in high summer, the unrelenting heat can get to even someone like me, who lives the Mumbai summers. And the crowds – everyone and their mother seems to descend on this strip of land in high season. Driving prices sky-high and jamming up the traffic on those narrow lanes.
Yet, this strip of coastal land from Sorrento to Salerno is pretty in a way that can’t stop your camera clicking away; so you end up with thousands of gorgeous pictures and you really struggle to choose the ones you want to share.
Here are some things I really couldn’t get enough of – in my 8-day vacation this July.

1.  Beating the heat with granita and gelato
When the heat gets to you, nothing beats walking into a gelataria (they are all around) and ordering a granita. It’s a coarser form of a sorbet – and our favourite was the lemon-flavoured one. And a super after-meal sweetener was the gelato. Raki was a great one in Sorrento.

2.     Hiking along the coast
There are tons of possibilities. You base yourself in one of the small towns and you can hike to other towns close by. We did a couple. The Path of the Gods was an obvious one. And another from Termini to Marina Del Cantone via Punta Campanella. The walk from Termini to Punta was absolutely stunning – we could see Capri through the walk and Punta Campanella had some great views. And all those calories burnt were a good excuse to gorge on even more great food.

3.     Visiting an island

We went to Capri. It’s a day trip from Sorrento and the ferry itself is a great experience. You take the funicular to Anacapri and then the chair car up to the top of Mount Solaro. The views are to die-for. Anacapri is sweet, with white-washed buildings set against the deep blue of the water. You take a ferry boat ride around Capri, check out all the grottos, pass under the arch of the Faraglioni rocks (legend has it that you kiss someone under that arch and you are bound for life!) and see all the famous-people houses up on the cliffs.

4.     Wandering around Villa Cimbrone in Ravello
Ravello is a delicious little town a bus ride away from Amalfi. You walk up to the Villa Cimbrone and wander around its gardens and terraces. The Terrace of Infinity begs for travel-magazine-worthy photographs; the views are so very photogenic. 

5.     Browsing the shops in Positano
Supposed to be the prettiest place on the Amalfi coast, Positano is overwhelmed with tourists. But it is striking. Set on a cliff, its pastel-shaded buildings rise above the coast and seem built on top of each other, rising vertically. Its streets are narrow and winding with shops selling linen clothing, leather footwear, painted crockery and other fine-looking things. A pretty town with pretty streets selling pretty things.

6.     Drinking limoncello
The coast is known for its lemon groves. And the lemons here are huge. Of course we had to try the limoncello. It’s very sweet (I love all things sweet) and the alcohol in it can hit you hard. But it’s a great chill-me-down after a hot and tiring day.


  7.    Enjoying the laid back vibe in Sorrento
It is one of the bigger towns. With some nice cafes, gelatarias and a cool night life, you can easily spend a couple of days relaxing and winding down for the start of a nice holiday. The Euro cup that was underway, ensured there were some boisterous scenes on the main streets. 

8.     Climbing Mt. Vesuvius
Its signature shape is constantly in your sights as you travel from Naples to Sorrento. History lessons in school remind you of how it destroyed a city – and when you realize you can actually climb a living volcano, you cannot wait to try it. It’s a pretty tame walk up to the crater – but just the feeling of having climbed something so historic gives you a thrill.

9. Eating rum baba in Naples
A Neapolitan specialty, we had it at the Gran Café Gambrinus, an elegant, turn-of-the-century coffee house, which boasts of heads-of-states, Popes and movie stars as patrons. The rum baba is exquisitely melt-in-the-mouth soft and when you have it with strong Italian coffee, you have a bit of Naples in your mouth.

10. Taking selfies against gorgeousness

Wherever you go, everything is so very pretty and photogenic, it makes sense to carry a selfie-stick. This was the first time we ever did –we have been traveling for years – and we were initially terribly self-conscious. But it is rather cool to have pictures of you against the most heavenly backgrounds. A selfie-stick sure comes handy.