If you were to make a list of the most beautiful places to visit in the world, then the Amalfi coast in Italy would have to be in the top ten category.
This is the coast which is famous for hairpin turns, breathtaking views, sweet lemons (I mean sweet) charming hotels and picturesque towns.
The Amalfi Coast is situated in the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula of Italy. The best way to visit the coast is to fly to Naples, rent a car and drive down to Sorrento. If you make Sorrento your base camp, you can spend several days visiting the jewel towns of the Amalfi Coast at your leisure.
Start in Sorrento and drive to Positano. It is best to carry a Michelin map with you to avoid getting lost.
Before you arrive in Positano, you might want to stop at Positano Belvedere; a vantage point on the road that allows you to see the town of Positano in the distance. The view is breathtaking.
When you arrive in Positano, stop and walk around town. Chances are you have seen it in commercials. Once a small fishing village, it is now popular with the international crowd and some celebrities who stay at Positano's 4 and 5 star hotels.
Most houses look like small boxes painted white with bougainvilleas growing along the walls.
After Positano, continue to Vertica Maggiore, and then Furore del Valle, another gem of a town. Near by is the Emerald Grotto. An emerald color cave only reachable by boat. The water of the Tyrrhenian Sea, enters the cave and the sun takes care of the rest.
Continue to the town of Amalfi and Ravello. Ravello also has unforgettable views.
In Ravello, you will see white washed houses perched on the hills with gardens planted with vines, lemon and olive trees. It is a major tourist destination, the beauty of the city, and its charm, has inspired its inhabitants and guests for centuries.
Things to see:
Dining in the region:
Sorrento and the Amalfi coast are situated in the Campania region, and typical southern dishes are likely to appear on the menus. Among those are pizza, pasta, tomatoes, eggplant, mozzarella cheese, seafood and citrus fruits.
If you have ever had tomato and mozzarella salad, you will surely have it there. It is called "Insalata Caprese" named after the Island of Capri. The famous San Marzano plum tomatoes that grow in the region, together with silky soft buffalo mozzarella cheese, olive oil and basil, will surely make a delightful dish.
And let's not forget the wines. The region is rich in volcanic soil, an ideal medium to grow grapevines, and although wines from this region are not well known internationally, they are just as good as more popular Italian varieties. Wine at lunch and dinner is usually served in small carafes, but you can also order wines by the bottle.
Do not forget to finish your meal with a cup of dark espresso just as most Italians do.
If you decide to go, arm yourself with a good map and a good guide book. My favorite travel guides are Frommers and Michelin. You can find them at any major bookstore.
Italians are a friendly people by nature and driving around the area should not be difficult even if you do not speak Italian.
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