Oh, Bella Amalfi!
Endless switchbacks, crazy drivers, too much traffic, and perilous heights are some folks memories of the Amalfi! Sitting in the backseat of a van, even with big windows, I found the Amalfi to be a daunting trip. Prone to car sickness, I just kept on telling myself “We’re almost there.” If you ever experienced the stomach-churning feeling of motion sickness, you need to carefully consider what I am about to tell you.
The Amalfi is extraordinarily scenic and beautiful! This fantastic cliffside habitat has been home to coastal Italians for thousands of years. There are plenty of extraordinary sites to see, vestiges to view, and delectable delights to consume.
The challenge is getting there. You must fly into Italy, probably Naples or Rome and travel to a staging area like Sorrento or Massa Lubrense. If you are fortunate, you may find a place and stay on the Amalfi Coast. Once you are there, you really have two travel options. First is to travel by land, navigating 100 switchbacks to get to Amalfi and/or Positano. The second way is to travel by water taxi or private boat.
If you travel by land, you can do this with a group in a large bus or a smaller van - sitting squished in the corner with 3 more people beside you, rent a car or you could hire a car and driver for yourself (and sit in the front seat). Another method, heaven forbid, is to pass by the 500 foot drop off on a Vespa or scooter. Recommendation do this anyway other than suffer through the endless number of twists and turns from the backseat of a van.
A water trip to the Amalfi coast is very beautiful and memorable experience. It should take no more than an hour to travel by boat from Massa Lubrense or Sorrento to the Amalfi coast. You could easily spend that much time or more knocking and banging around the back of a van with you were best friends.
So when you’re in the Amalfi you absolutely must see the Amalfi's Marina Grande. It such a famous and glamourous spot, but with less than a quarter mile sand and almost no place to sit and enjoy without paying for a sand chair and umbrella. Do yourself a favor and buy a drink nearby and look out at the beach and beautiful water. Amalfi's cathedral, Duomo di Sant ‘Andrea, emerges magnificently at the top of a long staircase, which are everywhere. This beautiful geometric patterned façade has striped columns and a lovely tiled doma. Afterwards, Mago del gelo has the most chocolatey delicious gelato I have ever had in my life. This is a treat not to be missed, but it leaves a chocolate stain with everything it touches. The remains of St. Andrew were brought to Amalfi from Constantinople in 1206 during the 4th Crusade. Two years later, the crypt was completed and the relics were turned over to the church.
Positano has the 13th-century church of Santa Maria Assunta, with a dome adorned majolica tiles and the Byzantine icon of a black Madonna (brought here by monks – not pirates as the legend states). Positano provides a tremendous opportunity to see the unique sites made famous by so many movies. Two examples are Under the Tuscan Sun with Diane Lane, and Only You with Marisa Tomei. Supposedly there is a café here where Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote the song "Midnight Rambler". It is possible to see celebrities here, but the westernmost town along the Amalfi Coast is fashionable, full of yachts and beautiful people. Like Amalfi, Positano's attraction is understandable when you see the wisteria canopies in many locations.
If you have the time, I recommend trying to visit Ravello. This quaint mountain top Village has fantastic views and a uniqueness that is all its own. The tree lined Piazza Duomo and Ravello Cathedral, with a fantastic overlook, sport plenty of unique shops and eateries to keep everyone entertained. The area is less crowded and easy going as compared to Positano and Amalfi down below.
Bottom line, if you desire to go to the Amalfi coast, and you know you’re prone to motion sickness, take your Dramamine before boarding your boat or bus. On a calm day this would be my choice. However, I am also prone to sea sickness on a rough day. I don’t recommend this route if you too have this issue. If you are adventurous, good friends have told me you can avoid all the brain-pain by renting a Vespa. Hmm?