Visiting Amalfi and Atrani on the Amalfi Coast

Visiting Amalfi Town and Atrani as a day trip from Praiano was an excellent day trip.

After walking from Praiano to Positano the previous day, I knew I was going to wake up ‘a bit sore’. I hadn’t anticipated that I was going to need to hold onto railings to get down stairs for the next few days. Perhaps the walk down to Positano from Nocelle the day before wasn’t such a great idea!

Given the overall level of body aching going on, today was meant to be a relaxing day. The plan was to get up relatively early, take the bus to Amalfi, then another bus to Ravello, return to Amalfi to explore it and then visit the neighbouring Atrani.

Come to think of it, that sounds like a very full on day!

Plan what you want to do and then halve it

What I quickly discovered about travelling in this area, is that you need to scale back the amount you want to accomplish in a day. Perhaps if we’d woken up really early we could have fit it all in. But after a couple experiences of trying to catch the bus, the idea of catching four of them in a single day seemed like two too many. Once we arrived in Amalfi, we made the call to skip Ravello and stay at sea level instead.

We also ran into a couple we’d met on the Path of the Gods walk the day before. They were hiking from Amalfi town up to Ravello and then kayaking as a “day off” from exercising. I like to think they’re hard core and we’re just normal!

Visiting Amalfi Town

By the time to arrived in Amalfi it was almost 11am and it was really busy. To get our bearings, we walked down the main road pretty much as far as it goes inland. Most of the shops can be found around the area with the cathedral, down a side lane off the main square and the first five minutes or so down the main Corso.

Amalfi Town
Looking down on the main square from the steps of the cathedral.

As a quick brunch, I popped into Il Pianeta del Gelato for a chocolate gelato. Don’t judge me, I walked the Path of the Gods the day before and earned myself a pre-lunch gelato! 🙂

I’ll preface this by saying I have a hard time saying anything negative about gelato when holidaying in Italy. However this one wins the award for the worst of the trip. The service was rude and my gelato was 5 euros despite the sign saying it was 3 euros! Come to find out the reviews on Trip Advisor (link above) share my experience. I’d avoid this one if in the area.

Amalfi Cathedral
There’s really no such thing as a ‘bad gelato’ but there is such thing as a bad gelateria and bad service!

Time to walk over to Atrani

After a short stroll through town, we decided to escape the crowds by heading over to Atrani. On the way over, we stumbled upon an excellent photo op spot, high up above the town. Heading towards Atrani on the main road, there’s a street turning left away from the sea, into Piazza Municipio.

There’s a sign pointing right to Atrani which leads to a giant tunnel into the hill. Once in the tunnel, we could either go straight or turn right to a parking lot. We went straight ahead and came to a lift. Not sure where is was going to take us, we went in anyway and pushed the button. After what seemed like 10 minutes, but was probably closer to two minutes, the slowest elevator ever finally stopped. We got out to find we were at the top of the hill with amazing views looking down on Amalfi!

Amalfi town
It’s always nice to stumble upon an excellent photo taking spot

From here there’s a pathway that passes through Amalfi’s ‘suburbs’ (really just a laneway between houses) and sweeps around the hill. At the end, it delivers you into the much smaller, and much quieter, Atrani.

Atrani Coastline
Coastline heading towards Atrani
Beach in Atrani
Beach in Atrani

Visiting Atrani

Atrani is quiet and small. Some might say too quiet and too small. From what I could tell, there’s not really much to do other than eat at one of a few restaurants or lounge on the beach. Both of course are excellent ways to spend an afternoon while on holiday and we managed to do both.

I have a feeling, however, that we picked the wrong restaurant. Perched on the small piazza, aptly called the Piazetta (small piazza in Italian), we ate at Bar Birecto. We picked it because we were tired, hot and hungry and it was the first place we saw On a trip where we ate so well, this was probably the worst of the trip. Any sub-par meal afterwards used it as a comparison, as in “at least it’s not as bad as the bruschetta in Atrani!”.

The location was nice enough in the quiet piazza, and the service was good. I had diner’s remorse afterwards though when we came across a few on the ocean side, including a pizzeria with seaside views. But at least the beer was cold! 🙂

Atrani lunch
We had two servings of bruschetta for lunch – one original tomato and the other ham and sundried tomatoes. Not the most appetising of lunches. They could have at least splashed some olive oil on the very dry bread.

Walking from Atrani to Amalfi

To return to Amalfi, we walked along the main road and ended up walking through the courtyard of a restaurant (Ristorante Cantina Del Nostromo). It felt weird walking through a restaurant, but we were following a few other people doing it, so we figured, why not. That led us back onto the main road and over to a tunnel that lead to the parking lot (Parking Garage Luna Rossa) that we originally decided against when we were walking to Atrani.

It was a much shorter trip back to Amalfi, though the views on the way over to Atrani were worth the extra stairs (even though my calves were NOT happy about that!).

Back in Amalfi

I’m not sure how, but it was even busier in Amalfi when we got back. The crowds could wait though, because it was swim time. And by swim time, I mean jump in the water long enough for a photo and then get back out and lay on the beach. The water is a wee bit chilly at the end of April!

At the Atrani end of Amalfi’s beach, there are some public change rooms and shower for a couple of euros. By no means fancy, but the stalls do the trick for a quick costume change. I thought we’d be the only ones, but there were a dozen or so people in the water and much more people laying on the rocky beach. Our sore calves were loving the warm stones and I could have easily laid there all day.

Swimming in Amalfi
A bit chilly but we braved the conditions!
Amalfi Town Beach
How to spend a beautiful April afternoon you ask? Lay on the hot stones and enjoy the pristine ocean views.

A cruisy afternoon of beach laying was not meant to be because we now needed a drink. Yes holidays are tough! Looking for refreshments, we had to weave through the crowd that by mid afternoon, was crammed in every nook and cranny of the main piazza including the cathedral stairs.

Amalfi Cathedral
Amalfi gets busy during the day!
Amalfi main street
The main street in downtown Amalfi

Time for a regional specialty

It was now time for a speciality of the region – Granita di Limone. We couldn’t go past a shop called a Sorbetteria that was strategically locate in a small laneway between the main piazza and the Piazza dei Dogi. The granita was definitely heavy on the limone and very light on the sugar. It was sour with a capital S! Wowsers!

And now for the piece di resistance and what would come to be known as the best summery dessert I’ve ever had. The Delizie al Limome (a lemon delicious cake) which I bought by chance at Andrea Pansa in Amalfi.

When my guidebook tells me there’s a place known for its pastries and desserts, I have to give at least one a try. The queue inside was huge and it was a bit of a free-for-all at the counter. I didn’t mind because I used the time to perv on all the pastries behind the glass. It didn’t take long to notice a white ball of what looked like vanilla fondant icing that was selling like hotcakes. I asked the lady next to me what it was and when I heard limone, I thought it was would be a good choice in the land of lemons.

Oh. My. Goodness. It was incredible. I tried a few more over the following week and nothing came close as the tastiness of my first. It’s basically a lemony sponge cake made with or without limoncello, covered in a very light cream. I’m probably not selling it well, but if you’re in the region, it’s a must try. I’m salivating right now just thinking about it.

Andrea Pansa Bakery in Amalfi
The Delizie al Limone that I still have dreams about. The smudge was me touching it to figure out what the outside was made of. It was creamy, creamy goodness on the outside and fluffy, light lemony sponge cake in the centre.

Returning to Praiano by bus. Would we get a seat?

It was now time to wait for the bus back to Praiano, but at least this time we knew where to go. Once again the bus was heaving with people but we managed a seat this time.

Back at the B&B we had to walk up the 200 stairs again. Is it getting easier? I’m not sure! But I knew it was time for a bottle of vino rosso while sitting on our terrace watching the sunset. I could definitely get used to this! Raise your hand if you don’t want to leave tomorrow!

Our next stop on our trip in the Amalfi Region was in Capri. Click here to continue reading.

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