After walking from Praiano to Positano the previous day, I knew I was going to wake up ‘a bit sore’. What I had anticipated was the ‘I’m going to need a railing to get down the stairs, or someone is going to need to carry me” level of soreness in my calves. Perhaps the walk down to Positano 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, bus to Amalfi, bus to Ravello (set up in the hills away from the coast) and then return to Amalfi to explore it and the neighbourning Atrani. Though it sounded like a full on day, all the walking was going to be on relatively flat ground, with buses to take us the long distances this time.
What I quickly discovered is when travelling around this area, you need to scale back the amount you want to accomplish in a day. Perhaps if you woke up really early you could 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 instead of two seemed like way too much hard work. Once we arrived in Amalfi, we made the call to skip Ravello and stay at sea level instead.
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.
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 there was no way I was going to stop using it as an excuse for eating a pre-lunch gelato! 🙂
I have a hard time saying anything negative about gelato when holidaying in Italy but 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.
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 then 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. What seemed like 10 minutes, but was probably closer to two minutes, in the slowest elevator ever, we arrived into the light at the top of the hill with amazing views looking down on Amalfi!
From here, there’s a pathway (down hill) that passes through the Amalfi’s ‘suburbs’ (really just a laneway between houses) and sweeps around the hill, delivering you into the much smaller, and much quieter 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. But I have a feeling we picked the wrong restaurant. Perched on the small piazza, aptly called the Piazetta (small piazza in Italian), we ate at Bar Birecto, mainly 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 and any sub-par meal afterwards used it as a comparison, as in “at least it’s not as bad as the bruschetta at that restaurant in Atrani!”. The location was nice enough in the quiet piazza, and the service was good, but I had diner’s remorse afterwards when we came across a few on the ocean side, including a pizzeria with seaside views. At least the beer was cold! 🙂
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.
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.
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 and sprawled out on the cathedral stairs.
It was now time for a speciality of the region – Granita di Limone – that we bought at the local Sorbetteria on the 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, but I didn’t mind because I used the time to perv on all the pastries behind the glass. I noticed a white ball of what looked like vanilla fondant icing was selling like hotcakes. I asked the lady next to me what it was and when I heard limone, I thought whatever 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.
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 after walking up the stairs (again – is it getting easier? I’m not sure!), 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!