The Amalfi Drive (formally Strada Statale 163) is the conventional name of a stretch of road which runs along the stretch of the Amalfi Coast between the southern Italian towns of Sorrento and Amalfi. The road was originally built by the Romans. The drive between Salerno, at the southern base of the peninsula, and Positano follows the coast for about 80 km (50 mi).
For the greater part of its route, the road is carved out of the side of the coastal cliffs, giving spectacular views down to the Tyrrhenian Sea and on the other side up to the towering cliffs above. The road passes through the village of Positano, which is built on the side of the hill. Both the village and the whole drive are leading tourist attractions in the area.
The best lookout on Amalfi coastline. At 200 mt (656 ft.) above sea level, it overlooks the archipelago of Li Galli and Capo Sottile over a palm and citrus grove, with the splendid Monte Sant'Angelo a Tre Pizzi in the background.
Set into the mountain, surrounded by rich mediterranean vegetation, Positano is so picturesque as to seem a spontaneous stage setting. Seen from the sea it looks like a huge nativity scene, a waterfall of little multicoloured houses clinging onto its sides.
The town develops vertically. The homes, one on top of the other, are characterised by arched porticos that give onto the sea, and are painted in pastel colours, giving it the look of a multifaceted precious stone. It is not for nothing that Positano is called “the gem of the divine coast”. The narrow streets, lined with boutiques, run downhill between the houses flowing onto the Spiaggia Grande, a wide beach. From here there is a beautiful view of the sea, as well as of the town as it clambers up the mountainside.
On the main square of Positano is the parish Church of Santa Maria Assunta, there since the year 1,000. The great coloured majolica cupola is visible from all over town.
The little beaches of Positano are charming, and easy to get to on foot or by boat: Fornillo, Fiumicello and Arienzo.
Positano is a holiday destination appreciated for VIP vacations. Illustrious artists, fashion moguls and screen stars love to come here to relax.
A few miles from the coast are Li Galli, or “Sirenuse”, a tiny archipelago made up of three islets: the Gallo Lungo, the Rotonda and the Castelluccio, considered the ancient dwellings of the enchanting Sirens.
Positano is not just about the sea: pleasant walks take one to visit the evocative areas around Lattari Mountains, like Montepertuso, so-called because it is said that the Madonna appeared here in a hole in the cliff (“pertuso” stands for hole) . A stairway of 1,700 steps takes you to Nocelle. It is from here that the famous Trail of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) begins, with beautiful views over the entire coast. Or you can reach the beautiful coastal Punta San Pietro, where there is a little church on a precipice over the sea.
It is known for its natural “fireworks display” caused by light reflecting off its stalactites and stalagmites, and the jewel-like sheen of its green waters. The experience is breathtaking, and is well worth the extra effort you will need to take to charter a boat. It (also called Grotta dello Smeraldo) is situated in Conca dei Marini, a lovely bay along the Amalfi Coast. It was hidden for centuries until its discovery in 1932, by a local fisherman, and it has since become one of the most famous caves of Italy.
It’s the heart and soul of the coast. In the serene blue of the sky and sea, Amalfi, guarded by its port, seems held in the palm of a hand. Above, the scenic drapery of the mountains, hinged like a backdrop, dotted with houses; below, a picturesque weaving of alleys and steps, all the way to the Piazza, where the Cathedral dominates from the top of its majestic stairs. A unique scene, where historic memory intertwines with unforgettable natural beauty. Suspended between the slopes of Lattari Mountains and the sea, the picturesque alleys of Amalfi today host a large number of tourists, but there was a time, when the powerful Marine Republic had its moment of maximum splendour between the 10th and 12th centuries, that they kept the outsiders (Longobards and Saracenes) at bay. Rich and populated Amalfi enjoyed lively contact with the Orient. In memory of its ancient power every four years, in June, it holds the “Historic Regatta of the Marine Republics”.
Amalfi is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Built bu Nicola Rufolo, one of the richest Patricians of Ravello, on a ledge and it has become a famous attraction for thousands of visitors. The villa was mentioned by Boccaccio in his Decameron and it is the place where Wagner in 1880 was inspired for the stage design of his opera Parsifal. The villa is entered through an opening in the arched entrance tower and, after a short street, a clearing is dominated by the Torre Maggiore, which overlooks the terraces as well as overlooks the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Salerno with flower gardens.
The charms of Ravello also captivated an Englishman, Lord Grimthorpe, who built the Villa Cimbrone early this century with the help of his valet, Nicola Mansi, a native of Ravello. Together they transformed an ancient villa, enriching it with antiques, paintings and relics collected from all over Italy. Today the gardens of Villa Cimbrone are a mediterranean sanctuary. Tall cypresses reach heavenward, the fragrance of massed roses fills the air; pathways lead us to statues of Roman gods. Along the "Avenue of Immensity" huge pink oleanders line the way to the Belvedere posed on the cliff's edge. From this little building you can pause to take in the unforgettable views from here across the "Infinite Terrace" to the sea and sky beyond, and recall the words of Omar Khayam which are carved above a stone seat in the rose garden at Villa Cimbrone:
"Ah, Moon of my Delight who know'st no wane,
The Moon of Heav'n is rising once again:
How oft hereafter rising shall she look
Through this same Garden after us in vain!”
[Rubaiyat: Omar Khayam]