Cruising Italy's Amalfi Coast
Posted by Jessica Reaves - freelance writer for Tauck
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Italy, Small Ship Cruising
Awash in history and natural beauty, Italy's Amalfi Coast is best seen from the water, where visitors are perfectly positioned to admire hillsides dotted with ancient villages, terraced gardens and cascading blooms. (Bonus: You won't have to face driving a rental car along the notoriously challenging 25-mile coastal drive).
Most cruises make their way along the Mediterranean, Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas, on Italy's southwestern coast, to the beautiful Bay of Naples. From here, an overland drive brings you to Herculaneum, the extraordinary ruins buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Apart from its signature spectacular vistas and perfect azure waters, the region is also famous as the center of production of limoncello, a liqueur made from the unusually large, sweet lemons (sfusato amalfitano) that grow in abundance throughout the area. Anchovies and olive oil are also specialties of the region, and when you're shopping, keep a sharp eye out for locally produced treasures: exceptional pottery and fine paper goods.
The weather on the Amalfi Coast is generally moderate, except for the peak of summer, when temperatures can rise. Fall and spring are the best times to visit the Amalfi Coast - the breeze is refreshing and the sun is almost always shining.
Be sure to make time for lunch or dinner in a café or restaurant along the coast. They are often family affairs, and the food, while simple, is also incredibly delicious. Homemade pastas mingle beautifully with freshly caught fish, and local olives and lemons impart their distinctive flavors.
You'll spot a parade of picturesque towns along your voyage, all of which are worth visiting. Here are some of the highlights:
Ravello: Famous for its annual summer music festival and its heights - the town sits atop vertical cliffs overlooking the sea. The town's churches, some of which date back more than 1,000 years, are well worth visiting. Ravello's charm has lured literary notables ranging from Virginia Woolf to Gore Vidal, each of whom spent stretches of time here, writing and researching.
Amalfi: The largest town on the coast and home to the Arsenal of the Maritime Republic (Arsenali della Repubblica), which once housed the Mediterranean's largest naval fleet. You may also want to visit the 11th-century cathedral, which overlooks Amalfi's beautiful town square, or piazza. L'Arco Antico, a local stationery shop, offers a range of fine paper goods - part of Amalfi's heritage since the 12th century.