Amalfi in March

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Walt Hoehler
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Amalfi in March

#1 Post by Walt Hoehler » December 31st, 2018, 10:51 am

Our family (wife, me, teen girl, and teen boy) are headed to the Amalfi Coast in March.

We like to hike, eat, drink (the adults), and do some sight seeing. This will be for 3-4 days after staying in Rome for 3-4 days.

I have zero experience and am trying to get a handle on what there is to do, how difficult movement along the coast will be, how 'closed for the off-season' it will be, and whatever else I don't know.

I want to avoid spending hours on end driving along zig-zagging roads covering ground unnecessarily.

Please hit me with your best "do's and don'ts". Your help is very much appreciated.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#2 Post by Barry L i p t o n » December 31st, 2018, 1:52 pm

I can’t vouch for weather or what is open, but I’d check out Capri first. Wouldn’t need a car, plenty of hikes and if open, great food.

Of course Positano is also lovely but many, many, many steps up and down.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#3 Post by dbailey » December 31st, 2018, 2:11 pm

Tons of useful tips on the uk wine pages site...
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Re: Amalfi in March

#4 Post by Michael Martin » December 31st, 2018, 2:21 pm

A stop at Pompeii or Herculeum combined with a trip through the history museum in Naples would be high on my list if you can wing it, but I love history.

Ravello is small and may be hard to get to without a car, but it was our favorite place on the coast. Cumpa Cosimo is a great restaurant there and the owner is a hoot. There might be some other threads on here mentioning her.

La Tre Sorelle in Positano is great as well, if they are open. Had one of my best meals ever there.

If you are a hiker, Path of the Gods is a must. It goes along the ridge line on the coast and is magnificent.

Photos are Ravello and Path of the Gods.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#5 Post by Michael Martin » December 31st, 2018, 2:32 pm

There is also a great hike out the back of Amalfi. It goes past old paper mills from hundreds of years ago when Amalfi was the center of fine paper production. I think it’s called Valley of the Mills.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#6 Post by Ian Sutton » December 31st, 2018, 6:07 pm

The walking is brilliant, up and down LOTS of steps (e.g. ~ 1200 from Ravello down to Amalfi). The Julian Tippett pcoket walking book (in the sunflower series) remains very useful. It's not super-detailed on directions, but it's good enough. Do however take good care if it's wet, as those steps become treacherous.

I agree with Michael on that Valley of the Mills walk - such a lovely flow to it, and so bereft of people (a world away from the Cinque Terre conveyor belt). Still there are countless walks, with a wonderful criss-cross of old paths / mule tracks, and we've made other routes not covered in Tippett. Another short, simple but oddly strenuous walk, is the brief hop from Amalfi to Atrani, and it's recommended for the unusual 'houses in the viaduct' architecture, but also A'Paranza seafood restaurant in Atrani

For only 3-4 days, it's worth thinking about what is a 'must see' for you. Is it the Greek temples at Paestum, extensive Roman ruins at Pompeii, or the more compact Herculaneum? Or is the walking the big appeal? (for us it is). At the same time, there is a decision to be made about a car. In general I'd say don't. The coast road is busy/gets clogged up, parking can be a nightmare, but not as much of a nightmare as the scary driving conditions on steep switchback roads. For getting around, the SITA buses are frequent and good, with highly skilled drivers who make it look easy. Plus walking can be a legitimate way to get around. Only go for the car if you really want to see Paestum, Pompeii & Herculaneum in this trip AND you and your family have no issue with scary driving landscapes.

Those thoughts should help you narrow down to a place to stay, be it:
Ravello for relaxation, stunning views and modest day trips often including a walk down and bus back up
Sorrento for ease of access by train & getting to Herculaneum/Pompeii by public transport
Positano for a pastel-scenic base (though if the ferries aren't running you'll miss out on the best view of the place)
Amalfi for ease of transport, to allow easy day trips to Ravello, Positano

There are other bases worth considering: Minoro, Praiano, Atrani, Scala etc.

Regards
Ian

p.s. Pasticceria Andrea Pansa in Amalfi. Should be a highlight for all the family.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#7 Post by Barry L i p t o n » January 1st, 2019, 3:02 am

Paestum and Herculeum don’t require cars, easy to get to by train.

Pompeii not as easy.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#8 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » January 1st, 2019, 4:17 pm

We considered Amalfi in late March for our honeymoon. Weather and the fact that many places were closed kept as away. https://www.positano.com/en/when-to-go I think it’s likely to be wet. As a plus, the roads should be free of traffic.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#9 Post by Brent C l a y t o n » January 1st, 2019, 7:16 pm

Walt,

Go south to the Cilento. You won't regret it. I was there in 2016.

Some things to Google:
Castellabate
Cilento National Park
Paestum Greco Roman ruins
Agropoli

Tenuta Vannulo Buffalo Mozzarella farm
San Salvatore Winery (best buffalo milk gelato) they also have a tasting room in Salerno

a few links:
https://madonnadelgranato.wordpress.com ... io-castle/

A place to stay, ask for Arianna
http://www.borgolapietraia.com/en/

You can also scour my friends' website for other ideas in the area:
https://www.feastonhistory.com/#feast-o ... ania-tours

email me if you want any more info or suggestions.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#10 Post by Ian Sutton » January 3rd, 2019, 4:02 pm

Barry L i p t o n wrote:
January 1st, 2019, 3:02 am
Paestum and Herculeum don’t require cars, easy to get to by train.

Pompeii not as easy.
That's assuming you're on the different train lines (Circumvesuviana/Marozzi for Herculaneum and the mainline route for Paestum). Sorrento is on the former, but not the latter. Pompeii station is on the former line, and the stop is close to the site, so that is practical (from Sorrento).

Certainly it's possible, but with only 3-4 days, I'd hate to set expectations of it being as easy as hopping on a train. For getting around most of the coast, bus and (when running) ferry are the options (and walking within reason).
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Re: Amalfi in March

#11 Post by Michael Martin » January 3rd, 2019, 4:36 pm

Ian Sutton wrote:
January 3rd, 2019, 4:02 pm
Barry L i p t o n wrote:
January 1st, 2019, 3:02 am
Paestum and Herculeum don’t require cars, easy to get to by train.

Pompeii not as easy.
That's assuming you're on the different train lines (Circumvesuviana/Marozzi for Herculaneum and the mainline route for Paestum). Sorrento is on the former, but not the latter. Pompeii station is on the former line, and the stop is close to the site, so that is practical (from Sorrento).

Certainly it's possible, but with only 3-4 days, I'd hate to set expectations of it being as easy as hopping on a train. For getting around most of the coast, bus and (when running) ferry are the options (and walking within reason).
I second the ferries, if they are running. We took them from Naples and Sorrento.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#12 Post by Walt Hoehler » March 5th, 2019, 11:35 am

Thanks to all of you. I will definitely use many of these recos.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#13 Post by Dennis Atick » March 17th, 2019, 4:25 pm

Jumping into this thread as we are headed to the Amalfi Coast in June. Specific question that I don't think has been answered. And I know it wouldn't be Berskerkers if I got a straight answer, but here goes...Should we stay in Positano or in Capri in Anacapri area?
4 nights.
Many more options of places to stay on Capri (we are booking late by Positano standards). Our goal was always stay in Positano, but I've read an equal share of opinions that say stay on Capri and visit Positano. Not looking for any particular type of activity that makes either place more attractive than the other.
Thanks for any thoughts.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#14 Post by Ian Sutton » March 17th, 2019, 5:02 pm

Hi Dennis
If you planned to be off out and about doing lots of day trips, then Capri would be a very bad choice. However if you wanted a stay that allowed you to explore the island (and it's coast) at your leisure, and enjoy the town in the morning and evening without the day trippers, then it might be a great option. It does have the extra logistical complication of getting there by boat, but at least there are services from Napoli, so logistics are barely any harder than elsewhere. The worst part is probably the dragging of luggage on/off the boat and that's not too bad an experience (we once stayed in Lipar-Aeolian Islands, so recall this aspect).

Positano makes more sense if you have your eye on day trips to Pompeii / Herculaneum, or heading up the coast to Amalfi etc. It's beautiful when approached from the sea, and day tripping to Capri is an option. The slopes in town are steep, so be pre-warned that it's a bit of a short sharp shock to trek up from the coast. Personally I'm not a fan, much preferring other locations on the coast, but others like it.

One further thought. If relaxation is key, give Ravello a look as an alternative to Capri. The views are stunning and again early mornings and evenings are very special. It doesn't seem to get as many tourists as Capri, but nonetheless it's restored closer to how I remember it (my first visit in 1990) once they've bused or walked back down the slope. Especially consider this if you want to explore the wonderful criss-cross of paths, as there is good variety of routes to be had from Ravello, including a lovely one not in the Tippett guide, which simply follows the valley inland through cool woodland, and you may not even encounter another person on these paths.

Whatever you choose, it should be a memorable holiday

Regards
Ian
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Re: Amalfi in March

#15 Post by Dennis Atick » March 17th, 2019, 5:12 pm

Ian,
Thanks so much or the input. We are leaning Positano for the reasons you mention. But...I was just looking at Ravello as an option. Thanks again for all the info.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#16 Post by Michael Martin » March 17th, 2019, 6:10 pm

There’s more in and near Positano than Capri. You’d get bored in Capri after a couple days. With that being said I would vote for Ravello, but that is purely based on my personal experience in the town. It’s tiny, but has spectacular views, music events, great little restaurants, (check out the nearby village of Pontone as well) yet still on the mainland close to other towns.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#17 Post by Dennis Atick » March 17th, 2019, 6:25 pm

Michael Martin wrote:
March 17th, 2019, 6:10 pm
There’s more in and near Positano than Capri. You’d get bored in Capri after a couple days. With that being said I would vote for Ravello, but that is purely based on my personal experience in the town. It’s tiny, but has spectacular views, music events, great little restaurants, (check out the nearby village of Pontone as well) yet still on the mainland close to other towns.
Thanks for the input Michael! You guys that recommend Ravello, have you had a car for those trips? Travel in the area is obviously a challenge.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#18 Post by Michael Martin » March 17th, 2019, 6:50 pm

Dennis Atick wrote:
March 17th, 2019, 6:25 pm
Michael Martin wrote:
March 17th, 2019, 6:10 pm
There’s more in and near Positano than Capri. You’d get bored in Capri after a couple days. With that being said I would vote for Ravello, but that is purely based on my personal experience in the town. It’s tiny, but has spectacular views, music events, great little restaurants, (check out the nearby village of Pontone as well) yet still on the mainland close to other towns.
Thanks for the input Michael! You guys that recommend Ravello, have you had a car for those trips? Travel in the area is obviously a challenge.
We had a guide. So they drove or we walked.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#19 Post by Jud Reis » March 17th, 2019, 7:01 pm

Dennis - do not drive the Amalfi coast - crazy roads. Another vote for Ravello - all the views, less of the crowds than Amalfi.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#20 Post by dbailey » March 18th, 2019, 2:04 pm

Hotel Caruso in ravello is superb.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#21 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » March 18th, 2019, 3:06 pm

We stayed in both Positano and Capri ten years ago at the end of September with two days in Capri and two days in Napoli. Two days in Capri was enough but it is nice being on the island in the evening when the crowds leave. We took a day trip to Amalfi via ferry and then a bus up to Ravello. Ravello was a place I’d like to stay next time. The high speed ferry is quick, 30 minutes from Positano to Capri, the hotel handled the luggage. Same with Positano.
If you fly into Napoli and you’re going to stay along the Amalfi coast, you can stop off at Pompeii on the way. Obviously, this depends on arrival time and degree of jet lag. We were offered this option on arrival, but didn’t take the driver up on it. I wish we had, but the wife suffers from jet lag. Note the car was prearranged with the hotel.
Naples is a different place. Lots of crime apparently so the wife didn’t want to explore much.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#22 Post by Dennis Atick » March 18th, 2019, 3:19 pm

Tom G l a s g o w wrote:
March 18th, 2019, 3:06 pm
We stayed in both Positano and Capri ten years ago at the end of September with two days in Capri and two days in Napoli. Two days in Capri was enough but it is nice being on the island in the evening when the crowds leave. We took a day trip to Amalfi via ferry and then a bus up to Ravello. Ravello was a place I’d like to stay next time. The high speed ferry is quick, 30 minutes from Positano to Capri, the hotel handled the luggage. Same with Positano.
If you fly into Napoli and you’re going to stay along the Amalfi coast, you can stop off at Pompeii on the way. Obviously, this depends on arrival time and degree of jet lag. We were offered this option on arrival, but didn’t take the driver up on it. I wish we had, but the wife suffers from jet lag. Note the car was prearranged with the hotel.
Naples is a different place. Lots of crime apparently so the wife didn’t want to explore much.
Thanks Tom, and others for the continued input. We will be taking the train from Rome to Salerno and then ferry to Positano. About nailed down a place in Positano for our base, so that decision is set. Will day trip to Capri and maybe Revello to scout for next time.
Thanks.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#23 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » March 18th, 2019, 3:34 pm

In Positano, La Sponda is a pretty nice restaurant. expensive, at one time considered the most expensive restaurant in Italy. If so Italian restaurant prices are cheap compared to French 3 stars.
Da Gemma in Amalfi was another good place, but not really expensive.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#24 Post by Brent C l a y t o n » March 18th, 2019, 3:49 pm

Dennis,

If you have some free time in Salerno and want to see some local beer, check out BAI.

https://www.facebook.com/bai.salerno/
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Re: Amalfi in March

#25 Post by Ian Sutton » March 18th, 2019, 5:24 pm

Agreed re: avoid having a car. Whilst it is possible, you'll be nearing peak season, where in addition to the hair-raising routes, the coastal road can become a logjam of cars. The Sita buses are excellent (and the sound of their horns will stay with you long after the holiday - as does the sound of the church/chapel bells as one triggers the next and so on, as you trace the sound along the hillside.

As you've decided on Positano, I'll put in a a good word for the bus trip up to Montepertuso (the bus leaves from outside Bar Internazionale where you can buy the tickets). Take the bus up, have a stroll around up there (and maybe eat lunch there), then stroll down the steep but surprisingly short walk to Positano, that gives you the feeling of being perched directly above it. No need for directions as you can see your destination for most of the walk - and if all else fails, navigating downhill will be the right option.

Rather than Ravello, which would be a bus to Amalfi, to connect with the small and often crowded Ravello / Scala buses, I'd choose a day trip to Capri instead, as you're already near the ferries. If you want something else, then Amalfi is worth consideration for an easy day trip, or Herculaneum for a Roman fix on a hot day, or if it's a cooler day, then Pompeii (which can be very tough work on a stinking hot day).
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Re: Amalfi in March

#26 Post by Dennis Atick » March 18th, 2019, 5:43 pm

Brent C l a y t o n wrote:
March 18th, 2019, 3:49 pm
Dennis,

If you have some free time in Salerno and want to see some local beer, check out BAI.

https://www.facebook.com/bai.salerno/
Nice. Not on my radar at all. Thanks.
Ian Sutton wrote:
March 18th, 2019, 5:24 pm
Agreed re: avoid having a car. Whilst it is possible, you'll be nearing peak season, where in addition to the hair-raising routes, the coastal road can become a logjam of cars. The Sita buses are excellent (and the sound of their horns will stay with you long after the holiday - as does the sound of the church/chapel bells as one triggers the next and so on, as you trace the sound along the hillside.

As you've decided on Positano, I'll put in a a good word for the bus trip up to Montepertuso (the bus leaves from outside Bar Internazionale where you can buy the tickets). Take the bus up, have a stroll around up there (and maybe eat lunch there), then stroll down the steep but surprisingly short walk to Positano, that gives you the feeling of being perched directly above it. No need for directions as you can see your destination for most of the walk - and if all else fails, navigating downhill will be the right option.

Rather than Ravello, which would be a bus to Amalfi, to connect with the small and often crowded Ravello / Scala buses, I'd choose a day trip to Capri instead, as you're already near the ferries. If you want something else, then Amalfi is worth consideration for an easy day trip, or Herculaneum for a Roman fix on a hot day, or if it's a cooler day, then Pompeii (which can be very tough work on a stinking hot day).
Great info. Thanks, Ian!
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Re: Amalfi in March

#27 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » March 18th, 2019, 6:58 pm

Yep, getting the bus can be tough. The Italians don’t queue like the Brits. We learned quick. The Capri furnicular can be tough to get on too. Taxi might be a better more expensive option.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#28 Post by Walt Hoehler » March 25th, 2019, 12:19 pm

Well we're back and I want to thank many on this board and share some of my thoughts on the trip.

We started in Rome and stayed three nights in an AirBnB near Campo de Fiori. This was a great decision and I'd recommend anyone going to Rome to choose this area as it is walking distance from almost everything. And boy did we walk a lot.

We hit the Vatican on the first afternoon. I am in awe of the place. St. Peter’s Basilica is enormous and simply remarkable.

On the walk home we loaded up at Campo de Fiori for fresh fruit, eggs, etc. We didn't cook anything beyond some eggs in the morning.

First night we ate at Ditirambo, a recco from this board and it was excellent and well priced. A 2012 Brovia Barbera D’Alba – Sori del Drago was a good start.

Day two took us to see the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, and Piazza Popolo. We took the short hike up to the Terrazza del Pincio where the views of the city are terrific.

Dinner at Le Mani in Pasta (in Trastevere) was just average though a plate of langoustines and rigatoni was a highlight. Wine was utterly forgettable.

Next day we visited the Colosseum and Palatine Hill with a guide. The Ancient Romans were impressive in their ability to engineer and build. A shame the later days of Rome re-cycled much of the materials used in the structures.

Dinner was at La Teverna dei Fori Imperiali. An oven roasted port shank hit the spot as I took a night off from pasta. Solid food and a Taurasi Radici Mastroberardino washed it done nicely.

Day three took us to the Borghese Museum at Villa Borghese. The marble sculptures were out of this world and the frescos amazing. So many beautiful things assembled in one place.

That night we ate at Hostaria Costanza. A terrific Cerreto Dolcetto was the highlight of the meal. I would not recommend this restaurant at all. VERY generic. Underwhelming.

The next day we hit the road to Pompeii. I wasn’t really sure what to expect but found myself amazed by the place. The small and large theaters are not to be missed.

Over the hills we went and checked into Hotel Eden Roc which was a very nice place and good value. Dinner down by the beach was a non-event and could have been from anywhere.

While in the Amalfi area we drove to the town of Amalfi, stopped by the Smeralda Grotto, checked out Ravello and prayed each time we approached a corner. Driving in the off season is pretty nutty. I can’t imagine what it would be like when those twisty roads are congested.

Not to be missed is the ‘Path of the Gods’ trail. Beautiful views down to the water. Really quite stunning. The natural beauty rivals the western national parks of the U.S.

We took a ferry to Capri the next day and I would not do it again. The Blue Grotto was open for the first time of the season and frankly I think it is an easy pass. $16/pp to be rowed into the grotto for 5 minutes. Pretty, yes. Over-priced and touristy, definitely. The town of Anacapri is another easy pass. If I were to try again I would be more inclined to take a boat tour around the island to really appreciate the natural beauty.

The downside of visiting the Amalfi coast in March was that the ferries were not running along the southern coast so hopping from town to town by boat was not an option and I suspect we missed some really amazing scenery based simply on the views to and from Capri from Sorrento. The trade-off was the lack of crowds.

On our way back to the airport we had our final meal at Al Ceppo in Rome. This is an old school restaurant with a generally older clientele but the food was really top notch. Our waiter was terrific and a half bottle of 2015 Ettore Germano Serralunga D’Alba Barolo was a perfect way to end the trip.

Thanks to the many thoughts are recommendations from this board. They definitely helped me to organize.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#29 Post by Dennis Atick » March 25th, 2019, 1:01 pm

Walt,
Thanks for this excellent report! We are doing a very similar trip in June (teens included!), with a bit of Tuscany tucked in between, and your thoughts are quite helpful! We are also Staying in Campo de Fiori, which seemed like a good home base.
Path of the Gods was tentatively on my list, but sounds like we must do. Glad you had a good time! Thanks.
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Re: Amalfi in March

#30 Post by Dave Sankaran » April 11th, 2019, 1:11 pm

Sounds like a good trip. I love Amalfi (my fiance and I met there 7 years ago). IMHO the time to go is May. Enough Ferry service to make it doable. I would never drive on that road. The Ferry was canceled once and we had to take the bus instead and that was enough for me. Hopefully never again in a car/bus. The ferry ride is an event in and of itself for me with the vistas.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#31 Post by brigcampbell » April 12th, 2019, 10:50 am

Dave Sankaran wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 1:11 pm
Sounds like a good trip. I love Amalfi (my fiance and I met there 7 years ago). IMHO the time to go is May. Enough Ferry service to make it doable. I would never drive on that road. The Ferry was canceled once and we had to take the bus instead and that was enough for me. Hopefully never again in a car/bus. The ferry ride is an event in and of itself for me with the vistas.
Quitter! neener

Driving Amalfi is a life experience not to be missed. LOL Add it to the list with the west shore of Lake Garda.

Driving in Naples is insane, probably the only place where I said "never again". At a huge intersection with traffic in gridlock, I saw people driving down the train tracks. Awesome.

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Re: Amalfi in March

#32 Post by Tom G l a s g o w » April 12th, 2019, 10:53 am

brigcampbell wrote:
April 12th, 2019, 10:50 am
Dave Sankaran wrote:
April 11th, 2019, 1:11 pm
Sounds like a good trip. I love Amalfi (my fiance and I met there 7 years ago). IMHO the time to go is May. Enough Ferry service to make it doable. I would never drive on that road. The Ferry was canceled once and we had to take the bus instead and that was enough for me. Hopefully never again in a car/bus. The ferry ride is an event in and of itself for me with the vistas.
Quitter! neener

Driving Amalfi is a life experience not to be missed. LOL Add it to the list with the west shore of Lake Garda.

Driving in Naples is insane, probably the only place where I said "never again". At a huge intersection with traffic in gridlock, I saw people driving down the train tracks. Awesome.
Must’ve been light traffic if no one was driving on the sidewalks.

Bdklein
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Joined: November 10th, 2013, 1:16 pm

Re: Amalfi in March

#33 Post by Bdklein » April 12th, 2019, 11:51 am

I’m not sure which was worse for us (wife and I). Was it the harrowing taxi ride from the Naples ferry port to the airport? Or the bus ride from Amalfi to Ravello when the 2 buses traveling in opposite directions (one was ours) tried to go past each other on a curve?

I wouldn’t want to repeat either one (but I’d sure like to be there once again).
Bruce Klein

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