Naples is the perfect stopping off point for exploring the Amalfi Coast and as we docked on our Celebrity Cruise, we were excited to be heading to Amalfi and Pompeii. We were ready in the theatre at 7:15 AM ready to disembark, and although it was a bit overcast and hazy, we were ready to go.
We hopped on the bus which took us to Salerno, a large and bustling port city, south-east of Naples on the coast. We headed to the harbour and there boarded a small boat that would take us on a leisurely tour along the coast to the picturesque town of Amalfi.
By taking a small boat we were able to move slowly, close to the coast and appreciate the beautiful, terraced lemon groves, the buildings dotting the hills and the colourful buildings built into the rocks along the shoreline.
The usual way of getting to these small villages along the coast is by road, many tourists coming in on buses for the day. They don’t realise that they miss the extraordinary view you get coming in from the water.
The towns of Positano, Sorrento, Amalfi and the Isle of Capri are the most popular of the tourist spots along the coast, just look at the millions of photos out there, and you will see why. With cruise ships regular visitors here, there are always tours going to all of these locations, so if you don’t want to get caught up in the tourist throng, visit earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon.
The 50km Amalfi Coast, with rugged shorelines, steep cliffs and gorgeous little beaches, is a beautiful place to explore and Amalfi showcases all of this wonder.
When we reached Amalfi, our boat pulled in at the old stone dock, we disembarked and decided to explore the Town Square first, to get our bearings. As we had arrived early, the main tourist buses had not yet reached the town and we were able to explore in relative peace and quiet.
Our first stop was breakfast – Pasticceria Andrea Pansa – the best place in town to devour the most delicious of the town’s specialties, the Lemon Cake. We sat outside at one of the small tables, complete with white table cloth, napkins and freshly picked flowers. Our Lemon Cake was as promised, deliciously light and lemony. A fluffy sponge with lemon custard inside and covered completely in meringue. Paired with an espresso and cannoli, it was the perfect start to our morning.
We explored the town, up and down little streets, checking out the fishmongers and the fruit and vegetable shop, mingling with the locals who were out and about before the tourists arrived. There were tubs of sardines on the street, large bunches of dried chillies “Viagra”, and boxes of lemons and oranges lining the steps.
We found a couple of beautiful fountains, with hundreds of little figurines positioned both in and out of the water, and bought some small ceramic pots decorated in olives as a keepsake. We then headed back to explore the cathedral which wasn’t open when we arrived.
Amalfi is known for it's lemons and oranges!
By the time we returned to the main square to check out the Cathedral of St Andrew, it was busier, with more people out and about. The huge, imposing chapel was beautiful as was the large terrace that ran around it. We then headed back through the small shops surrounding the shoreline, to the dock where we boarded our boat back to Salerno.
After docking back in Salerno, we headed up the hill to Castello di Arechi - Arechi Castle, a medieval castle, 300 metres above sea level overlooking Salerno.
After a short walk from the carpark, through the forest, the castle came into view and it was time to explore. There are walkways taking you around the castle and showing off the best views, you can wander through the museum and if you’re lucky enough to get lunch, the view from the dining room is the best.
Lunch started with red wine of course, then Cannelloni, a simple salad and, pistachio ricotta cheesecake… and of course more red wine!!
The views from Castello di Arechi of Salerno are beautiful!
After lunch we boarded the bus and headed to Pompeii - which blew our minds!!