The thing about the Amalfi Coast is that it’s vertical. Very vertical. But it’s nothing less than dazzling, which is why we were willing to walk thousands of steps (no lie) to explore its beauty. Situated on the southern coast of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula, this area hosts the popular cliffside towns of Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello, brimming with pastel-colored buildings piled one atop another.
Our walking tour with Macs Adventures began with a neck-craning, heart-stopping bus ride from Sorrento to Amalfi. Carved out of the cliffs in some impossible way that I can’t imagine, the road is famously narrow and winding—and often very high up. To watch the birds soaring over the brilliant Mediterranean water you have to look down. On more than a few occasions, we held our breath as our huge tour bus passed another one coming from the opposite direction, leaving not even an inch to spare between side mirrors. Tourists foolish enough to walk along the road had the option of squeezing up against a rock wall or taking the chance on the other side of the pavement, pinned to a guardrail. We had no choice but to walk that road a few times and, believe me, the unhappy endings of both scenarios played out in my head. Vividly.
It’s the same kind of “daymaring” I did while summiting the Pathway of the Gods. We climbed nearly 2,000 feet to reach its apex, which called for white-knuckled rock climbing and some serious sleuthing skills to find the sometimes discernible path. Had I known the skill (and, let’s face it, fitness) levels necessary for that walk, I would have never embarked. I’m glad I was clueless, as the views were incomparable. Plus, I felt proud that we made it out alive!
The other walks, by comparison, were tame. They led us from town to town, through the ruins of paper mills nestled in a forest valley, ancient villages and monasteries, and even a fjord (the Fjord of Furore). Every few days our suitcases were transported to the next town, and, since not all walks included a village where we could stop for supplies, we stuffed our day pack with provisions: bread, cheese, smoked fish, raisins bundled in lemon leaves, and tiny bottles of Prosecco. (Chris is not going to get stuck somewhere without his champagne or sparkling wine.)
Because of all the steps (scala) and constant incline, paved or otherwise, most of the walks were pretty challenging. But the payoff afterward was always a mouthwatering meal of homemade pasta; super-fresh clams, lobster, mussels, and fish; wild boar; zingy cheeses; luscious lemon sauces; and on and on and on.
UNESCO called this area “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and natural scenic values,” and it was awarded a coveted spot on the World Heritage list in 1997. Which is why I will now stop with the writing and start with Chris’s photos, some of which also document our two-day tour of Capri and a visit to Orvieto before heading home.