September 7th, 2015
Category Archives: Amalfi Coast
I think I have a new favorite beach. But shhh … don’t tell Santa Croce. I’ve always like the little cove at Marina di Praia, located between Conca dei Marini and Praiano. The road clings to the mountainside high above the beach and a small access road that’s pretty easy to miss leads down to a tiny seaside village. The beach really isn’t much wider than the photo above, as you can see the shadow of the rocky cliff on the left. But what it lacks in size it sure makes up for with scenery and things to see and do.
Locals call the beach La Praia or simply Praia, and the pebbly beach is the biggest draw during the day in the summer. But instead of being covered with rows of perfectly lined up umbrellas, the beach is mostly covered with boats of all shapes, sizes and colors. I love that! There are umbrellas and sunbeds for rental though, and if you’re planning to spend a day that’s the way to go as the beach isn’t very comfortable for sun bathing. But back to the boats!
I had my camera with me when I went to the beach at Praia, and just had to spend some time wandering through the boats and capturing their colors and patterns.
The weathered wood and chipped paint reminded me of the first time I visited Marina di Praia back in the early spring of 2008 when the boats were being repainted and the stones on the beach were speckled with drops of green, blue, red and yellow paint.
The boats lined up on the beach and the fishing nets covering the wall nearby are such beautiful reminders of the simple life that was once all there was on the Amalfi Coast. It’s still there in all the villages along the coast, but it’s just a little easier to spot in some places. The nets were just fascinating with their colors and different shapes and sizes.
The local fishermen likely though it was a bit nutty how much time I spent photographing this impressive wall of nets. Although I’m sure it’s a fairly common occurrence!
Nearby the beach a wide wall was covered with fishing nets. I wondered if they were there because they needed patching and where the fishermen had wandered to. Maybe to the nearby cafe for an espresso before tackling the laborious project.
Just when I thought I had seen all the boats, I found this bright red and blue beauty. What do you think, does red and blue work for a Christmas card this year?
There’s another lovely feature at Marina di Praia that makes it one of my favorite beaches. Starting nearby the beach there’s a walkway carved into the rocky cliffs that leads past some houses and to the famous Africana nightclub in Praiano. The beginning of the pathway leads right under the cliff. Best not to think about it too much and enjoy the view!
Following the walkway leads away from the beach and west along the rugged coastline. The sunny beach comes in and out of view with the winding of the pathway.
The pathway leads right through the Il Pirata restaurant, which has one of the most incredible dining areas overlooking the sea that I’ve ever seen. It’s especially magical at night! As you walk by, take a peek inside since it’s quite unusual having been carved out of the mountainside.
Just past Il Pirata you have a great view looking back toward the Marina di Praia beach where you can see how it’s just a small cove in the mountains.
Every single available spot – even the most precarious looking – seems to be taken for swimming or fishing or sunbathing.
When you’re not looking down at the sea and waves crashing into the rocks, take a look east to see the distinctive Capo di Conca jutting out into the water near Conca de Marini.
If I could stay in just one place, it would be this spot along the walkway in the photo below. That’s one of my happy places my mind travels back to again and again.
Just around another corner sits the Africana nightclub carved into the mountain. During the day all is quiet and the light sparkling on the is far more appealing.
Back on the beach, wander not far inland from the beach and you’ll find a pretty little piazza with more boats and a whitewashed church that seems like it would be more at home in Greece than Italy.
I couldn’t get enough of this perfect little church with its white facade, teeny bell and strings of fairy lights above the entrance. I peered and peeked but could only get the tiniest of glimpses inside.
I love a beach with things to see and do as well as beautiful water and good swimming. That’s exactly why I’m smitten with Marina di Praia. It’s a storybook setting and I want to write the stories that flutter about in the back of my mind as I wander along the sea and imagine weddings and village celebrations in that tiny church.
Of course, you don’t have to go far to find some excellent restaurants in Marina di Praia. My favorite is Da Armandino, which is just a few steps from the beach. So whether you’re looking for a special day at the beach, a great lunch spot or a romantic dinner on the Amalfi Coast, you’ll definitely remember your time at Marina di Praia. Make sure you take that walk along the sea … and tell me what stories you imagine taking place in this beautiful little cove on the Amalfi Coast!
If you’re like me and miss the Amalfi Coast all the time when you’re not here, then I’ve got exciting news. The Lega Navale Amalfi webcams are back! They’re not only back, they’re better than before. There are three new HD live streaming webcams located around Amalfi and the images are much clearer than they used to be years ago. There’s even a new webcam, pictured above, that looks down over Amalfi and shows the entire port. Click on any of the images in this post to go to the webcams page where you can watch live. Or click here to see the Lega Navale Amalfi webcams.
After my first visit to Amalfi in 2007, I spent over a year going back and forth as I finished my Masters in Art History in Minnesota. I spent a lot of time missing Amalfi and watching the webcams. It felt like a small connection! With late hours studying at night, I often watched the sun rise over the Amalfi Coast with the webcam (below) pointed toward Salerno. It’s also fun watching the hustle and bustle of Piazza Duomo from morning until late at night.
With the live streaming you can even watch the sunlight sparkle across the sea. That’s the stuff travel dreams are made of! I hope you enjoy catching a glimpse of daily life in Amalfi with these new webcams. A huge thank you to Lega Navale for hosting them!
I’ve received tons of questions after I shared my Amalfi Coast Ferry Services post earlier this year, especially about whether or not there would be a ferry service connecting the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento. While there was a delay earlier this summer on the start of the service, it has officially begun. The company Alicost is running the ferry service connecting Amalfi and Positano to Sorrento. I even got my hands on a printed schedule!
As you can see, ferries will be departing Amalfi for Sorrento at 11:35 and 16:35, with a stop in Positano along the way. Departures from Sorrento to Amalfi are at 10:30 and 14:45. However, I can’t emphasize enough that you need to check the website or directly at the ticket booth at the pier in Amalfi, Positano or Sorrento for the exact times as they can change from what I have shared here. You can find out more about the departure times, stops and prices on the Alicost website.
The Amalfi Coast to Sorrento ferry service doesn’t have a set end date, but it’s fairly safe to plan on it running through August and perhaps the first week or two of September. Again, you’ll need to confirm that with Alicost to be sure. But I know for many travelers this will save hours of bus rides and make arriving, departing and traveling around the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Peninsula much easier!
Along the stone steps between the sleepy villages of Minuta and Pontone in Scala, you’ll find something a little unexpected. Set in a commanding position on a promontory surrounded by terraces of olive and lemon trees sits the ruins of what was once one of the finest churches in the Republic of Amalfi in the Middles Ages. Following the zigzaging steps down, the remaining walls of Sant’ Eustachio keep coming into view, closer and closer, as you approach Pontone. Thanks to a locally run association, you can visit the ruins of Sant’Eustachio, which is beautiful stop on the walk from Scala down to Amalfi.
This remarkable church was constructed in the 12th century during the peak of the powerful maritime Republic of Amalfi. While Pontone is a frazione, or hamlet, of Scala today, in the Middle Ages all of Scala was part of the Duchy of Amalfi. Pontone was home to the prominent D’Afflitto family who constructed this church and dedicated it to a saint important to them, Saint Eustace, an early Christian martyr in the 2nd century AD. When you step into what was once the nave of the church, it’s hard to imagine the original splendor of this church.
A pathway leads around the walls of the church where you can stand below the curves of the three apses. Here there are signs of the elaborate decoration, which has been restored in areas to reveal the original structural polychromy. Staring up at the traces of design and architectural details, it’s easier to see that at its height Sant’Eustachio must have been an absolute jewel.
Although in ruins, it is one of the truest examples of the unique architectural style that existed in Amalfi during the Middle Ages – a blend of styles with touches of Sicilian, Arab and Norman influences to name just a few. From this spot high above Amalfi it seems a stretch to imagine traders hundreds and hundreds of years ago crisscrossing the Mediterranean. Yet they did and returned home to build beautiful churches and grand homes high above Amalfi.
The setting for one of the finest churches on the Amalfi Coast was naturally chosen for its incredible view. The small promontory juts out between the Dragone and Canneto valleys that run down to Amalfi and Atrani. Peeking through the trees you can catch a glimpse of Amalfi down by the sea.
From the tip of the promontory below the ruins the view is breathtaking. Directly below is Pontone, while down the valley to the right is Amalfi and down the valley to the left is Atrani. Look left and you see Ravello sitting high atop its own promontory while to the right is Pogerola, a frazione of Amalfi.
Whether you’re looking at the expansive view or peeking through a window of the ruins to a view across the valley of Ravello, you’ll spend plenty of time just taking it all in.
Don’t miss walking down into the crypt, which was one covered with frescoes and was likely one of the most beautifully decorated areas of the church.
One wall features a painting that is an architectural rendering of what Sant’Eustachio may have looked like originally. It’s helpful for kicking your imagination into full gear before heading back up to the ruins. Just how might the interior have looked originally?
Now there are only a few traces left to help us figure that out. But what remains is incredibly evocative, as is the entire setting.
If you’re planning a hike on the Amalfi Coast, one of my favorite is the walk from Scala through Minuta and Pontone down to Amalfi. If you follow that hike, do plan a stop in Pontone to visit the ruins of Sant’Eustachio.
Planning a trip to Amalfi this summer and looking forward to some beach time soaking up the sun? It’s definitely a must during your stay on the Amalfi Coast. But did you know you had a choice for where to go to the beach in Amalfi? While it’s not very large, there are several beaches you can choose from right in Amalfi. I’ll introduce them to you all and you can pick which one to visit while you’re here. Warning: You might have to visit them all to pick your favorite!
This is Amalfi’s main beach and you’ll spot it easily during the summer months with its rows of brightly colored beach umbrellas and sun beds. The beach is right in front of the center of the town across from Piazza Duomo. Every time the umbrellas change color it means you’re at another stabilimento balneare, or area where you can rent a sun bed, umbrella, usually take a shower and change and often have access to snacks, drinks or full meals. You’ll find many different options for where to settle in for the day along Marina Grande beach.
For a more local (although locals definitely use the sun beds and umbrellas, too) and budget experience, head to opposite ends of the beach where you’ll see people have just thrown down beach towels or set up their own camps with umbrellas. Especially at the far end of the beach in the photo above is the most popular spiaggia libera, or a free beach, in Amalfi.
Insider Tip: Most of the beaches on the Amalfi Coast are rocky and this is definitely the case in Amalfi. Think large pebbles. If you’re just planning a quick trip to the beach or spend most of the time in the water then the spiaggia libera is a great choice for you. If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, I’d highly recommend renting a sunbed since the rocks are not very comfortable.
Lido delle Sirene
If the Marina Grande beach might feel a little too crowded for your taste, then walk along the harbor to the other end of Amalfi where you’ll find the Lido delle Sirene (Mermaid Beach) just beyond the confine of the port. It’s not a long walk, just about 10 minutes leisurely pace. Here you won’t find a spiaggia libera, but you will find an excellent beach service with shower, plenty of changing rooms and a restaurant overlooking the beach. Enjoy sandwiches on the beach or take a break from the sun and enjoy the views from inside the restaurant. Many locals, especially if they live elsewhere and come back to Amalfi for a period in the summer, reserve a sunbed for every day at this beach.
As you walked along the harbor from Marina Grande beach to the Lido delle Sirene, you might have spotted a small beach area covered with towels and surrounded by docked boats. This beach is usually just referred to as the porto, or port, and is a very popular spiaggia libera with locals. It’s especially a top choice for families with young kids since the swimming area is shallow and the sea is calm. Although it can get a bit rowdy with kids playing during the summer!
This little beach is tucked beside the restaurant La Marinella and they offer a small beach area and deck with sunbeds and snacks and drinks in the bar nearby. The water here tends to be remarkable clear and sparkly, which is oh so tempting when you walk by above. It’s another popular spot with families, especially with very young children, since there’s plenty of shade below the deck, the water is calm and the swimming area small. While it might not be the top choice for your holiday beach day, it’s fun to stop and peek down as you’re strolling by. Generations of Amalfitani have taken their first dip in the Mediterranean at this beach.
Bonus … Santa Croce
I know I said this was a guide to the beaches in Amalfi, but just take a look at that photo. Can you blame me for wanting to squeeze in one of my favorite beaches on the Amalfi Coast? This is the Santa Croce beach, which while technically located in Amalfi is only reachable by a short boat ride. (They’re used to be access via steps from the road high above, but those met an unfortunate end one stormy winter a number of years ago…)
There are two options for reaching Santa Croce beach from Amalfi. One is to pay a small fee and take one of the boats that departs from where all the ferries depart in Amalfi. They are smaller boats and have a ramp that can be lowered down in the front, which is how you get off at Santa Croce. You can see one in this blog post from last summer about Santa Croce. As soon as you step off the boat you’ll see why this beach is so very special. The water here is just magical!
The other option is to arrive at Santa Croce by the boat service connected to one of the two restaurants at Santa Croce. My favorite way to reach Santa Croce is to take the small boat run by the Ristorante Da Teresa. When you arrive there’s a small pier that leads to their beach area (with the bright orange umbrellas) surrounding the restaurant. You can rent sun beds and umbrellas and either eat a feast on the beach (they make amazing panini and fried calamari or my favorite – a mix of grilled veggies) or dine at the restaurant. Excellent food! And don’t forget the carafe of local white wine with peaches. We often get that for lunch down on the beach and they’ll give you skewers to spear out the big chunks of peaches. Yep, that’s heaven right there!
With this guide you’re now set to hit the beach in Amalfi. If you have more than one day, I recommend visiting different beaches since they all have their own vibe and experience. Even the water can be remarkably different from one beach to the next. Most of all, enjoy your time al mare in Amalfi!