July 26th, 2015
Category Archives: Amalfi
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!
Standing in the center of town and looking up at the Duomo, or Cathedral of St. Andrew, is an experience you simply have to have in Amalfi. Sure, it can be a bit crowded during the busy season. But, look, did you see that view? Going to Amalfi and not standing in Piazza Duomo is like going to Venice and not seeing Piazza San Marco or somehow missing the Colosseum in Rome. I personally love the people watching in the center of Amalfi, and if I have some extra time I’ll grab a spot on that grand staircase and admire the scene. The next thing you want to do, however, is get lost.
Amalfi is wonderful place to wander and explore. Pack a comfortable pair of walking shoes and start climbing! You could head in any direction from the main Piazza into the maze of stairways and narrow passages and find something unique. I’m going to take you along on a walk I took recently that lead up above Amalfi to a gorgeous panorama overlooking the Duomo from the other side. Come along!
I started at the base of the steps of the Duomo and followed the small side staircase up to the left. Here’s my technique for wandering in Amalfi: If you want to explore, just keep heading up. If you’re worried about getting back to the main Piazza Duomo or shopping street, just head down and you’ll get there. My husband always tells visitors that they’ll end up on CNN breaking news if they actually manage to get lost in Amalfi. And please forget the map. You might miss pretty windows and little moments of daily life if you’re busy trying to follow a map.
Just keep going up and soon you’ll start catching a glimpse overlooking Amalfi. It’s quiet when you get up higher since most tourists don’t know about this side of Amalfi or don’t take the time to get lost. Yes, there are a lot of steps, but there are also stunning views that not only make the climb worthwhile but are also great for stopping and resting.
Now that’s a view of the Cathedral of Amalfi that not everyone sees! Did you recognize it? This was the view I was after on my walk since it had been ages since I had seen the Cathedral from above. I had this view to myself until a few locals huffed and puffed by with their daily shopping. Not a place to live up so high if you tend to be forgetful and have to run to store all the time!
I caught my breath from the climb by stopping to admire the little figs growing and the brilliant green of their tiny leaves. There was no hurry, just me and click of the camera shutter as I fiddled around with settings and took in the view.
Although I was trying to get to an even higher spot in Amalfi, I must have taken a different turn, because soon the steps were going down again.
Along the way I passed the most incredible garden. I peeked over a gate and saw a terrace of earth tilled in rows and little onions growing. But what made it so special was the panoramic view of Amalfi. Not a bad backdrop for a bit of gardening you could say.
I love how nothing is the same in Amalfi. Every doorway, every entrance, every corner is different. It feels old and lovingly personalized at the same time. This curved hand railing with decorative cut out motifs caught my eye. I could imagine running my hand along its smooth surface on the way home.
The ornate bell tower of the Duomo kept popping up in different places, which was so much fun to discover. Sometimes I’d see it perfectly framed through an arched passageway or turn a corner and find just the top of it peeking over another building. I wondered just how many views there might be of the bell tower in Amalfi.
Amalfi can still stop in my tracks so easily. Walking down a staircase with knees just a bit wobbly, I stopped and glanced up. What I saw was the sun sparkling on the sea until Capo di Conca – like it was right there in front of me within reach.
Did you recognize that cross? Scroll back up and look closely at the first photo. At the very top of the facade of the Cathedral there’s a cross. This is the same cross but from behind! I ended up back in the main piazza and took a good look up at the facade of the Cathedral again. I love how a change of perspective changes the way you see.
The next time you’re in Amalfi, I encourage you to spend some time getting lost. Even if you’re not up to many steps, you’ll find some interesting passageways and tiny piazzas to discover. The journey of wandering among the steps of Amalfi to find them is just the beginning of the fun!
Recently I’ve had the chance to go through the first six years of photos that I took on the Amalfi Coast, which are on an external hard drive and no longer conveniently on my laptop just a few clicks away. While it was a quick search through file after file for specific photos I had in mind for an exciting project I’ve been working on, I had to stop a few times when I cam across moments I had forgotten.
Then I found this photo. It was taken from a bus coming around the corner into Amalfi one sunny February day in 2007. It was the first time I saw Amalfi. There it was. It’s the very first photo I took of Amalfi.
A person’s life purpose is nothing more than to rediscover, through the detours of art, or love, or passionate work, those one or two images in the presence of which his heart first opened.
– Albert Camus
And just then my heart cracked open.
Even though the first signs have begun to arrive that tell us that spring is around the corner, a cold north wind blowing down the mountains the last few days has made it feel very much like winter isn’t ready to let go quite yet. I’m ready for warmth and sunshine and spending more time outdoors. The line goes that April is the cruelest month, but I’ve always been sure it was March. At least I’ve always had enough of winter by the time March comes along! But then when I look at this photo I fall in love with the winter light all over again and know I’ll miss it until next year.
Last week the most remarkably normal thing happened. I went for a walk in Amalfi with my husband. Normal because we’ve done that together countless times over the past eight years. Remarkable because it was the first time we’ve done that since last autumn when he got sick. While his recovery process is coming along — albeit slowly — it was a huge boost in spirits to be able to do such a normal thing again. And, of course, Amalfi was stunning.
When the sun shines in February something magical happens. I’ve not yet figured out if it’s just the contrast to rain and clouds or if the blues are somehow more blue. Something is different though. As we walked along the harbor I couldn’t get over just how blue it was.
Everything was blue – the sky, the sea, the railings around the Amalfi cross, the boats. It was as if all I could see was blue.
My favorite walk in Amalfi is along the raised level of the pier that defines the harbor of Amalfi. We had it all to ourselves on this gloriously sunny day last week. It was right about here that the old song “My Blue Heaven” popped into my head.
Okay, so there was a little bit of red, too.
I started to count the blue boats as we headed back the other way. One blue boat. Two blue boats. Three blue boats. Four…
Since our walk in Amalfi was a bit unexpected, I went out without my camera. So to give you an idea just how beautiful of a day it was, these photos were just snapped quickly on an iPhone4. I wished I had brought my camera along with me!
Days like this are a beautiful reminder that spring is coming. Yet the light and colors will be different. Still beautiful, but different. There will be many more walks in the sunshine to come!