Ciao AmalfiWriting, photography & tales from daily life on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, through the eyes of Laura Thayer, an American writer, blogger, photographer and art historian. Currently co-writing a novel with my mother, Sandra Thayer, set on the Amalfi Coast.
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Category Archives: Cetara
The first sunny weekend on the Amalfi Coast and everyone … and I mean everyone … hits the road for a drive. When there’s only one road, that can be problematic. But with the Amalfi Coast road, it’s always best to pack a little extra patience … and your camera! Fortunately, there are the views and the sheer magnitude of this road carved out of the mountainside to keep one company. The colors in the springtime are a nice touch, too!
A couple of weeks ago we had a Sunday lunch invitation with family in Salerno, so we hit the road along with everyone else. The scooters and motorcycles were out in droves. After the rainy spring, I can’t blame them for wanting to enjoy a ride on a sunny Sunday. What a view!
Spring was in full bloom and the scent of wisteria and lemon blossoms filled the car with all the windows open. What a heavenly scent … I wished I could just roll up the windows and keep it inside. Looking at the photos brings back the memories of that warm, spicy scent and the sunshine on my arms.
After passing Capo d’Orso, the Cape of the Bear named after a bear-shaped rock, the road climbs higher and twists and turns as it winds in and out of ravines in the mountains. Before long there’s a quick glimpse of the harbor at Cetara, which is an absolutely charming little fishing village.
The road curves through Cetara just above the level of the rooftops of many of the houses and about eye level with the colorful majolica tiled dome of the church. If you’re driving along the Amalfi Coast road and have time, do stop off in Cetara and explore the village, enjoy lunch and the pretty beach.
One of the most captivating parts of the drive is just barely catching a glimpse of an incredible panorama and then a moment later it’s lost between the trees or around another curve. It’s one massive temptation … curve after curve!
It took me quite a few attempts to get a clear shot of Vietri sul Mare, above, with its beach area called Marina di Vietri. The beach wasn’t packed like it is in the summers, but it was definitely a popular spot on this sunny Sunday. Around a few more curves and I tried to catch a clear shot of of Vietri sul Mare with the dome and bell tower of the Church of San Giovanni Battista. There it is … can you see it?
The Amalfi Coast road never fails to impress me, with it’s intense beauty, crazy curves and views that make you want to drive it again and again. If you’re lucky enough to be the passenger … bring your camera!
With San Valentino just around the corner, romance is definitely in the air. The Amalfi Coast is one of the top travel destinations for romance in Italy – popular for engagements, destination weddings, honeymoons and special anniversary celebrations. As a romantic at heart, I would love to share some of the places on the Amalfi Coast that would make a magical backdrop for a wedding proposal. Valentine’s Day is the perfect time for some romantic travel inspiration, so here are some of my favorite romantic spots on the Amalfi Coast.
Terrace of Infinity at the Villa Cimbrone – Ravello
Along with Amalfi and Positano, the mountain top town of Ravello is one of the most popular choices for weddings, honeymoons and romantic trips on the Amalfi Coast. All I have to say is, “Why not?” It’s a pretty town free from traffic in the historic center with lovely gardens to explore and gorgeous views of the coastline and Bay of Salerno from high above. Ravello’s Palazzo Sasso made was ranked number 2 on Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List 2011 for in the best hotels in Italy. And you know that’s some stiff competition! It’s just one of the many romantic spots to stay in Ravello.
Even if you don’t stay in Ravello, the town has many perfect spots for a proposal. The Villa Rufolo right off the town’s main piazza is a beautiful historic villa with a gorgeous cloister (for architecture lovers) and pretty gardens. My favorite romantic spot in Ravello, however, is the Terrace of Infinity in the Villa Cimbrone. Lined with marble busts, this terrace has views overlooking the bay, where the sky and the sea seem to blend together stretching out to infinity in shades of blue.
Sunset on the beach – Positano
Let me begin by saying that just about any spot in Positano has a romantic allure. Walking along the tiny streets, under the wisteria in the springtime, overlooking the cascade of colors from high above, sitting under the beach umbrellas on the quieter Fornillo beach, or at one of many restaurants near the beach. For me, the sweetest moment is sitting on the beach and watching the sun set over the Li Galli islands in the distant. Pure romance!
Climbing the steps of the Duomo – Amalfi
Some many say it’s too cliché or expected, but I’d have to put the steps of the Duomo of Amalfi as one of the most romantic spots on the Amalfi Coast. Maybe it’s just that I’m an architecture nut. (Make that a romantic architecture nut, just to be clear.) Climb halfway up the steps, and instead of posing for a photo surprise your partner by popping the question. If the piazza and steps are crowded, I bet you’ll get an applause if the answer is yes!
Santa Croce Beach – Amalfi
If you’re the quieter type, then I have just the place for you. Take the boat from Amalfi to a little beach called Santa Croce just west of town. It’s secluded, romantic and one of the most beautiful spots for a swim on the Amalfi Coast. Look, even the rocks are all about love!
Sentieri degli Dei – Positano
If you love being outdoors and hiking, the Amalfi Coast offers some irresistibly romantic views when you climb high up in the mountains. This is great choice if your partner loves a secluded spot and nature. One of the most breathtaking hikes is along the Sentieri degli Dei (Pathway of the Gods) high above Positano. Just be prepared for a lot of steps!
Rent a boat for the day – Amalfi Coast
Seeing the Amalfi Coast from the sea is a beautiful experience, and best enjoyed from a small boat. Spend a leisurely day exploring the rugged coastline and stopping for swims in small coves where the blue of the water pulls you in. Daily boat rentals are available in Amalfi, Positano and other towns along the Amalfi Coast.
Torre dello Ziro – Scala
For beautiful views of Amalfi and the coastline at an easier pace, hike up to the 15th-century watchtower Torre dello Ziro high above Amalfi. The walk begins in Pontone, a hamlet of the quiet mountain town of Scala, and leads up to the tower where you’ll enjoy views across the valley to Ravello and down to Atrani and Amalfi on the sea below.
Romantic night lights on the beach – Atrani
The little village of Atrani just a short walk east of Amalfi is one of my favorite spots for a romantic summer evening on the Amalfi Coast. Enjoy the lights of the town reflecting across the water while dining outdoors at the Ristorante Le Arcate. The town’s central piazza is a pretty spot for enjoying a drink before or after dinner, and the black sand beach is lovely and often less crowded than Amalfi in the summer.
Out to the lighthouse – Amalfi
One of the most relaxing ways to spend an evening is enjoying the traditional passeggiata in Amalfi along the harbor to the end of the port. All the way out at the end of the pier you’ll find a panoramic view looking across the harbor to Amalfi. The view is wonderfully romantic at night, and I’ve always thought it would make a lovely spot to propose. I bet the lighthouse has seen many in its day!
An enchanted bay – Nerano
Looking for a secluded spot away from some of the summer crowds in Positano? The little town of Nerano is the last one before the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula, and its seaside hamlet Marina del Cantone is a pretty spot for a romantic getaway overlooking a gorgeous bay. Excellent restaurants, beautiful hikes and a long beach make this a great location if you’re looking for an enchanting setting to propose on the Amalfi Coast.
Romance with the Sunset – Praiano
The colors of sunset stretching across the sea as the sun drops behind the dark outline of the Lattari Mountains on the Sorrento Peninsula. How’s that for romance? One of the best spots to enjoy sunsets along the Amalfi Coast is from the town of Praiano just east of Positano. In the distance you’ll even spot the island of Capri with its distinctive Faraglioni rocks. Now you know where to find the views … you bring the romance!
Romance exists, of course, wherever you take it. Wishing you a romantic trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast!
June has arrived … and it’s summer on the Amalfi Coast! If you’re planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast this summer, here is a list of some of the best religious festivals from June to August. Even if you’re not Roman Catholic, timing your holiday on the Amalfi Coast to coincide with a religious festival offers you the chance to experience the excitement, the religious traditions and celebrations that take place each year in the small towns of the Amalfi Coast. Or, if you’re looking for a quiet escape, you’ll want to avoid these holidays as they attract large crowds, create parking nightmares and a lot of noise. (Think booming fireworks at 7am.) But, if you’re like me, you’ll love a good festa and the chance to experience something truly Italian!
June 13th – Festival of Sant’Antonio, Amalfi
The beginning of the summer season of religious festivals on the Amalfi Coast starts with the Festival of Sant’Antonio (St. Anthony) in Amalfi. This festival has one of the most elaborate religious processions that I’ve seen on the Amalfi Coast. The procession of the statue of Sant’ Antonio (above) begins from the church near the Hotel Luna in Amalfi and follows the road through the tunnel to Atrani. The procession then makes its way through Atrani and down to the beach where the statue, religious procession AND the marching band are all loaded onto boats and continue for a boat procession from Atrani to Conca dei Marini to salute the church of Sant’ Antonio there before returning to Amalfi to continue the procession on land through Amalfi and back to the church. At night there is a large fireworks display over the harbor of Amalfi.
June 24th – Festival of San Giovanni Battista, Pontone in Scala
The hamlet of Pontone in Scala celebrates their patron saint San Giovanni Battista (St. John the Baptist) on June 24th. This is a wonderful chance to visit this pretty village set in the mountains between Amalfi and Scala. While the procession is small in scale compared to some of the other religious festivals in June, the pretty piazza at the center of the village is always decked out with lights and decorations.
June 27th – Festival of Sant’ Andrea, Amalfi
For me, the top religious festival of the summer is the Festival for Sant’ Andrea (St. Andrew), the patron saint and protector of Amalfi. The celebrations that take place on June 27th are in honor of a miracle that happened on June 27th, 1544 when Sant’ Andrea saved the town from an attack from pirates by stirring up a wild sea storm. (If you’re visiting the Amalfi Coast off season, plan to come for the winter festival for Sant’ Andrea on November 30th.) The religious procession is solemn and beautiful. A large silver bust statue of Sant’ Andrea is carried down the steps of the Duomo of Amalfi, on a procession through the streets of town and down to the Marina Grande beach where a blessing is said to the harbor and boats (that blow their horns to celebrate!). The finale is worth waiting for … when the statue of Sant’ Andrea is run up the grand staircase of the Duomo! The fireworks display after dark is one of the largest of the summer.
June 29th – Festival of San Pietro, Cetara
Just a few days after Sant’ Andrea in Amalfi, the Festival of San Pietro (St. Peter) takes place in Cetara. I experienced this big religious festival for the first time in 2010, and will be going back again each year. The procession of the statue of San Pietro standing on a boat decorated with flowers is carried through town on a long procession. With the strong fishing tradition in Cetara, I felt that this procession was still very deeply connected to the people of Cetara. When the procession reaches the beach, it is particularly beautiful against the lights of town and the medieval watchtower.
July 13th – Festival of Santa Trofimena, Minori
On July 13th, the town of Minori celebrates their patron saint Santa Trofimena during this summer festival. While I’ve experienced the winter celebrations for Santa Trofimena, I’ve not yet been to the summer celebrations. The church of Santa Trofimena in Minori is beautiful, and I’ve heard the procession is very moving. I hope to attend this summer!
July 22nd – Festival of Santa Maria Maddalena, Atrani
Right at the peak of lovely summer weather, the Festival of Santa Maria Maddalena (St. Mary Magdalene) in Atrani is a beautiful religious festival on the Amalfi Coast. The procession begins in the Collegiata dedicated to Santa Maria Maddalena, and continues through town and to the beach. After dark you’re in for a treat … a fireworks display from the sea that is fabulous from the beach!
July 27th – Festival of San Pantaleone, Ravello
At the end of July, the town of Ravello takes their turn at celebrating in honor of their patron San Pantaleone (St. Pantaleon). The Piazza Duomo is filled to the brim, and the religious procession follows the narrow streets through town. After dark, a fireworks display is set off on the mountainside below the Piazza Duomo. For a wonderful view, head over to Scala and watch the fireworks with a view overlooking Ravello.
August 1st – Sant’ Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori , Scala
The town of Scala is decorated with colorful lights by the first of August to celebrate Sant’ Alfonso de’ Liguori. Born near Naples in 1696, St. Alphonsus was very closely connected to the town of Scala, where he founded the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. While a religious celebration takes place on August 1st, the decorations are also part of Scala’s celebration for their patron saint on August 10th.
August 10th – Festival for San Lorenzo, Scala
The biggest festival of the year in Scala takes place on August 10th in honor of San Lorenzo (St. Lawrence). The celebrations include a religious procession through town and a fireworks display after dark. This is an excellent opportunity to visit the beautiful Church of San Lorenzo in Scala when it is lit up and decorated for the festivities.
August 15th – Ferragosto, Positano and Maiori
Ferragosto is a holiday throughout Italy in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. You’ll find beach parties and events taking place in most on the towns of the Amalfi Coast on August 15th. The celebrations are more elaborate and fun in Positano and Maiori, where the most important churches in both towns are dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, or the Assumption of the Virgin. Positano’s celebrations take place starting on August 14th, and are especially vivid as the history of the arrival of the town’s famous icon of the Black Madonna is recreated. The fireworks displays in Positano and Maiori on August 15th are wonderful from the sea, and there are boat tours from Amalfi that will take you to see both of them.
This is just a taste of some of the biggest summer religious festivals on the Amalfi Coast. There are many more! There are also many sagre (food festivals) and other summer festivals, but I’ll include those in another post. If you’ve experienced a summer religious festival that I’ve left out, please do leave a comment and I’ll add it to a list. Let the summer festivities begin!
As much as I love being out on a boat and watching the sun set along the Amalfi Coast, one of the most beautiful times to see the Amalfi Coast from the sea is early in the morning. The sun is bright and strong this time of year, but the cool evening breezes have blown away the humidity in the air. Everything seems just a bit clearer and brighter this time of year. Last week I took the boat from Salerno to Amalfi on one of those picture perfect days. Want to come along? Sure thing! I’ll be your guide and point out a few things along the way. Just make sure you bring a light jacket or sweater since the morning sea breeze can be a bit nippy. I’ll meet you at Salerno’s Porto Turistico, located in the center of teh city along the palm tree lined waterfront. In the mornings you see a mix of fishermen, locals on their way to work, and tourists heading off to Amalfi and Positano.
We’ll buy our tickets at those white tents with the pointy tops over on the left. There’s even a little bar down there if you missed your morning caffè or cappuccino and cornetto. Pretty soon we’ll board and leave the port of Salerno behind. It’s hard to look back, however, since the view ahead is so gorgeous! The first town we’ll see is Vietri sul Mare, the Amalfi Coast’s famous town of ceramics. This is where I stayed the first time I visited the Amalfi Coast with my Mom. See that big white building on the right clinging to the cliffs with the elevator down to the beach? That’s the Hotel Lloyd’s Baia where we stayed.
Next up is the fishing village of Cetara, with one of the most picturesque beaches on the Amalfi Coast. If you are looking for an authentic view of life on the Amalfi Coast, I highly recommend stopping and spending some time in this charming seaside village.
Just around the corner from Cetara is an even smaller village called Erchie. What’s that you say? You’ve never heard of Erchie on the Amalfi Coast before? That doesn’t surprise me since I know many people who have lived here their entire lives and haven’t been to Erchie. If you’re looking for a quiet spot with a beautiful beach, definitely consider giving Erchie a visit.
Coming around the cape after Erchie everyone heads to the front of the boat to take in this view. I see Ravello. Do you?
There it is! This rocky ledge is the tip of the Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, offering hands down some of the most spectacular views of the Amalfi Coast. That white villa just under the edge is known as the Villa Rondinaia, or the Swallow’s Nest, and it belonged to Gore Vidal until a number of years ago. No, I couldn’t imagine living there!
Looking to the left you can see how beautiful Atrani is in the morning sun. Do you see the way the bright colors of the buildings are reflected in the water? And just to tease you all, you can see my house from here, but I’m not going to tell you where!
Just around the corner from Atrani, we find beautiful Amalfi waiting for us. The beach umbrellas are starting to appear for another sunny day, or from Amalfi you can hop on a boat to Capri, Sorrento or Naples.
But I wouldn’t blame you if you stayed right here in Amalfi for the day! Buon divertimento! Have fun!
The charming and quiet fishing village of Cetara is often missed by visitors to the Amalfi Coast. Group tours tend to focus on the major cities of Amalfi and Ravello, due in large part to parking issues, and then zip along the coast making stops at the overlook above Positano and the Grotta dello Smeraldo. But there is so much more to discover! Last week I was reminded of Cetara when Valerie from 2 Baci in a Pinon Tree asked for some recommendations for their day trip to Amalfi. If you are planning a drive along the Amalfi Coast, and you are interested in seeing some of the quieter and less touristy cities, I would highly recommend a stop in Cetara.
Cetara is the first city on the coast after Vietri sul Mare, and it is easy to drive right past it since it sits well below the Amalfi Coast road. Take the exit off the road and drive all the way down to the harbor where there is parking. Once you arrive at the beautiful beach, it might surprise you to learn that Cetara has been an important fishing harbor since Roman times and continues to be the most important on the Amalfi Coast. Located off the coast are Cetara’s tonnare, or tuna processing facilities, where tuna caught out at sea are placed in underwater cages before being killed and processed. The city produces some of the most incredible tuna, which is preserved in olive oil in glass jars. You can buy it in most cities along the Amalfi Coast, and it will completely change your opinion of canned tuna. Divine! Pick up some of the tuna on your visit to Cetara and make pasta with tuna when you get home. It is a simple dish, and certainly one of my favorites. In July the city celebrates their successful local industry during the Sagra del Tonno (Tuna Festival), with good food, music and other events. This year I won’t miss it!
The Parish Church of San Pietro, with its bright majolica dome, is another highlight of the city. I have yet to see the inside of the church, but you can see photos of the beautiful, late Baroque interior and other views of the church on its website. (How great is it that churches, even smaller ones like San Pietro, now have websites?)
Even if the church is closed when you visit Cetara, you will find an impressive set of contemporary bronze doors on San Pietro. The work of Don Battista Marello, they depict the Apostles Pietro and Andrea surrounded by the sea and entwined in a fishing net supported by Christ at the top of the doors.
There are some great restaurants in the area, but I would recommend Il Ristorante Pizzeria Al Convento, located in the Piazza San Francesco in Cetara. Stop by and let the owner Pasquale introduce you to some of the local fish specialities. (They do cooking classes, too!)
Have you been to Cetara?
Will you stop by on your next visit to the Amalfi Coast?