Last of the October Beach Days

If you’re lucky, summer comes back for a little visit in October. These lingering summer days are extra special at the beach on the Amalfi Coast, because they’ve already been abandoned by the crowds. We’ve had so many warm days this month that it seems strange to have already set the clocks back for daylight savings and that November is just around the corner. How did that even happen?

It’s that time of year to start the annual hunt for the tricky ingredients for the Thanksgiving dinner I’ll be preparing before too long. Every once in awhile the cold north wind has been blowing down from the mountains and I’ve already made the “cambio di stagione” change in our wardrobes from summer to autumn and winter. Yet at the same time the sun has been shining and beckoning us back into summer.

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Catching the boat to Santa Croce beach from Amalfi

Last week we took a trip back to summer and spent the day at Santa Croce beach near Amalfi – always one of my favorite spots. While we were walking along the harbor debating lunch plans, my husband spotted the boat from Ristorante Da Teresa arriving. We glanced at one another only very briefly. “It’s a sign,” I called out, already running down the steps to the pier to jump aboard.

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Ready to go to Santa Croce

The Darsena pier, which you can see above, is where you can catch the boat to Santa Croca. Look for this long, pale pink boat with the sign saying Ristorante Da Teresa.

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On the way!

Climb aboard and in a few minutes you’ll be at Santa Croce beach. The boat service is complimentary for patrons of the restaurant or if you’re renting a sunbed and umbrella.

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Arriving at Ristorante Da Teresa

The only way to reach this rocky beach is by boat. Usually, there’s another restaurant called Santa Croce to the left, but it had already been dismantled for the season when we went last week. The sea can be so rough during winter storms that the entire restaurant structure is pretty much removed for protection. When we got ashore, I spotted two lonely looking orange sunbeds on one side of the beach. They were lonely no more! I’ve been to Santa Croce many times, even at the end of the season, but I’ve never had half of the beach to myself. It was divine.

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Now this is my idea of the beach …

I really needed some time – just me and the sound of the sea. It was completely relaxing soaking up the autumn sun and listing to the waves tumbling little rocks to and fro. It was a bit too chilly for me to swim, but my husband took a dip before lunch.

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Having the sea to yourself

After a bit we went upstairs to the dining terrace for a relaxed lunch overlooking the sea. As always, the meal was excellent.

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Lunch with a soothing view

A crisp, local rosé was the perfect complement to a delicious meal. Naturally, seafood is the best choice here, and we had antipasti of friend anchovies and squid cooked with roasted peppers. Then pasta made with a local fish called gallinella.

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Summer sunshine and an Amalfi Coast rosé

After lunch it was back to the sun for a little while before returning to Amalfi. There were a few boats coming and going, dropping of travelers for lunch at Da Teresa. Otherwise it was total tranquility.

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Hang on summer

I spent some time reading and scrambling around like I always do on the rocks to take photos. Never gets old this beach. Water is such a soothing element for me, and just being near the sea can wash away a world of stress.

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Back home to Amalfi

It always comes too soon, but before long it was time for the last boat back to Amalfi … and to our busy October days. But for just one day I could pretend it was still summer.

 

 

 

Italy Blogging Roundtable

Italy Roundtable
This blog post is part of a series called The Italy Blogging Roundtable. Every month our group of Italy based writers takes on a new theme, and you can read the contributions for this month’s topic – Elements – at the links below. We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. Please share the stores if you’ve enjoyed them!

ArtTravA Gift from the Earth: Potatoes in the Alto Adige

At Home in Tuscany

Bleeding Espresso

Brigolante

Italy ExplainedSecrets of Underground Naples

Girl in FlorenceThe Man Protecting Tuscany’s Sea: Paolo Fanciulli

Italofile

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The Cure for Everything

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“The cure for anything is salt water — sweat, tears, or the sea.” – Isak Dinesen

Have you ever needed to go to the beach? I mean really needed to go to the beach? By the time September arrived last week, that was the point I had reached. Being on the other side of August—this August this year—felt like a minor victory. Life has that way of making everything happen all at once, and sometimes in the mess of that “everything” the balance of challenging things becomes overwhelming. That’s when the beach calls me the most.

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While I’m not one who needs to spend a ton of time swimming, I do need to be near the sea. It refreshes my soul, washing away the tension in my shoulders and replacing it with the rhythmic sound of my breath mixed with the waves crashing against the rocky shore. Yesterday, after over a month of work frustration, my sweet cat Toulouse not being well and a variety of stress from situations outside my control, we made it to the beach. And not just any beach, but the isolated and beautiful Santa Croce beach just west of Amalfi. I felt already easier in my spirit just climbing into the little boat in Amalfi for the short ride to the beach. I was thinking of Dinesen, about salt water being the cure of everything. She was onto something.

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Once there we meandered along the rocky shore to find a pair of sun beds right at the water’s edge. I could sit on the end of the sun bed and dig my feet into the dark sand, feeling the water rush back and forth and watching the sun sparkle across the sea. I have a new idea of heaven and it’s this.

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Of course I grabbed my camera and went off to explore while taking photos, another way that Santa Croce relaxes me. I get lost in the heat of the rocks, the incredible turquoise color of the sea and all the textures and hidden treasures. Had someone put that piece of green sea glass in those holes carved by nature? Or had it just happened to end up there? Was I looking at the hands of children playing a game that was now stopped in time or was this another work of nature creating beauty out of chance?

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I returned to my sun bed and listened to the sea. For the rest of the day, even after returning home, I could close my eyes and see the sun sparkling and hear that sound in my ears. I imagine my mind will be there for some time to come, if given even the slightest chance to wander away from everyday tasks. What a place to wander to though! Santa Croce is tucked away in a rocky cove that used to be accessible by a steep staircase from the Amalfi Coast road high above. Years ago, however, part of that staircase fell into the sea during a winter storm, leaving the beach only accessible now by boat. There are two restaurants that offer sun beds and beach service, Ristorante Da Teresa and Ristorante Santa Croce. Both offer boat service from Amalfi if you’re coming to their beach to rent a sun bed or go to the restaurant. During the summer there’s also a paid boat service from Amalfi for a few Euros each way.

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We always go to Da Teresa, which is the restaurant with the bright orange umbrellas. They have a dining terrace with incredible views and equally incredible food. This is the place to go for seafood – so fresh since it’s just been caught from the sea a few steps beyond the restaurant.

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The day at Santa Croce always goes too fast, but it felt especially so yesterday. Summer this year seemed to slip by so quickly. I know there are plenty of beach days ahead before the season ends, but as I left Santa Croce I looked back and hoped I would indeed be back soon.

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I’m not ready for summer to be over yet. Not the intense heat, not the massive crowds—those have been enough—but that feeling of knowing that the days of relaxed summer fun are ahead. I want to hold on to that just a little bit longer!

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How to Enjoy Summer on the Amalfi Coast

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August has arrived and with it the peak summer season on the Amalfi Coast. The beaches are crowded and colorful, the water is refreshing and the days perfect for heading to the beach. Whether you’re packing your bag for a summer holiday on the Amalfi Coast or simply dreaming of your next getaway, here’s a look at some of my favorite ways to enjoy this splendid time of year on the Amalfi Coast!

 

Grab A Beach Chair

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The beaches of the Amalfi Coast are justifiable famous for their dramatic shores and incredibly blue sea that changes in color from deep cobalt to brilliant turquoise and every shade in between. Yet there’s another thing you should know about the beaches before you arrive ready to relax – they are rocky. It’s better to come prepared, which definitely means packing a pair of flip flops (preferably a pair you don’t particularly love) or beach shoes. A lot of people wear them just to the edge of the water to protect their feet from the hot hot hot hot stones that are for some people (even locals!) uncomfortable to walk on.

So with all those rocky beaches, just throwing a towel down isn’t always very comfortable. The way around that is to rent a sunbed and umbrella for the day. It’s very much worth it! The local beaches all are well equipped to ensure a comfortable day at the beach. The other advantage of renting a sunbed from a stabilimento balneare is that it generally means you can take a shower and take advantage of the changing cabins as well. They area also usually attached to restaurants or have a beach bar where you can get sandwiches and drinks. Very handy!

Not sure where to go? Check out my guides to the Beaches of Amalfi and Beaches of Positano for some ideas!

 

Bring a Good Book

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Got a sunbed? Got an umbrella? Perfect! Now all that you need is a good book and you’re set. Why not make it a book set on the Amalfi Coast or nearby to really immerse yourself in the area? I made a list awhile back of great Summer Reads for Amalfi Coast Lovers. You can dip into that list for inspiration, but it does need a bit of updating. For instance, I just finished reading Only in Naples: Lessons in Food and Famiglia from my Italian Mother-in-Law by Katherine Wilson. And I didn’t want to put it down even to take a swim in the sea just steps away! Put it on your summer reading list if you love the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Campania, Italy … or all of the above. You won’t regret it!

 

Get Out on the Water

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(Image courtesy Exclusive Cruises)

A day (or two or three or four …) spent relaxing by the sea is a must while visiting the Amalfi Coast during the summer. Yet if you’re here this time of year there’s another way to enjoy the beauty of the Amalfi Coast – from the sea. One of the best ways to get around is to take the ferry on the Amalfi Coast, since you get to see the epic coastline and avoid all the traffic and crowded buses. However, if you have the time and love the sea, there’s no better way to see the Amalfi Coast than by getting out on a private boat.

With a small boat you can cruise along very close to the rocky cliffs, discover little coves and beaches only accessible by boat, go into stunning caves and grottoes and swim in the most incredible spots like around the Li Galli islands. All at your own pace! If this sounds like heaven, you’ll want to drop my friend Valeria at Exclusive Cruises a line. They know all the best spots and can help you plan an incredible day out on the sea on the Amalfi Coast or anywhere in the area!

 

Dining By the Sea

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If your normal idea of going out to eat means getting in your car and driving to a restaurant, then there’s something fun you can do on the Amalfi Coast. There are a lot of amazing restaurants near Amalfi, Positano, Conca dei Marini and other towns that are only reachable by boat (or sometimes a ton of steps). This is a fun way to get out on the water and dine right on the beach overlooking the sea. Most restaurants have complementary boat service from the largest town nearby. You might like to try Da Adolfo in Positano or Santa Croce in Amalfi – two of my favorites!

 

Don’t Miss White Wine with Peaches

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Perhaps you’re thinking that you can put peaches in your white wine at home, and that’s certainly true. But what you can’t quite capture is that delicious combination of Amalfi Coast Falanghina wine with ripe peaches mixed with the salty breeze from the beach and sound of waves tumbling onto a rocky shore. Heck I can’t even recreate it in my own home here! While you can find this heavenly concoction at many beachside restaurants, my favorite is at Ristorante Da Teresa at the Santa Croce beach just west of Amalfi.

 

Evenings Are Magic

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After the summer day tripping crowds reluctantly leave, something magical happens. I love the Amalfi Coast any time of the day, but during the summer when the days are long and hot there’s nothing quite like heading out in the evening. Sunset is particularly gorgeous from Praiano and Positano, but in Amalfi the evening hours are very special, too. The town turns pink, families bring their kids out to play along the the waterfront and the sea becomes an Impressionist painting of shimmering colors. Most of all, compared to the hustle and bustle of the day, there’s a peace that settles over the villages. These are the long, languid days of summer that we never want to end!

 

What do you do to enjoy the best of summer on the Amalfi Coast?

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A Guide to the Beaches of Amalfi

Amalfi Coast Beaches Swimming at the Marina Grande Beach in 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!

 

Marina Grande

Amalfi Coast Beaches Colourful Sun Umbrellas at the Marina Grande Beach in Amalfi - Horizontal

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

Amalfi Coast Beaches Lido delle Sirene Beach in Amalfi - Near the Hotel Aurora

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.

 

Porto

Amalfi Coast Best Beaches Harbor

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!

 

La Marinella

Amalfi Coast Beaches La Marinella

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

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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!

Beautiful Sea at Santa Croce Beach Near Amalfi

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!

White Wine with Peaches overlooking Santa Croce Beach Near Amalfi

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!