Amalfi Coast – To visit or not to visit?!?
I contemplated writing about Amalfi Coast because…(wait for it). But I figured you all had the right to know how I feel about this area. I’ve been to Amalfi Coast twice, yes twice in between 5 months and I stayed for three nights each visit. The first time was during December and surprisingly it was cold at night and nearing hot (my kind of hot) during the day. The second time was during April and the weather was beautiful (and freaking ‘hot’ at times). SO, here’s what you’ve been waiting for…it is a pain in the ass to get to! The best thing to do is rent or hire a car and ride along the coast to enjoy the beautiful sea views and mountainous scapes. Once you pass Salerno (depending on the route) to get to the coast, the road narrows and you are literally riding high. The first time there with my brother, we hired a car for about €120 from Naples airport and it took about an hour to get to Atrani where the Air BnB was. Atrani is around the corner from Amalfi (not exaggerating…it’s literally around the corner). On the way back, we decided to hang out in Salerno before getting to the airport so we took the SITA bus which was like €2 one way. Then we caught another bus from Salerno to Naples for about €3.
The second time around with my sister, we took the bus from the airport straight through to Amalfi. It took about 1.5 hours. Our return flight was on a Sunday and on Sundays the buses run (if they feel like it) a few times with one that left at 6am. We grabbed the bus to Salerno and then caught the local train to Naples station. And from the train station, we walk about 10 minutes or so to catch another bus to the airport. Yes, three modes of transportation to get to the freakin’ airport! I guess we could of just hired a car, but hey we rather eat our money away then spend it on expensive transport. Anyway, note to self — do not book a return on Sundays because they take their day of rest seriously hahaha.
Now that I’ve gotten the hard part out of the way, let me fill you in on the Amalfi Coast. The locals are so friendly and welcoming, no matter where you go — whether you’re walking by a shop or through the towns. They beyond a doubt cater to tourists and the restaurant and retail prices speak to that. The views are amazing, especially with the sun beaming on your soul. The entire atmosphere just puts you at peace and causes you to think about the wonders of life. The architecture is beautiful all around and where the homes are located, it’s like they are intertwined with the mountains. It feels like you are in a maze that goes up and up and up into the skies. It was a bonus to get glutes work in hahaha. There’s this square in the center of town with a fountain (fountains) and steps that lead up to Duomo di Sant’Andrea. You can’t miss it because it’s the tourist hangout for great Insta selfies on these steps. Limoncello shops and restaurants line the main streets, as well as boutiques and cafes.
The second time around, my sister and I stayed in Amalfi and not too far from the center which was like a 3-minute walk hahaha. From there we visited Positano by ferry and it took about 20 minutes. Positano is a beautiful little town full of local shops and the beach was packed full of people as it was the beginning of the tourist season. We walked around to explore and ended the trip at this bar where I had my first Old Fashioned cocktail. And I’m still having them! The next day we ventured off to Ravello by SITA bus which is further up and to the left from Amalfi. I just remembered the bus going up and up and up until we reached Ravello. It’s a cute village with lovely shops from clothes to wines and restaurants (recurring theme across these Amalfi Coast towns). There’s a huge town square in what looks like the middle of Ravello that’s surrounded by restaurants and a lovely church facing a spectacular view of beautiful houses surrounded by hills of greenery. From Ravello we decided to find our way to Minori and then Maiori, since they were side by side. To get to the bus stop that would take us to Minori we had to walk down and down and down around homes using paths lined with steps. The view from up high was amazing as we stopped a few times to take it in and get those selfies in of course. We finally caught the bus to Minori and then walked over to Maiori which took about 10 minutes. Both were very small towns along the coast lined with tourists. I was told by a driver that these towns were the best for reasonably priced seafood. We didn’t have a chance to test that theory as we just ate in Ravello.
When you do make it to the Amalfi Coast, make sure you visit as many of the towns you can because it’s so worth the effort and they are so easy to get to either by bus, car or ferry. And at every port, the locals are very friendly and welcoming. Most of the restaurants are tourist traps, so be weary so you do not spend excessive amounts of money for not-so-great food. You can grab some gelato for dessert or pastries with a coffee from pretty much any cafe around because they all make it with love. I tried a few ones more than once — Il Pianeta del Gelato, Bar Pasticceria Leone, Pasticceria Andrea Pansa, and Baffone Gelateria Artigianale — and they did not disappoint. Lastly, just remember these two greetings because you’ll hear it from nearly every local you pass by — Buongiorno and Buonasera — and you’ll fit in just fine hahaha. Now let’s get down to business…
Ristorante Savo: This was the first restaurant we went to in Atrani. It’s a cozy family owned business that has a limited menu of mainly seafood. For the first course we had Macaroni “Ciociaria” with bacon, egg yolk, milk cream, parmesan sprinkled with black pepper; and Linguine with anchovies. My second course was the ‘catch of the day’ which was sea bass grilled with mint and olive oil and side of potatoes. When it came out, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed. A – because I was hangry as F and B – because this was the smallest piece of whole fish I’ve seen. I’m so used to big ass fish being from Texas, shit big ass everything hahaha. Well when I took my first bite, my food brain was put at ease because it was flavorful (cooked in herbs and butter) and fresh at least. Bro had tiny ass seabass with Sfusato (Amalfi lemons), fennel, and potato ‘coins’. The atmosphere was nice and the staff were very attentive. Now the downside depending on what you order…the cost, although it was less than restaurants in Amalfi centre. You will be paying “tourist prices” for decent food — just decent food.
Fior di Pizza: We were over trying to find a restaurant that wasn’t a tourist trap, so we found our way to Fior di Pizza. It’s right off the main road between Atrani and Amalfi. You walk into a welcoming vibe with two men greeting you and a hopping brick oven making love to pizzas. We just ordered a prosciutto pizza that happily came loaded and a margherita pizza. The price is cheap (between €4 and €6) and the pizzas were pretty tasty, not the best, but tasty. It’s definitely worth a break from the pricey tourist traps.
C.I.C.A: You can’t miss this place off the busy main street via Pietro Capuano! There’s usually a line and a bunches of people gathered around eating fried seafood and drinking. So get in line! Once you make your way to the front, you’ll see trays with an array of fried seafood such as calamari, anchovies, whitefish, fish cakes, shrimp, hushpuppies, sardines, and cuts of fish (I have no clue what kind of fish) served in a paper cone. Order quickly because you will get skipped, as I was twice. Prices range from €2.50 to €10. They serve drinks too, including beers. I had a cuoppo of shrimp, calamari, hushpuppies, and whitefish. The seafood was fresh tasting, lightly battered, and not greasy. Give it a try or three!
Pizza Express Amalfi: Okay so we passed by here a few times before deciding to try it out. It’s easy to pass by the same places several times in case you haven’t figured that out by now. Anyway, this spot is a cosy takeaway hole-in-the-wall with simple pizzas folded or flat (snack size or larger), either pepperoni, cheese, spinach and cheese or other easy made-to-order options. They also have roast chickens, roast potatoes, sandwiches, calzones, arancini (rice balls), and potato croquettes. This surprisingly was really good pizza when hot/warm. Cold, not so much. The crust was quite tasty! And if you need or just want a quick bite, then this is your spot. Don’t let the look of the place steer you away. Oh and I almost forgot, it’s cheap, really cheap…like €1.50 – €2 for the snack size pizza.
Mama Rosa: Bro and I decided to give another restaurant a try before travelling to Rome and figured it may not be so expensive in Salerno. We settled on Mama Rosa based on the reviews. The restaurant was quaint, spacious and full of locals, which is always a great sign. We had to wait a bit, but it was well worth it. We ordered Scialatelli with prawns and clams and signature dish Boccaccio di Mama Rosa (seafood clams, squid, shrimp pasta in a mason jar). Because I am just super greedy, I also ordered Scialatelli with clams and mussels for dessert. Don’t judge me and plus the servings were lunch size (meaning small). They do try to convince you to order the expensive meals on the menu but be strong and resist. There are specials on the board that may peak your interest. The food was delish but a tad salty, so drink up! The service was great and always with a smile. Mama Rosa is definitely worth checking out, but make a reservation if you can!
Trattoria Dei Cartari: This was a recommendation from the Airbnb host, which usually doesn’t turn out to be all that great. But I was getting a bit hangry, so Sis and I decided to give this one a try. It was late, but there seemed to be a few locals enjoying their dinner. We ordered seafood pasta with clams, mussels, and prawns; and carbonara. Both tasted pretty decent. Don’t eat the bread they put on the table as you’ll get charged. That’s usually the rule with most tourists traps. It’s not the best, but it’s edible. The restaurant itself looks like a typical trattoria with no frills and the staff were friendly.
Trattoria e Pizzeria Da Meme: After a quick search, we settled on this place based on the reviews. It took a while to find it as it was hidden in the maze of steps. We started with a seafood appetizer of fried shrimp, little fish, and squid. We ordered seafood pasta and penne arrabbiata. The seafood pasta was a bit tough and crunchy…too al dente for my taste (and I prefer al dente). The penne looked like a hot mess. The service was okay, food just blah, and there’s a table fee per person if you dine in. Shit, there’s probably a fee if you do take-out. So I do not recommend it one bit.
Pizzeria Donna Stella: This was another recommendation from the Airbnb host. Although she steered us in a not so great direction with Trattoria Da Meme, we really wanted to try this place simply because of the smells wafting from around the corner of our Airbnb. We stayed around the corner from it, which was lucky for us. I was super excited because I really wanted to try an authentic Napoli pizza. I ordered the sausage with aubergines. The pizza was pretty tasty, but the restaurant was really cool…well the outside seating area is at least. It’s covered with lemon trees dangling overhead. You can sit inside, but that wouldn’t be as much fun I don’t think. This spot is away from the tourist area, which is nice and the service is excellent.
Cuoppo d’Almafi: Sis and I were walking along the seaside aiming to check out this street market along the beach. My eyes gazed upon these very plump fried prawns being chomped up by some random guy sitting on the curb. He looked like he was in heaven the way he was devouring those prawns. It was driving me nuts, so of course I asked where he got them from. He shared a prawn with me while he was telling us how to get there. I was hooked! The prawns were fried with the skin on them, which is so annoying but delish. Just think of the skin as extra flavor. We found our way to get a cuoppo after checking out the street market. It’s tucked away off a less busy path with more restaurants and shops. We just ordered prawns which cost a tad more than C.I.C.A, but it was worth the price and tasted super fresh.
Trattoria Cumpa Cosimo Ravello: Since my sis and I were on the coast, it made sense to eat seafood where we could. And since this is Italy, of course it made sense to eat pasta (right!?!). Anyway seafood pasta seemed to be the logical answer as you can tell from reading this. We ordered seafood pasta with shrimp and clams. It was better than the one we had at Trattoria Da Meme and Trattoria Dei Cartari. The pasta was on point, not too chewy and too mushy. Save some time from wandering the streets for something tasty and give this one a go!