Amalfi Coast | Hillside Villages and Boat Rides

As soon as I’d arrived in Salerno and wandered down to the harbour, I’d fallen in love with the mountains. I couldn’t wait to take a day trip around exploring the villages nestled among them, and planned it for the day after exploring Pompeii. I’m not usually so good at getting up and out in the morning, but I had good intentions and was ready to leave at 10am – early for me! As I tried to leave the B&B, I couldn’t open the front door. Getting a bit concerned that I’d somehow lost the ability to unlock a door, I gave the owner a call and she frantically rushed over when she realised that she’d locked me in.

Salerno Harbour

We were soon on our way, and she walked part of the way with me down to the harbour before heading off to catch a train. I knew I needed a boat, and that I’d find said boat in the harbour – crazy, right? – but I had no idea where to start looking for the ticket office. I couldn’t find much information online, so just went for a wander and eventually found a number of people hanging around in the shade near the ticket office. Ticket bought, I nipped to a nearby café to grab a drink while I waited, before boarding the boat to my first stop – Amalfi. 

I’d scored a great seat on the top of an open deck boat, and after the couple sat behind dropped their suncream lid, which then rolled off the boat into the sea, I tightened my grip on my phone and camera and enjoyed the journey. I’m not usually one for boat rides, but the stunning scenery, the sun shining and the gentle breeze were the perfect combination.

Stepping off the boat in Amalfi, I had no expectations. I knew people who’d been here on holiday, so figured there must be a fair bit to see. In hindsight, I should have made a plan before leaving Salerno, but I hadn’t known that there’d be no internet connection in the area and so once I’d made it past the port of Amalfi I was a little lost of what to do. Looking for the tourist information spot, I found it was just a small shop with a huge boat in it, that was less helpful than my internet-less phone.

As the town is so small, I figured I’d just have a wander and see what I could find. Before long, a sign for a church loomed, and being one never able to resist a visit to a church, off I went following the rabbit run of sign posts through winding side streets and white tunnels. Eventually popping out in front of the stunning church, I made my way up the steps in the scorching heat and, after paying a few euros for my ticket, enjoyed a tour of the basement chapel, main church and pretty courtyard cloister.

The cool air of the church was much appreciated on such a warm day, but before long I was back out in the cobble stone streets of Amalfi, checking out the charming little shops and cafes. Not finding much more than a few shops with enormous fruit, tourist souvenirs and restaurants, I made my way back to the harbour to catch the next boat to Positano.

I was so excited to finally be visiting Positano. It had been a holiday option for a few years but never came to fruition, and I was finally on a boat on my way to the cliffside town. As we docked, I decided it’d be really nice to head back to Salerno as the sun set over the mountains, so bought my return journey to make sure that not only did I have a guaranteed ride back to Salerno, but also that I’d have the sunset trip.

And now – Positano! Still with no internet to find the best picks of the town, I just followed the crowds up the winding paths lined with shops, and popped out near the church. Well, not one to turn down a church visit, I stepped in to find that a wedding was under way. I instead waited outside until they’d finished and left the church, then tried again. Many churches have a dress code requirement, generally no bare shoulders or knees. I always carry something to cover up if I think I’ll be visiting a church, and evidently didn’t get my jacket on quickly enough once inside as the priest starting shouting at me. Although I apologised he demanded I put on a disposable coverup on over my jacket. It was far too hot to wear even just a jacket let alone something on top of that, so I politely declined and left.

With a bit of a bitter taste left in my mouth, I heard him shouting at others as I left and was glad it wasn’t just me he didn’t like. You’d think having just finished a wedding he’d be full of good vibes, but evidently he wasn’t having a great day. Not wanting a bad interaction to overcast the whole Positano experience, I carried on up the winding streets, stopping in a few shops to see what was on offer.

The narrow streets of Positano are really charming, but they don’t cope well with the mass of tourists visiting. Although I am fully aware I was part of the problem as a day tripper, it does ruin the town a bit that it’s so crammed and crowded. I wasn’t able to find anywhere that wasn’t rammed, and having to do the ‘museum shuffle’ everywhere instead of being able to walk at a comfortable pace isn’t enjoyable in the slightest.

I kept climbing higher up the cliffside, and just as I was starting to think I’d call it a day earlier than planned, I found the picture perfect spot. Stopping for a few minutes to enjoy the view, I spotted the couple from the wedding ceremony earlier having their photos taken there. Needing no further confirmation, I took a few photos and just enjoyed the relative quiet before heading back down to the hustle and bustle of the main town.

Passing a really cool art gallery, I stopped in to enjoy the pieces before carrying on through the cobble streets and popping out at a beach bar. After a quick walk along the beach, I took it as a sign and stopped for a drink while I waited for my ferry back to Salerno. Reflecting on the day, I could agree with the hype that both Amalfi and Positano were stunning, but hadn’t loved Positano as much as I thought I would. There’s always a risk of visiting somewhere you’ve hyped up in your mind so much that it won’t live up to your expectations. While that had been the case here, I was still really glad to have been able to visit and experience Positano, and form my own opinion of the town rather than what I saw from Instagram.

Finally stepping back on to the boat, I was tired and ready to sit back and enjoy the ride back to Salerno. One thing I hadn’t taken note of was the number of stops on the way back. As we pulled in to Amalfi, I hadn’t been paying attention as I hadn’t expected to stop somewhere so quickly, and had a moment of panic that I hadn’t noticed how much time had passed and that we were actually back in Salerno already. Quickly checking with one of the few people left on the boat, I was assured that this wasn’t Salerno, and that if it was then they were also missing their stop and we’d deal with it together at the next stop.

Not entirely convinced, but happy that I’d have someone to help if we were missing our stop, I enjoyed the rest of the journey as the sun set behind the mountains. Before long we pulled in to the last stop, and I stepped off in…Salerno! It’d been a good day exploring, but after a quick bite for dinner I turned in early as I had a long travel day tomorrow to my next stop – Sicily!

< Pompeii | #28 | Catania >

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