Take the high road
A trip into the hills and mountains of the Amalfi Coast
Italy's 50km long Amalfi Coast is famous worldwide for its breathtakingly beautiful land and seascapes, its picture-perfect fishing villages and its fabulous food and wine. A couple of months ago, I shared my passion for the area's cuisine by jotting down my own, tried and tasted bitesize tour of the Amalfi Coast.
This time I've decided to take you off-the-beaten-track, to the towns and villages hidden away in the hills above the coast and a world away from the classic tourist sites which, in July and August in particular, are often uncomfortably crowded.
Into the hills
We start the tour in Vietri sul Mare, right at the start of the Amalfi Coast, from where we head uphill in the direction of Raito and Albori. Raito is home to the beautiful Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, incredibly steep little lanes and lots of steps - from the heights of which, amazing views of the sea washing Vietri can be seen.
To experience the fairytale atmosphere of Raito to the full, we make our way to Villa Guariglia, seat of a fascinating Ceramic museum and which, with its elegant interiors and gorgeous grounds, is often used as a film set.
Each summer, Villa Guariglia hosts a prestigious music festival, accompanied by a fabulous food fair. This year's "Concerts at Villa Guariglia" will be held between July 10th and August 5th, and feature Jazz musicians of international renown.
Member of the "most beautiful villages in Italy" club, Albori is another "district" of Vietri, with another splendid Church (the church of Santa Margherita) and a handful of little white houses nestled between the citrus groves and the sea. For a feast of fresh fruit and vegetables, pop into the Agriturismo Il Cavaliere dei Conti: a farm stay created in a finely restored Saracen tower.
Treats to eat (and drink) inTramonti
Refreshed and relaxed, we continue our journey into the hills to reach Tramonti which, as its name suggests, is located in the midst of the Lattari mountains.
Tramonti is known for its pretty little churches and for its dairy products: products which Minori's celebrity pastry chef, Sal De Riso, uses in his delicious creations.
Tramonti is famous for its wines too. To taste the town's wines, pay a visit to the San Francesco estate, which produces an excellent Tramonti red, white and rosè
From Tramonti we head in the direction of Naples, driving along the scenic road known as the "Valico di Chiunzi", past ancient villages like Corbara, where the super-sweet IGP corbarino tomato is grown.
Revving it up, in Ravello
The next destination on our tour is Ravello: famous throughout the world for its magnificent cliff top villas and gardens, its annual music festival and the auditorium designed by the celebrated Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer.
Fancy staying the night? Ravello is home to some of the world's most talked-about hotels, including the incredibly glamorous Hotel Caruso and Hotel Villa Cimbrone.
Churches, cheese and a fiord
After ravishingly beautiful Ravello, we pay a visit to peaceful and panoramic Scala, an ancient Episcopal with some 100 churches in its diocese, including the lovely Romanesque Cathedral of San Lorenzo.
The perfect place to savor the flavor of Scala's fabulous fish cuisine? Trattoria da Lorenzo
If you want to end the day in style, by sleeping in one of "the most beautiful villages in Italy", travel the 15kms or so necessary to reach Furore and the chocolate box B&B La Locanda del Fiordo, perched on the cliffs, directly above the sea.
Furore nestles between the hillside town of Agerola, famous for its cheeses which are celebrated in an annual festival, and Italy's only existing fiord. If you're lucky, you might even see the world cliff diving championships, held in the fiord of Furore each summer.
My insider tips for a day on the '"other" Amalfi Coast:
- Purchase a few jars of homemade jam from the Agriturismo Il Cavaliere dei Conti, in Albori
- Indulge in some professional pampering in Hotel Raito's spa
- Stop off in Corbara to stock up on the best cherry tomatoes in Italy
- Enjoy a glass (or two) of wine at Tenuta S. Francesco, Tramonti
Our Insider is Evelina Bruno
Our Amalfi Coast insider is Evelina Bruno. Native of Vietri sul Mare, Evelina now lives in Naples and is a sociologist, freelance copywriter, and professional journalist. For the past 4 years, she has worked as content manager for the University of Naples' web learning portal. Passionate about food, she recounts her culinary adventures in her blog About web, food & tv.
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