Hiking Capri and the Amalfi Coast gives you a little bit of the best of everything: Italy’s cultural riches, its intense southern charm, a chance to taste its world-renowned pastas and pizzas, and exposure to the natural beauty of its southern coastline. Combined, visiting Capri, Amalfi, and Positano and the hikes in between are a bit like downing the espresso Italy’s so famous for. Everything’s compressed, giving you a taste of the country’s finest.
This Ryder-Walker tour offers a mix of coastal walks, hikes from village to village, and the opportunity to summit some of the beautiful volcanic mountains lining the Amalfi Coast. In Capri, for instance, you’ll see the Grotta Azura, the blue grotto, a cave famous for its perfectly distilled blue light. You’ll also summit Monte Solaro, which at 589 meters (1,342 ft.) is Capri’s tallest peak. The summit offers spectacular views of both the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast.
Traveling on to Amalfi, a cheerful town with sunlit piazzas, you’ll tour the 14th century Museo della Carta, a paper museum still housed in the original cave-like paper mill (the oldest in Europe), visit the gardens of 11th century Villa Rufalo and 20th century Villa Cimbrone in Ravello, 1,200 feet above Amalfi. The hikes here meander through terraces of lemon trees and organic gardens.
After a few nights enjoying the riches of Amalfi you’ll travel to Positano, nicknamed “the jewel of the Mediterranean.” In Positano, you’ll spend the first day hiking Sentiero Degli Dei (the Pathway of the Gods), a dazzling cliff-top hike best known for where the Sirens sang to Ulysses, luring him away from his path. On the final day, you’ll walk up an old Roman road to the small villages near the Lattari Mountain Range before finishing the day at Positano’s famous Spiaggia Grande Beach.
It’s no wonder that this is such a famous town. Romans started flocking here to relax as early as 27 AD after the Emperor Augustus discovered the island’s healing qualities. And before that, Homer wrote about the Sirens that used to call sailors to its enchanting beaches. In the 1950’s, the town became a hot spot for movie stars, and there’s a wonderful fictional account of those days in Jess Walter’s novel Beautiful Ruins. These days, it still has that air of luxury with designer shops and hip restaurants lining its dramatic waterfront.
Your final stop along this tour is perhaps the most charming. Positano, which is considered a “slow city” (an extension of the Slow Food Movement), is a place filled with old-world charm. Steep rows of Easter-egg colored houses descend to the sea, creating that perfect Mediterranean combination of color and light that the region is so famous for. John Steinbeck once described Positano as a town that “bites deep,” saying, “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you’re there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
There’s a reason we all know Italy’s food so well. It’s the ultimate comfort food, as soul-filling as it is tasty, and Southern Italy is the heart of it. Naples, where you’ll pick up the ferry to Capri, is famous for its pizza, the perfect combination of bubbling mozzarella di bufalo melted over a slightly blackened chewy crust. If you have some time to spare in Naples, it’s worth seeking out Pizzeria Gina Sorbillo, a celebrated pizza eatery whose lines regularly wrap around the block.
You can find most every kind of pasta dish in Southern Italy, but some of the local specialties include Pasta al Forno, or a baked pasta with sausage, cheese, and sometimes egg, and Shrimp Fra Diavolo, where spicy shrimp is served over fresh pasta. This region is also famous for fritture (fried snacks), Napoli salami (wild fennel sausages), delicious roasted vegetables like eggplant, and sweets like sfogliatelle (ricotta pastries) and baba (rum-soaked sponge cake).
And finally, something to drink… Although Campanian wines in Southern Italy have traditionally been snubbed by critics, they’re quite popular these days. Some of the labels to look out for include Taurasi, a dry, flavorful red and Falerno del Massico, whose reds and whites are grown on the backside of Mt. Massico, a local volcano in the north.
At the end of a meal, limoncello is usually offered, a lemon liquor which is a bit like drinking a lemon drop. Every region seems its own local variety, so be prepared to become a bit of an expert.
One of Italy’s most renowned destinations, this Ryder-Walker tour along the Amalfi Coast gives you a taste of Italy’s treats and a glimpse of its beautiful hills lining the Mediterranean Sea.