Enjoy the sights and tastes of the Amalfi Coast
By Buck C. Cooke
When looking for the filming location for Wonder Woman’s home of Themyscira, Warner Brothers settled on the Amalfi Coast. It’s easy to see why it’s the perfect place for the fictional, super hero-worthy Paradise Island.
While visiting there with my husband, I lost count of the times I was overwhelmed by spectacular scenery. In addition to gorgeous sights, this part of south-western Italy is packed with plenty to do and explore, as well as plenty of places for outstanding cuisine.
We landed in Naples with plans for sightseeing, but we were assaulted by how noisy, crowded and grungy the city is. The streets are congested, tiny – even by European standards! – and teeming with cars, pedestrians and motorbikes zigging and zagging everywhere.
We headed straight, so to speak, for the Catacombs of San Gennaro and enjoyed the underground cemetery that houses the neck-down remains of its namesake. (His head rests in the city’s duomo. No lie.) Our cute guide was witty and well-versed in the history of the site and the city, so we learned a great deal while enjoying the creepy ambiance of the burial niches, wide walkways through the crypts, as well as ancient frescos and religious artwork.
We then grabbed a delicious lunch at Pizzeria Gino Sorbillo, one of the most popular restaurants in town. The amazing pizza is matched only by the people-watching, and even the English-free menu was charming.
From there we drove through Sorrento towards Positano. My husband drove the nearly two hours winding through twists and turns of the cliff-infested coastline, each vista more beautiful and breath-taking than the last. When we arrived at the gay-friendly La Fenice bed and breakfast, I wasn’t prepared for the lovely view. We were surrounded on every side by citrus trees and flowering plants that exploded with colorful blossoms.
The family who have run the place for decades was beyond friendly, attentive and helpful with suggestions of places to visit and restaurants to try. My husband lost his wedding ring while we were there, and the mother, father and one of the sons helped us turn the rooms upside down until it was found.
On the B&B family’s advice, we took a boat trip down the coast to Amalfi. It’s a trip I’ll never forget. Being on the water and seeing the houses and businesses stacked on top of each other up steep terrain is incredible. We took that a step further and kayaked into the gulf from the B&B’s private beach. Even with my fear of becoming “Jaws” food, I loved the view and the feeling of paddling through the crystal clear water.
Positano stands in stark contrast to the insanity of Naples. You’ll walk at the city’s leisurely pace past galleries, bars, restaurants, gelato stands, and shops. Of several meals on scenic terraces over the bay, my favorite was at Ristorante Max. We also enjoyed a day at the beach in Positano. I, of course, was slathered in SPF 70 and relaxed in the shade of a huge umbrella, while Mark soaked up the sun in his Speedo, and it was as lovely way to spend the day.
If history is your bag, do not miss Pompeii and Vesuvius. The whole day is filled with pretty tough hikes, but the bay glittering in the sunlight, the view from the crater, and your own “Oh mighty Isis!” moment are worth the sweat and straining muscles. Use the restroom before you go, because there are no toilets. No, honey, not even at the visitor center.
If you’re like us, the end of the journey will have you ready to plan your next visit. For the region to satisfy two very different travellers as my husband and I is an accomplishment. Maybe it’s the perfect destination for you and the special people in your life to find your own paradise.