Surroundings | Amalfi Coast
Once in Salerno a visit to the Lungomare seafront is a must where the gaze is met by two bays. To the south, on a clear day the eye can see as far as the Cilento coast which runs down to Punta Licosa, Palinuro, Sapri; to the north lies the splendid Amalfi coast with its overhanging cliffs. Here the road cuts through the rocks above the sea for about 40 kilometres, winding its way from Vietri to Positano, with a village popping up around every corner: Cetara, Maiori, Minori, Atrani, Capo D'Orso down to Amalfi, where in the bluest of seas, the Bay of Salerno meets the Bay of Naples, and then on to Positano with the island of Capri opposite.
The Amalfi coast has always been a preferred destination for Italian and foreign travellers looking out for places of natural and artistic beauty in our country. Poets, kings and queens, famous people from Boccaccio to Gregorovius, from Wagner to Victor Hugo, from Ibsen to André Gide. Amalfi opens onto the sea like a huge balcony illuminated by bright sunshine. It is like looking at an impressionist painting with dabs of colour, here and there orange trees, olive groves mingled with sloping and flowering gardens going down to the sea.
Along the Amalfi coast, some hundred metres from Capo di Conca, is the "Emerald Grotto", beautiful, mysterious, almost temple-like, where enormous stalagmites rise from the sea to meet the vault overhead.
Looking up from Amalfi, high above the sea, lies Ravello. Greta Garbo (who stayed there in 1936, atVilla Cimbrone, during her affair with Stokowski) said it was "the most beautiful place I have ever seen". Richard Wagner and his Parzifal are associated with Ravello. One day in 1880 the composer decided to go up there and was enthralled. To the right of the cathedral he saw Villa Rufolo and, as though urged on by some unseen force, he entered and on reaching the panoramic terrace, whispered: "I have found the magical garden of Klingsor!".
The final pearl of the Amalfi coast is Positano. It lies some fifteen kilometres from Amalfi, beyond Conca dei Marini and Praiano, which are picturesque little villages like Cetara,Maiori,Minori and Atrani.
Positano is a village of little white houses with gardens, built one above the other on such a sharp slope as to seem like a huge cliff. It is crossed by endless flights of steps which give the visitor the impression of becoming part of the scenery. There is only one narrow road going through the village down to the sea. Positano is quite unique. When John Steinbeck happened upon it for the first time he wrote: "When you come upon a place like Positano, don't tell anyone". But he failed to do so.