Path of the Gods: Amalfi Coast

If bliss could be a colour, today would be Amalfi Blue.

Lisa Fantino (author)

Visiting the Amalfi Coast always seems like a dream with how beautiful it is. We got the opportunity to check off hiking the Path of the Gods (bucket list item of things to do while we are living here), explore more Amalfi towns, and try more delectable restaurants with two of our amazing friends that were visiting us! It was Lisa Fantino that said, “If bliss could be a colour, today would be Amalfi Blue.” The water was so electric and endearing. We had a great time enjoying the views as we took a private car ride through the Amalfi Coast cliffs to our weekend hotel in Amalfi town at the end of September. 

Here are more things to do, towns to see, and restaurants to try in Amalfi Coast! Missed our first blog on Amalfi? Read it here.

Path of the Gods 

We started out by taking a bus from Amalfi town to Bomerano. Make sure to get off at the Agerola (Bomerano) spot. You’ll likely see a lot of people doing the hike, so you can always ask for help if you get confused (or just follow the crowd).

Do some research before you go on this hike. You can start it in a couple of different places: Praiano and Bomerano (located in Agerola). If you start from Praiano, you have to climb a lot of steps up to the path. We decided to start in Bomerano to skip all of that, and we recommend you do that too (unless you really want the stairmaster workout).

We also decided to do the hike from east to west, so that we ended in Nocelle, and then took the bus to Positano for the rest of the day. You can hike the path from Nocelle to Bomerano, but it’s more uphill. Plus Positano is such a great place to relax after hiking (more on that later).

Once we got to Bomerano, we made sure to use the restroom of a local café before starting the trek, which is located across the street from where the bus drops you off and where the map of the hiking trail is located. Make sure you have plenty of water (you can always get some water bottles at the café), apply sunscreen, have the appropriate clothing (i.e., no jeans), and wear comfortable shoes (i.e., hiking shoes or supportive tennis shoes).

Try to start the hike early. It gets hotter later in the day and there will be more crowds. We took the 8am bus from Amalfi, which got us to the trailhead around 9am. This is probably the latest that you want to start the hike. It was a little foggy and misty at first, but that soon cleared.

The hike took us 2.5 – 3 hours, but we were walking a leisurely pace and periodically stopping to take pictures (how can you not with some of the views you get…. you need to enjoy every moment). Some of the views we saw didn’t even seem real. They were so breathtaking!

As we were walking, we also would come across rocks stacked on top of each other like you see in the picture above. We found out that these are called Cairns or shrine rock formations that people have been making since the prehistoric era. We also saw a donkey along the trail and some ruins scattered about. There was just something special around every corner.

At the end of the hike, you have two options to reach Positano: take the bus from Nocelle or walk down a long set of steps. After all that hiking, we decided to take the bus. Follow the path to the right (there should be signs or ask for directions) that leads to the bus stop. The bus can take a little while, but they had a granita stand there – our friends got one and it looked really refreshing.

Positano 

This was our first time exploring Positano, but one of our friends had been there before. This town was so special in its own way with its gorgeous buildings etched into the mountains and cascaded down to the water. When we took the bus down, they dropped us off somewhere in the middle of the hill, so we still have to walk down the rest of the way to the beach.

The area closer to the waterfront is all pedestrian walkways. Once we made it down the stairs, we wanted to pick up some sandwiches and take them down to the beach. Our friend recommended getting lunch at Vini and Panini – The Wine Shop and getting this sandwich that consisted of bread, mozzarella, pesto, tomatoes, and prosciutto. This sandwich was amazing (see picture below)! It’s a little grocery store so you can also pick up fruit, drinks, and other goodies. We had quite the feast.

The beach at Positano is a little pricey – they’ll charge you 25 euro for a chair and 10 euros for a towel. With all the hiking, we didn’t have room for towels, but we’d recommend bringing one if you’re able. You don’t want to skip the chair though – they come equipped with an umbrella and these nifty face shades. Without one, you’ll be stuck in the blazing sun.

Luckily, we ran into a local at the bus stop in Nocelle who told us to try Fornillo Beach, just 5 minutes walk from Positano. We saw later that Rick Steves recommends it as well so you know it’s legit! From the Positano beach, you’ll see a pathway and some stairs leading to the right and around a corner. Follow the path as it winds and it will spit you out onto Fornillo Beach.

It was so much better. The beach was smaller and more secluded. Plus, the chairs were only 10 euros and 2 euros per towel. We all got a chance to jump into the water and it was so chilly (mind you that we are both from Florida, so we are used to warm water). We got used to the temperature though and it was nice to get cooled off after the hike.

Be warned, the beaches at Positano do have sand, but when you reach the water, it suddenly turns into tiny little smooth pebbles. Not super comfortable for walking around! We recommend that you bring some sandals or water shoes. However, because of the salty water, you can float really easily so you don’t have to deal with the rocks for too long.

Once you’re done enjoying the beach, you can take a ferry boat back to Amalfi (and many other locations) or you can take a bus back to any of the surrounding towns.

Praiano

Once we were done enjoying the sun and the beach, we headed over to the bus stop for our next stop: the town of Praiano. It was about a 20-minute drive before we got to this small and quiet town.

Praiano is a very hilly town, full of steps and winding roads. Almost none of it is flat. When we got there, we split up from our friends. They decided to go walking up and down more steps to explore, but after the hike, we decided to stop and enjoy a drink at Ristorante Franchino (right photo) close to the water’s edge. Be careful though when you walk down the stairs to these restaurants because there were a lot of ants on the hand railing and be careful when it gets dark because there are not a lot of lights around. Praiano is clearly a very local town and not used to a lot of tourists.

Despite this, Ristorante Franchino is a busy restaurant. If you want to eat there, be sure to make a reservation. We got there right when it opened so they let us sit for 30 minutes and enjoy a drink before we had to leave to make room for the reservations. This was a cute place and we thoroughly enjoyed sitting at the edge of the railing and watching the boats lounging around the bay.

Our friends met back up with us and it was time for dinner! We had made reservations at Il Pirata and it was conveniently a little further down the path that we took to get to Ristorante Franchino, and also on the water. While we were walking, we enjoyed the beautiful sea animal mosaic tile art on the ground that lead us to the entrance.

Be sure to make a reservation at this restaurant as well – it was quite busy! Il Pirata was so captivating from the entranceway all the way to our seats. They gave us a table right next to the water and the staff was very friendly. We all ended up sharing a bunch of items so we could enjoy samples of everything. We started off having an eggplant Parmesan antipasto. It was exceptionally good – it must be an Amalfi Coast thing because we had an amazing eggplant Parmesan at Lo Smeraldino in Amalfi town last time too.

Then we had a refreshing and crisp salad that included lettuce, tomato, and buffalo mozzarella and they gave you olive oil and balsamic vinegar to put on it. Next up was our primo dish: shrimp ravioli (top right). It was very creamy and decadent. Then we enjoyed different secondi. The first one was a fish with a side salad (top). This was very refreshing and light. The second secondi was octopus on a bed of mashed potato puree (top left). The octopus was cooked beautifully. To end, we tried two of their desserts: the rum baba (their dessert of the day, bottom right) and an icebox cake (bottom left).

We had a great time and it has such a romantic atmosphere. Great for a date… or in our case a double date! Once we were done, we climbed back up the stairs (only one way in and out) and we took a bus back to Amalfi town. Be warned that there are not a lot of options to get back, so make sure you get on the bus. We took the last one back so don’t stay in Praiano too late unless you have a place to stay.      

Amalfi 

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We have visited Amalfi town a few times now and we love staying there when we go to the Amalfi Coast. It’s really central so you can easily visit towns all along the coast without having to travel too far to get back to the hotel.

Our friends had not been there before, so we made sure they got to see the church and cloister.  We also got to explore a new place this time: the Museum of Paper. The Amalfi Coast never gets old and there is always something new to see.

We didn’t know what to expect from the Museum of Paper, but it ended up being really interesting. The guide was friendly and knowledgeable and answered all our questions. We took a tour of the an old paper mill and learned how they used to make paper out of little bits of cloth and urine (although not anymore, thank goodness). I even got to try my hand at making a little piece of paper. The paper is then pressed to expel the liquid and dried in the sun. Obviously it’s not as smooth as printer paper that you get nowadays, but we love all the texture of this old style of paper for decoration.

If you don’t want to take a tour, then you should at least stop by the shop for some handmade paper products, from prints with flowers, to little books, to even picture frames.

Atrani

Not far from Amalfi town is another small town called Atrani. It’s about a 15-20 minutes walk. There are a couple ways to get there. One path is very easy and it goes under the mountain and you cross the street before walking down the hill into the town. It almost feels like a car tunnel, but it’s for pedestrians only.

However, if you want to be a little more adventurous or walk off the food you are about to eat, then you could do what we did: take the stairs. If you are in Amalfi town, walk toward your left and you’ll eventually reach the path, starting with some stairs. When you go up the stairs, you will find yourself walking through the buildings and houses that are along the mountainside. It almost felt like a maze to us, but it was fun! We would keep picking left or right and sometimes we would come to a roadblock and go back the other way. There were pockets of places that would open up and we would see some beautiful views. It was just a unique experience. I’m sure there are directions somewhere online and Rick Steves has highlighted Atrani in his Italy book, if you want more clear directions.

When we arrived, we had lunch at A Paranza. This restaurant was awfully close to the main square and is Michelin-recognized. It’s expensive for dinner, but for lunch they had two special prix fixe menus. We decided to try both! It first came with an antipasto – bruschetta. Then we had our primi, which was a mixed seafood pasta (top left) and a lemon pasta (top right). Both were particularly good. Then we went into secondi: a lemony flaky fish (it was plated beautifully, bottom left) and meat with mixed vegetables (bottom right). We enjoyed it all and it was nice to get a variety. 

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