Amalfi Odyssey, treasure of the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Part 1 Gems of an Amalfi Adventure
Every time I smell an alluring Amalfi inspired perfume it takes me back to the Tyrrhenian Sea. With its notes of the sweet scent of lemon blossoms, fragrant Mediterranean olives, lemon & fig trees mixed in with the Amalfi Sea spray. The Amalfi coast is a truly mesmerising place that captures an evocative feeling that you have woken up in a beautiful dream, except the moment is real. There is something so special about Amalfi with its vivid cyan blue water, jagged coastline & spectacular views.
Every lookout you stop at seems to have been painted with an artist's palette of cerulean sky blue & iridescent azure for the sea, with accents of lemon yellow, terracotta ochre, tangerine orange, Oleander blossom pink, olive green & sea spray white. These colours are echoed in the way the buildings are painted, the way the resorts beach umbrellas line the beaches. Town squares are decorated with pretty flowerpots & even the colour of the cocktails which are enjoyed at the bars with magnificent views.
Unsplashed image by Tom Podmore
The Amalfi Coast is a picturesque stretch of coast in Campania overlooking the Gulf of Salerno & the Tyrrhenian Sea. The small coastal towns which follow one after the other are a joy to discover, making the Amalfi Coast one of the most spectacular coastlines to visit. The air has an enchanting fragrance thanks to a unique breed of lemons native to this corner of the world, the Amalfi lemon has a long history enjoyed as far back as Roman times.
It’s easy to imagine that this was the legendary place the gods, demigods & nymphs of Ancient Roman & Greek mythology chose to be. According to Roman legend, the god Hercules fell in love with the nymph Amalfi & when she died, he wanted to bury her in the most beautiful place on earth. So, he chose the rocks & sea of the Tyrrhenian Sea we know as the Amalfi Coast.
I love discovering the cliffside villages with steep, narrow streets full of gorgeous shops, cafes & views around every corner. One of the best “serendipitous” treats is to find a delightful cafe using your sense of smell & sight to enjoy a delicious Amalfi Lemon Cake & Granita or an icy cold limoncello in the Italian sunshine in a cafe with a stunning view! The Amalfi coast is full of seaside towns, all having the quintessential elements to make a classic Italian summertime holiday! Stunning scenery, zippy little Vespas, scrumptious gelato, seaside couture, delicious coffee granitas & lemon sunshine!
My favourite four Amalfi Coast treasures!
Unsplashed image by Kevin McMahon
One of my favourite coastal towns would have to be Positano. Said to be “the jewel of Amalfi”, it is a cliffside village with steep, narrow streets filled with stunning boutiques & cafes. Famous for the hand painted ceramics & table ware that have been made the same way by artisans in this region for centuries. The Church Santa Maria Assunta stands tall & statuesque amongst the colourful pastel buildings perched precariously on the hill & features a majestic majolica-tiled dome that’s made of heavyweight clay pottery coated with enamel.
Ancient mythology says that the Roman god of the sea, Poseidon, created Positano with his own two hands to express his love for the nymph Pasitea. Legend says there were two brothers who were shepherds. They saw the nymph Pasitea struggling in the water one day & they desperately tried to rescue her from drowning by running into the sea to save her. The shepherds sheep followed them into the water & tragically everyone drowned. Poseidon was so overwhelmed with the shepherd brothers’ heroic efforts trying to save Pasitea & the loyalty of the sheep, he decided to make them all immortals by making the brothers into two giant rock faces & the sheep into the surrounding cliffs, that we know today as the gateway of the Amalfi Coast “Vietri Sul Mare”.
Unsplashed image by Nick Fewings
Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast is a gorgeous coastal town facing the Bay of Naples, on the beautiful sun kissed cliffs. It’s a fun, popular summertime destination for Italians & international travellers. Sorrento sits perched on top of the cliffs above the busy marinas. Sorrento is known for its spectacular views & Piazza Tasso, a cosmopolitan square full of fabulous cafes. The famous Amalfi lemon trees line the streets adding a beautiful charm to the town. The historic centre is a labyrinth of narrow alleys with many amazing historic buildings & Churches, it’s also home to the “Sorrento Cooking School”.
Unsplashed image by Daniel Elashevskyi
About a 40 minutes’ drive from Sorrento, is Ieranto Bay, a pristine inlet that has iridescent azure & turquoise water & a stunning sandy beach. It is a gorgeous place to visit. Ieranto Bay in ancient mythology, is said to be where the sea sirens would lure sailors to shipwreck on their island with their enchanting operatic song. Sirens are said to be dangerous creatures of the sea, some mythological images depict them as strange half woman half bird, some images are of a beautiful woman with a fish tail. I guess the only ones that really know are the sailors who were lured by the siren songs!
Unsplashed image by Kevin McMahon
Ravello is an enchanting coastal town built high on the cliffs with the iconic views framed by umbrella pine trees. The town is full of pretty cafes & charming boutiques. Ravello is where you will find the magnificent 12th century Villa Rufolo. Its major tower looms 30 meters above the town & sea. The architecture is a magnificent fusion of Sicilian, Norman & Arabic styles, commissioned by the wealthy Rufolo family who gained wealth & power through trading & allegiances with the Angiloni who were in power in this region in the 13 century. However, after the war of the Vesporo in 1283 there was a dramatic fall of power. Some of the Rufolo family were captured by the Prince of Salerno & sadly many were sentenced to death by the prince who wanted the wealth of the Rufolo family. It worked; he gained the power & the wealth.
Eventually as time went on the palazzo was abandoned for centuries. However, providence brought Scottish botanist Francis Neville Reid to the area. Due to ill health he found the Amalfi air most agreeable & settled in the ruined hilltop villa. Back in those times it was considered a barbaric & backward part of Italy, so Mr Reid introduced positive progress back to this area. In 1851 he bought the run-down villa, lovingly tended to the gardens, replanting copious plants & had the vision to restore the Villa, keeping all the ancient aspects of the palazzo. He gave employment to impoverished & underfed residents of this municipality. He improved the roads to Amalfi increasing prosperity to the region & organised better conditions plus fairer wages for workers. Not everyone was a fan of Mr Reid, as many “bourgeoisie” complained because it took away their gain from oppressing workers. On occasions they clashed viciously reminding Mr Reid & everyone that there were still scoundrels in this region.
The Scottish botanist lived 40 years in this area until his untimely death at the age of 66. Now this is a place of peace & tranquillity. The famous terraced gardens are reputed to be the most beautiful in the world thanks to the legacy of the Rufolo family & Scottish botanist Francis Neville Reid. Whether you choose to travel by road or a yacht charter, the Amalfi Coast is a wonderful & beautiful experience. The Amalfi & Sorrentino Coasts are the most spectacular coastlines to visit. It’s a UNESCO listed treasure & a favourite for all travellers & dreamers alike.
When God made the earth perhaps the Amalfi Coast was created to show us a glimpse of what heaven looks like. Every time I visit the beautiful Amalfi Coast, I'm in awe of its natural beauty & amazed to think that people have been so inspired by this region's beauty they have had added their piece of heaven to this land. We travellers have much to be thankful for that people of the past like Rufolo family & Scottish botanist Francis Neville Reid have left their mark on the stunning Amalfi Coast. It feels more like a heavenly dream than reality.