Amalfi Coast + Naples

The Amalfi Coast (La Costiera Amalfitana) perhaps more than any other part of Italy, quintessentially defines the Italian expression dolce far niente, carefree idleness, or literally, sweet doing nothing. Well before the Amalfi Drive — Strada Statale 163 — was completed in 1852, the coast and the land around Vesuvius was especially admired by the Romans, who named it Campania Felix, happy or fortunate countryside. An abundance of vegetables and fruit thrived in the volcanic soil, and still do; some of the best produce you’ll ever eat in your life grows right here. The best way to really experience the coast is to visit Amalfi, Positano and Ravello and one or more of the smaller coastal villages; include a visit to one of the tiny hamlets even higher up, such as Montepertuso and Nocelle; and take a boat trip (perhaps to Capri), as you can’t appreciate this coast without seeing it from the water. Many visitors are surprised to learn that the greater region of Campania is the most densely populated region in Italy. It is also dominated by the city of Naples, second city of Europe after Paris in the 16th century and a mandatory stop on the Grand Tour in the 19th century, earning it the moniker “See Naples and die.”

Also see our PBS travel series episode on this area and our section on the greater region of Campania

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