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Cliffside villages, deep gorges, lemon groves and pretty isolated coves: the Amalfi Coast is, without doubt, one of the most dramatic and beautiful coastlines in Europe.
But how does it fare as a self-guided destination? We sent Exodus’ Louise Ungless there – without a guide – to find out.
A Self-Guided Tour of Amalfi
I knew that I was going to eat well in Italy, but I really did underestimate how well. I went to the Amalfi Coast for a walking holiday, but what I found was a gourmet extravaganza that rivalled the walking for excellence.
Every evening we’d settle down for a typically Italian meal, always four courses. When you stay at a hotel like the Due Torri, a traditional family-run Italian home from home, you know great food is always on the menu – and indulging in copious amounts of food is a given.
It was as though the kitchen staff were setting a challenge for their guests every evening!
The first evening began with antipasti, comprising of bread, cured meats, anchovies, artichokes, various cheeses, olives and roasted vegetables in oil. A pasta dish then arrived; spaghetti with rocket pesto.
Just as I thought I had finished my dinner, a pork chop with a salad was then placed in front of me. Finally, struggling but still willing to eat, the meal ended with a refreshing fruit platter. All of this went down nicely with a glass (or two) of Italian red wine, of course.
It is a great feeling knowing that you can walk it all off on the following day, allowing you to indulge in the Hotel Due Torri’s cuisine guilt-free.
Walking the Amalfi Coast
The Amalfi Coast is a walker’s paradise. Mule tracks, old paths and thousands of ancient steps lead the way to breath-taking views, bustling coastal towns and quiet villages. The routes are well-signposted, allowing you time to take in your surroundings rather than bury your head in the directions.
However, the odd signpost does tend to change or disappear. Be careful, you don’t want to descend hundreds of steps only to realise you have gone the wrong way and need to go back up them again. One of my favourites was the optional walk from Bomerano to Praiano, which starts from the hotel’s front door.
The walk follows the famous ‘Path of the Gods’ for the first couple of kilometres and then branches off towards the small town of Praiano.
As we follow a small monorail (used to transport grapes) along the path, spectacular panoramic views of the coast greet you, with thousands of steep steps descending towards the pretty town. The town, which is spread along a couple of kilometres of the cliffside coastline, is a fantastic place to relax.
Pretty coves offer a peaceful spot to sit and enjoy your sandwich, and the quiet bars next to the main church of Praiano have beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea. It was then a challenging climb back to Bomerano, where 1200 steep steps lead from Praiano to the Convent di San Domenico.
Stopping here for homemade lemonade, a generous serving of olives and a fantastic view, it is a peaceful retreat. Leaving the convent to continue on to Bomerano, the exposed path winds round the cliff, delivering the most spectacular view I have seen on the Amalfi Coast!
It was here that I truly appreciated being on a self-guided escape. Being able to take your time along mule tracks and ancient paths, pausing to admire the view whenever you like for as long as you like, gives you such a sense of freedom.
Whether it’s lingering in a picturesque cove in Praiano to eat the delicious sandwich prepared by the hotel, or relaxing at the Covent di San Domenico to enjoy the well-earned freshly squeezed lemonade, it is these care-free moments that make a self-guided gourmet tour of Amalfi.
See our walking tours of Amalfi below and set off on your next adventure.