Narrow paths suspended above the sea wind along a stunningly beautiful and rugged section of Italy’s northern coast connecting five villages called Le Cinque Terre. Farther south, a narrow two lane road twists and turns through the tiny towns of Positano and Amalfi with pastel buildings clinging to cliffs high above the Mediterranean. Italy’s most beautiful seaside destinations, the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, have much in common. So how does the Cinque Terre compare to the Amalfi Coast and should you include a beach destination as part of your vacation in Italy?
Logistics play a major role in this decision with the Cinque Terre much more accessible from Florence and Milan and the Amalfi Coast closer to Rome and Naples. But there are other factors to consider including weather patterns, what you like to do while on vacation, the style of accommodations you most enjoy and budget. Both destinations offer jaw dropping ocean views, glorious sunshine and the opportunity to relax far from the frenzy of Rome, Florence and Venice but the Cinque Terre offers a simpler, more casual vacation experience while the Amalfi Coast is more glamorous and romantic.
In both locations ordinary tourists and foodies are enticed to enjoy Italy’s “slow food” and linger in cafes and restaurants with lovely views and menus filled with fresh from the net seafood, farm to table fruits and vegetables, handmade pastas, the world’s best gelato, excellent local wines, espresso in all its forms and pizza, calzone and focaccia as they were meant to be. Dining in the Cinque Terre is diverse and and it’s possible to enjoy an excellent meal with wine for $25. Amalfi Coast dining is more sophisticated and prices a bit higher but a very important note to celiac and gluten free travelers – with proper research you can dine extraordinarily well throughout Italy including the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast. La Dolce Vita!
The Cinque Terre is an outstanding destination for walkers, hikers and those comfortable with clean but simple accommodations and a laid back atmosphere. For those that prefer full service hotels and resorts, Rapallo, Santa Margherita and Portofino offer more deluxe accommodations near the Cinque Terre and have easy train connections. Monterosso is the largest of the villages and an excellent base from which to explore Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore. The public beach is large by Italian standards and several of the Cinque Terre’s best hikes begin nearby including the spectacular seaside trail and a fabulous trek from Corniglia up to Volastra then back down to the sea and Manarola with its boat filled streets.
The Amalfi Coast is made for romance with a more sophisticated “James Bond” ambiance. Here you’ll find glamourous seaside resorts, upscale shopping and gourmet dining mixed with simple cafes and family run hotels. The two most famous towns along the Amalfi Coast, Positano and Amalfi, are connected by a hair raising and heart stoppingly beautiful coastal drive. The drive is best left to professionals and public buses are an inexpensive transportation choice for those not bothered by motion sickness. There is also a passenger ferry which runs between Positano and Amalfi during high season, roughly mid April through mid October, as well as private drivers and water taxis.
Positano is the largest of the Amalfi Coast towns and nearest the Naples airport with ample shopping, a wide range of accommodations and lovely long stretch of beach with lounge chairs and umbrellas for rent. Smaller and utterly charming Amalfi has a beautiful cathedral and piazza and connects by a short walk with tiny Atrani. Sleepy Praiano lies midway along the coast and high above the sea are the villages of Ravello, Pontone, Nocelle and Pogerola.
After hectic days sightseeing in Rome, Florence and Venice, many Amalfi Coast visitors choose to relax on a sun drenched terrace or beach with views of the Mediterranean but more active travelers can hike the Path of the Gods, visit nearby Pompeii or Heraculeum or pop over to Sorrento or Capri, both popular day trips from the Amalfi Coast. There is something for everyone in Italy so please call or email if I can help you plan an Italian vacation or honeymoon to the Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast