Ahh, Amalfi. If you ever fantasize about being in a real-life Eat, Pray, Love scene, this is the place to be. The narrow roads only big enough for tiny cars to drive by, white linen laundry hanging from the balconies of the storeys surrounding the lanes, the bells ringing from the nearby chapel, you eating a bowl of Pomodoro pasta with generous shavings of Parmesan while the waiter sings Italian Opera from the counter, and afterwards, a delicious scoop of gelato while watching the sunset from the coast.
Honestly, you can write a whole novel about Amalfi alone. And it will be a really good story.
Amalfi is just a small coastal town, a havoc in the summer but otherwise a peaceful, quaint little area during the low season. Its life centers around the small cathedral square, with houses built upon houses against the steep cliffs, hundreds of staircases and a beautiful cemetery on top of the hill. It’s the type of place that invites you to do nothing – you buy a locally grown orange and eat it by the staircase, you sit at any beautiful ristorante and watch people watching other people, you wander into people’s courtyards and greet everyone with a buongiorno, and you hang out by the sea and watch the sun fade away.
Life here really begins in the morning, as most of the locals are farmers or fishermen. By the time the sun is up, the fish market is already up and running. The seafood fare of which Amalfi is famous for is up for show, from all sorts of clams to shiny, slick anchovies. Amalfi’s main local produce are the citrus, and you see it displayed everywhere here. The markets sells knobbly, gigantic lemons and oranges, the tablecloths at restaurants are adorned with prints of lemons, and don’t you dare leave Amalfi without trying them – how about some smoked mozzarella with lemon leaves, or a plate of creamy Amalfi pasta with chunks of its lemon mixed together?
Smoked mozzarella with lemon leaves
Creamy pasta with chunks of Amalfi lemons
The hidden secret of this town would of course have to be the cemetery. And no, stop picturing some horrific rendition of a haunted graveyard from one of those Astro Ria movies. This cemetery is a gorgeous one, set on top of the cliff above the whole centre. It only houses cremations, and you’ll find reading the obituaries fascinating. Some of them dates back as late as the 1800s, with black and white pictures of people in gowns and top hats. Here is also where you’ll get the best view of Positano, as you’re eye-level with all the buildings. White and pastel buildings set against a cliff with blue skies and the Mediterranean sea? Yes please.
But the real gem of the place is actually its people. They are nice, friendly, and are proud of their home. You can easily ask for help anywhere, even though they speak little English. And like any other Italian, they like you more if you like their food. Relax if they yell. They yell at everyone, even their mothers. The neighbourhood is safe and peaceful, and you can wander around like you’re lost in some kind of beautiful maze of courtyards, staircases and narrow lanes.
After all, don’t you need to get a little lost in order to be found?