Location: Salerno Province, Italy, Europe
Length: 37 km
Built: between 1832-1850
Wide: 5 m standard, 2 lanes
Surface quality (out of 5): 5 for most of the road, 4 on the last stretch
Highest point: Ravello, 350 meters above sea level
Operating times: throughout the year
SS 163 Strada Statale 163 Amalfitana
Route: Vietri sul Mare – Amalfi – Positano
The Amalfi Coast, or Costiera Amalfitana, is one of Italy’s most scenic roads: magically suspended between the blue sky and turquoise sea, one of the 50 Italian sites added to the UNESCO World Heritage List, this road is famous worldwide for its natural beauty and unique environment.
Located south of the Sorrento Peninsula, overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Gulf of Salerno, the Amalfi Coast road takes its name from the town of Amalfi, in its day one of Italy’s four powerful maritime republics (with Venice, Pisa and Genoa). With its luxuriant terraced gardens, vineyards and pastel colored villages carved straight in the surrounding mountains, it is considered to be the perfect example of Mediterranean landscape.
This challenging road is famous for it’s drop-dead views, spectacular narrow streets with many curves and unforgettable views along the way. From Autostrada A3, you pick up the SS163 at Vietri sul Mare, south of Salerno, a village famous for its ceramics that offers great views of the dramatic coastline. The road follows the shoreline and connects all the small towns of the Amalfi Coast. You’ll encounter viewpoint after viewpoint with the one at Capo d’Orso regarded to be one of the best.
The road continues inland towards the town of Ravello. Lying at 350 meters above the sea level, the highest point of the Amalfi Coast road, it’s one of the most beautiful and romantic small towns in southern Italy. “Closer to the sky than the sea”, according to French novelist André Gide, Ravello is a place rich in lush gardens and quiet lanes, a city of arts and music that provides unforgettable views over the steep coast below. It is the home to one of the oldest Italian music festivals, the Ravello Festival, which embraces a new theme every year.
Coming back to the coast from Ravello, the corniche road brings you to Amalfi, a town with a spectacular seafront setting, many cafes and shops, and mild climate that make it a very popular resort. It is definitely worth a visit, especially the old town where you will find the Duomo di Sant’Andrea, a cathedral with an intricately patterned facade founded in the ninth century, the pride of Amalfi.
Continuing west from Amalfi, the increasingly scenic road passes Grotta dello Smeraldo, a marine cave of emerald waters worth exploring by boat, elevator or by foot, making use of the rock-cut steps. Just beyond it, the road passes the Vallone di Furore, one of the coast’s most impressive gorges. Two kilometers to the south, the road continues to the town of Praiano, which stands on a hill overlooking the sea and from where you can enjoy one of the best views of the whole coastline.
We continue to Positano, another famous and splendid village of the Amalfi coast. The road grazes Positano in its upper part, and, in case you want to stop, you should reach the village with its characteristic white houses through the narrow streets leading down to the sea and which are walkable.
Leaving Positano behind, the driving enthusiasts can let off steam and enjoy about 8 km of curves that follow each other in a creepy sequence This stretch of coastline is a continuous succession of promontories and inlets, bays and fjords with pebble beaches and dangerous cliffs.
Locals recommend planning a drive of the Amalfi Coast mid-September to October and May, when the road is less crowded and tour buses are fewer. In conclusion, driving along the Amalfi Coast road is one of the most thrilling experiences that you can have while visiting Italy.
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