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Amalfi Coast Overview
Amalfi, in the province of Salerno, in Italy, lies surrounded by cliffs and coasts. It is quite close to Naples, and shares with that town some dramatic history, and beautiful scenery. Amalfi is the major town on that part of the coast, called "costiera Amalfitana", and as such has become an essential tourist destination (and is justly famous for its Limoncello liqueur).

The Amalfi Coast is very rich in Caves, grottoes, and even a little fjord, created by water erosion, which is a testament to the Amalfi Coast's maritime history. The area all around Amalfi was once an independent state, and its economy was based upon shipping. Sadly, little of this remains, and only the fantastic Cathedral of Amalfi is testament to the immense importance of what is now only a small coastal community.

Tourists to the area should definitely pay the Cathedral a visit, if only due to the fact that it is made up of two churches, linked by a specially widened nave. During repairs to the church, its Byzantine style front was re-discovered, and it was decided to preserve this instead of the 18th century front that had previously been there (A good choice, the original church front is a truly amazing sight).

If you begin your holiday with Amalfi, then you can walk (or hike, to be truthful) to some of the other very attractive towns along the coast, such as Ravello. This is a very awe-inspiring walk, with an overview of the whole valley. It can be a bit of a walk for some though, and there are shorter paths to neighbouring towns. In the event that you should feel like cheating, there are buses and ferries that will be able to take you to all of the major tourist attractions along the Amalfi Coast.

While Amalfi is an early medieval town, the mountainous town of Ravello is very definitely a Romanesque community. It is seen by some as a "garden town", luscious and green. Its villas are certainly worth seeing, and the views from the top of the valley are breathtaking.

One of the best towns to visit along the Amalfi Coast is the small town of Atrani. Like many of the towns in the area, Atrani was founded by Roman aristocracy, and still retains some of the appearance of a Roman town. It is a very quiet and untouristy place, possibly because if really only opens up to the beach, and is relatively inaccessible even now. It has a great beach and sea-front, and has begun to open itself up to tourists, via a few bars in the town square, making Atrani a welcoming and cosy little town.

A tourist interested in history may also want to visit the fascinating town of Positano. It is mentioned in ancient Roman documents, but discoveries have been made in the town itself which link it to the Palaeolithic Era, making Positano one of the oldest towns along the Amalfi Coast. It is also one of the most well known to tourists, often coming to visit the medieval church and its collection of religious works from the Renaissance period. Positano boasts one of the best hotels in the Amalfi Coast, although there are a number of others that can also claim to be luxurious and within easy reach of transport.

The hotels in the whole Amalfi Coast area can lay claim to being magnificent and full of Italian tradition, as you would expect from such a quiet and religious province. However, if you are looking for something a bit more economical, there are plenty of bed-and-breakfast accommodations, including the "Rooms with a View" B&B in Atrani, which is only a few minutes walk from Amalfi, and boasts (as the name implies) magnificent views of the surrounding hills. For those who are not interested in even this level of comfort, you can choose to arrange a hostel stay in Agerola. Staying here means that you have a head start on everyone attempting the "walk of the Gods", a hill-top hike that ends in Positano. Agerola also boasts magnificent local produce which is well worth trying. Even in this location, Amalfi and the rest of the Amalfi Coast towns are never more than a short walk away.

As well as walks, sights and hotels, the Amalfi Coast area also boasts some great night-life. The area has just started springing into life as a tourist attraction, so many of the bars and clubs are untried. One thing that has been tried and tested (several times), is the Lo Spuntino Sandwich Bar in the main square of Amalfi. This bar means that you do not have to queue for a table in the middle of summer, and it also serves take-away sandwiches, ideal if you want to begin your walks without waiting for lunch. If you are a vegetarian, and this goes for most of the Mediterranean, don't expect a wide choice of menu; it doesn't exist.
About the Author
Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing listings for bed and breakfasts, villas, hotels and apartments in Rome.
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