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What do people find so special about the Amalfi Coast?

What do people find so special about the Amalfi Coast?

May 3rd, 2017, 06:07 AM
  #1  
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What do people find so special about the Amalfi Coast?

I don't mean to offend Fodor's Italophiles (I'm one, myself), but looking at pictures of Positano, it really looks like a slum with ramshackle houses clinging to a hill. What is it that drives millions of tourists to visit this seaside town?
Loacker is offline  
May 3rd, 2017, 06:25 AM
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It's really quite dizzying to be up there in those heights, with a true birds' eye view of a gorgeous seascape, where at many times of year the combination of sunlight and sea produce unforgettably intense colors. There is a separate and wonderful magic after the sun goes down and the lights twinkle up and down the incredibly steep cliffs. Day and night, the smell of lemons, olives and sea salt permeate the air. And of course it is as safe as safe can be. Many people live in places where they cannot feel comfortable walking at night, in the moonlight. Wine & lovely southern Italian food.

Also, many people who grew up and live in the modern post WW2 architecture of the 1st world find the texture and history of Italy's architecture, patched together like the way the beach caftans are patched together from rags in the classic Positano style, very touching. They are glad for every bit of worn stone, sagging window sill, cracks in the paster, the uneven steps underfoot, the same wooden boats repainted so many times over. All these things tell a story. Some people like the story, want to hear and see more. Others walk away, scratching their heads, wondering why Italians persist in living this way (even some Italians think this!) and find their bliss elsewhere.
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May 3rd, 2017, 06:46 AM
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I completely understand why many people find it magical, but personally it does nothing for me. Neither do many parts of the French Riviera. I have pretty particular geographical/geological preferences, though, which I don't expect other people to share.
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May 3rd, 2017, 06:48 AM
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Someone once told me it is the most "spectacular" when you view it off the coast.

There's something wonderful about so-called "grand vistas" IMO and not having been to this one, yet, I cannot comment specifically.
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May 3rd, 2017, 07:08 AM
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I thought the scenery was magical. Of course, I wasn't there in the middle of summer! There is more to the coast than Positano, the views from Ravello are stunning, for instance. And I can't say I thought that Positano was ramshackle!

Unlike StCirq, I find the scenery around Nice well worth seeing too, so this is very much a YMMV issue.
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May 3rd, 2017, 08:42 AM
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Loacker, Positano is not at all ramshackle and slum like. I'd sack the photographer if I were you! It's quite an upmarket village`with good hotels and restaurants and nice little shops and boutiques on the main street and beach walkway.

The AC beats the CT hands down.
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May 3rd, 2017, 09:34 AM
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I guess that's a matter of opinion. I wouldn't go so far as to say slumlike, but not that special or upscale, either. The way I felt about large parts of Montreux, actually, just kind of seedy.

Take a look at this blog, photos 5 and 6 show more closely the types of buildings on those hills. They are kind of ugly and rundown and cheaply made. Not as bad as some in Rio or places like that, but still.

http://www.positano.com/en/e/photos-...-amalfi-coast#

The main street and beach walkway may be nice.
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May 3rd, 2017, 11:40 AM
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I'd like to understand more about what places you DO like? Which Italian coastal towns, or which coastal towns in general do you find beautiful and not slum-like?
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May 3rd, 2017, 11:50 AM
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I loved the hiking with incredible views and birdsong to be truly intoxicating. In terms of architecture, no, it doesn't do it for me. But I like dramatic coastlines and the Costiera Amalfi has that in spades. For me it's more a natural scenery/hiking destination.

We stayed in Ravello last summer. I had only been to the AC once before, many years ago when I was quite young, on a whistle-stop tour. I didn't like it then. But staying for longer in a nice hotel with a terrace, taking walks through the hills, visiting the historic sites--yes, it was wonderful. Even with all the tourists and the not-stellar food most places.

Christina, when did you go to the Amalfi Coast?
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May 3rd, 2017, 11:54 AM
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"Found" not "loved." Sorry, I shouldn't multitask.
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May 3rd, 2017, 12:17 PM
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The POV makes a difference. If you're looking down from up on the hill, the views are spectacular. If you're looking up from the water, it does have a haphazard appearance in some spots. It's much more appealing at night under moonlight, with the city lights on. But I don't think people go there only for the appearance of the town.

Whatever. I prefer Amalfi and Ravello.
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May 3rd, 2017, 12:54 PM
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"Take a look at this blog, photos 5 and 6 show more closely the types of buildings on those hills"

I took a look. The buildings look fine to me. Not US cookie cutter but that's part of the point. And the charm. And they look NOTHING like favelas!

It's been a while since I was in Montreux, but I don't remember having issues with the buildings there either. Given the likely cost, hardly surprising, but if you want US style buildings maybe you should stay home.
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May 3rd, 2017, 01:50 PM
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"ekscrunchy on May 3, 17 at 9:40pm
I'd like to understand more about what places you DO like? Which Italian coastal towns, or which coastal towns in general do you find beautiful and not slum-like?"


I think there are plenty of places in Italy that put the Amalfi Coast to shame, but they don't get the hype hey deserve. Places like Bolzano in the Dolomites and Lake Garda.

As for European coastal towns, Positano can't hold a candle to Santorini or Dubrovnik, or even Portofino.

Why do travel guides continue to hype Positano as the holy grail of Italian travel?
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May 3rd, 2017, 03:42 PM
  #14  
ekc
 
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Well, having stayed in Positano 7 times over the last 5 years, I can tell you that it is not at all like a "slum" and a very few of the houses could qualify as "ramshackle." The views from all over town are lovely, there is a wonderful selection of beaches, fantastic seafood served at all types of restaurants, warm and friendly southern Italians, easy access by sea to other lovely villages with interesting histories, wonderful weather in season, etc., etc. Does it have its issues, like terrible traffic and limited parking? Sure, but that is outweighed by its pluses.

There is a certain relaxed vibe about a small Italian village by the sea that is utterly charming.

3 years ago I spent 4 nights in Bolzano. Absolutely comparing apples to oranges. The scenery is certainly gorgeous (comparing a mountain town to a seaside village). But it felt more German than Italian and after 3 days we were happy to head further back into Italy.
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May 3rd, 2017, 07:22 PM
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"But it [Bolzano] felt more German than Italian..."

It was within the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the end of WWI. You may have noted it's also called Bozen. Many towns in the Dolomites have both Italian and German names.
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May 3rd, 2017, 11:30 PM
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I'm not sure how you compare Portofino with Positano. The former is a few streets in a tiny cove with overpriced shops and restaurants and wouldn't even come halfway up a list of "pretty" places.

Positano is a unique village several times (or more) the size of Portofino with excellent hotels, shops, restaurants and cafes. While I love Liguria, if I never saw Portofino again, it wouldn't be a problem. I'd hate to think I'd never see the AC again.
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May 4th, 2017, 03:20 AM
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I'm with you there onn Portofino but as Rubicund says, it is not an apt comparison. Dubrovnik, yes, gorgeous, or at least it was when I was there when it was still Yugoslavia. Santorini is an island, not a town but beautiful it certainlyl is, although I found it lacking in personality. Portovenere would be up there. Maratea town. Pisciotta. Camogli.

I don't know which guides call it holy grail-ish, maybe Rick Steves or maybe even
one close to home. I never liked staing in Positano cause it seemed overrun witih English speaking tourists, but I do think it is very pretty although not one of the prettiest I've seen.
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May 4th, 2017, 04:03 AM
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I went to the Amalfi Coast last September expecting to love Positano and tolerate Capri. Ended up loving Capri and tolerating Positano. While the views from Positano out over the town and to the sea are spectacular from practically any point in town above the waterfront, I found the town itself to be overly touristy and contrived - not much real charm to it. Other towns on the Amalfi Coast - such as Minori (special shout-out to Pasticceria Sal De Riso) and Ravello - had more charm to them. Positano is definitely worth a visit but I would consider basing in a different town if I went back. Capri, on the other hand, gets a bad rap because of the day-trippers who come via ferry and overrun parts of the island. But if you stay there, and particularly if you stay some distance from the ferry port, you get a very different perspective of the island. There, it is peaceful and beautiful.
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May 4th, 2017, 05:32 AM
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It's silly to compare the Dolomiti and the Alpine lakes with the Amalfi Coast -- rather like saying "Bryce canyon puts the coast of Maine to shame." People aren't going to Bryce canyon for the waters!

I can understand it if the topography of Positano or Portofino isn't one's favorite landscape. (I find the tucked-away location of Portofno breataking.) But to visit these international tourist hotspots and to complain about the towns is to miss the point, and to compare fundamentally different types of topography, views makes no sense.
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May 4th, 2017, 06:57 AM
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Ah Loacker
I was starting to wonder where you were and here you come with one of your great negative/provocative/trolling threads.
Of course Amalfi is ugly that is why millions flock to it.

You seem however to be an expert on slums. What were the other cities you visited that were slums ? Istanbul Napoli ?

One who cannot find beauty cannot be happy.
I will pray for you in the hope that the light descends on you and that your eyes see the beauty around you instead or at least not only the slums.

Amen.
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