Visiting one of Italy’s most beautiful destinations doesn’t have to break the bank.
The Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Naples have long been known as playgrounds for the rich and famous, but there are still a slew of free things to do in Italy’s most glamorous region.
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Il Sentiero degli Dei
The Path of the Gods is the Amalfi Coast’s most popular and visually stunning hiking trail. The 4.8-mile route links the hilltop towns of Agerola to Nocelle and, as the name implies, has breathtaking views.
Incontri Musicali Sorrentini
Sorrento’s main cultural event of the year, the Incontri Musicali Sorrentini, features outstanding concerts and theatrical entertainment from the last week of August to the end of September. Though events can be found throughout the city, many take place in the acoustically dramatic church of San Francesco’s Moorish-style cloister.
Ancients believed Lago d’Averno was the doorway to the underworld, and for good reason. The lake’s black water emits a pervasive sulfuric smell, ominous forested hills press in on three sides, and the menacing cone of Monte Nuovo looms over it all.
The Duomo in Napoli
Erected in the 1200s, the Duomo is essentially a story of the city’s tumultuous architectural history: ancient pagan columns share its interior with the 350-year-old richly decorated false wood ceiling, which in turn hides the original Gothic ceiling behind it.
Marina di Furore
The best things in life are free, but not always easily accessible. The beach at Marina di Furore is a steep 944 steps down (and then back up). Hike down and enjoy one of the most private and pristine beaches in Italy. From here there are lots of hiking options. The “Mad Bats’ Path” is 3,000 steps of panoramic views that will keep you busy for a couple of hours.
Mt. Vesuvius is not the towering threat it was when it erupted in AD 79, so feel free to gaze deep into its smoking crater. A shuttle drops you at a point on the mountain where well-marked signs direct you up a steep 30-minute hike to the summit.
Gesù Nuovo in Napoli
Originally constructed as a palace, the 16th-century church of Gesù Nuovo is a striking contrast to the plain Romanesque facades of other nearby churches. The exterior is covered with pointy, faceted stones engraved with musical notes that together produce a 45-minute-long musical. The interior is resplendent with the Baroque sculptures of Naccherino and Finelli. The fine frescoes adorning its main nave were the work of Massimo Stanzione.
What began in the 1950s as a quiet cultural gathering in the stunning mountain town of Ravello is today one of the most vibrant musical experiences that Italy has to offer. The annual festivities take place in the gardens of the ancient Villa Rufolo, where German opera composer Richard Wagner fell in love with the landscape and where his music is celebrated to this day.
Spiaggia di Fornillo
Positano’s Spiaggia di Fornillo is adored for its crystal clear waters. A favorite of painter Pablo Picasso, the beach’s backdrops are the majestic pastel villas of Positano. Beachfront bars, restaurants, and water-sports equipment rentals are all within walking distance.
Piazza Garibaldi in Napoli
Though still a little rough around the edges, Piazza Garibaldi has been completely revamped in recent years. The streets here are always lively and the city’s largest Chinese population lives nearby, in case you’re craving something other than Italian food.