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The Colourful Towns of the Amalfi Coast

Posted 04 Apr 2024

Being so much more than just a tourist destination, a visit to Italy’s beautiful Amalfi Coast is rather a true sensory journey. Become absorbed in the paint palette of vibrant towns that rise up from the sea's edge, carved out of the rugged cliff face, varnished with splashes of colour and topped with plentiful forests. Lose yourself in the labyrinth of streets connected by hidden staircases that lead you to golden beaches kissed by turquoise waters. Feel the salty sea breeze as you overlook the Tyrrhenian Sea dotted with stripped fishing boats.

It is these lively sensations that have attracted tourists, celebrities and intellectuals to these pastel-hued villages for hundreds of years. 13 towns scatter the Amalfi Coast, each one exhibiting its own unique personality steeped in history and saturated in a spirited culture. On our Cilento & Amalfi Coast tour, discover these colourful towns for yourself as you pedal along this striking coastline. To get you started, we have listed 5 of the most colourful towns on the Amalfi Coast.

Amalfi Coast

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Vietri Sul Mare – The Gate to Amalfi

Known internationally for being the ceramic capital of the world, Vietri Sul Mare is famed for its majolica ceramics since the Middle Ages when it first started exporting these colourful artworks. Majolica is a term used to describe the richly coloured glazed pottery that is decorated with an intricate design on a white background. The earliest examples of this ceramic form first emerged during the Italian Renaissance and are still authentically replicated today as many traditional techniques remain unchanged and are stubbornly passed on through generations.

The bright yellows, blues and greens used to decorate these artisan works trickle through this shining town. Vietri Sul Mare breathes colour and vibrancy with tiled paths, tiled walls and tiled storefronts that glisten in the sun. The 18th-century church of San Giovanni Batista stands out with its majolica-tiled domed roof whose yellow and green stripes sparkle in the light. Hidden in the winding alleyways you’ll find buildings full of detail and bursting with colour which make the perfect photo snapshot.

Vietri Sul Mare

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Ravello – The Balcony of the Amalfi Coast

With thousands of years of history, the enchanting town of Ravello sits on a mountaintop 1200 feet above the Mediterranean Sea. Labelled as “The Balcony of the Amalfi Coast”, its breathtaking views looking over the sapphire sea are framed with electric pink blooms of flowers and glowing white statues. Many artists, composers and authors have come here seeking refuge and inspiration, seduced by its quiet nature, medieval streets, garden villas and ancient stone pathways. Over the past two centuries, the likes of artist JMW Turner, composer Richard Wagner and writer Virginia Woolf have delighted in the sweeping vistas of Ravello.

Two famous villas stand proudly on this mountainside steeped in history. The first, Villa Rufolo, was built in the latter half of the 13th century by the powerful Rufolo family and is home to a magical botanical garden whose velvet purple, fuchsia pink, deep red and radiant yellow flowers blanket the ground. The second, Villa Cimbrone, dates back to the 11th century but has since been extensively renovated. Its cliff-edge terrace named the ‘Terrace of Infinity’ is lined with a series of marble statues that sparkle against the cyan sky and indigo waters of the Mediterranean below.


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Atrani – The Secret Fishing Village

From Ravello, you can walk downhill through many terraced slopes covered in dusky yellow lemon trees, small pastel-pink homes and olive-green gardens to reach the quaint fishing town of Atrani. Concealed by its more popular neighbour, Amalfi, this tiny settlement is far from the hustle and bustle of the tourist crowds and is one of the best-preserved medieval towns on the Amalfi coast. Its quiet, authentic and endearing atmosphere is felt by all who visit. In 1923, the Dutch artist, Escher, fell head over heels in love with Atrani and many pieces of her art depict the game of light and shadow played amidst its narrow alleyways.

In the day, uniform lines of electric blue parasols fill the sandy coves and contrast against the pastel pink and orange buildings in the background. As the crystal-clear waters turn dark at dusk, watch as fishing boats carry tiny lamps out to sea in the hope of attracting schools of fish. The countless little lights bobbing in the waves look like thousands of stars shining in the midnight sea.


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Positano – The Life of Luxury

The large town of Positano is a popular tourist destination for its stunning beauty and impressive panorama of coloured houses that climb the hillside. A rainbow of sun loungers lie on the silver-grey sand which looks out onto the Mediterranean Sea flecked with tiny boats. Here you will find the true meaning of ‘la dolce vita’ which has allured the rich and famous for decades for its beach bathing, cappuccino sipping and label shopping lifestyle. Even today you’ll be able to spot a celebrity face against the magazine-worthy hillside backdrop. As night falls, watch as spots on the cliffside begin to glow a vibrant orange as hundreds of restaurants and bars light up like candles in a vase.


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Amalfi – The Motherland

The entire Amalfi coast is named after this seaside gem with its maritime traditions and tourism. Historically, Amalfi was the oldest of Italy’s maritime republics which prospered when it dominated the coastal trading routes of the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages. Nowadays the town is a famous tourist destination which continues to enchant visitors searching for paradise. Its cluster of ivory-coloured buildings with terracotta roofs gleam like pearls strung along the waterline. Sandwiched between the sea and the mountains, the town appears vertical, negotiating the space dominated by the geography of the land. Busier than some of the other destinations on the coastline, expect the atmosphere here to be as colourful as the town itself.


For more information about our tours in Campania & Amalfi, give our cycle experts a call on 020 7471 7760, or view our Campania & Amalfi cycling holidays here.

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