Gita Italiana 2010: Mountains & Sea: Between Two Worlds on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Next stop on the Gita Italiana 2010 is one of the most popular parts of Italy — and rightfully so judging from these photos and words! Here comes Laura of Ciao Amalfi!

Mountains & Sea: Between Two Worlds on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

Postcard images of seaside villages with pastel houses climbing up steep mountainsides, rocky beaches with unimaginably blue waters, beaches lined with brightly colored umbrellas—these are the picturesque images that define Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Those of you that have visited this beautiful part of Italy will agree with me when I say that it’s even more extraordinary than any photograph could possibly capture.

The mountains soar—rocky edges outlined against the blue sky— forming a seemingly unreal backdrop high above the famous seaside towns of Amalfi and Positano. The Lattari Mountains form the backbone running down the Sorrento Peninsula separating the southern coastline, called the Amalfi Coast, from the northern coastline on the Bay of Naples. Home to wild boars and rare plant species, these mountains are lush, rich and mysterious. They are the other side of the Amalfi Coast – a landscape of strong contrasts where the scent of pine trees lingers in the fresh, salty breeze.

When winter storms come rolling in, they cling to the top of those mountains as if afraid to continue out to sea. Yet, the sea welcomes those mountains, with sharp edges plunging into the blue waters. Somewhere in between, the sea and the mountains meet to create the unique landscape and lifestyle of the Amalfi Coast.

High above Amalfi, the Valle dei Mulini (Valley of the Mills) climbs into a magical and completely unexpected mountain landscape. Hiking up from the center of Amalfi, you soon pass the ruins of the town’s once thriving paper mills, which supplied fine quality paper all over southern Italy in the Middle Ages. Soon you enter another world, where pure, ice cold water from the high mountain source rushes through little pools. Then you’ll reach a point where the waterfalls bring to mind tropical rainforests rather than the rugged Amalfi Coast. At that moment the nearby sea and rocky beaches seem a world away.

These two sides of the Amalfi Coast are also represented in the regional cuisine. In the villages along the sea, specialties are based on mare (sea) and the abundant seafood, while up the mountains you’re more likely to find dishes based on terra (earth). As you drive higher in the mountains to the villages of Scala, Ravello and Tramonti, you’ll find a landscape covered with chestnut trees and traditional dishes featuring salsicce and locally foraged funghi.

When people ask me for advice for visiting this beautiful part of Italy, I encourage them to try to experience both sides of the Amalfi Coast. Spend time swimming in the incredible waters and looking up at the towering mountain backdrop. But, if you have time, get up in the mountains, go hiking and experience the other side of the Amalfi Coast. For me, I feel as if I truly began to understand the Amalfi Coast’s beauty, culture and lifestyle when I began to explore the mountains and looked down on the tiny villages overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.


Laura Thayer is an art historian and freelance writer living on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. She is currently co-writing a novel set in Italy with her mother and writes about life on the Amalfi Coast at her website Ciao Amalfi. Photos © Laura Thayer, Ciao Amalfi!


Grazie mille Laura!

Tomorrow we’ll be headed to Florence, so be sure to come back!

13 Beans of Wisdom to “Gita Italiana 2010: Mountains & Sea: Between Two Worlds on Italy’s Amalfi Coast”
  1. Thanks, Michelle, for having me over to share about life on the Amalfi Coast for your Gita Italiana 2010. I look forward to virtually traveling to Florence tomorrow!

    Thanks again to you, Laura 🙂

  2. 08.20.2010

    Another wonderful lady ..Another wonderful post. She writes so beautifully. I love Laura’s blog, it just makes me want to throw caution to the wind , sell up and move! Of course that is not possible, so I am going to have to settle with reading all the wonderful blogs and making a trip at a time .

    Thanks Michelle for inviting Laura .. I wonder who is next on the list …!! I know two people that come to mind… one begins with O and one M… will just have to come back 🙂

    Hmm, now you have *me* curious as to who you’re thinking of…well next guest author starts with a J, then two Ks are coming up….

  3. Gil

    The Amalfi Coast that Laura writes about is more beautiful than I remember what I saw on the long ride on the Amalfi highway on our ride to Calabria! Beautiful pictures!!!

    Agreed Gil! I just had to include the water and rocks…so atypical of what you think of in Amalfi 🙂

  4. 08.20.2010

    Laura is spot on. Holidays here are described as ‘tra mare e monte’. Yesterday we took the boat out to crystal clear waters on our favourite beach and Sunday I’ll be moonlight trekking on the Path of the Gods in the mountain. Divine…


  5. saretta

    Nice article, Laura. I like that you look at the Amalfi coast from different perspectives!

    I love the dichotomy too 🙂

  6. 08.20.2010

    Oh, yet another beautiful spot I must visit in Italy! I know Positano was one of my parents’ favorite places in the world. Thank you so much for this guide!

    So glad you enjoyed, Jen!

  7. Lark

    Thanks for all the gita posts. What a nice treat!

    Thank you so much for coming by, Lark!

  8. 08.20.2010

    My two favorite expat bloggers and my beloved Amalfi Coast, I must be in heaven! Brava Lauretta for this multiple perspective post, and Michelle for hosting the fabulous Gita Italiana!!

    E xx

    Thanks so much for following Ele!

  9. 08.20.2010

    A glorious post thankyou ladies, which makes me wonder yet again why we did not choose to live on the Amalfi coast, that little bit of heaven on earth. I do love where we are now though, in fact I love it all. I am really enjoying the Gita Italiana posts.

    So happy to hear you’re enjoying the gita!

  10. 08.25.2010

    Wow! I had no idea about the waterfalls. So lovely! ~ Tui

    I didn’t either!

  11. 09.08.2010

    Italy is a beautiful country and I can’t imagine Not visiting the Almafi Coast. I have only been been to tuscany region. hoping to visit more as time permits.

    Have been enjoying reading Gita Italiana!

  12. Claire

    Lovely article, and especially exciting to me as I will be heading to Italy next week and while there will spend one week in a house in Praiano. What town is in the photograph…is it Amalfi? Thank you so much for your writings!

    michelle Reply:

    Enjoy your trip, Claire! The photo is Laura’s at Ciao Amalfi, so I’m not sure….



Homemade apple butter
Green beans, potatoes, and pancetta
Glazed Apple Oatmeal Cinnamon Muffins
Pasta with snails alla calabrese
Onion, Oregano, and Thyme Focaccia
Oatmeal Banana Craisin Muffins
Prosciutto wrapped watermelon with bel paese cheese
Fried eggs with red onion and cheese
Calabrian sausage and fava beans
Ricotta Pound Cake