Amalfi Coast and Parthenopean Islands: a dream cruise
The Amalfi Coast and the Parthenopean islands are one of the most beautiful places in the world: it is impossible not to be amazed by their wild environment, surrounded by greenery and rugged cliffs that plunge steeply into the sea, by the villages full of colored houses clinging to the mountains, by the splendid terraces with planted lemon groves that cover the steep slopes and by the locals who welcome the visitors with the most extraordinary warmth. This corner of the Tyrrhenian Sea is even more interesting if you explore it on board a sailing boat for an absolutely rewarding cruise experience.
Day 1, Salerno (boarding)
Salerno is a perfect starting point for our sailing trip to discover these wonderful lands thanks to its large marina full of nautical services. Here we will spend our first night on board after we’ve familiarized ourselves with the boat and have recharged our batteries with an excelent dinner.
Finaly we’re off. Going to the west of the entrance of the large port of Salerno we sail across Vietri sul Mare, a town well known in the world for the production of majolica (a tin-glazed pottery decorated in colours) with its beautiful historic center with classic twisted alleys and ancient buildings, and in 3.5 miles we reach Cetara, a characteristic fishing village that has become famous for its anchovyn sauce-based cuisine. The coast here is rocky, with small sandy coves which goes in favor for mooring when the weather permits it, and the 10-meter depth allows you to moor almost anywhere. As an alternative, for a shore visit we can moor in the small port of the town which can accommodate 50 boats up to 13 meters and offers waste collection services, electricity, water, showers and toilets. Just a mile away is Erchie. This small village is also millenary and has seen over time stories and vicissitudes of pirates and naval battles. Here, on a rock, there is an ancient Saracen tower, Torre La Cerniola, it is a square plan tower with terraces overlooking the sea. Going up towards the north, you pass across the splendid Capo d’Orso, bristling and steep: it is said that you can hear it roar when the sea violently hits between the rocks. Keep in mind that here immediately the seabed falls steeply everywhere over 20 meters, apart from the small bay close to the promontory that we will use to stay in the harbor.
We continue to the nearby villages of Maiori and Minori, two small coastal pearls characterized by surprisingly beautiful landscapes, a timeless atmosphere and a gastronomic offer of the highest quality. The port of Maiori has 115 berths, reserved for boats up to 15 meters of which 5 are dedicated to transit, with a permission to stop of maximum 48 hours. There are toilets, water and electricity sockets, waste service, mooring and fire fighting services. Worth seeing are the beautiful beaches, the largest on the Amalfi Coast, the Sulphurous Grotto and the Pandora Grotto, reachable only by sea. On the other hand, in Minori, also known as the Eden of the Coast, due to the breezy and cool climate and its surroundings with terraced hills planted with lemon groves and vines, the Basilica of Santa Trofimena, a Roman villa from the 1st century AD, is worth a visit with a patio of 2,500 square meters, swimming pool and spa and than you can also thake the a walk in Ravello, a medieval village perched on top of a hill with a breathtaking view of the Gulf and covered with Italian gardens.
Day 3, Minori-Amalfi, 2.5 miles
With less than one mile of navigation we now sail towards Amalfi, one of the four ancient Maritime Republics that gives the name to this coast. With its 300 berths available, the port of Amalfi will not worry our skipper for where we will be spending the night. The beauty of Amalfi, declared as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1997, is famous all over the world. To fully enjoy it, just get lost among its houses that are put so close together and, as a consequence of arab influence, are perched on the steep slopes and follow one another through labyrinths of alleys and stairways, like the oriental souks. It is also interesting to pay a visit to the cathedral of Sant’Andrea Apostolo rebuilt in baroque style in 700s, with the wonderful staircase and its enchanting cloister and do not miss the Arsenale Museum, where the maritime history of Amalfi is preserved and the famous Grotta dello Smeraldo (Emerald cave), with its amazingly twisted forms of rocks shaped by water over the millennia and its turquoise color given by the light that reflects through the water from the outside.
The Conca dei Marini is a place to not miss, it is pretty holiday resort in the tower on the rocks that served as a holiday residence to Sophia Loren. Its enchanting bay set among the typical white vaulted houses from seventeenth-century offers sandy bottoms of up to 14 meters. Another fairytale stop is given to us by Furore, a surprising fjord with a small village embedded in its rocks as if it were a nativity scene, while the town is located higher up, on the mountain, and is known as the “painted town”. The rough sea and the waves that burst with power inside give this fjord a truly special charm.
Navigating for another mile to the north during the 4th day we can put the anchor down and take a quick swim in the open little golf with a sandy bottom of Marina di Praia, which is yet another fishing village perched on the rocks, then we will go round Capo di Praiano and reach the superb Positano after another 2 miles. In front of the town there is a shore quay, butonly allowed to hydrofoils and ferries are allowed. We can moor at the buoy camp (150 places) near Marina Grande. Alternatively, we can stop for the night close to the beaches of Arienzo, Fornillo and Laurito.
Positano steals its visitors hearts with its holiday resort that’s been there since the Roman Empire and white houses descending down to the sea gathered around the church of Santa Maria Assunta. The town is spread over a valley and two ridges, it has narrow alleys and breathtaking stairways, arches and trendy clubs, artisan shops and well-known designer labels. The beach here with the dry fishing boats and the painters who do their utmost in a production dedicated to tourists complete the picture. Here we can dedicate our time to go shopping, to relax or to take a walk along the beach, for example through the Path of the Lovers, or along the beach (la spiaggia) Grande or beach Fornillo, or to explore Grotta La Porta or get lost in the alleys full of shops, bars and steep streets that lead to the sea. Punta Campanella is also worth a visit, but it is a Protected Marine Area so it is good to take note and respect the specific laws, restrictions and prohibitions before diving among its lush hillsides of Mediterranean scrub that cover this whole area even way down at the end of the hill where it meets the sea.
Day 5, Positano-Capri, 15 miles
After the exciting Amalfi Coast and its glimpses of the Gulf of Naples, it’s time to set sail and discover the three islands that represent the enchantment of these seas. Let’s start with Capri, the most romantic and worldly island of the Neapolitan sea that over the centuries has been able to conquer attention of Roman emperors and Hollywood stars. However, anchoring on the island is a difficult task. Marina Piccola is an open anchorage that overlooks the very small village full of restaurants and bars. The town is easily reached by bus. It is definitely better, when the weather is good, to anchor here than in front of the port of Marina Grande, where it is impossible to find a place. Once the boat is fixed in place, a ride with the dinghy is enough to enjoy this island’s of wonders. Walking along it is impossible not to be fascinated by the Faraglioni, the two high rocks that immerse in crystal clear waters, which have now become a symbol of the marine beauty of Capri or by the seductive majesty of the Blue Grotto (Blue Cave), a cavity characterized by a mirror of a bright blue water.
When it comes to other activities and intersting spots, Capri is richer within-on land than along the coasts and conquers with its whitewashed houses, the ancient alleys, the panoramic funicular, the square with its film set atmosphere and the indescribable mix of hotels of luxury, sophisticated restaurants, famous designer boutiques, breathtaking terraces and historic villas overlooking the sea. It is also worth taking a walk along the Tragara path, with a look at the artisan shops and taking a tour around Casa Malaparte which is an example of a brilliant approach to life.
Procida is the smallest but also the easiest one to reach. Famous for being the setting for the famous film “Il Postino”, directed and starring Massimo Troisi, it is authentic with its narrow alleys, fishing boats, cats, stairways and its rugged coastline. Not to mention its small, colorful houses and historic buildings that culminate with the Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, located 90 m above sea level on top of the promontory of Terra Murata. From the Chiaiolella port where the boat can be moored, you can get to the islet of Vivara, a nature reserve located in front of the Cirraciello beach. The coasts of Procida are low and sandy in some places, while in others they drop sheer to the sea. Along its perimeter there are also many beaches and bays where we can stop at anchor for a swim: they all fall within the Kingdom of Nettono marine protected area. For example we can stop in front of the wonderful Chiaia beach.
It shouldn’t be missed Cala di Corricella where you can anchor, a beautiful bay with the homonymous fishing village dominated by a castle. A walk to Terra Murata is also a must, from which you can admire a breathtaking view over the entire Gulf of Naples while admiring the medieval fortifications and the fortifications of Neapolitan Republic of 1799.
Day 7, Procida-Ischia-Salerno 50 miles
On the seventh day we set sail for Ischia. It takes just an hour of sailing to reach the largest island of the archipelago, full of splendid historic centers, ancient fishing villages, vineyards and lush gardens, as well as famous for the natural spas known since ancient times. Its coast is diverse: there are white sandy beaches that alternate with rocky bays with seabeds rich in marine flora and Mediterranean fish. There are many possibilities for mooring: in addition to the main port of the island, one of the most protected in the Gulf, you can also take advantage of the port of Casamicciola (Cala degli Aragonesi) located 1.5 miles west of the Port of Ischia, or that of Forio, on the west coast of the island. However, one of the most beautiful anchorages is to stop in outside the tiny port of Sant’Angelo, one of the most fascinating places on the island. The bay is very open to the South, South East and East, but is well sheltered from the West and North West. The area for anchoring is very large and can accommodate many boats. The willage of Sant’Angelo is very pretty, it looks like Portofino in small and it deserves to go ashore with the tender to enjoy the beach with the natural thermal springs or take a walk along the narrow streets that climb between the pastel-colored houses up to to arrive at a viewpoint from which you can admire a beautiful view of the bay.
There are many places in Ischia not to be missed – the towns of: Ischia Porto, Ischia Ponte, Casamicciola Terme, Forìo and Lacco Ameno, on the north coast.
The most beautiful beaches you will find to be beach Maronti, the Bay of Sorgeto, the beach of the Fishermen (la spiaggia di Pescatori), the Bay of San Montano and Punta Caruso.
Only when our eyes are completely filled with so much wild beauty seen during our cruise on the Amalfi Coast we will be ready to leave these beautiful islands and return to Salerno with a another beautiful 40-mile sailing ride, pretty sure that we will return to these places one day.