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A Destination Photographer’s Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Travel

September 18, 2021

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The Amalfi Coast in Italy is one of the most beautiful places on Earth I’ve travelled to and truly a bucket list destination. I had the privilege of capturing a client’s wedding here this summer and everyday was an adventure. Traveling during Covid times makes international travel to Europe a bit more stressful, so I recommend traveling abroad only if necessary. I’ll break down below what documents and tests were needed pre and post flight for anyone traveling soon.

I flew from out from San Francisco International Airport to London Heathrow and then to Naples International Airport with British Airways. Prices may vary due to the time of year but I have seen round trip economy airfare as low as $700 to Naples and under $500 for Rome from SFO although if traveling from Rome you will have a longer journey to the Amalfi coast and you will need to come by train or other means. I always suggest on long haul flights to get a seat in business class if you can use your mileage points or save up for it. The flight is much more comfortable, you have access to the business lounge with free wifi, business center with printers, comfortable chairs (sometimes access to showers), and more privacy on board. Especially during these times, I like the extra breathing room. I require business class flights when working abroad for clients which definitely helps in regards to making sure I’m at optimum performance level for their needs.

Before my flight I had to have the following items prepared: Covid Vaccination Card, Valid Passport with more than 6+ months still active on it, Passenger Locator Forms filled out for both the UK and Europe within 48 hours of flight, and Negative Covid Test that was taken within 48 hours before flight. British Airways also uses an optional app called VeriFly to help you know exactly what you need submitted and gives you a pass to show security to expedite your boarding process. I didn’t need this flying out but they asked to see it flying back to the US. Another pro tip is to get Global Entry! My wait time through security in the US is so much quicker and coming back is a lot simpler. I also found as a woman of color I get less of those “random checks”.

From Naples Airport I highly recommend hiring a driver to take you to your destination on the Amalfi Coast. I started my trip in Ravello which was about an hour drive. There is only one road in and out which is windy and you are constantly zipping past vespas, other cars, buses, and pedestrians walking on the road. It can be really intimidating to drive yourself if you aren’t used to the chaos so having an experienced driver was worth it. I used a service through Get Your Guide for the transfer but later found a wonderful driver named Sal that speaks great English and Italian who makes your drive a breeze. You can get in touch with Sal here.

Can you get around with no car? For the most part, YES! You will be walking a lot and highly recommend bringing comfortable shoes and sandals (My favorites were from Clarks). A lot of the areas are pedestrian only so you won’t have access to cars or buses until you reach certain areas. To get to other cities along the Amalfi Coast there are bus transfers, ferries, etc. if you don’t want to hire a private service, you may just need to do more research to catch the right ones.

Ravello. My favorite town in the region I visited. The views are breathtaking and you really feel the community spirit and history of the area. I stayed at Villa Piedimonte which was about 10 minutes walk from the city center. I thought the rooms were great ,amazing views, fantastic breakfast that was included, and the friendliest staff. They use an app for pre-check in and it also acts as a virtual key to your room and other parts of the property. They even have a sweet vintage van that will drive you to the city center by request. My favorite part was the jet stream bathtub which was amazing after a long day of walking, 10/10!

Things to do in Ravello: Take in the fabulous views! Some of my favorites were here during my whole trip. While you can get an amazing view anywhere from walking around, I’ve heard on good word to check out the views during a meal at Hotel Caruso for some simply stunning ones. Villa Cimbrone was my wedding venue with gorgeous gardens and overlooks out to the ocean. Be sure to check out the infinity terrace for iconic photos! The shopping here is excellent as most stores I came across were very boutique with hand-crafted items as compared with other locations I went to on the Amalfi Coast. This is the best place to pick up ceramics, glass work, and beautiful artisan pieces. I also loved seeing all the local cats that slink across town. For food, I didn’t come across many delivery options or convenience stores (like a 711) so you almost always have to get food from either your hotel or local restaurant. My favorite experience was at “mama’s”. That’s not the name of the restaurant but all the locals know it by that and it’s run by sweet Mama Nette and her family. I had a gorgeous plate of pasta for less than 20 euros and before I left, mama offered me some cake but I was so full so she gave me a peach and some figs from her kitchen. A true Italian mama experience!

Amalfi. My quick day trip to Amalfi was a pleasant one. I took a driver (Sal) here which was about 30 minutes with some traffic and 50 euros each way in a private car. He dropped me off in the spot where cars had the closest access to near the Cathedral and I got to see some of the bustling city here. Definitely more touristy, lots of mass produced souvenirs but definitely more lemon type products. I recommend looking out for the candied lemon peel and some lemon granita in the lemon fruit!

I had booked a cooking class with the Amalfi Lemon Experience and they picked me up right in front of the cathedral with a green golf cart. Since it was just me that booked it, I had the opportunity to meet the whole family. I truly felt welcomed and learned so much about their business especially from Salvatore. His wife and sister both showed me how to make pasta from scratch and pizza dough (The lemon pizza is amazing!) There were so many delicious treats in between from lemon cake, fresh focaccia, and vino that you will not be hungry by the end. They are a super impressive and hard working family. Don’t forget to buy some of their tasty limoncello! Even though I did the class solo, I highly recommend it for groups! An alternate cooking class based in Ravello is Mama Agata’s which I’ve heard good things about, but I loved the lemon experience since I got to see the groves and learn the history of the Amalfi lemons.

Positano. After a few days in Ravello, the wedding party took vans to Positano which is about an hour drive and was around 40 Euros for each of us. Luckily we told our driver on the way that we wanted to stop by Salvatore’s famous fruit stand. (Yes, a lot of people are named Salvatore in this region) This was a great experience especially because the windy roads were making some people feel a little sick so the fresh air and stepping out was perfect. There are a lot of people that come to this stand and Salvatore might seem stand offish at first but once you tell him you are there to take photos he will help with posing and setting up the scene. (None of the fruit on the stand is for sale, but you can buy fresh orange juice for 4 Euros a cup). Most of the money he makes is from tips at the fruit stand so remember to tip him a bit if you are planning to stop here.

Positano, continued. Once in Positano it was a whirlwind of color, glamour, and adventure. There were lots of activities here from heading to the beach, taking a ferry to Capri, or checking out the many shops and luxury restaurants and bars around. I stayed at the beautiful Buca di Bacco hotel which is super close to the beach, and where many famous writers, artists, and actors have stayed in the past. Since it’s down by the water I recommend getting a porter to help you take your bags down since there are a lot of steps and again, not accessible by car. It’s about 6 euros a bag. My view was incredible but there’s so many other awesome hotels, so definitely do your research.

A few of the places we went to while in Positano were down at the beach, we reserved chairs and umbrellas in the front which was about 30 euros each. There is a QR code you can scan and order drinks to your chair. Keep in mind the further down you go, the more expensive the chairs get. At the end of the beach they were 60-200 Euros for an umbrella and chair. Going out we went to Franco’s Bar a couple of times which was 20 Euros minimum drink order per person(even non-alcoholic was 20 euros). Pricey, but if you go early you can get a fantastic view of Positano with your drink for that iconic shot. If you’re really nice, someone seated at the front might let you get a photo really quickly 🙂

Dinner at our hotel was nice our on the terrace and must be reserved. Reservations were a big thing here so make sure to make them as soon as possible and have record of them on you just in case. A must try was the lemon risotto with shrimp and the limoncello spritz! A couple other places for drinks are Aldo’s Bar and the Terrace Bar at the Il Pietro Hotel. Both are high end so be prepared for that however the photos are amazing, especially at Il Pietro Hotel. When getting drinks at most places in the region you will also get free appetizers of chips, nuts, and olives.

View from Franco’s Bar
View from Il Pietro Hotel

Capri. Last stop on our trip was to the island of Capri. It’s important to note that you can only get here by boat, so if you get sea sick at all you might want to skip out or bring Dramamine with you. Sitting at the front of the boat also helped me! We took a private boat with Blue Star Excursions and it was roughly 150 Euros per person for the day. Our captain drove us to see some famous rock formations and grottos and then finally to Capri. We arrived at the Riccio Restaurant & Beach Club where there was an exclusive Dior pop up shop with lots of fun items to take photos with. Keep in mind that the restaurant is open air and we experienced yellow jackets that started coming to the table. I think this was a common occurrence because they used little tins of brunt coffee grounds to try to get rid of them so it became smoky mid-meal. The really unique part about the restaurant is their Temptation Room with lots of sweets. If you can, I recommend a photo in here! Another great spot for photos was their top level bar and lounge area with Dior branded “changing rooms”. Super colorful cocktails up here and great music. *There is a Dior pop up shop on the lower level, a bit hidden!

Capri, continued. Once we finished lunch at Riccio Restaurant, we took an open air cab to the main area of Capri (about 20-25 minute drive and 10 Euros each for a group of 5). While some of our party went shopping(both luxury and souvenir shops available), I walked with the newlyweds to the Gardens of Augustus which were so beautiful and only 1 Euro entrance fee. This is an awesome location for photos and I also recommend checking out Villa Lysis if you have the time which also has some stunning views from what I was told and costs 2 Euros and closed on Wednesdays. It is recommended to pre-book your tickets as you will be directed to do so at the entrance if you haven’t already. Also note that there are bathrooms nearby but there is a fee.

Final Tips: Since it was my first time to the Amalfi Coast I learned a lot. You will need really good, comfortable shoes. Bring plenty of sunscreen, a refillable water bottle, and bug spray. I got so many mosquito bites and never saw them coming. bug spray is a must! Sunglasses, band aids for your heels, and a travel backpack are great to have on hand. You will need to download Whatsapp because a lot of your reservations and communication with drivers and activities will be through Whatsapp. I bought a 10 day international data plan through T-Mobile when I was there and it was a life saver so I could use Google Maps when I would go out walking. Bringing enough Euros is key as some places only take Euros, tipping, and also to avoid transaction fees. I brought about one thousand Euro with me for the 7 day trip knowing we would be doing some high end activities, and I spent it ALL and started using my debit card at the end of my trip so I highly recommend mapping out your activities and potential spend for each activity.

I didn’t buy many souvenirs but would recommend Ravello for some authentically made goods especially their ceramics. Another favorite of mine was a little perfume I bought from Carthusia, which is locally made and based in Capri. They had a shop in Positano and also in the Naples airport. I think scent really bonds with a place or feeling so I was happy to find a beautiful scent to remind me of my trip. Of course I also brought home some limoncello, olive oil, and some wine. I bought some bottle protectors before my trip that worked out great!

If you are a photographer, note that toward the end of my trip I was having some shooting issues that I think were related to my batteries. The power is different so even though you are using converters, be sure to look deeper into your camera battery needs to avoid any issues. I will update this if I find out any further information. I also suggest learning some basic Italian language especially as a courtesy. The people are so friendly and every day you are greeting people with ‘Bongiorno’ or other polite language. My favorite app for phrases was called Italy: Travel Guide Offline on the Apple app store.

Coming back to the states you will need to make sure to fill out a Passenger Locator form for any layovers you take (I had to fill one out for the UK), take another Covid test and have printed negative results (my hotel lobby had a printer we could use). There is a place at the Naples Airport you can take your test, or I found a pharmacy around the corner from my hotel and was able to take a test for 30 Euros and had the results emailed to me within 2 hours.

I highly recommend getting to the airport early as many airlines will require physical check in and won’t allow you to check in online since they need to see your Covid paperwork in person to verify. I arrived to the airport, 2 and a half hours early and I still only barely made my flight. Naples Airport has some interesting procedures and added requirements so I really recommend getting to the airport 3 or even 3.5 hours early if you don’t want to be in a rush to make your connection.

Remember to bookmark this page for your trip to the Amalfi Coast for my tips and feel free to reach out if you want to know any specific information! This blog has a lot of my own personal photos from my phone while I was on the go and I’m excited to later post the photos from my client’s wedding and newlywed trip to some of these locations which will show much more vibrancy and detail.

Not planning on traveling anytime soon? I invite you to shop my fine art prints with some new landscape work from the Amalfi Coast. Grazie!

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I'm Iann and I'm so happy you're here. This journal is about love stories, travels, advice, and style. Stay a while and say hello!

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© iann ivy photography 2021

photos by iann ivy

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