Our favourite spot in Italy – gorgeous Amalfi Coast stretches in the south of Italy in the region of Campania, and it’s dotted with little coastal towns. Everyone knows the famous coastal spots like Positano and Capri, but we want to bring you to a little less known locations. So let’s start with introducing Maiori and Minori.
Maiori has one of the most beautiful sandy beaches on the coast and some significant historical buildings to admire. The main beach is 930 meters long and 40 meters wide, and it’s sunny from the morning till late afternoon. If you prefer smaller more secluded spaces visit Salicerchie beach, accessible via 160 steps. Nearby you can find a few caves, one of them is a Sulphur Grotto, with a small sulphur-magnesium stream inside. Caia Bellavaia (The Dead Horse beach) also deserve to be mentioned. It is rocky and unspoiled and can only be reached by sea. According to a story told by locals, the old lame horses and mules were thrown here in ancient times by the farmers. While another version reveals that a horse accidentally crashed here and died in the impact. And finally Erchie Beach – one of the best known so can be crowded. It is two hundred meters long, and it’s guarded by two Saracen towers.
We will start our exploration with a morning walk by a palm-lined promenade perfect for spending some peaceful time. After the hike, we do a quick stop for a cappuccino and pastry at the local spot called Pasticceria Napoli. Now we are energized, so we can head up to Collegiate Church of Santa Maria a Mare with panoramic views and a hidden basement museum. This church was built in the 13th on Mount Torina, on the remains of the ancient fortress of Sant’Angelo. They say that a statue of Mary was found on the beach in Maiori in 1204, so the church owes its name due to that event. The church houses the relics of St. Clement, a Roman martyr and the Museum of Sacred Art, which preserves religious artefacts in the crypt area.
Worth seeing are also other sanctuaries in this area including:
- Church and Monastery of San Francesco (This place is rich with art from several periods, donated by the noble families of Maiori. The monastery still hosts a small community of monks)
- The Abbey of Santa Maria de’ Olearia (One of the most essential Benedictine communities of the Amalfi Coast, composed of three overlapping churches, built in different periods)
- Santuario di Madonna dell’Avvocata ( Set up in a breathtaking location, overlooking the sea and coast, perfect for some contemplation and calming yourself, it consists of three parts: – XVI century monastery – a small church built in the XX century – a cave of apparition, place where Our Lady appeared to a local shepherd asking to built there a church dedicated to the Madonna Avvocata)
Our next stop is a fortress of San Nicola de Thoro Plano. This ancient 9th century BC structure is a unique building and one of the best examples of the Amalfi defence system. Built around an old church dedicated to S. Nicola de Thoro-Plano, it was then reconstructed and enlarged. To reach the castle/fortress, you will have to walk quite a bit. You can choose 700 stairs from Rione San Paolo or try going from Nuova Chiunzi, a much easier route. Now it’s time to enjoy a breathtaking view.
Let’s go back and keep continuing our stroll around the town, enjoying the architecture and views. In the heart of town, on Corso Reginna, stands Palazzo Mezzacapo. It is an ancient residence of the Marquis of the same name. A beautiful architectural work, today it houses the municipal library and the city historical archive. Make sure to stop in the lush gardens that surround it and relax in greenery. While you are on Corso Regina it is an excellent spot for shopping full of unique boutiques and stores.
Let’s move on Strada Statale Amalfitana, and you will come across an old Norman watchtower which is now a Michelin starred restaurant: The Torre Normanna is located on a rocky cliff, and it was built in 1562 as a lookout tower. Today it is a well-known restaurant run by Proto brothers. You can enjoy here an excellent cuisine, charming atmosphere, and finally a lovely view. The tower is set on three levels with two main dining room, nearby a little beach right by the cliff, and a wonderful panoramic terrace. It is the ideal place for superb dinners and private events.
Before we move to the next town, let’s talk about the Lemon Track. The Amalfi Coast is the lemon paradise: and it is shaped by lemon trees that grow in every garden. If you love walking like us, you should follow the Sentiero dei Limoni, the Lemon Track, full of lemon crops and adorable villages. You will enjoy some peace and serenity in nature, far from the sea. The route can be done both directions, and it takes about 1 h.
Leaving Maiori behind, we start at Santa Maria a Mare and proceeding down the stairs Via Vena. We walk through the old village of Torre, the name of the town derives from an ancient fortification that nowadays does not exist anymore. We pass San Michele church and go towards Minori. We reach a panoramic terrace that faces Minori, walk further until a crossroad, to reach Minori turn left.
It’s hard not to picture lemons, when you think of Amalfi Coast. The lemons here are really special, and unlike anything, you will have encountered before. You’ll notice how large they are and also have a thick skin.
These lemons are used to make the famous liquor of the region – limoncello. You can find the lemon terraces – limoneti – while you are walking the lemon track. To enjoy the lemon experience, even more, we would recommend booking a tasting or even an extended full-day experience to learn how the liquor is made.
While in Maiori you can’t miss dining at Capo D’Orso. A beautiful restaurant set into a cliff that drops steeply down to the sea, overlooking the whole Gulf of Salerno. Try the creative dishes that are something exceptional like lobster, seafood tempura with pepper sauce, and the homemade bread. Our top favourite was a stuffed squid with delicious courgettes.
Now it’s time to discover the nextdoor town, Minori. From Maiori it’s a pleasant walk along the coastal road. Minori is called ‘the town of good taste’ or ‘city of flavour’, as it was the centre of pasta and pastry production during the Bourban era. Minori was also a part of the Amalfi Maritime Republic and an Allied landing point during World War II. Today it’s famous for its local produce limoncello and desserts. You should taste Delizie Al Limone (lemon delight) at our favourite pastryshop the Pasticceria Sal De Riso. Make it your first stop, order some iced coffee and lovely sweets. There is an infinite variety of desserts that will make your choice a hard one.
We encourage you to visit Minori during Gusta Minori, the town’s annual food festival. The streets are filled with pasta and food stalls. Make sure you try the ricotta dumplings N’ dunderi and scialatielli (fresh
You cannot leave Minori without a stop at the Carlo Mansi liquor factory (via Vescovado 1), where you can taste delicious local limoncello, very different when compared to commercial varieties. The limoncello by Carlo Mansi is much greener than the others, as the lemons are picked slightly before full ripening. Minori is also listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site, since 1997, as a part of the Amalfi Coast.
What to see in Minori:
- Piazza centrale
- Narrow alleys and historical buildings
- Basilica di Santa Trofimena (main religious building in town, one of the newest of the coast, very luminous)
- The Roman Maritime Archeological Villa (make sure to check out the mosaics and see the gardens and a beautiful portico)
- Minori’s waterfront market on Thursday
Maiori and Minori are perfect places for foodies. The towns offer an extraordinary typical cuisine that combines the tastes of Campania cuisine with the flavours of the sea. Visiting in summertime gives you a great possibility of having a wide variety of fish. In Minori opt for Ndunderi, that according to Unesco, is one of the oldest types of pasta. It is a variety of gnocchi prepared with flour and ricotta, and served just with tomatoes sauce.
Pair these dishes with a delicious Falanghina wine. The name comes from phalangae, a system consisting of the pile of wood around which the vines grew (still used in the area of Pozzuoli). Falanghina can have a slight pine scent but is well known for its citrus aromas like bitter orange. There are two sub-varieties of Falanghina (Falanghina Flegrea and Falanghina Beneventana). After the meal, make sure to get some limoncello or crema di meloncello (our favourite liqueur). If you love melon, this will be a special treat.