The lay of the land on the Amalfi Coast: Its location, gateways, and major towns
The Bay of Naples is like a big backwards "C."
The lower arm of the bay (the bottom of the "C") is called the Sorrentine Peninsula. (Off the tip of this peninsula lies the popular island of Capri.)
The Amalfi Coast is the string of towns, villages, and forested slopes running east-west along the southern flank of the Sorrentine Peninsula—in other words, not the side facing the Bay of Naples. (Yes, it feels like you are going from north to south, but trust me: the peninsula actually runs almost due west-east. In fact, you actually end up a bit north of where you started.)
From west to east, the main towns of the Amalfi Coast are: Positano, Praiano, Amalfi, Ravello (in the hills), Minori, Maiori, and Vietri sul Mare. (There are a dozen other small towns and fishing communities in between.)
Linking these towns is the Amalfi Drive, also known by its route number, the SS163:
There are two main gateways to the Amalfi Coast:
- The large town of Sorrento anchors the Amalfi Coast's western end. (Actually, Sorrento is located on the north side of the peninsula, facing the Bay of Naples, so from Sorrento you have to go over the peninsula's mountainous spine to get to the A.C. proper.)
- The small city of Salerno lies just beyond Vietri to the east, where the Amalfi Coast ends and the flat Cliento Coast of Southern Campania begins.
Tip: If you intend to explore the Amalfi Coast by bus (recommended) or by car (not recommended), start in Sorrento. (If you start in Salerno, you'll be on the wrong side of the road for all the spectacular views.)