10 best beaches on Italy’s Amalfi Coast
Looking for the best beaches in Italy? You'll find them along the Amalfi Coast.
Going to the beach in Italy is a true cultural venture. Candy-colored umbrellas and matching chairs of the stabilimento balneare (beach clubs) stand in tight, neat lines beside the azure sea. Colorful houses and terraced gardens cling to an almost vertical hillside. Vespas and tiny Fiats zip along the boulevard in front of cafes that serve heaping platters of fritto misto. Some of Italy's best beaches are nestled into coves along the Amalfi Coast. Here are ten beautiful swaths of shore to seek out.
Marina Grande, Positano
Cosmopolitan Positano's main beach, Marina Grande sets the stage for seaside la dolce vita at its finest. Chromatic pops fill the vibrant scene — a cherry-red Campari and soda, cascades of magenta bougainvillea, an army of tangerine beach umbrellas — and equally colorful characters bring the tableau to life. This beach isn't the place for the most pristine water, but people watching beneath the warm Mediterranean sun provides plenty of entertainment.
Gavitella Beach, PraianoBest Beaches in Italy: Gavitella Beach, Praiano
Beaches that receive all-day sun are a rarity along the Amalfi Coast, but Gavitella's southwestern exposure invites basking well into cocktail hour, complete with glorious sunsets. Rent a sun bed from Cala della Gavitella beach club or make like the locals and spread your towel on the concrete piattaforma above the sea. The small cove, with its clear emerald-blue waters, ancient stone tower, and gorgeous view of neighboring Positano, is considered one of the most beautiful in the area.
Cavallo Morto, MaioriBest Beaches in Italy: Cavallo Morto, Maiori
Also called Cala Bellavaia, this stunning azure bay is one of Campania's loveliest. Sandy and secluded with clear aquamarine sea, the horseshoe-shaped inlet is accessible only by boat. Hiring one from the nearby town of Maori makes for an authentic Italian experience.
Spiaggia Arienzo, Positano
Spiaggia Arienzo, Positano \Shutterstock
A hand-lettered, cobalt-blue sign perched on the edge of SS 163 marks the path to tranquil Spiaggia Arienzo. Sometimes called 300-steps beach, a stone staircase descends through fragrant landscape with views of the famed coast. Sherbet-striped parasols and matching lounge chairs belonging to the Bagni d'Arienzo Beach Club, which serves a memorable spaghetti vongole, dot the shoreline. If the hike down (and back up) sounds harrowing, take a small, wooden-boat ferry from Marina Grande to Arienzo, which run throughout the day.
Santa Croce, AmalfiBest Beaches in Italy: Santa Croce, Amalfi
Tucked into a rocky inlet, secluded Santa Croce, with its pebbly shore and turquoise waters, can be reached only by boat from nearby Amalfi. Two restaurant-beach clubs, Santa Croce and Da Teresa, make their homes in the little cove and both offer ferry service from the town pier. Climb aboard and escape the masses at the coastal capital's Spiaggia Grande — sipping limoncello beneath a candy-colored umbrella equates to seaside bliss, Italian style.
Fiordo di Furore, Furore
Fiordo di Furore, Furore \Shutterstock
Far below the bridge spanning one of Italy's only fjords, Furore Beach, nestled at the foot of an old fishing hamlet, is a unique and beautiful site. The emerald-blue cove, clearly visible from the road above, is ideal for early risers looking to while away a few hours by the sea — the fjord's steep, rock walls shade the beach in the afternoons. MarMeeting, an international high diving spectacle, takes place here each year in early July.
Marina di Cetara, Cetara
Marina di Cetara, Cetara \Shutterstock
Bordered by Cetara's palm-studded promenade and picturesque port, mellow Marina di Cetara offers a quintessential, tourist-free Italian seashore experience. Local families hang out at the charming town's main beach with its harbor, majolica-tiled cathedral, and views of the surrounding coastline. Cobbled streets wind into town, where shops sell Cetara's famous anchovies and olive-oil-packed tuna.
Il Duoglio, AmalfiBest Beaches in Italy: Il Duoglio, Amalfi
400 stairs lead to this hidden coastal enclave near the district of Lone, just north of Amalfi. Crystal-clear water — some of the region's cleanest — and plenty of action make this a favorite spot for adventure seekers. Duoglio's beach club and restaurant, Lido degli Artisti, offers kayaks, paddleboards and windsurfers for rent, along with chairs and umbrellas.
Spiaggia di Cauco, ErchieBest Beaches in Italy: Spiaggia di Cauco, Erchie
Legend has it that Hercules found the tiny fishing village of Erchie, located between Maiori and Cetara, which overlooks one of the prettiest beaches on the Amalfi Coast. Two medieval Saracen towers, Torre Cerniola and Torre di Tummolo, built in the sixteenth century to protect the borgo from pirates, preside over the beach. A smattering of restaurants, bars, and gelaterie line the lively seaside promenade, perfect for a post-beach stroll.
Marina di Praia, PraianoBest Beaches in Italy: Marina di Praia, Praiano
Marina di Praia, tucked into the base of a cliff and referred to simply as “La Praia," has long been a local favorite. A steep access road from the Strada Statale leads down to a seaside village that circles a small cove with brightly painted fishing boats, several restaurants and loungers for rent. Walk along the Via Terramare, a pathway carved into the rocky promontory graced by the ceramic designs of artist Paolo Sandulli, that winds along the edge of the sea to the ninth-century Torre al Mare.
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The question of where David Ferrari was had haunted retired U.S. Army Sergeant Major Vincent Salceto for the better part of 66 years.
Rarely did a week go by that Salceto didn't think about his old friend. Often, he relived their last moments together in a recurring nightmare. In it, it's once again 1953 and Salceto and Ferrari are patrolling a valley in what is now North Korea. Suddenly, explosions shatter the silence and flares light up the night sky.
Crouching under a barrage of bullets, Salceto, the squad's leader, drags two of his men to safety, then he sees Ferrari lying face down on the ground. He runs out to help him, but he's too late. And that's when he always wakes up.
Italian Americans from opposite coasts – Salceto from Philadelphia, Ferrari from San Francisco – the two became close, almost like brothers, after being assigned to the same unit during the Korean War. When Ferrari died, it hit Salceto hard.
"After that, I never let anyone get close to me like I did with Dave," he says. "I couldn't; I didn't want to go through that again."
When the war ended, Salceto wanted to tell Ferrari's family how brave their son and brother had been in battle. Most of all, he wanted to salute his friend at his gravesite and give him a proper farewell.
For decades, though, Salceto had no luck finding his final resting place or locating any of his relatives. Then, in June of this year, he uncovered a clue that led him to the Italian Cemetary in Colma, California, where Ferrari is buried.
Within days, Salceto, who lives in Franklinville, New Jersey, was packed and sitting aboard United Flight 731 from Philadelphia to San Francisco with his wife, Amy, and daughter, Donna Decker, on his way to Colma. For such a meaningful trip, he even wore his Army dress uniform.
That's how San Francisco-based flight attendant Noreen Baldwin spotted him as he walked down the jet bridge to get on the plane.
"I saw him and said to the other crew members, 'Oh my goodness, look at this guy,'" she says. "I knew there had to be a story."
The two struck up a conversation and Salceto told Baldwin why he was traveling. She got emotional listening to him talk and made a point of fussing over him, making sure he and his family had everything they needed.
About halfway through the flight, Baldwin had an idea. She and her fellow crew members would write messages of encouragement to Salceto and invite his fellow passengers to do the same.
"We did it discreetly," says Baldwin. "I asked the customers if they saw the man in uniform, which most had, and asked them if they wanted to write a few words for him on a cocktail napkin. A lot of people did; families did it together, parents got their kids to write something. After the first few rows, I was so choked up that I could barely talk."
When Baldwin surprised Salceto with dozens of hand-written notes, he, too, was speechless. He laid the stack on his lap and read each one. At the same time, the pilots made an announcement about the veteran over the loud speaker, after which the customers on board burst into applause.
"It seems contrived, and I hate using the word organic, but that's what it was; it just happened," Baldwin says. "Mr. Salceto was so loveable and humble, and what he was doing was so incredible, it felt like the right thing to do. And you could tell he was touched."
On June 27, Salceto finally stood before Ferrari's grave and said that long-awaited goodbye. As a trumpeter played "Taps," he unpinned a medal from his jacket and laid it reverently on the headstone.
"I had gotten a Bronze Star for my actions [the night Ferrari died] with a 'V' for valor, and that was the medal I put on Dave's grave," says Salceto, pausing to fight back tears. "I thought he was more deserving of it than I was."
For the first time in years, Salceto felt at peace. His mission was accomplished.