Biking and Photographing the Amalfi Coast in January

On Visiting in January

Positano. Most of the houses are empty, but you cannot just barge in and stay in them (so I was told)
  • The coastal villages are g̶h̶o̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶w̶n̶s̶̶̶ peaceful. Positano had two restaurants, a coffee bar, and a car mechanic open. Amalfi’s main town square was open but not much else. Even with the businesses closed, the small towns are still lovely to walk around. The lack of crowds is great if you don’t like people and only want to meet local residents, but you’ll always need a backup restaurant for when you arrive at your planned restaurant to find it closed. Larger towns like Sorrento were more open.
Satellite map showing bike route from Sorrento to Amalfi
From space, you can see the red paint I spilled off the back of my bike
  • The weather is perfect for physical activity. I hiked the Path of the Gods (Sentiero Degli Dei) on one day and biked the coastal road on the next. In the summer time the roads are busy and the temperatures are not ideal for exertion at mid-day. The bike mechanic I rented from (Sorrento Bike) told me that during the summer he leads groups early in the morning to beat the heat. But in January I had the whole day!
  • Sorrento is still celebrating Christmas. Apparently, nobody had the heart to tell them Santa came and went. But their confusion is your gain, since the town is wonderfully awash with Christmas lights and music. Even at the end of January, the illuminated tree in Piazza Tasso belts out upbeat renditions of “So This Is Christmas” and “Oh Happy Day” every hour each evening, surrounded by the dancing lights strung up on the buildings all around. This sounds like a joke but really isn’t.
  • Since there are no throngs of tourists at every corner, it’s easier to feel at home and welcomed. Unlike Rome, there are no tour peddlers waiting for you in the street attempting to make eye contact leading to separation of person and wallet. Residents have extra space this time of year so I genuinely felt welcome everywhere I went. The bike mechanic where I rented my bike spent time with me showing various routes I could choose from, which wouldn’t have been possible had I not been the only customer.
  • While the tourists are gone, the construction workers emerge. The main road among the Amalfi coast (SS163) becomes a single lane for brief segments while road repairs are underway (controlled by traffic lights). There are plenty of bikers on the road, so cars and buses are cautious rounding the corners. Buses honk their horn as they round blind corners to warn you to pull over if you can.
View of San Pietro from Colli di Fontanelle
This view of Vettica Maggiore in the distance (San Pietro in the foreground) is easily taken in via bike
  • Biking really is worth it. There are many places along the main road with breathtaking views that whizzing by in a car would not justify. On a bike you can stop at the side of the road and hop on a restraining wall to take a picture or just a gander. It slows your pace but if you only wanted a speed record you could have stayed on your Peloton.

On Photography

The peninsula of the Amalfi Coast, with sky-blue water and steep cliffs
Just as Zeus did before me, I walked the Path of the Gods

The Hills

The town of Positano was built on flat land, but due to plate tectonics that all changed

The Villages

The Loch Ness Monster arrived in Italy

The Sea

A shop owner hands a customer some produce in a narrow alley at dawn
Most alleys in Sorrento wouldn’t fit American cars. Italian cars fit, though, and they will follow you until you can duck into a doorway or intersecting alley to let them pass.

The Alleys

Over 60% of the electricity consumed in Naples powers the Christmas tree in Tasso Square

The Lights

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