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La Costiera Amalfitana: The Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. The bright blue waters and colorful cascading cliffside villas are the picturesque images most people imagine when they think of Italy. I am fortunate to visit this magical place every summer and I look forward to it each year. And it is always my students’ favorite weekend trip.

Although the Amalfi Coast looks like a gorgeous seaside escape, it was once a powerful maritime republic. From the 7th century to 1075 the Duchy of Amalfi was a Mediterranean trading and naval powerhouse. The city of Salerno boasted the first university of medicine (in “western” Europe) and even had female doctors! The republic was conquered by the Normans in the 11th century.
What we call the Amalfi Coast today sits just south of the Bay of Naples and is made up of several historic and important cities – Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, and Salerno. Probably the most famous site of the Amalfi Coast is the Island of Capri (the ruins of Pompeii are also nearby). 
The Island of Capri, and its famous Blue Grotto, has been a vacation spot since ancient times! Roman Emperors Augustus and Tiberius built vacation villas there, and Tiberius even retired there, ruling the Empire from this tiny island. Today visitors flock to see the high fashion boutiques, crystal clear water, rocky landscape, and the incredible Blue Grotto.
Tiny boats take you inside the natural cave known as the Blue Grotto.
Everyone in the boat has to lay down in order to enter the grotto.
Inside the Blue Grotto
There are no lights inside the grotto. The incredible blue color and illuminated water is completely natural! Adding to this magical experience, the guides sing inside the cave, which has incredible natural acoustics. It is truly an amazing experience. If you are brave, you can slip the guide a couple Euros and jump in… but I never told you that!
My other favorite part of the Amalfi Coast is the town of Positano. It is a charming little town and the perfect place to relax on the beach, rent a paddle boat, dine on the freshest seafood, and buy the most beautiful custom made sandals. 

My perfect day in Positano includes renting a beach chair (I mean look at that view), thumbing through Italian fashion magazines, and sipping little bottles of prosecco. It’s heaven! The region is also famous for its Limoncello (#yum).

If you ever find yourself visiting Italy, be sure to take a weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast! If you find yourself studying abroad in Florence, I highly recommend Florence For Fun’s 3-day Amalfi trip. This is the travel agency we use for our study abroad program and it’s a great deal for students!
The Amalfi Coast is truly la dolce vita!