Impressions of Italy: Praiano on the Amalfi Coast

After a side trip to Pompeii, we continued our journey to Praiano, a small village on the Amalfi Coast between the more familiar towns of Positrano and Amalfi.

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In my research into the Amalfi Coast, one of the things that struck me was the trip there would be anything but boring!  Everything I read seems to indicate a very narrow road winding through small towns clinging the sides of the mountains as they plunged into the Mediterranean Sea. 

And those sources were absolutely correct! Everywhere you looked it was just drop dead beautiful and wonderful to look.  As we rented a car, and I was the “designated” driver, I had a real difficult time to keep my eyes on the road versus concentrating on driving, so we could arrive to our hotel safe and sound. 

The other “facts” warned about the traffic tie-ups that often occur along the Amalfi Coast, especially on weekends.  So, I planned to drive from Pompeii to Praiano on a Monday afternoon, largely to avoid the traffic.  It worked, the traffic wasn’t too bad, but yes, the roads were difficult and very narrow, especially in the small towns that dot the Amalfi Coast. 

 The houses are right up to the road, there are no sidewalks, and, well, people have to walk, and huge buses need to get through.  All a recipe for a very nervous two-handed driving experience!  (See my previous blog post on Pompeii here).

A view of the road along the Amalfi Coast.

We left Pompeii in late afternoon, and took the E-45 to SS-145 heading to Sorrento, and took the SS-136 across the mountains and along the coast to Praiano.  Praiano is a small town, barely two roads, one being the main road, and the second a road that cuts a path above the primary road. 

And I really mean, a “path.”  It is essentially a one lane road used as two-lane traffic.  But the views, well, they are awesome and just breath taking. 

A view of the narrow road in Praiano.

Unfortunately, upon arriving in Praiano, I was immediately sick, and spent a fair amount of time not feeling well in my air-conditioned room.  We were staying at the Hotel Torre Saracena ( which was a great little place right on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel had levels that matched the slope of the cliffs/hillside that ran right into the Mediterranean.  Our room was part of section of the hotel which was on one terrace – below us were two more terraces. 

And below that was the “beach.” Which was reached by over 210 steps that hugged the rocky side that went right down into the sea below.  At the “beach,” which was really a rocky shelve above the water, there was a ladder – like a ladder on a yacht – that one would descend into the water.   

When I felt better (guess I was recuperating from the daily rush while in Rome and Pompeii!), we decided to explore the town of Praiano.  It is a nice town and what I expected of a small town along the Amalfi Coast.  The streets are windy and narrow, and in many ways difficult to get great shots.  About half way through our walk that day, I realized that there were a lot details along the walk like small ceramics embedded into the walls of the fences separating various homes. 

Wall with both flowers and ceramic fish and a plaque of Praiano, along the Almalfi Coast in Italy.

And there was one area where we were descending down to another level and came upon a little vignette of the town. All done up in ceramics. And they were brightly colored and was really interesting.  As it was in shadow (pretty all day), it was difficult to photograph well.  You have to increase your ISO settings to get a good shot. Regardless, you can get a sense of the playfulness of the town and of it’s people. 

A little vignette of Praiano in brightly colored ceramics.

It is a typical small village, winding alleyways and stairs heading up and down multiple levels.  It was a pleasure to roam around the town.  There were lots of opportunities for some photography.  There were a lot of walkways and garden areas and patios that provided wonderful views of both the town and the coastline.

Stairway Via San Tomasso in Praiano, along the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

One evening, we were walking around and decided to eat at an outdoor patio of the Hotel Open Gate right on the road.  But the patio was across the road from the restaurant and it was fun to watch the wait staff navigate the cars and trucks that would whip around the corner coming up the hill.  And the views were awesome, as was the frozen lemon desert that is famous for the area.

A wonderfully tart and sweet frozen lemon confection in a lemon shell.

Just down from our hotel lies the famous Torre del Mare, a old watch tower built to watch and protect the town.  Now it is the home to an artist, Paolo Sandulli, who opens his home occasionally to visitors as it also serves as his gallery.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t in the day we visited, but the views from the top of his tower would have been wonderful.  

Some links you can check out to learn more about Praiano: 

Other Posts in this Series "Impressions of Italy"

Previous Post: Impressions of Italy: Firenze
Next Post: Visiting Rome: The Vatican and the Vatican Museums







David Cote is a landscape and travel photographer who helps aspiring photographers develop the confidence and habits they need to improve their photography skills. If not selling photography at art shows or online, he can be found sharing his love and knowledge of photography with other aspiring photographers.

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