Seriously, bravo to anyone who has driven the Amalfi Coast. That place is no easy drive and from the reviews I’ve read online, so many people have expressed the same sentiment. I felt really horrible since I wasn’t the best driver in the world and I had a difficult time driving Amalfi Coast, only to realise that even people like an ex military pilot expressed their trouble when driving that route.
This post will allow me to share my tips and strategies that I’ve learned after my recent trip to Naples, Amalfi Coast and Milan.
Tips and Strategies
- Rent a car for Amalfi Coast only if you have lots of luggages and lots of people. The hassle with the car rental company isn’t worth it – you usually get charged more unexpectedly and the car you thought you will be getting ends up being a worse brand. Also, you may be driving in weather conditions such as rainy, dark, foggy, and windy. When driving from Positano to Amalfi and beyond, the road is hugging the coastline and you’re driving on death defying heights; it’s scary to imagine that one tiny crash could send your car over to the sea. There are no lane lines, cars are packed, cars tailgate you and there are many aggressive drivers, and when a bus turns you have to be aware beforehand because they may need the entire space to make the turn, so you can’t go too far ahead or otherwise you will have to back up. Sometimes two lanes suddenly become one lane, or an extremely narrow two lanes become one lane because some car is parked in the side. You have to look at the corner mirrors to see any incoming cars. Some turns are quite sharp so you actually can’t see any cars coming from the opposite direction. For the driver, you won’t have time to see the beautiful sights along the road because you’re too busy concentrating on the road. There is no parking anywhere. I lack spatial awareness, so determining how much space is left between your car and the walls / other cars is stressful. Lots of sharp turns and hairpin bends.
- I don’t think you can avoid this, but this is just a funny story I wanted to share. On our way back from Amalfi to Praiano, there were three clearly drunk women from Quebec who were in their 40’s, and one of them was flirting hard with the bus driver, telling him he should go back to their place after work and that they have a dare to kiss one Italian man amongst themselves. In our minds we were like f*** he’s already daring his life driving this bus on this dangerous route and now these women are making us at risk so you can flirt and distract this guy?
- Tap water is drinkable.
- Never order from touristy restaurants or buy from touristy shops; they rip you off!
- Get coffee to go and stand there to drink; don’t sit at the restaurant to drink, otherwise, it will cost you a lot more. That’s why you see Italians have a habit of standing while drinking their coffee in the morning.
- Remember to plan how many trips you have to make and buy bus tickets ahead of time, because buying bus tickets on the bus tend to be more expensive, or worse, you may not be able to buy them at ball.
- Buy bus tickets at tobacco shops. Tobacco shops may close during the weekends.
- Remember when booking accommodations to make sure with the host that there is a working lift and that there is aircon provided.
- Not a tip, but in Naples and Amalfi Coast, I realised why Fiat used to command a whopping 10.2% GDP in Italy – it’s because Fiat cars were everywhere in those areas!
- Not another tip, but just food for thought. When I saw those smart car advertising where the a smart car beats a normal car in getting to the destination faster because of its minuscule size allowing it to squeeze past tight spaces, I related to it in Hong Kong, but I definitely related to it in Naples and Amalfi. Big cars will not survive in those narrow roads!
- For bus schedules from and to Praiano to anywhere else, go to Praiano.org; and remember the bus schedules change by the season
- During October, the night becomes extremely dark so you may want to wake up early and do all the activities in the morning and afternoon rather than waiting till late
- Make sure when giving your car to Valet to take all your expensive items, including spare change left in the car, or otherwise there’s a chance they will take it and no way to have proof to claim it back!
- Google Maps is not reliable in terms of the arrival times of the buses. This was for the Sita Sud bus when that happened to us
- Some things are not extremely precise, especially jobs involving low income workers! Once again, my luggage arrived in Carousel number 14, when it should have been Carousel number 15. Look around if it’s not in the exact spot you should be looking.
- Do not drive in Capri Island
- No one in Italy gives turn signals and they are aggressive, so sometimes you just have to go for it. During a scenario where I had to exit a minor road to merge onto the main road, I needed to turn left, and two / three cars in front of me just went ahead and the car behind me was giving a “what’s the hold up” sort of signal with an angry face and this was me not moving just for one or two seconds. It made driving in Hong Kong seem like a blessing.
- There are diesel sounds everywhere.
- If you look like a tourist, be sure to know that retail shops will talk a lot and will want to present their products so if you’re someone polite, you may waste a couple minutes just to “agree” with the shop owner.
- Don’t go to Amalfi Coast during the winter as nothing will be opened
- Italians of course don’t work slow and build quality on a lot of things. However, sometimes in the middle of the work they will take breaks and have a lot of interactions and things going on in the middle of the process. This contrasts from Asian cultures as workplaces expect you to work work work non stop but in Italy there’s chit chat and this and that.
- Half bottle wines are sometimes available in restaurants even though they are not in the menu.
- In Amalfi Coast, if you’re looking for parking, note that yellow lines are for residents only, white lines are for everyone and anyone can park there for free, and blue lines is for everyone but you have to pay either through a machine or through an app (sorry forgot app name)
- Sometimes you need to ask for a day pass because it may not be shown or they may not tell you about it.
- My friend gave me an awesome tip, and it’s a tip well worth noting. Sometimes, maybe it’s better not to rely on blogs and Google Maps and sort of just… get lost and discover. Nowadays, everybody shares what they have done on social media so everybody becomes a cookie cutter doing the exact same thing. Back when we were still using maps instead of Google Maps, getting lost was a treasure because you may be discovering a trattoria or a secret shop that no one has ever been to before. So my last tip is to get lost to discover more.