During our week stay in Positano, Italy we took a day trip to Amalfi and Ravello. You can get their via the SITA bus, a very inexpensive option, by boat, or by car. We had a private driver which was included in our Cooking-Vacation package. If you are new to Italy I would not suggest renting a car and driving yourself. The roads are very, very narrow and winds around the mountain.
Amalfi is a larger town than Positano, which boasts a large port of call and about 5300 residents. The town gets flooded with visitors when the cruise ships dock, but the day we visited it was not too crowded. Once you get in the main square, there are many shops along one main street. Although this street is primarily traveled by foot, be aware of cars! In the center of Piazza Duomo, just to the right of St. Andrew's stairs, is a wonderful bakery, Pansa Cafe. This bakery has been operated by the same family for 5 generations, starting with Andrea Pansa whose name is on the building. The top sellers are candied lemon peel and Sfogliatella Santa Rosa. Get both, you'll thank me later ;)
Amalfi was known for its paper mills and paper goods. Since we were on a food tour, we did not have time to visit the paper mill, but we were able to stop in a paper store (sorry I forgot the name). We purchased some beautiful hand crafted note cards with gold leaf and the watermark of Amalfi. They also carried some antique maps of Italy and leather bound journals. Helpful hint: don't be tempted to buy ceramics in Amalfi, but wait until you get to Ravello.
Ravello was founded in the 5th century, as a city of refuge from barbarian invasions. More recently, artists, musicians, and writers have found solace in this town. Ravello, The City of Music, is known for its summer festivals which began in 1953. In 2000, Oscar Niemeyer built an auditorium, which looks like a work of art, to host these events. I fell in love with this town. Perched high above the sea, you'll have fantastic views! Driving up the mountain you'll find terraced lemon groves. This town is peacefully quite, and has a refined charm. You'll find high quality ceramics which are hand-crafted locally. We purchased a bowl from Ceramiche d'arte Carmela. Mike thought he would be able to bring it back in his luggage, but even with bubble wrap, it broke. Lesson learned; always pay extra to have them ship it, and it will be insured. Thank goodness I able to email them to get a replacement. A must see is Villa Cimbrone. You'll have to walk a little to get to the Garden, but it's worth it. It was built in 11th century, but in 1904 the gardens where expanded and restored. You'll find reproductions of famous works of art throughout. I loved seeing the fusion of architectural styles, which seems true to the town's history. One day was not long enough to take in all Ravello has to offer. I look forward to returning and experiencing the festivities.