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34km (21 miles) W of Salerno; 61km (38 miles) SE of Naples

Once a glorious Maritime Republic, Amalfi today is a busy tourist resort with a picturesque old center and a magnificent setting against the steep slopes of the Valle dei Mulini. Its bustling seafront and lively piazza give the place more energy than most of the other towns on the coast, and its central location makes it a popular base for exploring the area.

Beaches -- There are two narrow, often-crowded beaches on either side of the harbor, but for something more substantial, head east to nearby Atrani. To the west of the town there is a series of quieter coves and small beaches where the clear water is perfect for swimming.

Things to Do -- With its lively central piazza and atmospheric old streets, Amalfi is perfect for aimless wandering. Sights include the Arabo-Norman-style Duomo, the small Museo Civico, and the Museo della Carta documenting the town's papermaking history. Shoppers should ignore the touristy goods in the stores lining the main drag and head for the artisan papermakers' shops for handmade Amalfi Paper.

Eating & Drinking -- The town is set among terraced lemon groves where the famous Limoni di Amalfi are cultivated and used in dishes such as risotto al limone, granita di limone, sugary-sweet delizie al limone, and the ubiquitous limoncello. Fish and seafood dominate menus here and the town's restaurants that range from elegant, Michelin-stared La Caravella to simple beachside trattorie.

Nature -- The best way to explore the ins and outs of this stretch of coast is by hiring a boat. For the more energetic, there are several excellent hikes; one of the easiest passes along the Valle dei Mulini. A more substantial hike is the bewitching Via degli Incanti which links Amalfi to Positano.