Italy’s famed Amalfi Coast is exactly as you’ve always pictured: rugged coastline dotted with seaside towns whose classic, balconied buildings overlook the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea. With wooded mountains soaring behind them, the coastal towns are a sight to behold — and we think the best way to take it all in is on the back of a motorcycle.
If Rome is already part of your Italy plan, adding a motorcycle tour of the Amalfi Coast is the perfect way to explore this iconic coastal landscape, along with the nearby vineyards and countryside. Although the Amalfi Coast stretches across the Sorrentine Peninsula south of Naples, this tour will begin further north, in Rome, and take you through the Campania Region, winding up just south of the Amalfi Coast in Salerno.
Know before you go:
- Keep some euros on hand for tolls; a few you’ll encounter may charge up to €15.80.
- Always wear a helmet. You can pick one up at the motorcycle rental shop in Rome.
- The Autostrada is not the Autobahn. Obey speed limits and posted traffic rules or expect to be fined. The general highway speed limit in Italy is 80 mph/130 kph unless otherwise posted. While enforcement was once lax, it’s much stricter now.
- Each step of the tour is one leg, but we’ve left open how much time you spend in each place. Theoretically, you could do the entire tour in two days, but we recommend you slow down and savor the experience.
- For lodging, Airbnb is a great option, but there are picturesque villas and hotels in each stop along the route.
- Know your regional dishes. Italian cuisine, while often packed into one menu in US restaurants, varies greatly depending on where you are. On the Amalfi Coast, get your pasta fix with scialatelli, not ragu. Or order a risotto con agrumi e gamberetti, citrus and shrimp risotto, and wash it down with a bottle of wine made from local Aglianico grapes.
Leg One: Rome to Naples through Sperlonga
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Distance: 161 miles/260 km
You can rent a motorcycle from a number of different outlets in Rome. After you’ve procured a bike and filled up on the Roman dish cacio e pepe, pasta with cheese and pepper, it’s time to hit the road. Head south on SR148 to Riserva Nuova, then take SR207 down to Anzio. Anzio is a coastal city with a strikingly beautiful harbor and beach, as well as plenty of options to grab a bite.
If the weather is nice, spend some time catching rays on the sand. When you’re ready to head out, travel north out of Anzio to the SR148 highway until you reach the roundabout to exit onto Strada Migiliara 53. Take this road to SS7 and head south to Sperlonga. Here, visit the historic ruins at Villa Di Tibiero or meander through Sperlonga’s Old Town, grab a bite, then get back on the highway south to Naples.
Naples is where you’ll stop after completing leg one. We recommend a meal of parmigiana di melanzane, eggplant parmesan. Activities in Naples include burning off some carbs on the Mount Vesuvius hiking trail, seeing the castles and the Royal Palace, and perusing the historic architecture that dots the city.
Leg Two: Naples to Sorrento
Drive time: two hours
Distance: 34 miles/56 km
After a day or two of savoring the sights, sounds, and flavors of Naples, take the Strada Statale 18 Tirrena Inferiore (known as SS18) down the coast to Pompeii, then move to the SS145 to Sorrento. The SS145 runs along the northern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula, passing seaside towns with plenty of places to stop and photograph the rocky coastline and Gulf of Naples. The drive ends in Sorrento, a great place to break for the day.
With its brightly colored buildings overlooking the sea, Sorrento will make you feel as though you’re stuck in a painting. But that painting also happens to be full of restaurants serving up excellent cuisine. At its bustling Piazza Tasso, outdoor tables are one spot to sip a glass of local wine and watch the passersby. Otherwise, check out the historic Cattedrale di Sorrento’s statue of Pope John Paul II and walk through the city’s lovely parks.
Leg Three: Sorrento to Salerno — the Amalfi Coast of legend
Drive time: three hours
Distance: 42.5 miles/68.5 km
Get back on the bike before too much time passes because the third leg of the drive is when the trip gets downright panoramico. Today, you’ll pass through the Amalfi Coast of lore, winding past the vineyards that dot the countryside along the way. As you journey along the coast on the SS163, known as Amalfi Drive, you’ll enter the Riserva Statale Valle delle Ferriere, a protected area with several waterfalls and lush plant life.
If you want to break this leg into two parts, Positano is the place to stay overnight. Romans once built opulent villas in this stretch of coast, which hugs the steep mountainside above a petite, sandy beach. You can see the villa ruins near the Church of Santa Maria Assunta. The views and cuisine here will remind you of why you came to the Amalfi Coast in the first place.
The route mapped here also allows for a detour up SS373 to the Duomo Ravello, a historic cathedral in Ravello with shops, lodging, and dining nearby. Once back on SS163, proceed along the impossibly photogenic coast through Minori and Vietri Sul Mare before ending the day’s drive in Salerno.
Leg Four: Salerno to Rome
Drive time: two hours, 45 minutes
Distance: 166 miles/268 km
Finally, a chance to let loose on the highway and cruise. The fourth leg brings you back to Rome, where it all began, via the E45 and E80 highways. You’ll pass through the town of Caserta where you can visit the ruins of the Amphitheatre of Capua, built in the 1st century AD. The commute back to Rome is quick, scenic, and fun to drive — as you pass open countryside at higher speeds than much of the rest of the tour. And because it’s Italy, a pit stop in any town along the way makes for a great lunch.