Erchie, Italy: Off-the-Beaten-Track Amalfi Coast

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For our one-week stay on Amalfi Coast with kids, we spent ages trying to decide which village to stay in. After being tempted by the picture-postcard views of Positano, impressive cathedral at Amalfi, and long stretch of beach at Maiori, we ultimately decided to stay in the lesser known traditional fishing village of Cetara (read why we loved it in my detailed Cetara guide).

Italians certainly know about Cetara, and in summer its tiny beach is crowded with locals just like any other along the coast. But for foreign tourists, it is very much off-the-beaten-track. When we stayed there in late September, the tail end of the high season, we were practically the only foreign tourists in town.

During our stay, we made multiple trips to other villages on the Amalfi Coast. On one of those days, I visited Erchie (pronounced “err-KEY-eh”), an even smaller village that tucked away in a stunning valley facing the seat, is only one kilometer south of Cetara, as the crow flies. It is one of the smallest communities on the Amalfi Coast, with a mere permanent population of 83, according to Wikipidia.

 

Image of Erchie, Italy taken from the sea
Erchie viewed from the sea

 

Compared to Cetara, Erchie is even more off-the-beaten-track. Although it shares a few similarities with Cetara (for example, both have ancient watchtowers on the northern end of the beach), Erchie only has a handful of businesses, but a longer stretch of beach. Despite the village’s remoteness, this beach actually gets totally packed with (almost entirely) local beachgoers in the summer months. Both beaches invite comparisons to Cinque Terre, where my wife and I spent our honeymoon, Northern Italy’s more laid back answer to Amalfi Coast.

Making Erchie inaccessible is the fact that ferries don’t stop there, and the Amalfi highway buses don’t drive down into town. Therefore, getting there requires driving of a bit of a walk. However, the lack of traffic at the waterfront is one of the beach’s greatest appeals.

 

Spiaggia del Cauco and Erchie Tower viewed from the road to Erchie
View of Erchie Tower and Erchie’s secret beach from the only road into town

 

So who would like to stay in Erchie when visiting Amalfi Coast? If you’re the kind of person who likes to stay on a secluded, non-touristy beach with basic amenities and in a simple guesthouse, then Erchie may be for you. Note that in the off-season, you may find practically nothing is open in Erchie and the beach is practically deserted, so be prepared to self cater or drive to other towns to eat if necessary.

If you want a more of a small village vibe with active markets, more restaurant choices, and easier access, I’d recommend Cetara, while those seeking to be surrounded by quintessential Amalfi Coast views and have more tourist amenities should stick to the more popular tourist villages.

 

Erchie grafitti

 

A Brief History of Erchie

View of houses backed by hills in Erchie, Amalfi Coast
Local residences in Erchie

 

The name “Erchie” is derived from an ancient temple devoted to Hercules that supposedly once occupied this secluded valley facing the sea. The first mentions of the village date to the 10th century CE, when the Benedictine monastery S. Maria de Erchi was founded in the area. The monastery was subject to various attacks and storms, and finally abandoned in 1451. The imposing Torre Erchie (Erchie Tower or Torre La Cerniola) was constructed on a rocky promontory at the east end of the beach in 1278.

Today Erchie is part of the municipality of Maiori. Also known as the Marina di Erchie, it’s tiny population is largely made up of fishermen. It’s economy also depends on tourism in summer, and there are lemon trees and vineyards backing the town.

 

Getting to Erchie

Amalfi Drive highway, the main road to Erchie, for those wondering how to get to Erchie
Amalfi Drive, the main highway along Amalfi Coast, between Cetara and Erchie (Tower of Cetara visible and Vietri Sul Mare in background)

 

The best way to reach Erchie is by car. Only one narrow, winding road descends from the highway down to the beachfront, passing holiday homes with panoramic views along the way. If you are looking to rent a car in Italy, I recommend this car rental service. Parking is available for around 3€/hour.

As I mentioned above, the ferries plying the Amalfi Coast don’t stop in Erchie, so you’re only option by public transportation is to take the SITA Amalfi Coast bus and get off at Erchie stop. See the bus times here.

The bus takes 35 minutes coming from Salerno, and only 5 minutes from Cetara. Coming from the other direction, it takes 40 minutes by bus to reach Erchie from Amalfi Village. If you’re staying anywhere west of west of Amalfi, such as Sorrento or Positano, you’ll have to catch the bus to Amalfi village first, then transfer to the Salerno-bound bus.

Getting off at the bus stop, you’ll need to walk 700 meters (10 minutes) downhill to reach the waterfront. I’ll cover this in greater detail in the “My Experience Visiting Erchie” section below.

 

Where to Stay in Erchie

The best budget apartment in Erchie is this highly reviewed Airbnb. The room comes with a balcony overlooking town and the beach. They’ve also got this larger room available. Another great budget choice in town is this one.

If you’ve got a larger budget and/or more people in your group, this fantastic apartment has an unbeatable view of the coast and Tower of Erchie.

There are also some good Erchie properties listed in booking.com, such as this one.

Search for more Airbnbs in Erchie here.

 

Things to Do in Erchie

Wondering what to do in Erchie? There really isn’t much; the main highlight here in the secluded beach. Still, there are a few other thngs to do and Erchie attractions to note.

 

1. Do nothing on the beach

A sandy, empty beach shot of Erchie Beach
Pebble Erchie Beach

 

Locals come to Erchie to lie on the beach, wade in the water, and that’s pretty much it. There are two beach facilities (Lido Edelvina and Lido Adriana) providing beach chairs, umbrellas, and drinks to order, and these can actually get quite crowded in summer. Expect to pay €10-15 for two chairs and one umbrella for the day.

There are free sections on the beach as well.

 

2. Admire La Torre Cerniola (Erchie Tower)

Erchie Tower (Torre di Erchie or Torre La Cerniola) viewed from across the Port of Erchie
Erchie Tower viewed from across the bay

 

The square-shaped Torre La Cerniola (Tower of Erchie) dominates the eastern end of the beach. Unfortunately there is no public access. The best places to admire the tower are from the promontory on the opposite end of the beach, from the sea, or from the road leading from the bus stop down to the beach.

Unfortunately, access to the tower is prohibited and there’s a gate blocking the stairwell leading from the beach to the tower. As you can see in the photo below, it is possible to rent the tower’s patio area for events.

 

Sign and closed gate to the staircase leading to the Tower of Erchie
Closed access to the Tower of Erchie

 

3. Paddle to Spiaggia del Cauco

Spiaggia del Cauco, a hidden beach in Erchie
Difficult-to-access Spiaggia del Cauco, below the cliffs on the eastern side of Erchie Tower

 

East of the promontory where Erchie Tower lies is a surreal, hidden beach with incredibly clear water called Spiaggia del Cauco. Fantastic views of the cliff-backed beach can be enjoyed on the walk from the bus stop into town.

Only daredevils might attempt to access the beach by swimming or scaling the rocks along the promontory, while a more reasonable way would be to hire a kayak or paddleboat, if available, in Erchie to get there.

 

4. Church of Santa Maria Assunta (Parrocchia S. Maria Assunta)

Church of Santa Maria Assunta (Parrocchia S. Maria Assunta or Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta), the main Erchie Church or Erchie Cathedral)
Church of Santa Maria Assunta, the main church in Erchie

 

Erchie’s main church is so small that it’s not even marked on GoogleMaps, but you can find it at the bottom of Via Parrocchiale, a long staircase leading from Via Provinciale (the main road into down) down toward the beach. There’s a small café and piazza beside the church, which would be a pleasant place to relax with an espresso.

 

Erchie Square (piazza) beside Erchie Church
Lovely piazza and cafe beside Erchie Church

 

5. Walk from Erchie to Cetara

My personal favorite part of visiting Erchie was walking between it and the neighboring village of Cetara, where we actually stayed. The walk provides exceptional coastal views, including magnificent views from above of both villages. See more details and pictures below.

 

Where to Eat in Erchie

Raffaele a Mare, one of the best restarants in Erchie, Italy
Raffaele a Mare, the most well-known restaurant in town.

 

There are only a handful of places to eat in Erchie, and they may only open in the high season. The most well-known Erchie restaurant locally is Raffaele a Mare, which occupies a spot right on the beach. A little rundown and with slow service, the restaurants does seafood classics with no frills, including cartoccio (seafood cooked in tin foil).

At the end of the beach opposite the watchtower, Acquapazza Erchie does drinks & simple meals with outdoor seating, summer only.

La Cambusa and Ristopub da Anna are two other choices that were closed when I visited in late September.

There are only a couple tiny grocery stores in town; don’t count on them always being open. There are no ATMs in town.

 

My Experience Visiting Erchie

On one day of our trip, I decided to leave my kids and wife in Cetara and go for a little half-day trip by myself to Erchie. I took the SITA bus to get there, and walked back.

At the single bus stop in Cetara, I was able to buy a ticket from the machine using coins. I rode only one stop (5 minutes) to Erchie stop, which is on the highway that runs above town.

 

A tiny church near the bus stop for Erchie
Small welcoming shrine near the Erchie bus stop above town

 

From there, I followed the vehicle road (Via Provinciale) downhill into town past a small welcoming shrine on the left and incredible views down to Spiaggia del Cauco and Erchie Tower on the left. Next, the road passed several homes perched on cliffs looking down at Erchie beach.

 

The main road if you are driving or hiking to Erchie, with views of the Erchie coast
The main road down to Erchie, with views of Erchie Tower to the left

 

View of Erchie Beach from above taken from Erchie holiday homes
First view of Erchie beach, from holiday homes along the road overlooking the beach

 

Reaching a staircase called Via Parrocchiale, I followed the stairs downhill toward the beach. The stairs ended at Parrocchia S. Maria Assunta (see “things to do in Erchie” section), the village’s tiny church, where I found a few elderly men sipping espressos in the small piazza.

From there, a few different paths led down to Via Marina, with a few closed restaurants, Raffaele a Mare (the most well-known restaurant in town), and the beach.

 

Houses and hotels in Erchie
Residences and guesthouses facing the waterfront

 

At the eastern end of the beach, a single worker for Lido Adriana snoozed under an umbrella, without a single guest yet for the day. Pas the lido, I found the gate for the staircase up to Erchie Tower locked so I couldn’t go up.

Traversing the entire beach, I passed but a few people setting up for a day of sunbathing. At the opposite end, I walked out on the promontory, where a few elderly men cast fishing lines into the sea. The promontory offers the best view looking across the beach to Erchie Tower on the other side.

 

Fishermen overlooking the Erchie harbor
Fishermen on the Erchie promontory

 

Satisfied with my quick jaunt, I made my way back up through the town to the bus stop, then walked along the highway back to Cetara, enjoying again the views looking down at Erchie Tower, the coast, and nearing the end, looking down on Cetara. It’s important to note that there isn’t a whole lot of room on the side of the highway and the traffic can be a little wild, so you must take extreme caution if walking along the road.

 

A couple cycling from Erchie to Cetara
Walking along highway from Erchie to Cetara, with Cetara visible in the background

 

A private house along the Amalfi Coast
Beautiful private residence spotted along the walk

 

Staircase to a private beach near Erchie and Cetara
Stunning private beach between Erchie and Cetara

 

View of Cetara from Erchie to Cetara highway
Arriving back at Cetara

 

Well, I hope you’ve found all the information you could possibly need in this Erchie guide. Feel free to also read about how my wife and I planned our honeymoon in Italy!

 

2 thoughts on “Erchie, Italy: Off-the-Beaten-Track Amalfi Coast”

  1. Wow, this is a great roundup of Erchie. I have always wanted to plan an Italian road trip, but since I’ve never visited Italy before I just never know where to actually start. After reading this I think I’m more inclined to stick to the more remote, hidden gems. Definitely going to follow this up with your guide on Cetara too, it looks absolutely stunning!! Thanks

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