The Amalfi Coast: A Tale of Two Cities

The square at Amalfi

The square at Amalfi

Last week, my fiance and I attended a friend’s wedding near Atrani on the famous Amalfi Coast of Italy. It was a trip of many adventures and memorable experiences. While I could rave on about the vacation and give lots of travel advise on the destination, other writers and bloggers have done that and far better than I could. So if you want the inside scoop on the Amalfi coast I have provided a list of blogs and articles worth reviewing.

Instead, I’m going to focus on customer service and how it can shape one’s view of a place.

The Amalfi coastline is a popular destination, with throngs of visitors virtually year-round. So even in late September the season was going strong. In addition to the celebrations around the wedding we ventured up and down the windy roads to the villages and towns.

Of course we had to visit Positano, the ‘picture perfect’ town of colorful villas that cascade and tumble down the slopping hills to the Mediterranean Sea. Suffice it to say it’s the most visited town along the coast. Being in the tourism industry I try to visit the local official tourism visitor center to see how things are done and to get help. So I stopped into Positano’s visitor center. The place was surprisingly empty. One young woman sat behind the counter, writing numbers in a ledger. She did not look up or say anything when I entered. So I browsed the brochures while she continued her task. I noticed on the counter (just a foot or two away from her) some basic town maps in various languages. I walked up and noticed there were none in English. So I asked if there were any. She looked up and without smiling said “We are out, they’ll be here next week.” Then she returned to her menial task. No apologies, no offer of an alternative map, nothing. So I left. Throughout my trip I found many of the employees in tourist shops were indifferent and inattentive and after awhile, I came to accept it. But in my book that attitude does not cut it at the official visitors center. If anything, they should be the most welcoming folks to counter indifferent attitudes and lack of service found elsewhere.  Sadly her attitude negatively affected my perception of that lovely community.

Our base for the week was the Hotel L’ Antico Convitto in the town of Amalfi.  The staff there could teach that visitor center employee much about hospitality industry, that it centers on SERVICE. In my career and personal life I have stayed at hundreds of hotels, motels, lodges, inns and B&Bs. The level of service the folks at Hotel Convitto gave was some of the best I have experienced. Ever. They were sincerely happy to see us each day. They willingly gave us advice on things to see plus gladly assisted with our requests promptly. As a result, they presented a very positive impression of Amalfi and I would recommend that hotel and town to anyone. Thank you Ferdinando, Antonelle, Gabriela and Teresa for your warmth and hospitality.

The bottom line is that we judge a destination by not only its attractions, amenities and our experiences but also by the level and quality of service we receive from the people in the community. Those of us in the tourism industry should never forget that.

Amalfi coast travel advice and resources:

This Why Go Italy write up has great information and resources.
Rick Steve’s recent column in the Seattle Times is worth a read.

Peter Greenberg has good advice regarding the Amalfi coast in this feature.

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