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For our one-week stay on Amalfi Coast while we traveled around Italy with our 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 (find out why we loved it in my 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.
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. For a detailed analysis of how they compare, read about Cinque Terre vs Amalfi Coast here.
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.
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.
A Brief History of 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
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.
If you are traveling in Italy with kids like we were, you might want to consider taking the ferry to Cetara first, then hoping on the bus for a few minutes from Cetara to Erchie. Amalfi Drive is super winding, and it’s easy for kids to get sick on bus rides.
Where to Stay in Erchie
If you’ve got a larger budget and/or more people in your group, this fantastic apartment has an unbeatable view of the coast access to a secret beach. It’s high up on the road into town, not right in the town/main beach area.
Another good choice is this guesthouse, which has a good view of the main beach of Erchie.
You can search for more options here on Agoda.
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 things to do and Erchie attractions to note.
1. Do nothing on the 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)
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.
3. Paddle to Spiaggia del Cauco
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)
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!