(CNN) – With its cliff-carved path, dramatic curves, and steep dips toward the turquoise sea below, the Amalfi Coast has become a prime destination for road trips.
It’s perhaps somewhat iconic – because these days, it’s as legendary for traffic as it is for its stunning surroundings. Anecdotes abound about miles-long backups, as well as tales of flight times that double and triple, thanks to which no one else has enjoyed these sights.
The surging numbers of large vehicles, including passenger vans full of tourists, on the road – sometimes one-lane with narrow barriers – is exacerbating the suffering.
But things may be about to improve with new rules introduced on Wednesday that will halve tourist traffic on the road – while causing chaos on people’s vacations.
An alternative number plate system has been launched, meaning cars can only access the famous 22-mile stretch between Vietri sul Mare and Positano each day, during peak season hours.
Only vehicles with number plates ending in an odd number can use the road on odd-numbered dates, while vehicles with number plates ending in even numbers can drive on even-numbered dates.
These rules apply between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. for the entire month of August, as well as weekends from June 15 to September 30. Holy Week around Easter and dates from April 24 to May 2 are also included.
Residents of 13 towns along the coast are exempt, as are public transit vehicles, taxis, and NCC cars that rent with a driver. However, regular rental cars are covered by the ban.
The Amalfi Coast Highway has one-lane stretches that cause traffic jams.
Lisa Noble // Moment Editorial / Getty Images
It’s often completely blocked
The extended rules—enforced by Anas, who manage the roads—also ban vehicles over 10.36 meters (about 34 feet) in height altogether, and caravans and vehicles with trailers from 6:30 a.m. to midnight, year-round. Vehicles over 6 meters (about 20 feet) long and 2.1 meters (about 7 feet) wide can only use the road within certain hours and are prohibited on peak dates.
Local police will be responsible for enforcing the regulations, with the ability to fine any infractions. The amount of the fines is not yet known.
The decree was initially scheduled to go into effect in April 2020, but domestic objections, as well as the pandemic, have slowed the process.
Angela Infante, Vice Mayor of Vietri sul Mare, Gateway to the Coast, told CNN that the new rules have been necessary for some time.
“I started again this year – you can’t drive on weekends, people are stuck in their homes,” she said.
Before the pandemic, she said, there were sometimes backups up to 6 kilometers (nearly 4 miles) along the coast.
“You have to drive very slowly because there are a lot of cars, and they are often completely banned,” she said.
“Apart from anything else, you can have an ambulance [in that traffic] And anything that can happen – we have to reduce traffic congestion.”
Infante, who owns a bed and breakfast in the city, said she always advises clients to travel up the coast by ferry to avoid crowds, or by bus — because even if you do reach your destination, finding a parking space can be difficult. impossible.
“If they choose to drive, they often come right back because they can’t find a parking space – and they can’t even stop for a bottle of water,” she said.
Tourists flock to the coast to see cliffside towns like Positano.
Nicola Simeone/Em/Getty Images
“We’re basically flooded for four or five months a year, and residents have a hard time parking and using the car to get from one village to the next,” he told CNN.
“Unfortunately, the beauty of the Amalfi Coast lies in its location, the towns are built along the cliffs, so parking spaces are minimal and there is scarcely room to maneuver.
“I once tried to drive to a dentist appointment in Minori [10 miles along the coast] It was a disaster. The only way to get anywhere now is by using the ferry, this way you can easily reach any city along the coast.
“Obviously we’re going to lose customers, but that’s to the benefit of the cities. If you don’t restrict traffic, the roads will be closed and you can’t find parking. There’s no other choice.”
He told CNN that the policy was a “disaster.”
“It discourages tourists. It makes it impossible to stay for an odd number of days. If you arrive on Wednesday, you cannot leave on Thursday.”
“It’s not like you can send your rental car back to Amazon.”
He proposed a compromise, keeping order for arrivals, while allowing tourists to leave the coast when they want to.
“Tourists should be able to leave when they want – to get to the airport, to the train station or to Salerno,” he told CNN.
“It’s not always easy to travel to the Amalfi Coast by public transport, especially at lunchtime. So we wrote asking for an adjustment for the season – so that the policy is valid for entering the coast and not leaving it.”
He said hoteliers on the coast risk “putting them in a difficult situation”, if guests arrive in rental cars with the wrong numbers, leaving them liable to pay a fine.
“They will warn the guests, but it is not our duty to inform the people of this – it is the task of the public body,” he said.
“The rules are written by bureaucrats, and it’s not easy to read. Maybe the car rental companies don’t know, or maybe the visitor won’t mention where to go. So they will get a car with the wrong plate and they will be fined on arrival.”
The mayors of Amalfi and Positano, the two most popular cities on the Amalfi Coast, did not respond to a request for comment from CNN, although Amalfi’s mayor Daniele Milano earlier told local media he supported the measures.
The rules are said to have been made with the blessing of the municipal councils on the coast, with the exception of Minori and Maiori. Mayor Minori declined to comment.
One of the councils, at least, is happy – perhaps because they might see more visitors thanks to the new rules.
Vietri sul Mare used to have major traffic problems around its port until a new car park was built, says Angela Infante. (At the beginning of the coast, Vitry has more building area than other cities along it.)
And she’s not deterred by the idea that the city will now see more traffic, as tourists wanting to drive the coastal road into Vietri will be stopped.
“It might create problems [in terms of more traffic] But we have parking so they can take the ferry.”
Main image: Alami