The town of Vico Equense is a treasure trove of cultural and natural wonders.
Lush green hills and sun-kissed cliffs define Vico Equense, a charming town with just over 21,000 residents in the province of Naples. Situated on a tufaceous and calcareous block, it boasts an average elevation of approximately 90 meters above sea level. To the front, it opens up to the Tyrrhenian Sea, the southern part of the Gulf of Naples, and the beginning of the Sorrentine Coast. It stretches all the way up to the impressive 1,400 meters of Mount Sant’Angelo, the highest peak of the Lattari mountain range. Vico Equense enjoys a pleasant climate throughout the year, which, combined with its captivating landscape of rock and water, is a significant draw for visitors.
People have been coming to Vico Equense since the 7th century BC. Oscans, Samnites, and Romans have all left their mark here. In the year 89 BC, the Roman general Sulla razed the city, but it later regained its reputation as a resort town during the reign of Emperor Augustus. The eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD marked the beginning of a period of decline, further compounded by the non-peaceful visits of various barbarian tribes and the Saracens. In the following centuries, different lordships took turns in power, including the Carafa and Durazzo families. By the late 1700s, Vico Equense embraced the Neapolitan revolution, and from the early 1900s, its role as a tourist destination became paramount for the development of the entire region.
The name of the town derives from the Latin “Vicus”, signifying small scattered villages, and “Aequana”, the ancient city that once occupied the present settlement.
The landscape, transitioning from the sea to the rolling mountains, from sandy shores to verdant woods, offers a rich variety of environments, providing the perfect setting for visitors seeking diverse experiences during their vacation. In Vico Equense, one can find all this, beginning with the perpetually spring-like climate and the advantage of its strategic location, making it easily accessible to both Naples and the other treasures of the Amalfi Coast.
What to see
The most famous postcard view of Vico Equense is the rosy façade of the former cathedral of Santa Maria Annunziata, perched dramatically on a rocky promontory overlooking the sea. It stands as one of the rare examples of Gothic architecture on the Sorrentine Peninsula, despite its Baroque façade. Within the little church behind it (the Church of the Archconfraternity), you can behold a splendid 18th-century wooden altar adorned with millions of beads, corals, and glass paste, a masterpiece created by the enclosed nuns of the nearby Convent of the Most Holy Trinity.
Just a few steps from the church, you’ll find the Giusso Castle, commissioned by Charles II of Anjou between 1284 and 1289. For art enthusiasts, a visit to the hillside hamlet of Massaquano is well worth the journey to explore the Chapel of Santa Lucia. It houses a cycle of frescoes, dating back to the 1300s, created by an anonymous student of Giotto.
Among the signature products of Vico Equense, the “pizza a metro” stands out.
According to locals, it originated right here and has since evolved from a simple baked good into the creative delight we know today. It’s thin, but not overly so, with a delightful “cornicione” (crust) all around. Another culinary excellence of the region is the Provolone del Monaco, a PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese, available in both sweet and slightly spicy varieties.
Unlike the other towns on the Sorrentine Peninsula, Vico Equense boasts relatively spacious beaches scattered along its coastline.
This is a large thermal center that harnesses the therapeutic properties of sulfur-rich water from various underwater springs. Admission to the spa includes access to the sea and a sunbed on a reserved sun terrace with a sulfur water pool. You can also choose a sunbed on the beach, which still provides access to a thermal water pool. Don’t miss the Michelin-recommended restaurant here.
- Seiano beach
In Marina d’Aequa, you’ll find the wider beaches of the area, including the Calcare Beach. Both private beach clubs and a public area are available, but they tend to get crowded during the summer season. We recommend arriving early in the morning or, even better, booking your spot in advance.
- Vico center beaches
These are small pebble and volcanic sand beaches that are easily accessible from the historic center. With a short boat transfer from here, you can reach “Lo Scoglio della Tartaruga,” a small islet just a few meters off the coast.
Until just a few years ago, the town of Vico Equense was virtually unknown to foreign tourists.
It’s only in recent years, with the advent of Airbnb and the growing desire for off-the-beaten-path destinations, that we’ve started to see non-Italian visitors. We highly recommend Vico Equense, especially if you have a car to explore the surrounding areas, including the beaches and hillside villages. With the train, you can conveniently visit Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Sorrento.Search for accommodation in Vico Equense
Accessing the Amalfi Coast, with towns like Positano and Amalfi, using public transportation can be more challenging (you’d need to take the train to Sorrento and then the bus). Staying here is a great choice if you’re already familiar with the area and eager to uncover its lesser-known gems.