'I’VE lived here all my life and worked in tourism for more than 20 years, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” says Rosalba Irace, as we struggle to weave through the Amalfi Coast’s traffic-clogged coastal road.

“Many visitors today don’t care about our history, culture or even our food, just about being seen here and taking a selfie.”

It’s easy to see why people want a photograph of themselves beaming on the Amalfi Coast – this is a remarkably beautiful corner of Italy, its topography ridiculously dramatic. And unsuitable for human inhabitation.

Ironically man was drawn here by the eruption of Vesuvius.

What wiped out Pompeii deposited rich minerals and nutrients onto Amalfi’s south-facing slopes and cultivation thrived as the Amalfi Republic spread its wings.

It is hard to deny that man – woman and child too – is thriving too much in Amalfi today. Think a coast that makes Skye seem quiet. Rosalba tells me this year is beating even pre-pandemic levels.

Giacomo Miola, manager of Gastronomic Trekking, and one of the directors of a slow food movement, echoes her concerns.

“It’s very serious. We’ve lost 65% of our biodiversity over the last 50 years. It’s not just the busy roads and villages like Positano, but we’re now getting more wildfires and landslides. I attribute that to young people being drawn from farming to tourism.”

The farmers who used to manage the land and watch out for the dangers are just no longer there.

Giacomo’s hike shows us another, more sustainable, side of the Amalfi Coast that he has been showcasing since 2016. We eke around the vertiginous streets of Praiano stopping off to forage between the buildings. He is passionate not just about foraging, but putting our herbs into the dishes we cook for lunch – homemade pasta and cannoli.

His big hope is for more dialogue with visitors leading to greater “rurality”, showing people “Amalfi beyond the end of a selfie stick – our beauty alone is not enough”.

I’m here with my kids. My TikTok-loving teen wanted to head straight for the picturesque Positano, but I’m tweaking our trip to stay sane. Our hotel, the Tramonto d’Oro sits high above the sea in that sleepier village of Praiano. It is a great base with views along the coast. And sublime sunsets.

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The pasta at dinner is delicious, alive with local produce, such as the red prawns Giacomo recommends, best enjoyed with bone-dry Amalfi wine. The rooftop pool with a view is ideal after a hard day sightseeing.

There are other quieter towns like Tramonti, Maiori and Ravello, but it is the village of Positano and Amalfi Town that most visitors crave. I opt for the latter first. The sweeping beauty of its hulking cathedral – dedicated to a familiar saint (Andrew) – just about survives the onslaught of packed cafes, lemon outlets (Amalfi’s lemons are famous) and tourist shops. We break further inland and soon real homes emerge as the crowds clear.

We reach the Amalfi Lemon Experience, where we’re immersed in a world of limoncello, lemonade and cake. But it’s not just sugary tourism – we meet Salvatore, whose family have run this working farm for over two centuries. And his characterful father Luigi Aceto. It’s no easy task farming on steep slopes that take 1000 steps to climb.

“It’s hard keeping young people here,” admits Salvatore. “It looks beautiful here, but it is very hard work and tourism seems easier to many people.”

The authentic side of Amalfi keeps blinking into view – as we head back downhill we wait for an unusual traffic jam to clear. Not tourists on a moped tour, but a mule train, for centuries a handy way of tackling the tough terrain. Once mules ferried goods between the 18 Amalfi paper mills.

Today there is only one left to supply the Vatican and the Italian government with quality paper for official documents. The Museo della Carta has since 1969 kept the traditions alive. My girls get to make their own paper using the power of the local river.

It’s time to attach our selfie sticks and head for Positano. We avoid the busy, sinewy clifftop road and jump on Travelmar’s Vega with the company’s owner, Marcello Gambardella.

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He is proud of the Vega, rightly so: “My two ferries are the first greener ferries in Amalfi. We’ve had people from as far away as Australia to check them out. They use 20% less fuel and cut emissions by 90%, which is important as we’ve carried two million passengers this year.”

I’m meant to meet Andrea Ferraioli, president of the Amalfi Coast Tourist District, but fittingly he is caught in traffic. We chat on the phone instead. He recognises the dangers of over-tourism, but is positive about the future.

“Our idea is called ‘Authentic Amalfi Coast’, a comprehensive project,” he says.

Their website showcases authentic experiences tied to history, culture, and local gastronomy. “The goal is to help people discover that the Amalfi Coast is an area with many places to visit, allowing them to avoid overcrowding in a few spots.”

easyJet (www.easyjet.com) flies direct to Sicily from Edinburgh. For more information, see Authentic Amalfi www.authenticamalficoast.it/en