Pasta, seafood and jaw dropping scenery. The Amalfi Coast in southern Italy is one of the most beautiful places on earth. Its steep cobbled streets, terraced lemon gardens, vineyards, olive groves and pastel coloured homes, shops and hotels, cling to dramatic cliffs that drop into the Tyrrhenian Sea. The area is a UNESCO world heritage site and it’s easy to see why. It’s made up of towns and fishing villages built around small bays or hilltop locations with breath-taking views, running from Sorrento to the port city of Salerno.
Where to stay
If you only have a week, I recommend basing yourself in Sorrento for the first half of the trip. From there you can take day trips to the Islands of Capri (a favourite of the rich and famous) and Ischia (where the Italians go to relax), explore Sorrento and visit local olive groves. For the second half of the trip, head to one of the coastal towns such as Positano. From there you can enjoy the sea and take trips to nearby Amalfi and mountain top Ravello.
When to visit
Many hotels and restaurants are closed from November to Easter. The peak summer months are very hot with lots of tourists so avoid July and August if you can.
What to do
Walk the Sentiero degli Dei, “the path of the gods.” This mountain path is what drew me to the area in the first place. I want to go back and walk the whole path. It runs from Bomerano to Nocelle. We joined the path at the town of Praiano, taking the steps from Via degli Ulivi, and walking the path towards Nocelle and Positano. No words can do it justice, the views are heavenly.
While in Sorrento you can visit an olive grove. I recommend Frantoio Gargiulo in Sant’Agnell. It’s just a couple of stops on the train from Sorrento and up some steep narrow streets, which on the day we visited, we navigated in the rain. But the trip was worth it. If you love olive oil, this is a must visit. You can tour the factory, wander through the ancient olive trees on the estate and taste a large variety of oils. We ended up with a case of our favourites that we stowed in our luggage, but they also ship to 27 countries, so you can relive the experience when you get home.
Rent a boat and cruise the coastline or if you’re game, rent a scooter and head along the coast and up into the mountains. The roads are winding, narrow and on the edge of some steep cliffs but it’s a great way to see the area and it’s how the locals get around.
The Amalfi Coast is also known for the production of limoncello as the area is peppered with lemon orchards grown in terraced gardens along the entire coastline. Lemon juice is also a feature on many menus.
Where to eat
There is fresh local produce at every turn and I ate some of the most memorable meals of my life on this trip. On the way back down to Positano from the Path of the gods, we stopped in at Montepertuso for a spectacular lunch at Il Ritrovo. We had lightly battered, flash fried seafood, fresh gnocchi and mozzarella melted on lemon leaves. We sat outside, taking in the beautiful views and enjoying the friendly service.
The Porta Marina Seafood Fisherman’s Family restaurant in Sorrento is so good that we went there two nights in a row. It offers beautiful fresh seafood in an unpretentious setting right on the water. It is family run and the prices are very reasonable. If you’re walking there from Sorrento you can even stop in at The Bellevue Syrene hotel for a cocktail on the way.
One of our best experiences was heading to Da Adolfo beach restaurant. We’d heard about it from a friend and as instructed showed up at the pier at Positano and waited for a small wooden boat with a red fish sign to arrive. As you pull away from the pier the view of Positano from the sea is simply stunning. The restaurant is located in a secluded cove down a few hundred stairs from the small town of Laurito, but the best way to get there is to take the boat. It’s an open air ‘shack’ restaurant which serves up dishes like mussel soup and fresh grilled fish, which you can wash down with local wine served with peaches. You can also hire umbrella’s and beach lounges and enjoy a swim after lunch.
If you love beautiful interiors and five-star hotels, but don’t have the budget to stay, visit for a drink. You’ll get to soak up the interiors and views, and daydream that you’re staying there. We did just this at Imperial Hotel Tramontano and The Bellvue Syrene in Sorrento.