It’s not difficult to see why the Amalfi Coast has become one of the most Instagrammed places in the world. With its limoncello-drenched good looks, sorbet sunsets and pastel villages perched on seafront cliffs, Southern Italy’s most popular coastline has gained pin-up status popularity over the years – perpetuated by a flood of sun-soaked, spritz fuelled images showing la dolce vita really does still exist. Beloved by the Romans long before Elizabeth Taylor and a glittering list of actors, aesthetes and artists were seduced by its shores, there is a heady mix of simplicity and sophistication here as fishermen bringing in their morning catch rub shoulders with the super yacht set.
Despite the crowds which come to see the colourful landscapes that captivated Picasso and Klee, Positano remains utterly enchanting. A patchwork of quaint houses painted in pretty peach, pink and white seem to have been stacked one on top of the other, while the dazzling majolica dome of Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta remains the focal point of many a photograph. Much of Positano’s charm lies in its cobbled streets brimming with artisan stalls and independent boutiques selling bespoke leather sandals, flowing linen, and hand-painted ceramics, and in the fact that there is very little to do other than laze on a striped sunbed soaking up the beachfront buzz.
Where to stay: Once a private home, Villa Franca is an enchanting hilltop retreat set right on the shore in Positano’s old town, where you can sip cool cocktails as you scan the skyline from a stylish lounger beside the rooftop pool.
A few twists and turns along the coast to the east you’ll find low-key Praiano, where fishing boats bob on the horizon and Saracen towers look over the shore. From hidden coves to sea caves and grottoes, Praiano’s coastline is truly mesmerising. For sweeping views across to the island of Capri, head to La Gavitella – a rocky spot of sunset orange umbrellas, fresh watermelon slices and live music blessed with more hours of sunlight than any other beach along the Amalfi Coast. Then there’s Il Gusto della Costa – Praiano’s proudest makers of limoncello, where you can book a private tour and sampling session for an authentic taste of Amalfi zest on a sultry summer afternoon.
Where to stay: With a dedicated area of La Gavitella Beach Club reserved exclusively for hotel guests, Casa Angelina serves up the ultimate beach resort experience alongside its own champagne and a white-on-white palette to soothe the soul.
Perched picturesquely on a plateau above the sea with spectacular views over the Bay of Naples, Sorrento is serenely placed for coastal and countryside holidays. Renowned for its traditional crafts, the spirit of Sorrento has been kept alive by its many artisan shops made for mooching and pottering about. Hunt for delicate lacework and colourful ceramics, or search for the town’s famous intarsio furniture. This style of ornate, inlaid wood goes back hundreds of years, and there are many fine examples in the Museo Bottega della Tarsia Lignea. Also known for its aromatic lemons which owe their almost sweet intensity to the fertile volcanic soil, a visit to the Fondo l’Agruminato citrus grove to sip the tangy limoncello produced here is a must.
Where to stay: Choose between Grand Hotel Cocumella, a 16th century Jesuit monastery with Vesuvius views, or Grand Hotel Angiolieri, an 18th century hotel which sits on the site of an ancient Roman villa.
The original Italian island retreat, nearby Capri has been cool since the Roman Emperor Tiberius built his villa on its limestone, rocky shore. Though it can get very busy during the summer months, Capri’s panoramic sea views, fragrant gardens, and iconic blue and white parasols mean the island’s magic does not get lost amongst the crowds. Best experienced from the water, renting a boat for the day will reveal secret coves, golden caves, and tiny scraps of sand unreachable by land. First thing in the morning or in the evening lull, take a rowing boat out to the Blue Grotto, a bewitching cave on the sea’s edge. Squeeze through the opening to find yourself in a beautiful blue cavern, with the sea lit up by the sun.
Where to stay: Clinging to the cliff face overlooking the sea and the renowned Faraglioni rock formation, Punta Tragara is made for sunbathing, swimming and gazing over the sparkling bay.
Follow the foodie trail along the Amalfi Coast with our 10-day itinerary here.