Guide to the Amalfi Coast
WHERE TO STAY
Where you stay on the coast really depends on what kind of trip you're looking for. The best time to visit the Amalfi Coast is during the summer months between April and September, but it is also the most crowded time to visit. However, if you go too early or too late in the season, many restaurants and lodging options may be closed. If you want a romantic and relaxing trip, I would stay on the Amalfi Coast for a few days to enjoy the nice weather and breathtaking views. It's pretty easy to access the island of Capri and the ruins of Pompeii from this town. If you're pressed for time and do not have the luxury of a longer vacation at the moment, a night or two in Positano will suffice to see the sights and take a day trip to Capri. Obviously, the beauty of this area makes it extremely difficult to leave, but I was able to do Naples, Pompeii, and the Amalfi Coast all in the span of a week. The Amalfi Coast is composed of Sorrento, Sant'Agata, Nerano, Positano, Praiano, Conca dei Marini, Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello, Maiori, Minori, Cetara, Erchie, Vietri Sul Mare, and Salerno.
While all of these places have their charms, Positano is the best known for the pastel-colored houses that spill down its cliffs into the sea. It has some of the most beautiful views and a centralized nightlife around seaside bars, restaurants, and clubs. Because of this, it's also one of the few towns on the coast that are known for its upscale shopping. However, hotels in Positano are the priciest option.
Hotel San Pietro is one of the most breathtaking hotels you'll encounter in your lifetime. Each room comes with its own private terrace and jacuzzi connected by stairways that hang cliffside. There is also a private beach, bar, and tennis court on site for your convenience.
Sorrento is the official starting point of the Amalfi Coast and the easiest town to reach. If you want to take day trips to Naples and Pompeii, stay here because being further along the coast can make it difficult to travel back and forth (the roads are extremely narrow and can be jammed with traffic during the busy season).
If you're doing Airbnb, this is a great option for a group of friends. Villa Parisi is on a hill overlooking the Sorrento bay with century-old trees surrounded by olive and lemon groves. There are three wide rooms on the first floor with windows that open to magnificent views of the ocean each morning.
Amalfi is also a great option if you want to see the luxury and beauty of Positano without the price. It's easy to travel to other towns along the coast and to take a day trip to Capri from here.
This hotel was built in the late 1800s and is surrounded by the Duomo and the sea. They have the most breathtaking views of the sea, through an elevator built entirely into the rock. You can also climb up the panoramic flight of stairs to one of the most beautiful terraces in Amalfi.
Salerno is at the other end of the Amalfi Coast from Sorrento and a huge transportation hub. If you're traveling from Rome by train, it's easy to navigate to Salerno and start from there. It has a charming, gritty vibrant Centro Storico (historic center) and has a beautiful tree-lined seafront promenade.
However, regardless of which option you choose on the coast, you're able to experience the gorgeous sunsets that bless the Amalfi Coast each night.
This Airbnb is in a villa with a terracotta terrace and gardens that offer a stunning view of the Gulf of Salerno. Surrounded by lush Mediterranean gardens, it's a great place to enjoy wine while relaxing with your friends or family.
WHAT TO EAT
L'Olivo - Capri
L'Olivo has received two very well deserved Michelin stars. The restaurant has a spacious dining area lit by warm colors overlooking the Bay of Naples. Its gourmet cuisine is the result of different combinations of flavors where the chef's attention to detail is extremely evident with every bite.
This restaurant sits among the rocks of the Amalfi Coast with a dining room that has over 400 candles, walls covered in climbing roses, and a huge window opening on the horizon. The menu is extremely diverse, boasting great options that can accommodate even the most finicky of eaters.
At La Tagliata, there is no menu. You have to trust in the chef and let me tell you, I have not ever been disappointed by Dora's pasta. The food is a mix of homemade ricotta, gnocchi, grilled meat, and roasted vegetables followed by a mouth-watering array of desserts.
Maria Grazia - Nerano
This little ramshackle beach-side restaurant is one of the best lunches you'll have in your life. The village of Nerano is only a short drive away from Sorrento and the home of the amazing Maria Grazia courgette pasta. You may find similar dishes along the coast, but they were the first to create and perfect this lunch special. Come here hungry before you begin your day of exploring.
This place serves the best local fish in the most stunning location right on the beach. It's incredibly low-key and extremely popular. To reach it, you have to take a little boat from the port of Positano. They pick people up from the port in a boat with the flag of a red fish. Make sure to book at least two weeks in advance; trust me, it's completely worth it.
Da Emilia has been open for over 50 years and remains a great option for fresh fish at a low-cost. The family-run business serves locally caught seafood prepared with a simple dash of olive oil and lemon. The blue-and-white checked tablecloths on wooden tables overlook the fishing boats in the port, making it a relaxing place to unwind before your afternoon nap.
WHERE TO PARTY
Africana - Praiano
Located inside of a natural cave almost a sea level, Africana is the Amalfi Coast's most famous night club. The magical atmosphere is a great place to go if you're looking for somewhere to unwind and dance after the sun goes down.
Anema e Core - Capri
This place was my favorite bar to dance in while traveling in Capri. It's a piano bar where the band plays classic Neapolitan songs with full audience participation. It's full of Italians, foreigners, and celebrities alike because it's got such a lively atmosphere every night.
Music on the Rocks - Positano
Positano has the most atmosphere after the sun goes down. It's great for people watching and is a fun club to meet young travelers from around the world.
Piazza Bellini - Naples
If you're looking for Neapolitan youth culture by night, you need to head to Piazza Bellini. Bars line the square and you'll find young tastemakers spilling out and filling up the sidewalk. It's a great communal atmosphere, where everyone comes together and mingles, meaning you'll find it almost impossible not to make new friends.
WHAT TO SEE
Capri is a beautiful day trip to take from any of the towns along the coast. Anacapri is home to one of the most amazing lido (public swimming pool) and has a chairlift to Monte Solaro, which provides you with breathtaking views of the island. You must also stop by La Fontelina, one of the most famous lidos in the world, which perches on a picturesque promenade along via Tragara. The Blue Grotto was one of my favorite sights from Capri. I recommend swimming in during the late afternoon when the tourist boats have left. The cave is such an amazing shade of blue and truly lives up to its name.
Naples has so many wonderful restaurants and breathtaking views of Mt. Vesuvius. They invented pizza and you'll find the best Margherita pizza with mozzerella in your life. You must stop by L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which you might recognize from its feature in "Eat, Pray, Love." It's the best pizza you'll ever have, and only for 6 euros. If you have time, I would stop by MADRE, the Museo d'Arte Contemporanea Donnaregina. With three floors of installations, you'll find site-specific artwork from Daniel Buren, Jeff Koons, and Anish Kapoor amongst many others.
The archaeological site of Pompeii is worth a visit. It's basically your AP US History class in real life, and both a terrifying and impressive reminder that humans have always been at the mercy of Mother Nature. Pompeii is easily accessible by train and doable as a day trip from Naples or the Amalfi Coast.
WHERE TO SHOP
If you're looking for limoncello, this is the place to go. They're the original family that started the Amalfi Coast liqueur business, dating back to 1989. Still a family-run bsuiness today, their lemoncello is produced with the "sfusato amalfitano" lemo grown in their gardens in the same handcrafted production process passed down from generation to generation.
Ceramica Artistica Solimene - Vietri sul Mare
Vietri has the best ceramic workshops that dates back to Roman times. The extrodinary faux-naif crockery is sold at resonable prices and a great present to bring home. There are hubs of local artists in town that craft traditional citrus-inspired ceramics.
Piazza Tasso - Sorrento
The streets surronding Piazza Tasso in sorrento has lively after-dusk shoopping if you're looking for designer Italian clothign or jewelry.
RULES FOR SUCCESS
Be extremely wary of pickpockets; I cannot stress this enough. Upon arriving in Naples with my camera around my neck, I was warned by an elderly man on the street to keep my hands around it at all times. Thieves will zoom by the intersection while you're waiting to cross the street and steal your camera off your neck. Keep your wallet and passport safe.
The wifi service along the Amalfi Coast isn't as great as other parts of Italy. We were able to make to send text messages and update social media, but a lot of lodging options have not updated their coverage to accomodate business travel. I would make sure to ask your hotel or Airbnb prior to booking if this is a concern to you. However, you should take this opportunity to unplug and enjoy your time! The Amalfi Coast offers the most idyllic beauty and Italian luxury that you can find. With unparalleled views of the sea and surrounding towns, you have plenty of time to explore and relax with friends and family and catch up on work emails upon your return.