There are places that I’ve travelled to that I know I will return to again and again, and I know that again and again I will fall even more in love with them. There is just something uniquely magical about the Amalfi coast and the picturesque little towns dotted along it. Even the journey there feels like a dream – the bus from Sorrento, the main pick-up point, takes you on a ridiculously beautiful and terrifying coastal drive along hair-pin curves and vertiginous drops to the glittering Mediterranean sea below. A few miles of lemon and bougainvillaea bedecked houses and gardens later, and you’re greeted by towns of pastel-colour houses stacked precipitously on cliffs above an impossibly blue sea. Not a bad start.
Things to do: The first time I visited I went to Positano. This is possibly the most visited town along the coast and rightly so as it is stunning. You’ve probably seen pictures of views from hotels with the iconic yellow church steeple all over instagram. On our most recent visit we went to Capri and Ravello. Capri is its own island rather than a town along the coast, and has its own magnificent views – most famously of ‘I faraglioni’ – the two giant, iconic rocks that jut out of the sea. We decided that we wanted to see them up close so we rented out a powerboat and did a tour of the island from the sea. We went through the famous hole in one of the Faraglioni and visited one of the many cool caves that are dotted around the island. In the bay outside the cave we had a picnic on the boat and I think I can categorically say that was one of the loveliest days of my life.
Capri is also famous for the blue grotto – a cave that is illuminated bright blue inside because of the angle at which the sunlight hits it. You get in on little rowboats and the men that steer them love to sing Neapolitan songs inside the cave as they echo so loudly. This and the strange blue light make it one of the most eerie and magical experiences I’ve ever had. Some people go swimming in the cave after hours when the boats have left. This is illegal and we definitely did not do this…nope…
If you go to Capri you must make sure to visit the area above Anacapri – the most elevated part of the island. Getting there is fun as you have to get the funicular, and the views from the top are totally breathtaking.
We wanted to go to Ravello on this trip as it is one of the most high-up of the towns along the coast (you have to get a bus that goes up the mountain from Amalfi) and thought it would have amazing views. We were not wrong. The most memorable moment here was the view from the Terrace of Infinity in the gardens of Villa Cimbrone. This Medieval villa is famous for its beautiful flower-filled gardens that gradually lead the way to a statued terrace with stunning views. I don’t usually mind heights but looking down here made me feel very dizzy. There is a tiny, half-hidden bar below the terrace with a balcony overlooking this view that’s about big enough for two people. We got my favourite pre-prandial, a bright orange Aperol.
I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast about four times now, and even though I love ticking as many countries as I can off my bucket list, it keeps beckoning me back. My grandparents are from this area originally, so I guess there’s a sort of psychological affinity there, but really I just think it is uniquely beautiful. Perhaps Steinbeck said it best in his book about Positano;”Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
Where to stay: Hotel Rufolo. Nice decor and great views. It is one of the more slightly affordable hotels for the view that you get. My dream is to one day stay at Villa Cimbrone.
Where to eat: Anywhere. Really, I have never had a bad meal in Amalfi, even in the most touristy of areas. The seafood especially is consistently amazing. One particularly memorable restaurant was at Cumpa’ Cosimo in Ravello. The food here is trattoria style rather than Michelin and is run by a lovely, frilly apron-clad woman called Netta. She’s such a larger than life figure that most locals simply call the restaurant Mama Netta’s. The food was so good here that I can still remember the taste. I recommend the pizza.