“I’m looking to do a trip to the Amalfi Coast in September. Can you suggest an itinerary to make the most of my week there and also recommend some boutique /luxury hotels?”
Aside from the knockout views, fresh seafood, all-out glamour and colourful buildings spilling prettily down steep hillsides; another other good thing about Italy’s Amalfi Coast is that the towns and villages along the coast are all relatively small. You can easily see most places on your check list in just a day or two, and then hop from one to another by car, bus or boat.
So, what can you do in a week? First, fly into Naples and if you’re a confident driver then hire a car and whizz around with the top down, the system up and Sophia Loren in the passenger seat. The drops are steep, the bends are sharp and local drivers/motorcyclists are a law unto themselves, so be sure that you know what you’re letting yourself in for if you do decide to drive.
Public transport is inexpensive and frequent, just jump on a train or bus from Naples to Sorrento (watching out for pickpockets!) and then from Sorrento, it’s a simple bus or ferry down the coastline. You’ll pass the ill-fated city of Pompeii (destroyed by the sudden eruption of Mount Vesuvius) on your way to Sorrento, so you can stop off there for a quick hit of history if you fancy.
In seven days you should be able to fit in stays in Sorrento, Capri, Positano and Amalfi. Start in Sorrento for one or two nights, this compact town is good for bustling streets, shopping and nightlife, but not great for swimming or beaches. For eccentric, nautical-inspired decor, panoramic sea views and the best breakfast around, try the fabulous La Maison Minervetta – owned by famed Italian architect and interior designer, Marco De Luca. Otherwise, head slightly outside central Sorrento to the small, peaceful and super-stylish Villa dei D’Armiento.
Next, take a ferry to Capri and spend a night mixing with the well-heeled holidaymakers and residents. If you’ve always wanted to sport a mahogany tan, head-to-toe white and some showy designer labels, here’s the place to do it. Capri is expensive, let’s not beat about the bush – so be prepared for the cost of food and drinks here. Capri is all about cafe culture, seeing and being seen. If you stay here and you want to show people that you’ve truly arrived, then go all-out and stay at JK Place Capri – the most luxurious hotel on the island.
For something more budget-friendly but equally exclusive, try the hip and newly opened Capri Suite, which has only two rooms and a shared kitchen/living area. This is especially good if you’re travelling as a four, as you can take both rooms and get the place to yourself. Plan your time carefully and you should be able to fit in the quieter and greener Anacapri on the other side of the island. Ride the cable car for views of the whole island and take a boat ride to the overpriced but still very lovely Blue Grotto caves.
From Capri, take a direct ferry to Positano – a town filled with high-end restaurants, art galleries, winding streets and the biggest stretch of beach on the Amalfi Coast. Positano looks like a pastel-coloured wedding cake and it’s probably one of the prettiest places that you’ll ever see. The view of the town lights twinkling as the sun sets is magical. If money’s no object then stay in Le Sirenuse – Positano’s flashiest five-star hotel. If you want amazing views on a budget, masses of character and enough space to stay as a group, then book a stay in Villa Fiorentino.
These chintzy two-bedroomed apartments have large terraces that look out over the sea and there’s a rooftop swimming pool that must surely have the best view in the whole of Positano. The daily climb from beach to villa might kill you, but it’s so worth it. You could easily spend three nights in Positano. You can lounge around the pool, oil up on the pebble beach or potter around the higgledy-piggledy streets. From Positano, it’s a short drive to Priano, a teeny tiny town where you can spend an afternoon swimming in the rocky bay and eating fresh seafood right next to the water.
Finally, head further down the coast to your final destination – Amalfi. Only, stop before you get there, at a beautiful old castle on the roadside, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. If you’re in the right place, you’re at the imposing metal front gate of Villa Scarpariello. This handful of buildings clustered around a 15th-century watchtower has gardens growing pomegranates and figs, original Roman sculptures, a swimming pool and apartments with private balconies that literally overhang the sea.
It’s one of the most private, unique and romantic places we’ve ever seen. Do as Jackie Kennedy (probably) did when she used to stay here and spend your days sunbathing and climbing down the ladder that leads directly into the inky blue sea. Head up to the gorgeous town of Ravello one day by bus or taxi. High up in the hills – it’s a stunner and has views that might well blow your mind.
From Villa Scarpariello, it’s a 10-minute cab ride or 25-minute walk to the town of Amalfi. It’s smaller than you might think and you’ll get around it in a day. The Villa doesn’t have a restaurant, so for dinner, try the neighbouring towns of Atrani and Minori for authentic Italian grub at half of the price you’d pay in Amalfi itself.
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