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It’s the scene of sparkling convertibles cruising the sunny coastline, cliffs dropping into the Tyrrhenian sea, the hum of speedboats riding the waves as celebrities sport designer sunglasses and sip on champagne.
There is all the glamour that this majestic Amalfi coast is famous for, but there is also a quieter side of spectacular high coastal walking paths, classical concerts in magical settings, hillside villages and small local restaurants hidden from the main promenades with simple, delicious local specialities.
The Amalfi coast is a 50 km stretch of coastline along the Sorrentine peninsula that includes the towns of Positano, Amalfi, and the hilltop village of Ravello. The much larger Neapolitan Riviera, also the Campania region, includes Naples, Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii, Sorrento and the islands of Capri and the lesser known Ischia.
To offer the most varied and versatile holidays that include relaxation, and slow paced exploring, visiting classic popular sites such as Vesuvius and Pompeii, walking, cruising, shopping and long leisurely meals with local foods and wines, our Italy programme has a number of options. We’ve selected hotels that take relaxation and contentment to a level that makes it increasingly hard to leave, or others a short distance away from popular destinations.
Choose from two centre holidays, offering different experiences, or see more on our Amalfi coast splendours explorer holiday. We’ve included a choice of perfect day excursions and a guide of festivals and events. The magic of the Amalfi coast, its beauty and history will lead you to new discoveries everywhere.
Sorrento – Overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, Sorrento clings to the cliffs overlooking the sea. Its beautiful old centre is a network of tiny streets and bustling shops, bars and restaurants. It’s a short boat ride to Capri.
Positano – Hugging the corniche road around a clifftop coastline the brightly painted houses that disappear into a network of narrow streets, make it one of the most attractive towns. Efficient timetables of ferries and buses make it easy to explore.
Amalfi – Architecturally charming and not overly crowded with a small beach front, here is a feast of surprises surrounded by lemon groves and vineyards.
Ravello – A stunning hilltop village with a famous Duomo and two exotic and magical gardens, one being one of the concert sites during the summer Ravello music festival. The view of the coast far below are breathtaking.
Scala – A picturesque small village above Ravello built in Roman times. The gateway to several walks including to the ruins of Torre Dello Ziro
Capri – This craggy, rugged island has been a magnet to countless civilisations throughout history. Its glamour is legendary and its lure all-encompassing. But beyond its busy centre are scenic beaches, and lovely, quiet walks.
Ischia – Lesser known and less busy, this larger island called the “green isle” has ancient thermal springs, now cultivated into thermal parks with stunning gardens and regal hotels.
Pompeii – One of the Romans most important centres. It covers a huge area, which needs at least a day to explore. Start early and take a picnic.
Mount Vesuvius – the active volcano that once destroyed Pompeii in 79 AD and looms over the Bay of Naples. It takes about 30 minutes to climb, worth it to look in the crater and for the spectacular, panoramic view.
Path of the Gods – a spectacular high coastal route from Bomerano to Nocelle where every step creates a view that surpasses the last: truly memorable and extraordinary.
Limoncello – the drink and liqueur that epitomises the region. Lemon groves dot the landscape while lemons features prominently either painted on the classic local pottery, or as a major ingredient served in numerous dishes and desserts.
Sipping an Aperol spritz, overlooking the dramatic coastline, by the infinity terrace of the Villa Cimbrone is an essential Amalfi coast experience. The gardens although only a short walk from Ravello’s main square, take you through an isolated paradise at the very tip of Ravello’s ridge. There are formal gardens, little pockets of discoveries, ancient towers, water features and absolute peace and quiet.
Villa Rufolo, one of the venues for open-air concerts during the Ravello festival, is another stunning and varied garden. Go when it first opens and you wander through towers and turrets, an elaborate formal garden, rose garden and much more, virtually alone.
Don’t miss the gardens of Villa San Michele on the island of Capri. On the volcanic island of Ischa make time for the Mortella gardens, where there are often concerts. The grandiose 18th century Palazzo Reale at Caserta, with its English garden, lavish fountains and formal gardens based on the splendour and extravagance of Versailles is stunning.
Food and Drink
Pizza, mozzarella and limoncello are the tip of the iceberg here. This part of southern Italy has a very distinct cuisine based on natural resources, fish from the sea and lush fruit and vegetables that lap up the sun and produce sweet, stunning flavours. Pastries, gelato and unforgettable variations of Tiramisu are hard to resist. The top restaurants can be very expensive, formal and rather touristic, so look slightly further afield and find small trattorias and osterias off the main drag. Walnuts are a specialty as are many cheeses such as provolo, caciocavallo and mozzarella. Try crispy crespelle (pancakes) with ricotta or ham. Then there is the pasta, homemade gnocchi, dumplings, olives and so much more.
Try our one day cookery course to make the local pastas and specialties of the region.
The slopes of Mount Vesuvius and other sunny hillsides are filled with vineyards producing the many Campanian wines. Ischia produces a white wine, Biancolla that’s popular. Try Gragnano, a sparkling red wine that’s slightly unusual.
A few days beside the sea at the Hotel Luna Convento is a great combination with the friendly Hotel La Margherita & Villa Giuseppina in Scala.