The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful and romantic places in the world. Here you will find chic luxury hotels, fabulous restaurants serving some of the best food in Italy, beautiful beaches, quaint villages and winding roads that hug the steep coastline with stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea at every turn. The food, made with extraordinary local ingredients, is simple and earthy and the local wines are bright and delicious. It is no wonder that the Amalfi Coast has been drawing a sophisticated crowd for decades.
Within hours of arriving, you will experience what the Italians call “il doche far niente”…the sweetness of doing nothing. You will find yourself enjoying the simple pleasure of lingering for hours over a lunch of pastas and seafood at a shabby chic waterside restaurant, indulging in a glass of prosecco or a spritz on a terrace watching the sun set over the Mediterranean or taking a leisurely stroll around a moonlit piazza.
Although there are several stunning towns dotting the Amalfi Coast, including the beautiful town of Amalfi and the cliff-hugging town of Ravello, for this luxury weekend getaway, we suggest Positano for its stunning beauty, luxury hotels and chic restaurants. Positano, with its Moorish-style pastel-hued houses cascading down a steep hill to the azure water, is probably the world’s most photographed former fishing village.
For this luxury weekend getaway, we recommend booking a deluxe terraced room or suite at Le Sirenuse, a small oh-so-chic boutique hotel built in a 19th-century Italian mansion overlooking Positano’s beautiful domed church and the bay filled with luxury yachts. The hotel, owned by the same family for generations, features whitewashed walls lined with old master paintings, Majolica tile floors and rooms filled family antiques. The burnt-red colored hotel is glamorous and makes you feel like you are staying at the home of a wealthy Italian friend. During your stay, you will always be greeted by name by the friendly staff and, with a high staff-to-guest ratio, there is always someone eager to fill any request.
Le Sirenuse // Via C. Colombo 30, Positano // website
After getting settled, you probably will be tired and hungry from your travels, so grab a table on the hotel’s terrace for a delicious lunch. The terrace is framed by white stucco pillars covered in bright pink bougainvillea and offers stunning views of the azure waters below. There are few more beautiful places to have a plate of al dente pasta washed down with a crisp local wine.
After a leisurely lunch and perhaps a refreshing nap on a lounger next to the pool, it’s time to explore Positano. Head down to the main beach area, Spiaggia Grande, to explore the many shops and restaurants that fill the main harbor area. Be sure to see Santa Maria Assunta, the parish church of Santa Maria Assunta with its impressive tiled dome, and take a walk along Via Positanese d’America, a spectacular pathway that hugs the cliffs leading to Fornillo beach.
Around seven o’clock, Italians often meet friends for an aperitivo and hors d’oeuvres. There is no better place in Positano for an aperitivo than Le Sirenuse’s Champagne & Oyster Bar. The views are jaw-dropping spectacular and the sunsets memorable. As the sun sets, the flickering candles on the terrace and the twinkling lights of the houses cascading down the steep hill transform this into one of the world’s most romantic spots. With a glass of champagne and a platter of oysters, you will never want to leave.
For dinner, we recommend the hotel’s main restaurant, La Sponda, which is one of the prettiest and most romantic restaurants on the Amalfi Coast. Owner Antonio Sersale employs someone just to light the hundreds of tea candles and the views of the tiled dome of Positano’s main church and the Mediterranean are breathtaking. The kitchen, with its well-deserved Michelin star, is overseen by Gennaro Russo, who has cooked with the famed Italian chef Massimo Bottura. Standouts from a recent visit included ravioli stuffed with local zucchini, fettuccini cacio e pepe with a light lemon mayo, and roasted John Dory.
La Sponda // Le Sirenuse // Via C. Colombo 30, Positano // website
We love starting the day with Le Sirenuse’s lavish breakfast spread taken on the terrace overlooking the town and sea. During your stay at Le Sirenuse, you will find the waiters remember exactly how you like your coffee and your preferred egg dish.
For this morning, we suggest taking a private guided hike to explore the hills above the dramatic coast. Not far from Positano is one of Italy’s most picturesque hiking trails, Sentiero degli Dei (the Path of the Gods), which runs from the village of Bonanno to Nocelle, a tiny hamlet above Positano. The trail snakes along the sheer cliffs dropping a half-mile to the sea below and the views of the craggy coast are nothing short of spectacular. The hike will take 2 to 3 hours depending upon your pace.
What better way to spend an afternoon than enjoying a leisurely lunch on the water at one of the Amalfi Coast’s chicest restaurants? For the afternoon, hire a private boat to take you to lunch at Lo Scoglio da Tommaso in the pretty village of Marina del Cantone. This famous restaurant, run by the De Simone family, has been serving some of the best food in southern Italy to a celeb-studded clientele for decades. They grow all their own vegetables in a nearby plot, and the must-try house speciality is spaghetti con le zucchine. Follow this with local fish baked in fresh lemon (Pezzogna al forno al limone) and a selection of grilled vegetables from Lo Scoglio’s own farm. Get a table on the wooden deck that extends over the water and plan to spend the afternoon enjoying one of the best meals you will find in southern Italy, all washed down with a bottle of the delicious local white wine, Lacrime di Cristo.
Lo Scoglio // Marina del Cantone, Nerano // website
After lunch, your boat captain will take you to one of the many coves along the coast that are only accessible by boat for a late afternoon swim.
Located in the exclusive and luxurious Il San Pietro hotel just south of Positano, Zass offers some of the most breathtaking views of all the Amalfi Coast. This famous hotel is situated just south of Positano and via a secret elevator next to a stone chapel. Start the evening with an aperitivo on the terrace perched high on the cliffs with stunning dramatic views of the azure sea surrounded by fuchsia bougainvillea, gardens of hibiscus, vines and fragrant flowers. The kitchen focuses on using locally sourced Italian ingredients in inventive ways.
Il San Pietro // Via Laurito 2, Positano // website
Today, we suggest a full day excursion to the island of Capri, which became a glamorous playground of the celebrity jet set beginning in the 1960’s and still draws a fashionable crowd today, including many of Hollywood’s elite. The best way to get to Capri is to charter a private boat for the day, which will allow you to see the entire island, explore its stunning grottos and visit places only reachable by boat. For the ultimate luxury boat charter, we recommend Cooperative S. Antonio’s 17.5 meter twin 820 hp New Star yacht.
Cooperativa S. Antonio // website
Capri combines rugged scenic beauty with chic villages filled with luxurious hotels, restaurants and world-class shopping. The mountainous island is surrounded by steep limestone cliffs and offers stunning vistas overlooking the cobalt blue sea. Capri Town, the main village, is filled with casually chic restaurants serving delicious pastas and seafood and designer boutiques filled with the latest fashions straight from the runways of Paris and Milan.
We recommend visiting Capri Town in the morning before the influx of boatloads of day trippers. Start at La Piazzatta, the picturesque main square in Capri Town, with its 17th century clock tower and chic cafes, and wander down the narrow cobblestone pedestrian pathways radiating outwards, stopping at the many designer boutiques that fill the town.
After exploring Capri Town, it’s time to visit some of Capri’s famous sights, including Certosa di San Giacomo, a former monetary that has become a hub for the island’s arts, Arco Naturale (Natural Arch), an impressive natural arch, Villa San Michele, a beautiful 19th century villa filled with antiques and lush gardens, to name a few of Capri’s many attractions.
Although the Blue Grotto is justifiably famous, it is so overwhelmed with boats and crowds that we suggest having your boat captain take you to the Green Grotto (Grotta Verde) instead, where you can swim in the emerald waters.
After a morning of exploring Capri, head down to Marina Piccolo, a small inlet dotted with beach clubs (lidos) and a small marina, where you can take a water taxi to La Fontelina, a straw covered, ramshackle restaurant located in one of the most beautiful spots of any restaurant in the world. The restaurant and beach club are built into the rocks overlooking the famous Faraglioni, three famous limestone fingers that jut out of the sea. An afternoon at La Fontelina is a quintessential Capri experience with bronzed Italians sunbathing on the surrounding rocks and diving into the clear waters while diners in the straw-thatched restaurant feast on spaghetti with clams, fried zucchini blossoms and jugs of white-wine sangria filled with chunks of peach. A perfect way to spend the afternoon!
Ristorante La Fontelina // via Faraglioni, Capri // website
For your last night’s dinner, we suggest Il Pirata, a casual seafood restaurant located in Praiano. The restaurant is tucked in a beautiful cove and is extremely romantic, with twinkling string lights and waves gently lapping against the sea wall below. It is particularly magical when the moon is full and shimmers on the placid sea. We love their pastas and you cannot go wrong with their local whole fish baked in olive oil, lemon and tomatoes.
Il Pirata // Via Terramare, Praiano // website
For the ultimate travel planning for your luxury Italian vacation, contact Emily FitzRoy and her U.K.-based company, Bellini Travel. She has consistently been listed on Travel & Leisure’s A-List for her knowledge of Italy and exclusive access to the best of Italy. She has deep contacts with the families that own all of the best hotels and restaurants along the Amalfi Coast (and, frankly, throughout Italy) and can open any door and make the impossible happen. Bellini Travel is in a league of its own.
Bellini Travel // website