Located 90 minutes south of Naples, the famed Amalfi Coast seldom disappoints. The jagged Lattari Mountains plunge into the Mediterranean, providing some of the world’s most dramatic scenery. Surrounded by terraced lemon groves, whitewashed villages cling to precipitous slopes, while beneath forbidding cliffs, the resort towns of Amalfi and Positano cluster at the edge of the sea. A narrow corniche traces the indentations of the coastline from Sorrento east to the magical hill town of Ravello. Renowned for the gardens at Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo (the inspiration for the magic garden of Klingsor in Wagner’s “Parsifal”), Ravello is an unhurried place, its civilized ambiance enhanced by a delightful summer music festival. And Pompeii is an easy day trip, connected to Sorrento by train. If you want to visit in high season, make your reservations no later than February. By March, the best hotels start to sell out.
There is often an inspired simplicity about the food of the Amalfi Coast, a region where chefs take advantage of fine seafood — including calamari, anchovies and lobster — as well as the famous citrus fruits and olive oils.
A Glorious Coastal Path
If you find yourself in Positano with time to explore, I recommend the Via Positanesi d’America, a spectacular coastal path that begins at the right of the Spiaggia Grande. It is named for the town’s 19th-century emigrants to the United States, whose support helped Positano survive the ordeal of World War II.
Marisa Cuomo Winery
Although the Amalfi Coast is famous for its limoncello, I like to seek out the region’s wines more than its sweet lemon liqueur. Some of my favorites are the crisp, fruity whites of Marisa Cuomo. The winery’s spectacular terraced vineyards overlook Furore and the sea, and cellar tours and tastings can be arranged with advance notice. Tel. (39) 089-830-348.
The Shops of Vietri sul Mare
The town of Vietri sul Mare is known for its ceramics, and shops filled with brightly colorful pieces line the main street. I like Liguori Pasquale (Corso Umberto I 80), which offers striking works with more-contemporary flair.
The Unassuming Splendor of Atrani
Atrani is easy to overlook. The smallest municipality (population about 1,000) in Italy, it is a charming honeycomb of meandering backstreets, winding stairways and Baroque churches, around which stand an array of pastel and whitewashed houses. We had a wonderful meal at A’ Paranza (Via Dragone), which serves delicious fish and seafood pastas.