Travel Diary: 4 Days In The Amalfi Coast
There are probably few places on this Earth superior to summer in the Amalfi Coast.
It's so utterly beautiful and so utterly magical that it makes me think the entire universe conspired in its favor. I imagine the universe saying, "Let's bestow upon this short stretch of coastline nonstop sunlight to make the sea sparkle. Then we'll cover the land in plants and flowers that smell as beautiful as they look. And when we build things, we'll cover every facade in colorful tiles that perfectly match said plants and flowers. And when we house things, we'll shelter the best wine, tomatoes, cheese, bread, seafood and meat in the world. That should make some people very happy."
My husband and I traveled with our best friends to Italy last summer for 8 days, and while we visited Rome and Florence too, I still sit and dream of the sun, food and flowers of Positano and Ravello.
The first thing you should do when planning a 4-day trip to the Amalfi coast is to add on more days. I spent 2 days in Positano and 2 days in Ravello. I think 4 days in Positano and 2 days in Ravello would have been more ideal. If you book far enough in advance, you can find affordable hotels in the area. And that is the major key to the Amalfi Coast -- PLAN AHEAD! Things book up SO fast.
Here's what we did:
Days 1-2 - Eating pizza in Naples, visiting Pompeii ruins and falling in love with Positano
Getting there: We were coming from Roma Termini, so we arrived at Napoli Centrale via the bullet train, which is the Frecciarossa high-speed train operated by Trenitalia. We booked our trip at this website.
Getting around: We hired the travel agent, The Roman Guy, to help us with car transfers throughout our stay in the country. They were so helpful and such a pleasure to work with -- I highly recommend. Plus, there is no way you could pay me to drive along the narrow cliffside roads of the Amalfi Coast, so either take public transportation or hire a driver. I do not suggest renting a car despite the strong desire to look like you're in a Fellini film.
First stop - Naples Pizza: We went to L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele for the best pizza of my life (the restaurant dates back to 1870!). Each pie cost about 4 euro and customers can choose from two types: Marinara or Margherita. Get both, and take one to go, because the ride to Pompeii will last about 40 minutes.
Second stop - Pompeii: Spend a few hours touring Pompeii ruins on your own and trying to wrap you mind around it all. Then head to Positano. The ride will take about an hour.
Where to stay: Hotel Marincanto. I had the cheapest room in the place (which cost all of 250 euro) and this was my view. Need I say more?
The hotel is affordable, the location is incredible and you have access to a private area of the main beach.
Where to eat:
Breakfast: Your hotel. Most hotels include breakfast with your room rate. Don't skip it.
For juices, smoothies and healthy bites: Casa e Bottega. I dream of opening up this cafe's Los Angeles location, so I can reach my life goal of peak Nancy Meyers aesthetic.
For lunch al fresco: If you're wandering around the town, head to Bruno (you must get the white fish in lemon and olive oil). This is also a good option for al fresco dinner.
If you want to enjoy a beach day, make lunch and beach club reservations at Da Adolfo, a beach and restaurant you can only access by a boat that will pick you up from the main dock in town.
For dinner: La Tagliata, an Italian feast that includes festive music, tambourines and a whole lot of vino to get you ready to dance with the chef AKA the Pasta Mama. Make reservations and arrange to take the shuttle provided by the restaurant. The food, I will admit, was not my favorite. But it's a fun night out.
For my favorite dinner spot, climb the steps of the vertical city to reach Da Vincenzo, and never look back ... till you have to go home, but walking down is way easier than walking up! Order basically everything.
Things to do:
- Hike the Path of the Gods.
- Wander around the town.
- Spend time at the pool.
- Order a bottle of wine while sunbathing on the main beach.
- Visit neighboring beaches like Da Adolfo only accessible by boat.
- Have pre-dinner drinks at Le Sirenuse.
- Eat everything.
- Hire a boat to take you out exploring the Amalfi Coast for a day. Some hotels like Il San Pietro come with access to a house boat, but you can also charter one yourself. My friend recommended Amalfi Charter and its incredibly kind owner, Alfonso.
- Plan a day trip to Capri and the Blue Grotto (there's a half-hour ferry you can take from Positano to Capri, and any hotel can help you arrange a Blue Grotto tour).
Days 2-4 - Head up the hills.
We hired the The Roman Guy once again to take us from Positano to Ravello. There is a public bus, but it's faster by car. The ride up to Ravello was gorgeous but also so steep and winding that by the time we made our way up the mountain, I told my husband we'd have to stay in the small Italian village forever because I was never going back on those roads. Considering the village looks like this, we didn't mind:
Where to stay: I stayed at Hotel Villa Cimbrone, which is one of the oldest properties in Ravello that's surrounded by lush English gardens. The hotel was one of Greta Garbo's favorites. It's a climb up from the town square, so if you prefer to avoid the steps, try Palazzo Avino. And for a less expensive option, try Villa Maria. It was next to Villa Cimbrone but looked like a charming, romantic smaller hotel that won't break the bank.
What to eat: Again, eat breakfast at your hotel. See?
For lunch and dinner, our favorite spot that we ate at was a small pizza place called Mimi's. Nothing fancy, just really delicious food.
Things to do:
- Explore the small village and its various shops.
- Buy dishes, tiles and pottery and visit the ceramics factory in town.
- Attend the Ravello Concert Society. The best classical musicians in the world travel to Ravello for its summer music festival. If there's a performance on the night you're there, don't miss it.
- Take a cooking class. Villa Maria offers some classes, and Bon Appetit recommends Culinary Art School Nonna Orsola.
- Get lost in Villa Cimbrone's gardens.
- Relax by the pool.