Positano is a vibrant town that extends vertically from the pebble beaches and up the mountainside, with sets of steep steps to guide you through the mass of buildings that are painted in charming hues of pink and yellow. The dome of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta dominates the town and is worth visiting to see its interior that houses a Byzantine-inspired icon of a black Madonna. Positano is a good place for a spot of shopping with a number of boutiques where you will find fashion, accessories and tasteful souvenirs. Beaches include Spiaggia Grande which is one of the largest and most glamorous on this chic stretch of coastline, while Fornillo Beach is slightly more tucked away and more peaceful.
If you want to be right in the heart of the Amalfi Coast, the town of Amalfi, which is located by the sea, is a good choice. It does tend to get very busy in high season, but for many, the hustle and bustle adds to its charm. It has maritime heritage, clusters of white houses dotted along narrow alleyways and a series of watch towers including Torre Saracena near the Convent of San Francesco. It’s also a good place to begin exploring the region’s art and architecture, and the town’s most prominent piece of architecture is the Duomo (cathedral) that overlooks Amalfi’s main piazza. Visitors may also wish to see the paper museum − bambagina, the production of hand-crafted paper, is an old tradition of Amalfi.
Ravello is a pretty clifftop town about 350 metres above sea level and is peppered with grand villas and stunning gardens. The views from the town are breathtaking − particularly from Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrine − and it’s no wonder that it has drawn those with a creative bias for decades, including the Artists Turner and Miro, and Writers D.H Lawrence and Virginia Wolf. Today it continues to attract discerning travellers and is the perfect place for relaxing. The town’s points of interest include the cathedral and its museum, the contrasting ultra-modern Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium and the Ravello Festival that runs from June to September and includes cultural events from orchestral concerts and ballet performances to film screenings and exhibitions.
Although not actually on the Amalfi Coast, Sorrento is a good place from which to explore the area because of its transport links. Sorrento is a hugely popular holiday haunt situated on the other side of the peninsula on the Neapolitan Riviera with stunning views overlooking the Bay of Naples and encompassing Vesuvius and the island of Ischia, Sorrento. It has a particularly beautiful old town, teetering on the edge of a cliff-top that drops sheer into the sea, with plenty of gorgeous panoramic views and viewing points. Sorrento life revolves around Piazza Tasso, where tables and chairs spill out of coffee shops onto the cobbles. Take a seat here and watch daily Neapolitan life unfold; 'nonnas' sitting crocheting, wise old men putting the world to rights, and a host of glamorous young things going about their business.
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Visit the Duomo of Amalfi, accessed via the exquisite 13th century cloister, Chiostro del Paradiso. The square outside is an excellent vantage point to watch the world go by, cappuccino in hand. The Duomo of Ravello is equally impressive with its bronze doors and two exquisite marble pulpits that face each other across the nave, adorned with mosaics; there is also a museum in the crypt. Take a boat from the quay at Positano and visit the Grotta delle Matera and the pretty cove, Marina di Crapolla, with Roman villa ruins on its beach. Meanwhile, Paestum, although conquered by the Romans, is renowned for its three ancient Greek temples.
Allow Elegant Resorts to book you a private Driver and Guide to take you on the famous Amalfi Coast drive, leaving you free to enjoy the jaw-dropping panorama. Or, explore the coast by boat. Many tourists head for the Grotta dello Smeraldo along the rugged stretch of coast between Positano and Amalfi; this swimming spot is accessible by boat or by car. You can also hire your own yacht and visit the island of Capri, or the three small islands known as ‘Li Galli’ that were believed by the ancients to be home to the Sirens whose song so enthralled passing Mariners that they went weak at the knees and allowed their ships to drift onto the rocks. In Sorrento, enjoy views across the Bay of Naples from the garden next to the 14th century church, Chiesa di San Francesco and meander the alleyways of the old town where you’ll find that are laced with old-world antique shops and trattorias.
Stop off in Vietri sul Mare, the last town on the Amalfi stretch, to see the fascinating ceramic workshops dating back to Roman times. Back in town, Ceramica Artistica Solimene is the best place to invest in some faux-naif crockery, at reasonable prices. Other ‘must-buys’ include Positano sandals, which are decorated with seashells, designer clothes from the warehouses of Prada and Gucci, leather goods, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. In Sorrento, do take a gentle saunter along the exclusive Corso Italia in search of that all-important pair of designer shoes.
If you’re staying in Ravello treat yourself to a meal at Mamma Agata’s. Her regional specialities have been enjoyed by popular figures such as Fred Astaire (Spaghetti ala Puttanesca), Humphrey Bogart (Alci Fritte) and Jacqueline Kennedy (Mozzarella and Tomato Salad). It is even possible to take a cooking class with the lady herself.
From the Amalfi Coast area and Sorrento visitors can take trips to the historical and archaeological UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pompeii in Campania, near the Bay of Naples. It is one of the most interesting and attractively located archaeological sites in Italy. This ancient Roman town was buried under the volcanic ash of a disastrous eruption from Mount Vesuvius from AD79 until it was discovered in the 18th century. Today, it provides first-class evidence of the way of life during the Roman Empire. A Guide will make the city come alive before your very eyes; to avoid the crowds why not let us arrange for you to visit Pompeii by night, with a private Guide?
Via Rome with Emirates from Abu Dhabi to Naples.
Via Rome with Etihad Airways from Abu Dhabi to Naples.
Via Rome with Qatar Airways from Doha to Naples.
From Dubai to Naples: 8 hours, 15 minutes.
Our Travel Consultants can advise on, arrange and pre-book many things to enhance your holiday. This includes everything from spa reservations and dinner reservations, to a range of special experiences available in our featured resorts that you may not know about.