Wedged between a rocky cliff face and the hard border of the ocean, this sliver of coastline combines centuries-old traditions with a timeless sense of glamour. Just south of Naples, it juts out to the west into the Tyrrhenian Sea, a gnarled strip of land that has accumulated a jumble of houses, churches and groves.
The artist Paul Klee noted that the Amalfi Coast’s most famous town, Positano, was, “the only place in the world conceived on a vertical rather than a horizontal axis”. While this might not be strictly accurate, it will certainly feel like it when you’re climbing those countless cliffside staircases.
Located in the heart of Positano, Le Sirenuse was converted from a private family summer house into a hotel in 1951. On the eve of its 70th anniversary, it remains both family-run and the most chic place in town. The hotel is named for the sirens whose song enticed Odysseus to his death in Greek mythology and it’s not difficult to see why – the lure of a languorous summer holiday spent on the terrace here is difficult to resist; fortunately there’s no need to sacrifice one’s life for the pleasure.
When staying at Le Sirenuse – or anywhere on the Amalfi Coast – navigating steep staircases comes with the territory. Whether you’re making a beeline for the beach below or exploring the rocky gardens, rustic villages and olive groves above, you can expect to scramble up or down hundreds of steps before reaching your destination. But at the end of the day’s excursion, you retreat back to this coastal paradise to enjoy a cocktail overlooking the ocean.
To truly experience the local charms, get out on the water. The very best way to explore the Amalfi Coast is by boat, feeling the sea spray on your face, marvelling at the sorbet-coloured buildings that dot the cliff faces, and darting into the little coves that would be almost invisible from the road. Hire a boat at one of the bigger towns such as Positano and either map out your journey or see where the day takes you.
Perhaps the little fishermen’s huts on the beach at Marina di Conca take your fancy. Or you might prefer Li Galli islands for a spot of snorkelling. You’ll be spoilt for options but it’s practically impossible to make a bad decision.
The best meals here are based around local produce that has remained unchanged for centuries: seafood, of course, as well as the olives and lemons that grow by the hectare. For fresh seafood with a slice of history, visit Da Emilia in Sorrento – it’s been open for five decades and Sophia Loren was a regular while filming nearby. And when you crave the most incredible homemade pasta, head to Cumpa’ Cosimo in Ravello for the traditional Italian restaurant experience. Or take a car high up into the hills above Furore to discover the winery founded by Marisa Cuomo in 1980, which uses traditional techniques to craft thoroughly modern local wines.
From aquatic adventures to exploring the ancient local churches, there is so much to do and see on the Amalfi Coast. Resist the temptation to fill every minute with activity and take some time to simply relax. People-watching here is among the best in the world, particularly around Positano, where the glamorous Euro set flocks each summer. Grab a table with a bird’s eye view of the beach, order a cocktail and simply enjoy the passing parade.
Bring a slice of the Amalfi Coast to your home – anywhere in the world – with Paradiso del Sole. Available as a Candle and a Hand Wash, this invigorating fragrance captures the region’s fresh citrus scent.
Written by Michelle Bateman