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Travel Editor’s Tips: How to explore the Amalfi Coast

A balcony view from Le Sirenuse, Positano

For all its celebrity sheen and status as a jet-setting paradise, this colorful corner of Italy is really about the slow life and la dolce far niente – the art of doing nothing. CATHERINE FAIRWEATHER explores the eternal charms of the Amalfi Coast



Truly great hotels have the capacity to reassure, like sanctuaries remaining unchanged in a fast-changing world, but should also be able to surprise and inspire. Le Sirenuse does all this and more, offering the elegance, traditions and grand trappings of an aristocratic summer villa, but always with a twist. This destination hotel – with its evolving collection of contemporary art, Michelin-starred restaurant and vintage Riva boat offered to everyone who books a suite – is certainly deserving of all its accolades. Join the young and beautiful queuing around the block for a table on the high open terrace at Franco’s Bar, overlooking the town and Tyrrhenian Sea below.

Further up near the Path of the Gods, you’ll find the rarefied, artistic musical enclave of Ravello, which has hosted every writer and artist from D.H. Lawrence to Gore Vidal. Hole up at the charming Palazzo Avino and spoil yourself with spaghetti alle vongole in the hotel’s beach club, followed by an aperitivo in the Lobster & Martini Bar, set beside the heavenly gardens with peerless views across the coast.

Casa Privata is a restored fisherman’s ruin turned into a six-bedroom retreat, often booked as a unique rental for weddings and landmark birthdays. Situated on a steep and peaceful cliffside in Praiano, between Positano and Amalfi, it is built onto a series of terraced gardens, making it the dream hideaway for those seeking seclusion and peace.

Formerly a 12th-century private villa, Palazzo Avino is the perfect mix of Italian grandeur and modern decor


Explore the narrow back streets of Ravello for real local flavors: steaming minestrone or homemade ravioli at Cumpa Cosimo. Ravello is the exclusive aristocratic haunt of writers and artists, but everyone rubs shoulders happily and democratically at this family trattoria, where Mamma rules with a rod of iron and a hint of a smile. (Via Roma, 44, 84010 Ravello; +39 089 857156)

Da Adolfo sits on a small secluded beach, which you can only reach by boat


The super-yacht tenders head to the honeypot trattoria that is Da Adolfo for the thrill of just-caught sea urchins and the signature mozzarella grilled in lemon leaves. But you can also hail a taxi-boat or wait for the gozzo (the trattoria’s personalized fishing boat, complete with the legendary red fish ‘Da Adolfo’ insignia) from Positano, which chugs along to the tiny beach where sunbeds cover the sand.


Hike the Path of the Gods – 1800 steps upwards from Positano to the village of Nocelle, past the hair-netted terraces of lemon and olive trees – so that you are at eye-level with falcons and goldfinches alike. After your hike, reward yourself with a bowl of zuppa saracena at Il Ritrovo.


Explore the town of Vietri and its Solimene factory for ceramics. The Cotto Rufoli factory near Ogliara – a favorite of Dolce & Gabbana – makes bright terracotta tiles for hotels including Le Sirenuse, hand-baking them in kilns following a tradition that goes back centuries.

For bespoke trips along the Amalfi Coast, including accommodation, events and unique experiences, book through Bellini Travel.