Deemed an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape by Unesco, the Amalfi Coast is one of Italy’s most memorable destinations. Here, mountains plunge into the sea in a nail-biting vertical scene of precipitous crags, cliff-clinging abodes and verdant woodland.
Its string of fabled towns read like a Hollywood cast list. There’s jet-set favourite Positano, a pastel-coloured cascade of chic boutiques, spritz-sipping pin-ups and sun-kissed sunbathers. Further east, ancient Amalfi lures with its Arabic-Norman cathedral, while mountaintop Ravello stirs hearts with its cultured villas and Wagnerian connection. To the west lies Amalfi Coast gateway Sorrento, a handsome clifftop resort that has miraculously survived the onslaught of package tourism.
Turquoise seas and cinematic piazzas aside, the region is home to some of Italy’s finest hotels and restaurants. It’s also one of the country’s top spots for hiking, with well-marked trails providing the chance to escape the star-struck coastal crowds.
Dramatic, deluxe and more than a little dashing, Positano is the Amalfi Coast’s front-cover splash, with vertiginous houses tumbling down to the sea in a cascade of sun-bleached peach, pink and terracotta. No less photo-worthy are its steep streets and steps, flanked by wisteria-draped hotels, smart restaurants and fashionable retailers.
Look beyond the facades and the fashion, however, and you will find reassuring signs of everyday reality: crumbling stucco, streaked paintwork and even, on occasion, a faint whiff of drains. There’s still a southern-Italian-holiday feel about the place, with sunbathers eating pizza on the beach, kids pestering parents for gelato and chic signore from Milan browsing the boutiques. The fashionista history runs deep – moda Positano was born here in the ’60s and the town was the first in Italy to import bikinis from France.