The Amalfi Coast, Sorrento, and Capri
by Suzanne Goulart
On May 12th, Allegra Pawlowski and I departed for Italy, arriving on the 13th. We picked up our Fiat Punto, hit the A-1, and just started driving south, following the signs for Naples, then Positano. If one felt the desire to stop in Naples, I would highly recommend they take in the Archeological museum, which holds so many of the treasures from the ancient cities of Pompei and Herculaneum. I of course also recommend a tour (guided) of these cities, which were frozen in time in 79 A.D.
We arrived to Positano, which was just as breathtaking as I remembered from my trip here 9 years ago. We checked into our hotel, Covo dei Saracini, located at the very bottom end of town, directly on the beach. The rooms were lovely; bright and clean with great views. Each room has a/c, a terrace or balcony, satellite tv, safety deposit box, wet bar, and updated bathrooms. The roar of the ocean could be heard below, which was heavenly.
After some rest, went out for a walk to rediscover this lovely town. I tested out one of the local specialties, lemon delicioso – this one in the form of gelato. Fantastic. Dinner later was at “Bacco dei Bucca”, just a 5 minute walk to hotel and right on the beach – tasty food. Other restaurants we enjoyed were “Lido Azzurro Ristorante” in Amalfi – fabulous food. For a casual, fun ambiance, we like “le Tre Sorelle Ristorante” in Positano on the beach. I highly recommend a trip to Sorrento. Great city with lovely old architecture and gardens, and loads of restaurants and shops. Treat yourself to a beverage with view at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria.
We spent the next couple of days seeing villas, different villages, trying different restaurants, and just taking it all in, which was not hard to do. It is paradise here. My favorite houses were the following:
Villa BRV CRO – this 6 bedroom just a few kms from Amalfi was being completely redone when we were there, floor to ceiling, as it had a new owner. The furniture was still wrapped in plastic, the kitchen was compact with stainless appliances and everything you need, and the floors were all lovely Italian Vietri tiles (which come from Vietri, just a few villages away). The gardens and views were fantastic. Everything looked very fresh.
Villa HII GIU – 5 bedroom located in Positano, just below the Sirenuse hotel. This house is just lovely, tastefully filled with art and antiques. Old world charm overlooking the Duomo and beach.
Villa BRV MAF – this 4 bedroom (best as a 3 ) is a gem. It is located in Massa Lubrense and has the most incredible view of all, overlooking Capri, Ischia, and a promontory with Roman ruins. This house has spacious, sunny bedrooms, lovely outside terrace and large pool which you reach via a path through a secret garden. You can walk to village from here and it is a short drive to the old port.
Well, it was hard for us to leave Positano, but we packed up, drove to Sorrento, and hopped on a fast ferry. These leave the port frequently and cost 16.50 euros each way, taking about 25 minutes to reach the island. We took a cab way up to Ana-Capri, checked in to our guest house, which was located on the pedestrian walkway. We had distant views of the sea and were located just above a lemon grove. Dinner was at “Arcate” where I had a superb “Frutta del Mar” in a cozy local ambience. Prices here not bad at all.
We spent Saturday seeing properties. My favorites were:
Villa BRV CSE – This 3 bedroom apartment was located 5 minute walk from the main Piazza in Capri. This was a fantastic 3 bedroom apartment. Best for 4 adults and 1 or 2 older children. It had a large master bedroom, lovely furnishings, small gourmet kitchen and nice outside sitting and covered dining area (with partial view). For larger groups, you can combine with Nicole, Martina, and Studio at Ginevra, all sharing a grass courtyard area with covered sitting area and small children’s plunge pool.
Villa HII PIC – This 4 bedroom, which I prefer as a 2 bedroom has the best view of the Faraglioni. The outside space here is just fantastic. You can actually walk to the main Piazza from here, which would take you about 15 minutes or so, uphill.
In between villa visits on Saturday, Allegra and I stopped in the Piazza for a quick lunch and coffee, and some people watching, for there is no better location than this. It was then that I saw a familiar face walking towards me. It turned out to be Rick Steves, who has a travel show on PBS every Sunday morning, as well as a line of travel books, which he updates yearly – very informative. It was great to meet my favorite travel guru.
On Sunday, after breakfast we had a stroll down the lovely pedestrian walkway through Ana-Capri, which is really the most perfect little village I had ever seen. It is clean, pretty, with nice shops and restaurants, and not too touristy at all. This is where the locals live. There were families out walking together and little children playing soccer in the square in front of the church. Loved it.
After picking up sandals from Antonio Viva’s famous sandal shop in Ana-Capri, we made our way down to the port to meet up with Gennaro, a friend of our hotel owner’s son, Paolo. He took us on a tour on his small wooden boat around the entire island, stopping at the Blue, Green, White, Champagne and Fishermans’ Grotto, before taking us through the Faraglioni. I did this same tour about 9 years ago and it was equally thrilling today. I recommend this for everyone who visits this gem of an island. It was the highlight of my trip.
After getting back to Marina Grande and checking out all the boats there for the Rolex Regatta, we headed back to our little paradise of Ani-Capri and had dinner at “Rondinella”, which I enjoyed and was very convenient , just across street from where were staying. What a great last day on Capri!
Monday, we were off to Perugia in Umbria…
Interested in more Italian adventures? Explore everything from chocolate factories to underground tunnels in these three Umbrian hill towns: A Weekend in the Umbrian Hill Towns