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2 Nights on Amalfi Coast, Italy

There's no place on earth like the Amalfi Coast of Italy. The striking beauty of this coastline transports visitors into a constant state of awe. Lemongroves, vineyards, and villas dot the lush mountains overlooking the glistening sea below. While most of the towns themselves are overridden by tourists who are dropped off by the droves of ferries that bring them in throughout the day, once you figure out how to avoid them (visit the various towns early in the day or later in the evenings) then you'll have mastered the art of vacationing here. The level of beauty is unparalleled to other places on our planet- this is a land of sea and sophistication. You can never be too dressed up, there are infinite refined dining options in the most elegant settings. The food scene is divine with Michelin-starred restaurants and local, less-known ones who prepare seafood artfully. Driving Amalfi's windy, narrow roads is an adventure and not for the faint of heart yet cruising here is one of the highlights when visiting. Just keep in mind, that if you take full advantage of the luxurious lifestyle here, it is one of the most expensive cities in the world during peak season. Save up, do it right, and you'll never regret a Euro spent.

Day One: Start your day discovering Vietri Sul Mare

You'll instantly fall madly in love with this tiny town filled with locals shopping in the local cheese, fish, and meat shops. The only language you'll hear is Italian, Vietri is one of the only towns on the Amalfi Coast with few tourists as it's on the most southern tip of the Amalfi stretch. My mind quickly meandered to spending long summers here, breathing in the sea air and the colors of the world-famous pottery. It's on my list to return for a longer visit to live like the locals amidst a magical cliffside. I loved it so much that it inspired me to enroll in Italian classes again as soon as we returned to the States. I dream of looking out my balcony to wish my new friends a good morning and strolling to the caffe for a cappuccino as I mingle with my neighbors. This is Vietri, it pulls you in.

Plant yourself at Riva Beach Club

Just a six-minute drive from the village of Vietri, a secluded, exclusive beach club awaits those who want to bask in the sun with their toes in the sea without sharing the beach with many others. The entrance to the club is perched so high above sea level that you'll need to take two elevators to access it. The price tag for sun beds and umbrellas is steep enough to ensure you'll have the beach club practically to yourself. It's worth every penny. We were transported to Paradise for five and a half glorious hours.

Linger over lunch at Riva Restaurant

What truly makes the club's restaurant appealing is its stunning views. The food is hit or miss with the appetizers being the biggest draw. Our lunch wasn't bad but it also didn't blow us away. Regardless, we dined along the Italian seaside, and couldn't complain much.

pros: serene setting, attentive service

cons: we tried four pasta dishes and three of them were overly salted

must order: the caprese salad, panbiscotto di grano (wheat bread, tomatoes, olives, and buffalo mozzarella cheese), and homemade cavatelli pasta with zucchini

Take the breathtaking, heart-dropping, windy drive to Amalfi

We're road trip experts having driven through every terrain in multiple countries. Yet no amount of driving experience will prepare you for the restrictive, windy roads that barely fit two cars as large buses take wide turns into your lane leaving you saying a prayer. I thought driving in Napoli was rough, but driving along the Amalfi Coast during the season is straight-up Russian roulette. The excitement on the road coupled with the jaw-dropping views is beyond exhilarating. Just drive slowly.

The town square of Amalfi is not my personal Italy favorite, oozing with tourists and kitschy shops. We spent thirty minutes meandering the small center and left craving to gaze at the magnificent coast from our hotel. Amalfi is about the sea and the landscape, not its city center.

Enjoy dinner at a Michelin Starred restaurant

If you're in Amalfi, you might as well splurge on a fantastic meal. There are many incredible dining options but an extravagant meal at Glicine in the iconic Santa Caterina Hotel is a must. The level of service is exactly in line with what you would expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant, formal and doting, but not stuffy. The floor staff is as attentive and accommodating as the kitchen. Guests can dine on the open veranda with sweeping views while listening to a live piano performance and can choose from an a la carte menu or a two-course to five-course meal. The menu changes regularly but always focuses on Mediterranean flavors. We experienced an unforgettable four-course meal.

pros: majestic setting, a lot of flexibility with tasting menu options- a vegetarian and vegan tasting menu is offered and not everyone at the table needs to order from the same menu or the same amount of courses

cons: absolutely none, glicine delivers perfection

must order: i highly suggest that you experience their tasting menu

Day Two: hire a gozzo to take you along the coast

The best way to soak in the breathtaking coast and beat the massive tourist crowds is to spend a day at sea. Book a gozzo, a traditional Italian wooden boat, with a captain, to guide you through an incredible day at sea filled with swimming stops in aqua bays, docking in any of the Amalfi Coast towns that catch your eye, and pointing out landmarks that you'd never know to look for on your own. A highlight of our excursion was swimming near Lover's Arch, which our son bravely climbed and then jumped off, taking our boat into Pandora's Cave and watching bats fly past us, and boating past remarkable bridges and villas owned by the rich and famous like Sophia Loren's former summer mansion. On a boat, you'll pass by, swim up to, or stroll the towns of Atrani, Minori, Maiori, Furore, Praiano, Ravello, and Positano. There is absolutely no better way to explore the Amalfi Coast.

Make a stop in Minori for a visit to Italy's most famous Patisserie

When our captain told us that the most famous pasticceria in Italy is on Minori, we shouted "halt" and disembarked our gozzo more quickly than an ice cube could melt under the Italian summer sun. Sal de Riso is a gallery of fine desserts and homemade gelato in creative flavors. The bakery is so visually appealing, you'll have a hard time leaving. There are too many tempting options to choose from. After a struggle to decide what to order, we opted for gelato - truly one of the most delicious gelatos we have ever eaten. I ordered half a portion of hazelnut and a half portion of chocolate with almonds and olive oil. Perfetto!

Splurge on a luxurious lunch at Carlino Restaurant in Il San Pietro Hotel, Positano

As I've mentioned, Amalfi Coast is not inexpensive. But if you're willing to splurge there are endless opportunities to fulfill the most exclusive and luxurious experiences that will make your visit extremely memorable. If you're in a boat, you can pull up to the hotel's beach club to be escorted to the restaurant on the bottom of the cliff, carved into a remote nook, with breathtaking views, delicious food, and the sensation that you have a little piece of heaven to yourself.

pros: the location is surreal, only the freshest ingredients are used, and incredible seafood

cons: they add a 10% gratuity for non-residents, the only place in Amalfi (that we visited) to do so.

must order: the grilled fish plate is outstanding- an assortment of seafood caught that morning, the mozzarella and grilled vegetable salad, and the burrata salad

Get back on your gozzo and cruise along the coast

After a big meal and a couple of glasses of wine, you'll be ready to sprawl on your gozzo and lazily let the afternoon pass you by as you count the never-ending watch towers and castles that line the coast.

Wrap your trip up with an epic dinner at Ristorante Torre Normanna

This former Medieval tower has been transformed into an incredible restaurant that features local ingredients and fresh seafood. There are various levels to dine at - the upper restaurant is inside the tower and a lower, outdoor terrace overlooking the water for those who want to dine al fresco. Few know that for 600 Euros per couple, the restaurant offers a seven-course meal, that includes a welcome drink and a bottle of champagne at its Ulysses Table, a secluded table for two perched right above the sea with no one in sight. This is the ultimate romantic experience. Dining with your loved one on a candle-lit table sprinkled with rose petals as you savor dishes that are so perfectly made, bursting with freshness, while watching the sun dazzle the sky ... no words.

pros: this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience

cons: the tasting menu serves a lot of food. come very hungry.

must order: there was no menu to choose from- dishes are made based on your food preferences, everything with seafood was superb

Day Three: Explore Ravello

Start your day with a delightful breakfast at Caruso, A Belmond Hotel

Finding this property can be a bit tricky as Google Maps wrongly alerts you to have arrived at your destination prematurely. Climb the mountain to the highest point, and there, you shall find this once monastery converted into a luxury, five-star hotel that floats in the clouds with the most spectacular views. Breakfast is served on the grand terrace, served formally on the finest china with multiple staff members at your service. The menu offers a variety of juices and breakfast items, albeit expensive, but you're paying for the spectacular setting.

pros: extraordinary property with mesmerizing vistas

cons: breakfast is 55 euros per person, we weren't told that a sprawling buffet was included in the cost so make sure to make a note of this

must order: crepes with jam and whipped cream and poached eggs with potatoes

Roam around Ravello

Imagine, a little village perched way up high in the mountains, 1,200 feet above the sea, in a place so remote that most tourists are deterred from visiting, a town where wildflowers grow effortlessly as they almost touch the clouds, and hidden alleys lead to colorful caffes and shops; a place where Mother Nature's best work is immaculately displayed for all those who make the trek to see. To say Ravello is picturesque is an understatement. You'll have to make the trip to grasp how magical it is.

Where to Stay:

Prices along the Amalfi Coast are outrageous during the season. When you need to book multiple rooms, you'll especially find yourself gawking at the price tag. We were thrilled to find a five star, accommodation with a private shuttle service into town, a beach club exclusively for its guests, welcome drinks on arrival, a bottle of champagne and cookies awaiting in your room, and a balcony with the most iconic Amalfi views that you could dream of for a "reasonable price". I squirm at calling the rates reasonable but by Amalfi terms, if you want to stay in a five-star hotel, the rates are certainly better than other five-star properties.

pros: gorgeous views throughout, abundant breakfast with an attractive buffet, ocean view balconies in rooms, attentive staff, modern decor, private beach club

cons: the elevator can barely fit two people, i opted to take the stairs again

Amalfi is less than a ninety-minute drive from Naples. Next time you consider traveling to Italy, fly into Naples (check out my Naples itinerary HERE) and drive to one of the most beautiful places in the world.


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