This time last year, Johnny and I were touring Italy in post-wedding bliss, so it only seems appropriate to (finally) finish out my posts from our Italian honeymoon. Our final stop was the Amalfi Coast, where we stayed in Sorrento, but traveled around the coast to other cities during our stay. You can read about Venice and Florence as well, which we visited first.
We LOVED our hotel, Villa Garden, and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone visiting. There were a few things that made it stand out for us; in no particular order – the view was amazing, the staff was super friendly, the room was great, and the food was so good that we ate several lunches and afternoon snacks there. We also spent most evenings watching the sunset on the patio in front of the building (pictured above) – it was stunning! Family owned, the service is fantastic and there is a bit of bed and breakfast feel, laced with Italian hospitality. It’s boutique, off the beaten path – a short mile walk or drive into town, and so peaceful. Truthfully, I’m not sure there is a bad hotel in the area, but I have to brag on our experience. The cliff views alone would make this a good spot for a well-priced authentic lunch or cocktail if you’re in the area.
Most of the city of Sorrento is interior, rather than right against the cliff with a view, while high-end hotels dot the edge of the water. The town has a market that weaves several streets ranging in touristy traps to pricey souvenirs. There are also plenty of authentic gourmet shops for candies, olive oil and limoncello. Additionally, you can find a handful of cafes and restaurants.
It’s easy to make day trips to other areas along the coast, and we visited both Positano and Capri, on separate days. We took the bus tour to Positano, which had several options to re-board and go on to the town of Amalfi, but we ended up spending the entire day in Positano. The bus was a great option because we had breathtaking cliff views and a small history lesson of the towns we drove through. And, as mentioned, it had several options to get back on and head to Sorrento or on into Amalfi. On the way back to Sorrento, we opted for the ferry for a different experience, which was also fantastic, but be warned, both options can easily induce motion sickness!
Most of the day in Positano was spent wandering around the shops up and down the cliff, where I purchased a pair of Italian sandals from one of the local shops. Not only are the sandals quality, but they are also extremely inexpensive, handmade, and sized to your feet while you wait. Johnny bought a linen shirt and I got some beautiful hand towels and fragrant lemon soaps.
We had lunch at Chez Black at the bottom of the cliff, overlooking the beach and ocean. It came as a recommendation to us by our Italian friend who we visited between Florence and the Amalfi Coast. Like every other city we visited in Italy, we ate plenty of pizza (I went 100% gluten free after my honeymoon), gelato and pasta, but the pizza was especially good being so close to Naples. This is the Italian pizza Italy is known for and it was delicious all over the coast!
On a side note about gluten, I was attempting the occasional cheating prior to my honeymoon, then decided to eat whatever I wanted on our trip. I’m glad I did, but also went cold turkey after we got back, and have done so over the past year, and feel the best I have in a few years when it comes to food. However, I experienced far fewer symptoms on our trip. I don’t know if it’s something about how Italians grow their wheat, the other ingredients they add (or don’t add) to bread and pasta, or what, but I swear something is different. Of course I felt very full after most meals of pizza, wine and lots of gelato! But it was quite different than elsewhere. Regardless, there were plenty of things I could have enjoyed if I choose to eat gluten-free on that trip. But the pizza WAS the best I’ve ever had!
The weather was mild during our visit, starting and finishing cool, with hot days when the sun was out. Don’t get discouraged if the forecast is bad during your trip. We had 80%+ chance of storms all four-five days we were there and other than the day we left, the storms had come and gone by noon, leaving us with beautiful days.
We spent a few lazy afternoons by our pool, but it was before beach season and we didn’t spend any time on the beaches. This was intentional for us, as Johnny doesn’t prefer the beach, and we were looking to see the towns and experience the culture, while spending time relaxing as the Italians do. If you’re looking for days in the sun by the pool or beach, consider a later time in the summer. Also note that the beaches are extremely rocky, so you’ll need a chair or want to opt for a pool with a view instead.
I mentioned we visited Capri, and all three towns on the coast are vastly different from each other, with their unique identity. Sorrento is settled into a plateau with a true town center and more sprawling area, it’s a little more laid back. It also has some of the best views, once you get out of the main part of town (or if you’re in the swankiest hotels in town). Positano is known for its colorful buildings spilling down the cliff and was the most touristy, in our opinion, though also the most picturesque town. Finally, Capri is more of a port town with two distinct areas – one by the water and the other at the top of the cliff. Cheap touristy shops and mediocre restaurants line the water, while the top is the town center, full of extremely high-end hotels, shops and restaurants. Think Rodeo Drive at the top, lined with luxury shops and couture brands. The views are breathtaking and the buildings all over the island are stark white, creating a clean and coastal charm. We took the very steep hike up the path to the top, and the tram down later on. Wear comfortable shoes if you plan to walk!
My favorite meal of the entire Italian trip was lunch in Capri. We ate at Al Capri Alfonso Cafe, splitting pizza, fish and a bottle of rosé. Our table was at the edge of the restaurant, overlooking the water with open air seating. The staff were extremely friendly (as they were everywhere on the whole trip) and the meal was perfect. Definitely make it to this spot if you head to Capri.
I can’t say enough good things about the Amalfi Coast and truly, Italy as a whole from our experience. The people were so welcoming, the food was fantastic and scenery is unreal. I hope I get the chance to go back one day!