The singular beauty of the southern flank of Sorrento Peninsula provides a gorgeous backdrop to pursuits of leisure. The wining and dining is excellent, the views are breathtaking, the drives along the sole coastal highway are exhilarating, and the beaches, while crowded in-season, are nonetheless fantastic.
We spent two nights on the coast, with beach-going and sightseeing jammed into a single full day that we had. We left completely enchanted and wishing for a chance to come back. It will happen one day!
Towns and Villages to Visit
Moving along the coast requires quite some time and patience. Being somewhat constrained on time, we did not venture to either the well-developed Sorrento or the fashionable Positano, the two most well-known spots on the coast.
Instead, we stayed in the area near Amalfi ♥, the coast’s largest town and tremendously popular capital. Its lovely cathedral ♥ is worth checking out, dating from the 10th century and containing elements of Moorish heritage. A small museum of religious items inside the cathedral is quite interesting.
The village of Ravello ♥♥, up in the mountains above the shoreline, has the best views on the coast, which can be taken in from the grounds of two historic retreats, Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone ♥. We only visited the latter. Both are now upscale hotels, but their gardens and terraces are open to public.
Other nearby villages, such as Atrani, Minori, Maiori, etc, are pleasant to drive through, or to stop at for a swim or a meal (or both).
Among our favorite recommendations for lodging anywhere is Free Holiday B&B ♥♥♥ in Minori (listing on Booking.com). Our room was Zagara, the best of the three available rooms and the only one with a private bathroom (although not en-suite). The room is reasonably spacious, with a king-size bed, and opens onto the private terrace, with great views over the village and the sea below, as well as of the surrounding mountains. The winsomeness of the setting was rivaled only by the friendliness of the hosts, who greeted us as if we were long-lost relatives, even though barely several dozen words of common language were spoken between us.
Free Holiday offers a fantastic breakfast, with cheeses, jams, hot patties, pastries, etc. You can have a dinner at the B&B as well, if you ask the hosts in the morning of that day. The meal will likely be cheaper than what you’d spend at a nearby restaurant, and the home-made dishes will all be delicious. Be prepared to be offered several courses, each one better than the other. You might struggle between not being able to finish some of the food on account of being already full and not wanting to insult your hosts by leaving some food on the plate. Just saying. Our meal culminated in a limoncello “tasting” – or, rather, we were offered a choice of several varieties of the liquor for an after-meal drink. Last stay: 2003.
Place to Eat
Our hosts at B&B recommended Ristorante L’Arsenale ♥♥ in Minori. A great setting, excellent local seafood, friendly service. Especially when we mentioned that we were sent by the proprietor of Free Holiday. Either the chef or the maitre-d’ – my Italian was too limited to understand which – knew him quite well (although, I got the feeling that in a place like Minori everyone knows everyone quite well), and we were presented with a bottle of limoncello to take with us, gratis, at the conclusion of the meal.