Turquoise waters, scents of jasmine and blossoming lemon trees. This summer begins with a trip to the Amalfi Coast and the island of Capri. The inspiring landscape, soft climes and way of life once made it a popular destination for artist, intellectuals, writers and aesthetes.
The starting point in our tour is Sorrento – a charming coastal town with impressive views, rich history, iconic restaurants and hotels.
La Tonnarella Hotel is one we may personally recommend. A former residence of a famous Italian family that has been turned into a small boutique hotel with its own beach, garden and a beautiful terrace. Every detail of the furniture, decoration and tiled floors recalls the atmosphere of an aristocratic home with history. (www.latonnarella.com)
In the historic center of the city is located another famous noble residence, turned today into a five-star hotel – Palazzo Marziale. (www.palazzomarziale.com)
For even more luxury and extravagance you should try the Bellevue Syrene Hotel. (www.bellevue.it) Its Villa Pompeiana and La Pergola restaurant, often hold one of the most beautiful wedding ceremonies along the coast. It is worth dropping by even just for lunch or a glass of Bellini.
A little further down the coast is “Da Emilia” – Sophia Loren’s favourite place for lunch during the time she has been filming a movie there. Unpretentious family restaurant, open for more than 50 years, where you have to taste their fresh seafood pasta and antipasti with fantastic olives.
Next comes the “pearl of the Amalfi Coast” – the glamorous Positano. Despite its rich cultural and historical heritage, the place is usually associated with its chic boutiques, beaches crowded with celebrities and splendid hotels on the slope. We recommend Le Sirenuse (www.sirenuse.it) and Il San Pietro di Positano (www.ilsanpietro.it) for their interesting family history, exclusive design, luxury and fantastic views.
“Da Adolfo” in Positano is a popular restaurant, which you may reach only by boat from the port. It will take you to the small beach, where freshly caught fish is cooked along with local specialties.
Going further along the cost, we reach another historic town – Amalfi. You should definitely see its magnificent 11th-century cathedral, Saint Andrew, with the lush Baroque ornaments in the interior, and walk down the small cobbled streets of the city. On the square in front of the church is Milleunaceramica di Anastasio Maria – a lovely shop where you can buy wonderful ceramics painted by local artists.
Speaking of ceramics, the most impressive place we reached across the coast was Pascal Sorentino’s shop and factory in Ravello, the next stop in our tour. Ceramiche dárte’s art (www.ceramichedarte.com) is present in the homes of celebrities from all over the world. Every detail on the tables, plates or decorative items in the store are hand-painted by the artists at the factory or by Pascal himself, who founded the company 30 years ago.
Explore also Villa Rufolo, which rises 365 meters above the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its gardens and terraces are often used as setting for outdoor concerts during the popular Summer Ravello Festival. Villa Cimbrone is surrounded by another famous garden that is worth seeing.(www.hotelvillacimbrone.com)
We may also recommend Hotel Villa Maria and its exquisite restaurant (www.villamaria.it), as well as Hotel Palazzo Sasso (www.palazzoavino.com).
You may enjoy the art of local authors at almost every corner of the artistic city, but we have been really touched by La Bottega di Villa Maria (Boutique Carla) – www.labottegadivillamaria.it, as well as the gallery The Petit Prince Group Art Gallery Ravello. (www.gruppopetitprince. it)
From the restaurants we recommend Restaurant Rossellinis or Trattoria Da Cumpa ‘Cosimo – a favorite place for locals with almost legendary status, thanks to Jackie Kennedy, who has often dined there during her vacations at the Amalfi coast.
Following her footsteps we board the ferry to Capri – an impressive chunk of limestone located in the Tyrrhenian Sea. There the summer blooms with the aroma of lemon trees, blossoming jasmine, Mediterranean pines and cypresses. The hill offers truly magical views of Capri’s small bays and the lush gardens of its splendid residence houses.
Luxury Villa Excelsoir Parco (www.excelsoirparco.com) is one of the places we recommend to stay. Because of the view, the greenery and the elegance with which luxury has been presented in this Mediterranean residence.
Da Paolino restaurant is the place to dine along with all the celebrities who stay on the island. Under the lemon trees, the fresh catch of the day is served, along with Frescobaldi’s highest quality olive oil and a stunning wine list. (www.paolinocapri.com)
Following the advice of the experienced travelers from Conde Nast Traveler, we looked for “L’Altro Vissani”, but we came across the new place that the famous chef of the restaurant has opened near the central square in Capri. Gennaro Amitrano personally served his 7-course menu, matched with exclusive local wines.
Marina Piccola Capri’s Lo Scoglio delle Syrene is the restaurant on the small beach on the island. Fresh oysters, sea soup and royal shrimp are the things we recommend you try while enjoying their private beach on the rocks.
La Capannina and Mammá are other places on the island where food, wine and ambience are also worth to experience.
Just like Pozitano, Capri is a good place for shopping. Most high-end fashion brands have shops on the island, but what is really worth having is the famous hand-crafted Capri sandals that will be molded on your feet in one of the Piazzetta workshops, also the colourful coral jewelry made by local authors.
In order to fully enjoy Capri, you should definitely go for a boat trip. We recommend a private tour with www.capriboatexperience.com to the famous Faraglioni rocks or to some of the small private beaches with restaurants that can only be reached by sea.
The island of Capri and the Amalfi coast may be reached by a direct flight from Sofia to Naples and by ferry. May is a wonderful time if you want to enjoy the magnificent colours of the wild flowers and vegetation of the Riviera. The sea is still cool, but the air is fresh and calm. In September, the evenings are balm, the water is still warm and there is a feeling of lightness and bliss. The beauty of nature, good food, and the ability of locals to stop time with “doing nothing” make this place a favourite one, regardless the season.
Trattoria Da Cumpa’ Cosimo
Gennaro Amitrano Ristorante
Lo Scoglio delle Syrene
Art and ceramics:
Milleunaceramica di Anastasio Maria
This article has been written for Unique Estates Life Magazine, summer issue 2108.
All photos by @sylvanavassileva