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A Guide to the Amalfi Coast

Colin Cowie breaks down his favorite places to dine, shop and stay in Sorrento, Positano and Capri.

The coast of Sorrento, Italy. Photo by Bahdanovich Alena/Shutterstock

Ideally the best way to do the Amalfi Coast is to be on 200-plus feet of something fabulous, floating in the water nearby. However, if you’re staying in Sorrento, Positano or Capri proper, it’s very easy to cover all the favorite hotspots.

If you’re staying in Sorrento, have yourself a lovely breakfast at Bagni Delfino, board a rented 30-foot boat with a captain, take yourself swimming near Capri, and then—if you do get to spend some time there—I highly recommend exploring a bit. Aside from the shopping, be sure to dine at Aurora. Go there for the pizza and the pasta and I guarantee, very few things are better. It’s fresh, paper-thin, crispy pizza—just how I like it.

While there you’ll be in need of a great beach club. Il Riccio, which means sea urchin in Italian, is run by the Capri Palace and has pasta that is truly to die for. If you’re going, opt for either the vermicelli with sea urchin or the pasta alla vongole, which is served with spectacular clams; it’s my favorite dish that comes out of the Amalfi Coast.

Lo Scoglio in Nerano. Photo courtesy of Colin Cowie

From there, make your way to Lo Scoglio in Nerano, which is about a 20- to 30-minute ride from Capri by boat. The hostess is absolutely charming and never forgets a familiar face. They serve fresh mozzarella with vine-ripened tomatoes just picked from the garden that morning. Add the wonderful marinated vegetables, fried zucchini flowers and an amazing seafood assortment (including fresh uni) and then follow with the cream of zucchini flower pasta. The pasta is what they are most known for, and it’s absolutely worth the trip. Of course on the Amalfi Coast, I don’t go to a restaurant where I don’t try the linguine alla vongole—and theirs is a 10. If you want fresh lobster or fish, they take it out of the water tank right in front of you, cook it, present it, and it’s unbelievable every time. In the summer enjoy fresh figs while sipping limoncello.

Next up it’s back on the boat and over to what was Rudolf Nureyev’s Island, Li Galli. The island is not open to the public, but for around €220,000 a week you can rent a place for up to 12. Although it’s costly, it’s well worth it for the lavish accommodations the island has become famous for. Even if you are not renting something, I still suggest going for a swim around the island.

Now, on to Positano. Needless to say, enjoy the shopping. If you are staying, my favorite option is Le Sirenuse. It’s incredibly chic and just oozes charm and fabulousness, with a view to boot. While there, take an evening drive to Sant’Agata and have dinner at the famed Don Alfonso. It is one of the best restaurants in the whole area, with ridiculously delicious cuisine. Sometimes it can be a little bright inside, so I would suggest going for the more romantic atmosphere outside in the garden. It’s truly a spectacular dining experience, and with two Michelin stars, it is a must.

If you get the chance to spend more time, make your way back to Nerano for lunch or dinner. Try the restaurant Quattro Passi; your host, Tonino, is unbelievably talented. Look over the menu until he comes to your table, and then he will help you make choices based around what came in that morning and what you’re looking for.

Last but not least, if you can make your way further down the coast I suggest a stop in Ravello, where I recommend a poolside drink at the Belmond Hotel Caruso. For lunch you can go right next door to the Palazzo Avino and enjoy a long, lazy meal overlooking the coast. A visit to Ravello would not be complete without seeing the magnificent Villa Cimbrone which, in my opinion, boasts the greatest view of the coastline.

Of course the Amalfi Coast is teeming with delicious foods, great shopping and breathtaking sights. These are only a handful of my favorite hotspots. I never return there without finding more each time!

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