Nestled beneath steep cliffs on Italy’s southwestern coast in Campania, the historic town of Amalfi lends its name to one of the country’s most dramatic settings: the Amalfi Coast. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the rugged coastline and its picturesque villages have long been a favorite destination for actors, writers and musicians. The town of Amalfi is right at the heart of the route, and, though it may seem to take a back seat to the trendier locales of Positano and Ravello, remains a must for wine and food lovers. Its central location and ferry access also make it an ideal base to explore this iconic landscape.
Life’s a Beach
Most of the beaches here are tiny, but in Amalfi, Spiaggia Marina Grande is one of the most extensive and easiest to reach. It’s also the liveliest. After a morning filled with sun and surf, enjoy lunch or an aperitivo on the panoramic terrace at Ristorante Marina Grande. Situated seaside it’s one of the Amalfi Coast’s best restaurants, with an ample wine list that offers a great selection of wines by the glass. About a mile from town, the beautiful, hidden beach of Duoglio is more rustic and can be reached by boat or, for the adventurous, a 400-step staircase.
Explore History and Limoncello
Amalfi has a glorious past. Like Pisa, Venice and Genoa, it was once a maritime republic, and its Piazza del Duomo, the historic center, is now one of its main attractions. It’s dominated by the imposing cathedral dedicated to St. Andrew, which, though constructed in the 10th century, has undergone numerous renovations and additions, including a 19th-century facade of striped marble and stone. Climb the 60 steps to the entrance and you will be awarded by visual splendor inside.
Back outside in the main square, walk around the elegant shops and cafés, or stop at Pasticceria Andrea Pansa for delicious handmade ice cream and pastries. Then head to Antichi Sapori d’Amalfi and try handcrafted limoncello, the local liqueur made with Amalfi lemons. If you book ahead on Airbnb, you can score a guided tour of the factory and special tasting.
Dining and Wining
For excellent pizza, go to Pizzeria Donna Stella or Da Maria Trattoria Pizzeria. For traditional local seafood dishes, visit Lido Azzurro Ristorante and dine on the terrace that overlooks the charming port. About a mile from Amalfi center, Da Ciccio Cielo Mare Terra showcases seasonal dishes made with farm-fresh ingredients and an Italian wine list focused on local production. For more formal dining, try the Michelin-starred Ristorante La Caravella, where Chef Antonio Dipino creates new spins on local cuisine like squid-stuffed pasta and lemon soufflé. The restaurant also features one of Italy’s most legendary wine lists, a collection that includes rare bottlings and vintages from around the world.
About 20 minutes away by car, the impressive Marisa Cuomo Winery boasts vineyards that cling to steep cliffs above the sea. Make a reservation for a chance to take a guided tour and tasting of its wines made with native grapes.
The hilltop village of Ravello is also about a 20-minute drive from Amalfi. Visit the gardens at Villa Rufolo, the village’s historical and cultural center, for breathtaking views of the coast below. For an easy lunch and a glass of local nectar, stop by Babel Wine Bar Deli & Art. On the road to Ravello, visit the Casa Vinicola Ettore Sammarco winery to taste its crisp whites and structured reds from indigenous grapes.
The picture-perfect cliffside village of Positano, about a 45-minute drive or a 20-minute ferry ride from Amalfi, is a popular tourist spot, but it’s a must for anyone who visits the area. With its famed beaches and elegant shops, you’ll want to spend a full day here. For a glass of bubbly, go to the chic Franco’s Bar or grab a savory lunch at Da Gabrisa Restaurant & Wine Bar and try its vast selection of organic wines.