Amalfi Coast Good Life

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Amalfi Coast Good Life
There may be few sandy beaches along this strip of coast, but that doesn’t put a damper on those looking for a chic seaside holiday. Bask by your hotel pool, take a boat trip, eat just-caught seafood, and shop for the latest fashions.
By Nicky Swallow, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by Helmut Corneli/age fotostock
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    Take to the Water
    To really understand the local topography you need to get down to sea level, so think about renting a boat (with or without a skipper). There are plenty of rental outfits—just head to the beach. Once out on the water, check out the villas suspended over the sea, and keep an eye out for the 36 Saracen towers still standing. There's a lot to discover of the natural world, too. Explore the caves and grottoes tucked into the cliffs and the pebble beaches and beach clubs along the shore. For a more ambitious trip, you can nip over to Capri for lunch.
    Photo by Helmut Corneli/age fotostock
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    Where to Swim
    There are surprisingly few beaches along the coast, and even fewer that are accessible. See and be seen on the wide swathe of dark sand at Positano's Spiaggia Grande, or walk around the cliff to Il Fornillo for more sand with your sea. You can swim from the flat rocks at La Gavitella below Praiano, or from the tiny scrap of pebbly beach at La Praia just to the east. In Laurito, join the locals and book a beach chair and a lunch table at Da Adolfo. Amalfi has two fine sandy beaches with deck chairs, parasols, and restaurants.
    Photo by Brian Jannsen/age fotostock
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    Lazy Local Lunches
    There are few things more pleasurable in life than a lazy lunch at a beachside restaurant with your toes in the sand, and there are some superb places serving fresh, local fare along the coast. Enjoy a pizza hot from the oven at the Brasserie at Hotel Covo dei Saraceni from a table at the water's edge. Beach food is taken to the next level at the Torre Saracena beach club, where saltwater pools filled with live shellfish ensure freshness at the table.
    Photo by Kristen Fortier
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    Where to Go for Sundowners
    Sundowners on the coast come served with a bowl of olives, performances by a line-up of international musicians, and some of the best views around. While the hotel terraces offer scads of glamour and beautiful-people-watching, there are low-key choices, too. When the day-trippers start to leave the beach at Positano, snag a stool at Buca di Bacco like a local, and enjoy a cocktail with your view. Or since you're on vacation, indulge in a glass of prosecco and a dessert before dinner at Da Alberto in Capri, from a table with a front-row view of the sunset. Eat a pizza on a terrace right above the water at the Brasserie at Hotel Covo dei Saraceni.
    Photo courtesy of Sirenuse Hotel
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    The Views
    The ocean views from these cliffs and mountains have drawn visitors, artists, and expats to the region for centuries. Make a point of finding your favorite vista while you're here. A good place to start is Capri's Villa San Michele which offers views all the way to Vesuvius on clear days. A walk along the belvedere at Villa Cimbrone opens up some of the most enviable views in the region. Take the chairlift up to Monte Solaro for a breezy and breathtaking way to view the horizon, but others think a strenuous hike along along the Path of the Gods wins you a kind of ownership of this glorious coastline.
    Photo by Antonio Capone/age fotostock
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    Artisanal Sandals
    Strappy leather sandals made in Positano are a great souvenir, and you can still find them made by local craftsmen. Ignore the cheap, factory-produced variety and head down to the bottom of town near the beach and seek out Safari, a tiny squeeze of a shop. If you don't find what you're looking for there, try Canfora, another great option for quality shoes (and a favorite of Jackie Onassis). Laboratorio Capri sells lovely sandals, as well as other beach-y items that will remind you of your time in town. Traditional Positano sandals are simple and unadorned, but these days you can also buy more glamorous versions encrusted with jewels and shells.
    Photo by Maurizio Grimaldi/age fotostock
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    Amalfi Town
    Once an important trading power in the Mediterranean, Amalfi is now the coast's busiest town. With a strong tourism industry, and famous for paper-making and the limoncello lemon liqueur, Amalfi is a very pretty little resort fringed by lemon terraces. Life centers around Piazza del Duomo, crowded with tourists and cafés and dominated by the flamboyant, striped facade of Saint Andrew's Cathedral. Sit at the Pasticceria Caffetteria Pansa, across from the cathedral, and get some local flavor in the tantalizing form of delizie di limoni (lemon delights), sponge cakes made with the local sfusato lemons—the same fruit that goes into limoncello.
    Photo by Gianluca Moggi
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    The Grand Villas
    The clifftops of the coastline and islands have been prime real estate forever. Visiting some of the magnificent villas is a way to delve into local history and perhaps indulge in some HGTV-worthy fantasies of expat life. Emperor Tiberius built Villa Jovis in 27 C.E. and, it is rumored, enjoyed some wild parties within its glorious confines. Walk the wooded path from there to Villa Lysis for another fantastic coastal view and another look at a debauched past in a romantic location. In Ravello, wander through views captured on a thousand postcards of the region with a visit to the extraordinary gardens of Villa Rufolo, a 13th-century palace that was rescued from ruin by a 19th-century Scottish nobleman. (Villa Rufolo is thought to be the setting for the fourth tale in Boccaccio's classic Decameron.)