Things to Do on the Amalfi Coast
The allure of this region is overwhelming: Brilliant sunlight on lemon orchards, villas set on cliffs over glittering seas, hikes through fragrant hills to the same views admired by Roman emperors of old. Come for the history or the beaches—just come.
Via Duca Mansone I, 84011 Amalfi SA, Italy
The cathedral in Amalfi, with its glittering gold mosaic facade and colorful Majorca-tiled dome, dominates the main piazza. Construction on the cathedral began in the 9th century, and centuries of additions and renovations are revealed in the mashup of Moorish and Norman Romanesque styles present. Climb the 62 steep steps in front to admire the enormous bronze doors that were cast in 11th-century Constantinople. Inside, the crypt holds the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle, the patron saint of Amalfi. Through the cathedral’s portico, you can enter the Cloisters of Paradise, a 12th-century arcade bordered by 120 columns surrounding a garden. This peaceful space was created as a burial place for the noble families of Amalfi.
Via delle Cartiere, 84011 Amalfi SA, Italy
Lemon trees grow in precarious, terraced plots on the steep cliffs that run between Positano and Vietri sul Mare along the Amalfi Coast. The almost year-round sunshine and salty sea air help produce a sweet-tart fruit with low acidity and an edible rind. This special varietal is called Sfusato Amalfitano, and the lemons are a registered and protected product. Visitors can tour the groves and participate in cooking classes or limoncello tastings with the Acetos, a family that has lived and farmed these lemons for six generations.
Beachy espadrilles, cloth bags printed with cheeky Italian phrases, and colorful Cruciani bracelets are just some of the fun inventory found in this small, stylish shop. There’s a little bit of everything here: bikinis and summery dresses, art books, and local crafts like an arty ceramic interpretation of il ciucciariello, the little donkey that is the local symbol for good luck. The shop also stocks useful maps of the many paths and beaches along the Amalfi Coast.
Handcrafted paper has a long tradition in this region. The art was learned from 11th-century Arab traders and Amalfi’s fame for paper production grew to comprise 11 mills operating in Valle dei Mulini. Duck into this beautiful store near the Arsenale buildings to cool off and shop for handmade paper and curiosities. Using the old techniques, Andrea De Luca and Giovanna Fusco create gilt-edged cards, leatherbound books, and fine-art prints. In the back of the store, browse the owners’ wonderful collection of antique ceramics, oil and watercolor paintings from the 18th century, as well as original historic maps and reproductions.
78 Via Giuseppe Orlandi
This quirky Pompeian red house in Anacapri, Italy, was built by a Confederate officer who fled the United States after the war. His several archaeological finds from the region and beyond are on display in the house, some built right into the walls. Over the front entrance, embedded in the Byzantine-style mosaic, is a Greek phrase that translates to “hail citizens of the land of leisure.” The house is now a small museum to a collection of early 20th-century oil paintings of Capri and Naples. In a corner room on the top floor, you can see some ancient statues that were fished out the Blue Grotto during two different excavations over the past few decades.
26 Via Axel Munthe
Walk the long shop-lined Via Capodimonte (or, if you are feeling particularly industrious, climb the 921 Phoenician Steps to the very top) to reach the former home of the Swedish physician and author Axel Munthe. This 20th-century mansion, now a museum with magnificent gardens, sits almost 1000 feet above the sea and offers unbelievable views over Capri and toward Naples and Mount Vesuvius. During your visit, follow tradition and make a wish with your left hand touching the ancient Egyptian sphinx statue. There is a café at the top of the gardens and occasional live music on summer evenings.
Monte Solaro, 80071 Anacapri, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
The summit of Monte Solarno, the highest point in Capri is almost 2,000 feet high! You can choose to climb it or opt for the considerably easier chairlift. Along the ride and at the top, you will enjoy an incredible 360-degree view over the island and sea. There is a small café for a cold drink. Make the short hike down to the sweet, tiny 15th-century Hermitage of Cetrella, a chapel where local sailors used to visit and pray for protection before setting out to sea.
3 Via Camerelle
Since 1946, this shop on the elegant Via Camerelle has been crafting leather sandals for movie stars, princesses, and the rest of us mere mortals. Canfora supplied Jacqueline Onassis with her favorite chic flat sandals: She would often arrive after midnight for private fittings to avoid paparazzi. When you buy a pair, you can watch the speed and skill of the shoemakers as they nail the straps you chose, simple or bejeweled, onto leather soles. This is a one-of-a-kind souvenir made just for you. The shop is now run by the founder’s daughters, so you can expect the same service and quality craftsmanship that has been Canfora’s hallmark for decades.
Capri, Metropolitan City of Naples, Italy
After years spent working in small workshops in France, Rome, and Orvieto, Italy, and being lauded with an armful of awards, Massimo and Tiziana Aloisio, the couple behind Orogami, have opened a boutique in Capri to sell their jewelry. Their complex designs mix technical skill with philosophies about life and love. The Sphere collection features delicate orbs spun from thin gold or silver threads that are strung in a row on a necklace or knotted onto a simple leather bracelet. The Labyrinth collection of necklaces and rings are etched with a path through which a single diamond or ruby moves.
2 Piazza Cerio Ignazio, Capri, NA 80073, 80076 Capri NA, Italy
Ready-to-wear and made-to-measure dresses, shirts, pants, and skirts are just some of the beautiful things you will find in this pretty store. Around the corner from the flashier names on the Via Camerelle and a short stroll down the hill, the family-owned Laboratorio Capri is where Michele and his mother design and sew for movie stars as well as Capri locals. Shop the sandals and bags, whisper-weight scarves printed with images of old Capri, and colorful jewelry that will remind you of the island.
Via Santa Chiara, 26, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
Your long walk along the narrow paths of Ravello to reach the Villa Cimbrone will be well rewarded. The fabled Terrace of Infinity lives up to any superlative you may have read about it (American writer Gore Vidal called the sea view from the belvedere the most beautiful thing he had seen in all his travels). The villa is now a luxury hotel, but the gardens and terraces are open to visitors for a small entrance fee. Painstaking care has been taken to keep the gardens as the villa’s early-20th-century English owner, Lord Grimthorpe, intended.
Piazza Duomo, 84010 Ravello SA, Italy
You’ll recognize this setting as one that appears in some of the most iconic Amalfi Coast photos. The villa’s riotous beds of pansies and garden walls covered with vibrant bougainvillea are as jaw-dropping in real life. One section of the gardens dates back to the 13th century, but only traces of the medieval part remains. Most of the space is dedicated to a Romantic era–style garden that was designed by Francis Nevile Reid, a wealthy Scottish expat who owned and restored the villa in the late-19th century. In addition to touring the gardens, a small museum on the grounds with a cloister and tower is worth visiting. From June through September every year, the Ravello Festival is held here.
Piazza Paolo Capasso, 7, 80051 Agerola NA, Italy
Take a break from the crowds sunbathing on the Spiaggia Grande in Positano, Italy, and head to the mountains for a hike. The Path of the Gods (Sentiero degli Dei) is a 5.5-mile hike that links the towns Bomerano (near Agerola) to Nocelle (near Positano). Pack a picnic and plan on at least three hours and lots and lots of stairs. Try walking from east to west in the morning to have the sun at your back and the best views. Along the way you will see a wild and rugged side of the Amalfi Coast that contrasts with the glamorous beach scene below.
Via del Brigantino, 9-13, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
This beach cover-up empire, based in town (with satellite shops in Capri, Amalfi, Rome, and Venice) is the source for hippie-chic Positano style dating back to the 1960s. You can spot the shop’s signature turquoise shopping bags dangling from the arms of stylish vacationers. Racks of affordable cover-ups and dresses, organized by print and color, range from simple white shirts to elaborately decorated floor-length caftans. Inside, find folded stacks of beach wraps that can serve as scarves, towels, or sarongs.
Via Regina Giovanna
Positano is the place to get custom-made sandals, and Safari offers just about any style you could want, from the simplest design of thin leather straps on flat soles to baroque jeweled numbers with kitten heels. The shop’s tiny interior is stacked to the ceiling with sandal parts. Customers pick their desired elements and, in about an hour, collect a new pair of shoes. The shop also sells super-comfortable summer moccasins for boys.
Via Cristoforo Colombo, 137, 84017 Positano SA, Italy
For the best selection of the region’s handpainted and colorful pottery, head to the Ceramica Assunta shop at number 97 on the Via Cristofero Colombo. There you can shop for tableware, serving bowls and platters, and pitchers. Buy an entire dinner service or just pick up souvenirs such as tiny olive dishes and limoncello cups, all whimsically painted with birds, pigs, and sheep. The store will expertly wrap and ship your purchases, so you don’t have to transport breakables in your luggage.
30 Via Cristoforo Colombo
The carefully curated inventory of this shop across from the Hotel le Sirenuse is pretty much perfect, starting with a line of signature scents, L’Eau d’Italia, which evokes the magic of Mediterranean summers. Among your sublime choices are drinking glasses with swirls of color, made by the famous Venetian glassblower, Carlo Moretti; plates handmade in Milan by the owner’s sister, Costanza Paravicini; sophisticated beach cover-ups, the chicest bikinis, and bespoke swim trunks. In short, beautiful things sold in a beautiful space in one of the most beautiful destinations in Italy: Be prepared to want every single item.