Amalfi Coast

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With towns tumbling down to the sea, towering cliffs and views to die for, the Amalfi coast is Italy at its most dramatic. A regular star of the silver screen (The Talented Mr Ripley, among other films, was shot here), it's a magnet for both the glitterati and literati. Stars and wannabees mingle here in summer time, drifting between yachts and luxury villas. Leave the car behind – it's fun to get around here by boat, local bus and the odd taxi.

The Amalfi coast drive
Stretching 50km east from Positano, the white-knuckle Amalfi coast drive – a road clipped into the edge of a vertiginous cliff face – is Italy’s most spectacular coastline. Gravity-defying Love Heart-coloured villas gaze out from near-vertical hillsides,  while the sea crashes against the rocks below.

Chocolate-box Positano is a must-see as the beautiful setting of John Steinbeck’s 1950s novel of the same name. Browse the town's little galleries and bijou shops and people-watch from the terrace of one of its glamorous hotels.

Hovering at the top of a 1,000-foot clifftop, lofty Ravello is everyone's favourite beauty spot. Come in summer for Ravello’s open-air music festival, when al fresco opera in an exquisite setting above the sea offers the perfect way to spend a summer’s eve. If rain gets in the way, there are plenty of cafes to wander into for a consoling shot of Limoncello.

Be sure to visit the town of Amalfi itself, sprawled at the foot of the cliff beneath hilltop Ravello.

Sorrento was believed by the ancients to be home to mythical temptresses who lured unwitting mariners towards the cliffs with their wistful songs. The town seduces today’s visitors with stunning views over the Bay of Naples.

Isle of Capri
Take a boat ride out to the millionaire’s playground of Capri. While this glamorous island can heave with tourists in the high season, the crowds magically melt away in the upper village of Anacapri, whose cable car takes you right to the island’s peak.

Isle of Ischia
Less well known than glamorous Capri, Ischia is easily reached by boat or hydrofoil from Naples and smaller towns along the coast. Less cosmopolitan and more Italian in feel, it has some lovely gardens and secluded coves.

South of the Amalfi coast, Salerno and its surroundings make a great base for visiting the Greek temples of Paestum and the nearby Cilento national Park. There's plenty of scope for watersports along the coastline.

Two hours south of Naples and an hour from the Amalfi coast, the historic city of Maratea begs exploration. You'll find some 44 churches among its narrow medieval streets, and plenty of wild Tyrrhenian coastline nearby.

Ravello Festival. Listen to Mozart, Brahms, Scarlatti and Chopin in an al fresco setting at one of the cultural events of the year.

Maratea Contemporary Art Festival. Culture vultures flock to Maratea for a banquet of painting, sculpture, poetry and dance.

Take a sunset cruise along this famous piece of coast, champagne in hand.

Boutique Hotels in Amalfi Coast

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