From luxe hotels and ancient Roman ruins, to restaurants that will satisfy even the most demanding of gourmands; this stretch of Italian coastline truly has it all.
Kick things off by checking yourself into the Partenope Relais hotel. Situated on the harbour front, this hotel personifies the term ‘boutique’ - from the neoclassical façade to the quirky cinematic theme that runs throughout. 24 spacious rooms comprise the property, with the majority offering stunning views of the sea, Vesuvius, Capri and the Sorrento Coast. In the balmy evening cosmopolitan Neopolitans stroll and diner in one of the many restaurants crowding the walkway.
TOP TIP: The hotel's on-site restaurant - which also serves a continental breakfast in the morning - is also a hangout for sweet- toothed locals out to get their fix of Naples most famous treat, the delectable Sfogliatelle. So naughty, but oh so good!
POMPEII & HERCULANEUM
Skip the lines and visit both of these world heritage UNESCO sites in one day. ToursByLocals connects travelers with local tour guides for a personalized sightseeing experience like no other. Gauging tastes and time constraints, your guide will put together an itinerary showcasing the best of these two ancient wonders.
Walking in the footsteps of Ancient Pompeian’s, you will experience what life was like 2000 years ago. Visit ancient public baths, wine bars and shops, step into private villas and see preserved frescoes and mosaics. Often overlooked, nearby Herculaneum was a wealthy seaside town of around 5,000 residents when it was buried by Vesuvius. It’s proximity to the eruption has meant that roofs and other organic matter (including boats, skeletons and papyrus scrolls) are in a much better state of preservation than Pompeii.
TOP TIP: While in Herculaneum make sure to see the jaw-dropping Casa di Nettuno ed Anfrite. Named after the vibrant glass paste mosaics studded with seashells depicting Neptune, this is one of the most impressive Roman wall decorations ever found.
Overlooking the Amalfi Coast - some 350m above the Tyrrhenian Sea and six miles up a twisting road - sits Ravello, a medieval village full of winding cobblestone streets, fragrant gardens, and jaw-dropping views aplenty. But for one of the most breathtaking vistas, check into the Villa Cimbrone Hotel . What for centuries was an aristocratic residence is now an exclusive, refined Hotel that boasts some of the most beautiful gardens in Italy.
Dating from at least the 11th century AD, this spacious property combines old world charm (rooms are filled with antiques) with spacious and bright rooms, most complete with terraces offering spellbinding views of the sea. Little wonder that the A-list guest list here ranges from Greta Garbo – who stayed at the villa several times in the 1930s – through to pop star, Justin Timberlake.
TOP TIP: The Amalfi coast is a culinary holy grail. For a truly unforgettable dinner, book yourself a table at Belmond Hotel Caruso’s Belvedere Restaurant.. Famed for its superb selection of fresh, local Mediterranean dishes, this eatery combines Michelin quality fare with the traditional charm of Italian home cooking. But perhaps most impressive is the outdoor terrace, complete with one of the best views in the town.
Afterwards, retire for a nightcap in the beautiful Cocktail and Piano Bar, which - in addition to a skilled pianist - offers an extensive list of cocktails, finewines and delicious local Prosecco. It does err on the expensive side, but this is one case where the adage 'you get what you pay for' definitely applies!
The town of Positano is the most popular destination in the Amalfi. Set at the base of a deep gorge, the main beach is still the hub of village life. Pastel-painted houses dot the rocky cliff-face and the streets are framed by vast bunches of purple bougainvillea.
Base yourself a short drive or walk away from the town centre at the exclusive hideaway of Il San Pietro. Regularly named one of the best hotels in the world, Il San Pietro is the go-to destination for European royalty and Hollywood stars in search of some privacy and TLC. Indeed, it’s celebrity guestlist reads like a list of who’s who: Gregory Peck, Tina Turner, Barbra Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Robert de Niro and Sting, to name a few.
Outside, each room a private balcony hangs off the cliff, providing sweeping views of the sea and coastline. A 24hour complimentary shuttle bus service is available to and from Positano and – particularly appealing for food-lovers - almost all of the food served at Il San Pietro is grown on site, with the bountiful terraced gardens filled with a variety of vegetables and fruit.
TOP TIP: Take advantage of the hotel’s amazingly secluded private beach – a natural cove with crystal waters and a large sunbathing deck. Accessed via a James Bond villain-esque elevator, which takes guests from the lobby to the beach in seconds – through 88 meters of solid cliff rock!
Overlooking the Gulf of Naples, this handsome town has la dolce vita in spades. A seaside holiday spot, Sorrento is the perfect base for Amalfi Coast-hopping and for exploring the elegant resort island of Capri, which is just a 20-minute ferry ride away.
Among the most renowned hotels in the area, the Bellevue Syrene sits in the most picturesque corner of the town with terraces overlooking the stunning gulf. Opened in 1820, the extraordinary property is built on the foundations of a Roman villa. Indeed, for history buffs, the mammoth network or Roman era grottos situated directly below the hotel are a definite highlight. To access the beach guests must traverse through these ancient tunnels - just as their Roman counterparts did before them - in order to soak in the warm azure seas.
TOP TIP: Take advantage of the Syrene’s Club Lounge between 10am and 8pm every day. Complimentary canapés, cocktails and assorted local wines make it the ideal pre-dinner spot.
Etihad Airways offers eleven weekly connections from Sydney to Naples and daily connections from Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth in conjunction with partner airlines Virgin Australia and Alitalia. To book, visit etihad.com or call 1300 532 215.
Trains allow easy connections within the region. For more information see www.raileurope.com.au.