Ah, that gorgeous, rugged coastline prominently featured in movies–and the star of many-a-girls’ romantic allusions. We went to the Amalfi Coast and we can tell you–it lives up to the hype! In our 3-part series on this breathtaking real estate, we’ll give you tips on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do.

Our journey took place in May, when the weather was mild, the colors were vivid, and the crowds were sparse. We flew in to Naples and traveled the precarious one-lane road down the coast, wincing as scooters flew in from hidden drives and and buses casually navigated sharp turns at top speed. We were relieved to arrive in the charming village of Positano, which welcomed us with a host of unforgettable experiences that we just had to share with you, our readers.

 

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Where to Stay: LE SIRENUSE

We stayed at Le Sirenuse, once the summer house of a noble family before the 18th century villa was turned into a luxury hotel in 1951. The hotel is centrally located in the village of Positano, and has the most enchanting views of the bay. Le Sirenuse translates to “The Siren” in English and refers to the story in Greek mythology about the beautiful creatures who lured in sailors with their seductive songs so that they would be shipwrecked on the rocky coastline. You will find the mermaids’ insignia imprinted on everything from bath soaps to sugar packets around the hotel.

Le Sirenuse has fifty-eight luxuriously furnished rooms yet still maintains the atmosphere and charm of a private home. Our room, number 85, was a prime example, with handmade tiles on the floors, vaulted ceilings, and a stunning view of the Positano Bay from our private balcony. There is a champagne and oyster bar located on a terrace with breathtaking views: the perfect place to get a pre-dinner drink. Our first morning began with an indulgent breakfast on the sunny terrace. Local olives, house-made ricotta, orange-yolked eggs from a nearby farm, and freshly squeezed orange juice were just a few of the highlights from this ample feast. It was also a lesson in willpower, as we could hardly resist sampling every delightful dish, perhaps due to the heady influence of the breathtaking view and soft breeze.

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➤ HOTEL CARUSO

If you are looking for accommodations in a luxurious hideaway, Hotel Caruso is perched atop a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the town of Ravello, about 45 minutes from Positano. This former 11th century palace has been carefully restored to preserve its charming details like the fresco-covered ceilings and ancient walls. The heated infinity pool is an architectural masterpiece but it doesn’t stop there – the concierge will bring you a preloaded iPod with your choice of music and either a fresh fruit appetizer or Evian vaporizer. The rooms are equally extravagant. Each is uniquely designed in keeping with the Neapolitan architecture and overlooks either the sea or terraced gardens. The hotel also offers complimentary boat tours around the beautiful Amalfi coast in its traditional wooden boat Ercole.

➤ MONASTERO SANTA ROSA HOTEL & SPA

Halfway between Positano and Ravello lies Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, which was originally built in the late 17th century as a monastery for the nuns. The building was then bought and sold several times before eventually reopening in 2012 as a luxury hotel. The lush Mediterranean gardens on the property cascade down from the bar terrace to the cliff edge with areas to lounge and converse on each stylishly manicured level. The fragrant perfumes of lavender, roses, and lemon trees fill the air as you explore the waterfall of botanical art. The rooms maintain the primary structure of what were once the nuns’ rooms, each now decorated with hand-selected furniture from the owner’s Italian travels.

Now that you’ve settled in, it’s time to experience Italian food! Be sure to read Parte Due of our series to learn our recommendations on Where to Eat or jump right to exploring our ideas of What to Do!