Hello from Capri and Positano

London-based Sarah Mason specializes in travel at the most luxurious level, regularly creating once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences for her clients all over the world through her company, Mason Rose Private. Lucky for us, she’s very generous. Here she shares her ideas on how to navigate one of the most special and spectacular places in the world: Italy’s Amalfi Coast. 

Positano, Amalfi Coast.

Famed for its glamour, magical Capri is a tiny island in the Tyrrhenian Sea located in the Gulf of Naples, just off the Amalfi Coast of western Italy, made up of jagged cliffs, rocky beaches, hidden gardens, deep caves (the most famous is the Blue Grotto or Grotta Azzurra), beautiful little streets and picturesque houses perched on steep hillsides. Celebrities have flocked to this island known as “dolce far niente” (sweet idleness) for many years; Jacqueline Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Grace Kelly, and many others have graced its charming hotels and restaurants, and soaked up the effusive, vibrant atmosphere. Nothing is more delightful than a passagiata into the main Piazzetta at sunset for an aperitivo, passing its fabulous shops. The best way to enjoy this wildly beautiful island is to go early in the season or in the fall, in order to avoid the sometimes oppressive crowds during the summer months.

Courtesy Sarah Mason

To get to Capri you need to either drive from Rome, or fly into Naples and take a taxi from the airport to Molo Beverello Harbour, the port, where, like everyone else, you board a high speed jetfoil which whisks you off to Capri’s Porto di Marina Grande. (Private transfers are available at a substantial cost.) On arrival you are met by your hotel representative. They are there from all the hotels, shouting your name, waving their boards and hands, a cacophony of frenzy and excitement, all conversing loudly. Once they find you, they will be welcoming, delighted you are in Capri, offering to take your luggage for you. You can either get to your hotel by a tiny Fiat limousine (everything there is miniature it seems), or you can walk. We handed over our luggage and chose to find our own way, which was a fun adventure, using the main cable car to get up to the Piazzetta.

What to Do

Photo from top: Fontelina Beach Club, Scoglio di Tomasso, the Harbor.

We happened to go to Capri for a 50th birthday party. Outside of the wonderful celebrations, our days were spent at various beach clubs, or lounging by the hotel pool. As far as beach clubs go, La Fontelina is a firm favourite. Set at the bottom of a dramatic cliff face, below the Punta Tragara, it is open from April to October, opposite Faraglioni, Capri’s famous rock ‘stacks’ (three dramatic, side-by-side rock formations including a huge rock arch, created by oceanic rock erosion of waves). You get there by either walking past the Punta Tragara, then down the cliff path, or you can call the restaurant staff to send their shuttle boat to collect you from the Marina Piccola. Or vice versa. After a rather languid lunch, I walked to our hotel, up the cliff pathway—much less painful after a couple of glasses of wine.

Where to stay on Capri

There are some lovely hotels to choose from on Capri, but the four I love are Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, Hotel Punta Tragara, JK Place Capri and La Minerva. All are very different in size and cost, and location, some in Capri, some on Anacapri, the village above, which is quieter. Each is very different with its own individual charm. All the hotels in Capri are booked months in advance so if you are planning a trip, make sure you bear this in mind. For reservations in August, you need to be booking in January, at the latest.

Photos Courtesy of the Capri Palace.

JK Place

JK Place is one of my favourite hotels on the island. Set away from the main town, in Anacapri (a five-minute taxi ride up the hill takes you into the main square), this boutique hotel has a truly relaxed atmosphere, with a splendid large pool, fabulous spa, wonderful restaurant and stunning views over the sea. The staff is efficient and the service excellent.

Hotel Punta Tragara

The Punta Tragara is the hotel with the most spectacular view over the Faraglioni and the bay of Marina Piccola. Originally a private villa designed by Le Corbusier in the 1920’s, it is a 15-minute walk from the Piazzetta, and history tells us it was used as the American headquarters by General Eisenhower during the Second World War. Here he met to plot and discuss strategies with Winston Churchill.

La Minerva

We stayed at this adorable little hotel with just 18 bedrooms. It is run by three charming brothers, and is a 10-minute walk away from the main piazza on a quiet street. Our bedroom was beautiful with a private terrace, and a big comfy bed made up with wonderful Italian linens. The hotel combines modern with traditional island elements. It is peaceful and simple, and the service is really good. The terrace on the top floor has great views, where breakfast is served each morning. Built for the Roman Emperor Tiberius who ruled the Roman Empire from Capri by using a lighthouse to signal communication, he also occasionally delighted in throwing unsuspecting slaves over the cliff edge if he felt so inclined. La Minerva is very popular; make sure to book far in advance to get a room.

Capri Palace Hotel & Spa

Up in the quieter town of Anacapri, this popular hotel is home to the renowned Capri Beauty Farm Spa as well as a superb Michelin-starred restaurant. It is a modern hotel with some beautiful art installations; the owner is a serious collector. Suites are named after Callas, Magritte and Warhol to name a few. The Beach Club Il Riccio is delightful; in short, it is a perfect holiday retreat. From Anacapri you can take scenic walks up to the San Michele and Monte Solaro, which take about an hour each.

Where to stay in Positano

Our next stop was Positano. We left Capri by private boat from the Piccola Marina, and they whizzed us around the island so we could see some of the magnificent caves and dramatic scenery. Our Captain took us to a remote part of the coastline where we enjoyed a refreshing swim off the beach, in a small cove. We stopped for the most wonderful lunch at the atmospheric Lo Scoglio da Tommaso, a family run restaurant where they serve fresh fish, mouth-watering lobster pasta and tasty vegetables, grown organically on their own farm. When we arrived in Positano, we docked by the harbour wall, right next to the dark pebble beach. Our luggage was collected and taken to the hotel. We gently meandered through the myriad of tiny streets with their vertiginous colourful houses, buying a couple of hats along the way from a quaint tourist boutique to protect us from the late afternoon’s strong sun. We stayed at the iconic Le Sirenuse run by the ever-present owner Antonio Sersale. We had dinner one night in their sushi restaurant and enjoyed delicious breakfasts on the terrace each morning. A couple of nights in Positano were enough for us, and from here you can easily access other spectacular places such as Ravello and Sorrento. Don’t miss visiting Mount Vesuvius and the remains of Pompeii on your way back to the airport; take some time, it is worth it. If you want to bypass Positano and go straight to one of our most favourite Italian haunts, then take a private boat from Capri to the breathtaking Villa Tre Ville.

Photos from top: Positano view from Le Sirenuse Courtesy of Sarah Mason, two rooms at Le Sirenuse. 

Le Sirenuse

Le Sirenuse is the most famous hotel in Positano. It takes its name from the Sirens Islands, which the hotel overlooks. It is a well-run, elegant, traditional hotel with pretty terraces, a lovely spa and great restaurants including a sushi bar. We had a stunning room overlooking the pool, and the long sparkling Mediterranean as far as the eye could see; the sunset was spectacular.

Villa Tre Ville

If you want to find a very special place, then head off to one of our favourite hotels in Italy, Villa Tre Ville, just around the corner from the main village. In love with Positano, Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli bought three adjacent villas (hence the name) where he entertained his Hollywood friends. In 1965 it was sold and is now owned by a private family who look after it to the highest standards. The gardens are beautiful and filled with jasmine, wisteria and bougainvillea. The interiors are superb and offer an eclectic fusion of modern facilities with traditional, local artisanal touches. You might never leave…

Yearning for more Italian inspiration? For more of Sarah’s adventures, find her at her site here. Meanwhile, see below for our dream Italian Riviera packing list.


What to wear for a night in the Piazzetta

Click to buy: Scarf-Print Maxi Dress, Eman Earrings, Eman Collar Necklace, Lisa Tote.

What to wear to lunch overlooking the sea

Click to buy: Dolman Tie-Front Top, Mixed Paisley Print Palazzo Pants, Brielle Brushed Gold-Tone Ring, Zeni Bib Necklace, Zoey Bracelets.

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19 Responses

  1. Jan Patterson

    A – MAZING!! I’ve been to Italy twice and STILL never made it to Capri, etc. Your pix and article are to DIE for!! Makes me want to make a reservation NOW!! Great job! Thank you soooo much!

  2. I have been to Positano and took a picture of Sophia Loren’s home that sits majestically on a cliff. The picture is my computer’s wallpaper. Beautiful! Positano and the Amalfi Coast are unbelievable. The ocean hypnotic. Pictures do not bring out the true beauty of this area. I hope to return someday.

  3. Sarah

    We lived in Naples for 3 years and visited Capri often. It’s a magical place. Beautiful pictures and article.

  4. How inspiring! What a beautiful, beautiful, breathtaking, awe inspiring vista of romance and glorious color! The architecture alone is enough to transport one into a heavenly mentality! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Judy Leivermann

    Judy…….. have been to Capri, have spent a week in Ravello and took boats to Positano, Amalfi and other ports… fortunate to have been to Italy numerous times… captured the essence of this are of Italy very well!

  6. Angela Guarini Hollander

    The isle of Capri was my father’s home until my mother met him while vacationing in 1952. It is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited and have been to many times. I would suggest visitors stay at La Scalinatella

    1. linda farina johnson

      Hi Angela,
      The Isle of Capri actually Anacapri was my grandfather’s home. Visited with my mother who has cousins still. Enchanting and I would give anything to live there, but alas, changed from when grandfather left for America.

  7. Margaret

    We just returned from a European trip that included a week’s stay in beautiful Positano. It is absolutely charming and we’re already planning a return trip. Highly recommend staying at Hotel San Pietro where spacious and gorgeous rooms are built into the cliff with private beach below.

  8. Janine

    I love this area of Italy. I took a Mediterranean cruise last September and went to the Amalfi. I would love to go back and spend some days there to really relax and enjoy

  9. linda farina johnson

    Italy is the best! Studied in Florence for a semester as an ‘older’ student. But just wanted to say that you won’t see many women wearing pants/slacks. They wear mostly dresses and skirts there even on their mopeds! And, no sneakers…

  10. Pat Thompson

    Just returned from Amalfi, Capri and Positano.. And it is even more beautiful than your pictures.. It is a most magical and inspiring place to be.. Would love to return in a couple of years. Love your suggestions for hotels and places to dine.. Pat T.

  11. Catherine McDermott

    Have been to Italy several times when I lived in Europe. Capri and Positano are such beautiful magical places to visit. Will have to return again sometime in the near future.

  12. Filippa

    Can you give tips on how to make travel arrangements to visit the Amalfi coast area. I have never been, but it is a dream of mine. Don’t know how to begin to make travel arrangements. Thank you