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.
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.
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.
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.
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.