In the southern region of Campania, vertiginous cliffs that drop dramatically into the Mediterranean are bejewelled with colourful coastal towns. The Amalfi Coast is a shining example. Everywhere you turn is an Instagram-worthy picture of Italy-by-the-sea. In summer, you may be jostling with fellow tourists for the best vantage points, so consider timing your holiday for the off-season; visit between October and April, and – whilst the water might be cooler – the streets are calmer, the prices cheaper and the restaurants quieter.
When it comes to food and drink, the Amalfi Coast has plenty to offer. Unsurprisingly, its location between Campania’s capital Naples and the seductive city of Salerno means it’s absorbed the culinary influence of both. There’s the classic Neapolitan pizza, the perfect cure for a rumbling stomach (you can test your dough-throwing skills and make your very own by joining a pizza cooking class at Villa Ida in Sorrento). There’s also spaghetti alla Nerano, a sublime Sorrentine combo of spaghetti, courgettes and caciocavallo cheese. As the name suggests, the origin of this type of spaghetti recipe is in the town of Nerano. Restaurateur and owner of Villa Ponto and Villa Harpy runs a delightful eatery near Marina del Cantone beach in Nerano. Buffalo mozzarella is one of Campania’s most famous exports. To see how the milk of Italian buffalo is transformed into delectable mozzarella, you can watch a demo at Tenuta Vannulo farm outside Paestum.
Growing on the coast’s sun-drenched vines, you’ll find the pepper-shaped San Marzano tomatoes, the only tomato you should use in an authentic Neapolitan pizza. You’ll also find gorgeously yellow Sorrento lemons, the zest of which is an essential ingredient in a drink synonymous with the Amalfi Coast – limoncello. This century-old liqueur is zingy, syrup-sweet and comes with an alcoholic kick. You can try it by glass, or by babà – the mushroom-shaped cake often soaked in limoncello, and a local favourite. Also thriving on the vine here is a range of plump grapes, including the aglianico variety, which is pressed, fermented and blended with other grapes into some of Costa d‘Amalfi’s most famous wines.
For a taste of local cuisine without having to traipse around trattorias, stay at a luxury property on the Amalfi Coast boasting its own resident chef, such as Monastero di Positano. This villa typifies the colour and opulence of the surrounding town of Positano, and its outdoor terrace is an indulgent spot for alfresco dining.