Last month I spent ten days on a boat between Capri and the Amalfi Coast. I’ve been going to Capri and Positano ever since I was a little kid with my Italian grandmother and my mother. It was really special this time to experience these places from the water with a mix of friends from Italy and the States.
Capri is timeless in her beauty. No matter how far I travel I am always taken aback by seeing Capri again. It might just be the most beautiful place in the world to me. I love the dramatic blues of the ocean and how they contrast with the green vegetation that climbs down the rock facades. The wild beauty contrasts beautifully with the elegant black stone streets and fancy shops and hotels. Half the island doesn’t have any cars, which makes it feel like an oasis even in the height of busy August. There are lots of beautiful walks to take and off the beaten path places to visit. Roman emperors used to vacation and live there, it’s filled with history. I promise myself I will venture more often on these walks, but something about the small island draws me into more of a social whirlwind than I intend. It’s hard to walk through the main piazza without getting sucked into a coffee, a conversation, an aperitivo. Or to run into friends in the narrow streets and not suddenly organize a big dinner all together at someone’s house or a restaurant that of course never begins before 10pm. A cocktail or a dance after dinner and it’s after two or three in the morning, but luckily you are only waking up to go lounge on the water somewhere, or have a drawn out lunch accompanied by plenty of cold local white wine, like Furore or Falanghina.
Some of my favorite spots and things to do in Capri:
Swim at La Fontelina My favorite beach club in Capri. The location right by the Faraglioni is spectacular. The food at the restaurant is great and I love wiling away the hours there eating a pasta ai frutti di mare (seafood pasta). But definitely drink lots of wine before you get the bill, it’s surprisingly pricey. And then do it again the next day, because it was all just so lovely and you only live once.
Walk to the Arco Naturale (Natural Arch) The walk there is very sweet and you will get to see a different face of the island. It’s always worthwhile though part of the arch is under restoration right now.
Visit the Giardini di Augusto (Gardens of Augustus) Pretty views and gardens, a nice short stroll from the center of town.
Shop at Sud Capri They have two stores, one for clothing (Via delle Botteghe, 4-6) and one for swimwear (Via Camerelle, 61). I’ve never walked in and not found something pretty and unique there, like the blue silk jumpsuit I received this year as a present accompanied by the unforgettable line, “you know how much I love to give you beautiful, useless things.” The Russo Capri Outlet Store by the funicular is also a great and unexpected place for high-end brand finds.
Relax at the beautiful spa at Caesar Augustus in Anacapri.
Drink a Campari orange or an Aperol spritz in the main piazza. All the seats in the square are great, but I love Bar Tiberio.
Eat at E’ Divino (Via Sella Orta 10A) for dinner, sit in their chilled out courtyard and feel like you are at someone’s home. It’s a nice antithesis to the glitz and glam of the island. Or, if you are lucky enough to have a home and kitchen in Capri buy the ravioli capresi from Capri Pasta to make at home with a fresh tomato sauce. These ravioli stuffed with ricotta are light, simple and divine. They will also ship anywhere in Italy. Buying fish and seafood in this part of Italy is also incredible. I love picking up the shrimp and scampi that are so fresh and sweet you can eat them raw with just a squeeze of lemon.
Hang out at Salotto 42 Have a cocktail overlooking the gulf of Naples after dinner at this new lounge, an offshoot of one of my favorite bars in Rome.
Dance If you are up for it, the party doesn’t start until well after midnight, Number Two is still going strong after all these years.
After Capri we moved on to the Amalfi coast for a more subdued part of the trip. No more coming home at three in the morning. More like asleep by eleven after falling asleep numerous times throughout the day on the deck. We really lived the boat the second half of the trip, only leaving for a walk, the occasional meal and food shopping for the enormous amount of cooking that was going on. And then finding some quiet cove to anchor and chill out for long, long swims and deep, deep sleeps. We spent a lot of time around Amalfi because the coves were beautiful and protected and it was really easy for us to go in and out of town for necesseties. We always stopped at Pansa for a coffee, to buy an incredible marmalade that tastes like the big yellow-green lemons that grow in this area and to pick up way too many delizia al limone, a typical spongy lemon cake that my boat mates decided was good to have around for breakfast, lunch and dinner! We popped by Positano and also ate in incredible spots like the Michelin starred Il Faro di Capo D’Orso in Maori and my absolute favorite Lo Scoglio in Nerano. You can arrive there directly by boat, but they have a little farm and terrain behind the restaurant and they get the absolute best fish from the local fishermen like pezzogna that you can only catch in deep waters far off the coast. We didn’t hit all the spots we meant too, lulled by the quiet, intimate cove where we spent the most time, you could swim to shore and see wild fig trees and capers growing in bushes on the mountainside and duck in and out of little grottos that sounded as though they were alive as the water swooshed through them. We heard as we were leaving from a passing boat that the home and old fort that looked over the cove belonged to Sophia Loren and that made sense because the place was as beautiful, sensual and powerful as the icon herself.
Favorite spots to eat on the Amalfi Coast:
Lo Scoglio Da Tommaso (Nerano)- Super fresh vegetables and fish. They are famous for their pasta alle zucchine (pasta with zucchini), but I fell in love with the scialatelli ai frutti di mare. Scialatelli are a long square-sided handmade pasta that is typical of the Amalfi coast.
Da Adolfo al Laurito (Positano) – My favorite place to hang out for lunch and a swim when in Positano. Make sure to make a reservation for lunch and you can take their boat from Positano. It’s just a quick 5 minute ride down the coast.
Da Armandino (Priano) – Not far from Positano. A very sweet spot, especially when you want to get away from the bustle and tourists.
Da Gemma (Amalfi) – A classic. Lovely terrace.
Pansa (Amalfi) – Great coffee bar and cafe right next to Amalfi’s famous and gorgeous 9th century cathedral. Wonderful pastries, buy some of the lemon marmalade to bring home.
Il Faro di Capo D’Orso (Maiori) – Michelin starred. Stunning views. My favorites were the appetizers, first courses and desserts. Not your everyday meal, be prepared to sit for a good four hours.