Luxurious, lemony Amalfi Coast
If you love the taste of lemon and have not yet been to Italy’s Amalfi Coast, you’re missing out.
Everything there is lemony. Perfumes, ceramic tiles, cups and saucers, main courses, desserts, refreshing drinks. And, of course, the prize winner: limoncello.
Up until now, I am oblivious to the amount of alcohol that this pleasantly sweet digestive liqueur, made from lemon rind, water and sugar, actually contains. But as I sit at a pretty restaurant overlooking Sorrento’s main piazza, downing my sixth chilled-ceramic-cup full, a throbbing headache and jelly legs give me the answer I need.
There is obviously more to the Amalfi Coast than lemons. A ribbon of road stretching from Sorrento to Salerno winds itself along dramatic cliffs with sheer drops into pristine waters. This super-scenic road passes through the stylish villages of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello, as well as a number of pretty, bougainvillea-covered, white-washed buildings which seem to cling to the rock faces.
As I shudder at the chaotic traffic that greets me in Sorrento, I decide that the smoothest way to get around is by motorino. Plus it’s by far the most exciting way to experience the exhilarating drive round the hundreds of sharp hairpin bends hidden along the coast.
Amalfi is a charming mass of backstreets and alleyways, I discover, as I stroll around the town inquisitively, doing my best to dodge the overwhelming masses of Japanese tourists that flock around the many quaint souvenir shops. Ornate arches and piazzas, stylish boutiques and suave, dark-haired men in white linen trousers chanting “Ciao, bella!” make me feel good in this place. This is Italy at its best. And I love it.
Spoilt for choice, I opt for a cozy tavern just off the vibrant, colourful piazza for lunch. Giuseppe, the owner, proudly talks me through his menu – mozzarella di bufala, melanzane sott’olio, insalata caprese, gnocchi, lobster, sautéed shrimp. He insists on bringing me “un po’ di tutto” (a little bit of everything), and I spend the next few hours stuffed as a Christmas turkey, slouched on my chair, singing very incoherent stanzas of Neapolitan songs with Giuseppe, whose speech is almost as slurred as mine after a couple of bottles of delicious red wine.
I just adore Positano. Characterised by pastel-coloured buildings and elegant shops, it is dominated by hundreds of never-ending narrow steps that take me up to dizzying heights as I climb breathlessly to the top. The views are most definitely rewarding though and I treat myself to a fresh lemonade and a generous slice of homemade torta di mandorla.
The romantic hillside village of Ravello is a gem. Quiet and pedestrianised, a pretty chapel sits in the middle of the main piazza, surrounded by stylish cafes, where I sit and sip the best espresso ever. The views of the surrounding hills and distant smaller villages are stunning, and I wish I could spend a couple of nights here, but my motorino beckons.
In Capri I meet Paolo, a local who runs a restaurant in the summer months. He whisks me through the designer boutique-lined streets to his favourite punto panoramico. I absolutely adore the views of the turquoise waters and rocky coves that this island has to offer. Paolo points out several houses, all owned by some of Italy’s richest and most famous. I could live here. This is paradise. Back at his very lemony restaurant, he treats me to a feast of the freshest fish imaginable, washed down with smooth limoncello sorbet and several tots of the real stuff. I have never tasted such wonderful flavours, blended to perfection.
Whether you are a “bella signorina” in search of love, or simply someone who loves lemons, spoil yourself. Go to the Amalfi Coast. You’ll love it.