Cantine Marisa Cuomo Winery
A 20-minute drive up the hill from Amalfi, this boutique winery in Furore produces the Amalfi Coast’s best-known vino on steeply stacked terraced slopes overlooking the shimmering waters below. Indigenous grape varieties including Fenile, Ginestra and Ripoli produce fragrant blends such as the white, barrel-fermented Fiorduva. Book a guided tour of the beautiful vineyards and cellar built into the limestone rock, followed by a tasting. Then, lunch at the nearby at Hosteria di Bacco, which serves delicious, simple fare on a sun-baked terrace with a stunning view over the Amalfi Coast.
Cocktails with a View in Positano
Suspended on a small terrace above the bay, the Champagne & Oyster Bar at the Sirenuse hotel draws a chic crowd, some of whom emerge from the privacy of their yachts for an aperitif here. Larger and more dramatic is the terrace at Il San Pietro, which has beautiful majolica-tile benches, lush gardens and stupendous views.
Duomo di Ravello
This Romanesque cathedral, built in the 11th century, is the heart of Ravello. Its treasures are found in the soaring white marble interior, including the Chapel of St. Pantaleone, which holds an ampulla containing the saint’s solidified blood (believed to miraculously liquefy each year). Unless you’re well versed in medieval and Roman history, skip the tiny museum (the artifacts here are not labeled).
Duomo di Sant’Andrea
Amalfi’s imposing duomo, with its marvelous painted façade and broad staircase leading up to it, looks like it came out of the operatic imagination of Franco Zeffirelli. The cathedral has traces of a hodgepodge of styles, including Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic, Baroque and Arabic. Inside you can tour the Paradise Cloister, the Basilica of the Crucifix and the Crypt of St. Andrew. No need to lug a guidebook to understand what you’re looking at; just pick up the excellent, informative brochure at the door.
The Amalfi Coast is renowned for having some of the most spectacular hiking trails in southern Italy. For active travelers, Amalfi and Ravello make great base points for hiking excursions. Most paths were carved out long ago for moving between the villages on the coast before the current road system existed. Some residents still use the paths to arrive at their homes that are not located near any road. You are likely to run into a mule or two still being used to move goods and heavier items.
One of the most memorable hikes is the Path of the Gods, which has breathtaking views. It starts above Amalfi and can end by descending right in front of Le Sirenuse. You need a vehicle to take you to the starting point, but can easily do the rest on foot. Fit hikers can enjoy the leisurely hike in less than two hours, but it usually takes around two and a half. Some bits of the path are rocky, but the rest is relatively easy, although the ups and downs can be hard on the knees. It is most enjoyable to start around 10am, so that you can finish before the sun is at its strongest and arrive in Positano for a rewarding lunch. The views are out-of-this-world, and seeing the crystalline waters from above will have you excited for a cooling dip. There are quite a few stretches of path with alarming drop-offs, but at no point will you feel unsafe.
Grotta Smeralda (Emerald Grotto)
If you can’t make it to Capri’s fabled Grotta Azzurra (or prefer not to sacrifice an afternoon to the lengthy entrance procedure), consider visiting its green-tinted counterpart in Conca dei Marini, between Positano and Amalfi. An elevator leads into the grotto, itself an interesting destination for Gaudí-like stalactite formations. Small boats take visitors for a short glide across the luminous water. It’s touristy—expect singing gondolieri and silly stories of archaeological “treasures” found beneath the shallow surface—but unlike the Blue Grotto, this one can be visited quickly, en route to Amalfi or Ravello.
Mamma Agata Cooking School
Mamma Agata has cooked for everyone from Humphrey Bogart to Marcello Mastroianni, and she and her son-in-law, Gennaro, give cooking classes at her Ravello restaurant. It’s southern Italian to the core: you begin with an introduction over lemon cake and espresso and then learn how to cook a multicourse meal featuring regional specialties. The grand finale is a leisurely lunch on the terrace.
Museo della Carta (Paper Mill Museum)
The paper mill that houses Amalfi’s Museo della Carta, a fifteen-minute walk from the duomo, dates from the 14th century, a time when the coast was sprinkled with mills and paper production flourished. What makes Amalfi paper unique is that it’s made from cotton, not wood pulp, as explained on the short tour that takes visitors through the production plant, still powered by a river.
Music on the Rocks
Located just off the pebbly beach in Positano, Music on the Rocks is one of the town's best nightclubs. This glamorous Italian disco is built into the cliffside and is illuminated by a spiraling trail of candles, so revelers can enjoy an ever-glowing dance party in a unique Amalfi setting.
Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium
The late Brazilian architect’s much contested (read: ultramodern) concert hall, near the Palazzo Avino and Hotel Caruso, is a 400-plus-seat auditorium that hosts concert series. The sleek structure, which has sweeping views across the sea, also draws architecture buffs.
Quattro Passi Cooking School
An Amalfi staple since the 1990’s, the Michelin-starred Quattro Passi now operates a cooking school where students can learn to whip-up classic Campanian dishes (think simple pastas and fresh seafood) and beloved dishes from chef Antonio Mellino’s cookbook The Mermaid’s Cuisine. Even beginner chefs can partake in the classes, which range from a two-hour tutorial and lunch to a one- or two-night program including a market tour, wine tasting and chef’s table dinner. The cooking school is open March through October.
Also known as the Wagner Festival (the German composer was inspired to write parts of his Parsifal during an 1880s sojourn to Ravello), the four-month festival features an impressive lineup of cultural events, including readings, dance and opera performances, as well as the anticipated concerts in the magical setting of the Villa Rufolo. A beloved tradition is the annual Concerto all’Alba; its name translates to “dawn concert,” and the concert starts at 4:30 A.M. to coincide with sunrise. The Nuova Orchestra Scarlatti performs on a precarious-looking stage that juts out over the Bay of Salerno so that the musicians seem to float above the water.
Fans of Richard Wagner know that the gardens surrounding the Villa Rufolo, the site of the Ravello Festival, inspired the German composer when he wrote Parsifal. (Wagner visited in 1880, and in his imagination, the Rufolo setting morphed into the enchanted gardens of the magician Klingsor, where much of Act II takes place.) The sprawling property features a myriad of architectural styles, including an Arab-Sicilian cloister and a Norman tower, but it’s most famous for the lush gardens, beautiful sea views and the 14th-century Torre Maggiore, known as Klingsor’s Tower, where some of the festival’s recitals are held.
TIP: If you don’t time your visit to coincide with the Ravello Festival, be sure to check the schedule of the Ravello Concert Society (www.ravelloarts.org) for chamber music performances held throughout the year.