An Ideal Ten Days in the Amalfi Coast and Islands
Amalfi coast with its breathtaking views and cliff-hanging pastel homes is known for its limoncello drinks, jaw dropping views and terraced gardens. While other Italian cities like Rome, Florence and Venice are known for their churches and museums, the Amalfi Coast is known for its ambience and natural landscape and is best done just enjoying it at your own pace. Located three hours south of Rome on a peninsula that jets out to the Tyrrhenian Sea. Expect to see tons of American honeymooners (I have three friends who honeymooned here) but it still does not detract from the natural beauty. Whilst I mentioned honeymooners, the Amalfi Coast of Italy offers adventures for any type of traveler with any company: whether it be a honeymoon, a girls trip, or a family vacation.
Where to stay: all of the towns in the Amalfi Coast are majestic but I prefer Positano for its size (Salerno being too large and some of the other towns are very small) and centrality on the Peninsula. In addition to having access to any day trips/ excursions.
Timing: The weather is most comfortable from April until October, and I personally prefer traveling on the “shoulder” seasons, meaning May/June or September/October, to alleviate the long lines, congestion and heat.
I would suggest reading One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, which is set in the Amalfi Coast or My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante which is set in Naples and has been adapted into a Netflix series by the same name.
Day 1 of 10: Rome
Fly into Rome.
Roma Caput Mundi is a Latin phrase meaning “Rome capital of the world” and it conjures up an image of the historical significance of Rome. The steeple-loaded skyline reminds visitors that Rome is the capital of the Catholic Church and the seat of the Papacy. The layers of over 4 millenia worth of history interwoven into a modern city attest to the vitality and vibrancy of a city still buzzing with life (and Vespas). Simply walking the streets of Rome, sometimes referred to as “the open air museum,” opens up the famous sights including artistic masterpieces from every century of European history. While exploring without a plan will provide a treasure chest worth of sights, I would recommend sticking to a more concrete itinerary if this is your first time in Rome, or lest you miss the major sights. Rome wasn’t built in a day and it cannot be described in one paragraph nor seen in one day so prepare your expectations if you want to see some of the mahoy sites that you may run into long lines (especially in the summer months).
Get settled into your hotel. Enjoy a pasta or pizza filled evening topped off with some delicious gelato! There are so many options for dining in Rome but a favorite is walking through Trastevere’s charming streets. The Italians eat late, so prepare to begin dinner around 9:00 pm, unless you want to be the only diners. I love getting gelato and slowly enjoying the ten minute walk between the Trevi fountain to the Spanish Steps!
Day 2 of 10:
Enjoy a slow morning in Rome before commuting down to the Amalfi Coast. Italians often have a light breakfast of bread and jam. I have lots of recommendations for transportation. My recommendation is to take a train from Rome to Salerno and then you can take a 1 hour 10 minute commuter ferry to Positano. You can either take a high speed direct train to Naples and switch to a local train (round trip ~2 hours 30 minutes.) Or take a non stop trenitalia to Salerno. Please double check where your train is departing from because there are two stations in Rome, Tiburtina and Termini.
Once in Salerno you can take a ferry to Positano. You get the views of a tour boat with the price of public transit. Positano is beautifully built on a mountainside, so wherever you go it is either up or down. Your hotel will either meet you at the dock or you will have to schlep your stuff up the cobblestone steps.
Get settled into your accommodation. Enjoy walking around the narrow streets, but don’t miss a sunset aperol spritz before dinner with a view of the turquoise sea!
Day 3 of 10: Enjoy a leisurely day in Positano!
Our hotel, Buca di Bacco, provided a delicious breakfast with a view. The most popular beach in Positano is Spiaggia Grande, with its bright colored umbrellas and beautiful vistas. We spent the morning at the pebbly beach and sunbathing at the hotel itself. The Tyrrhenian Sea was warm when we swam in it! (And it wasn’t from the numerous kids swimming in it…) We found it easy to enjoy a leisurely sun soaked lunch at one of the many restaurants that line the beach. Expect fresh fish from the sea!
Montepertuso (literally translated to English as “hole in the mountain”), is the quaint village above Positano. I recommend getting dinner there one night. The terraced restaurant, Il Ritrovo, provides panoramic views! Most of the restaurants offer free shuttles from Positano up to Montepertuso.
Day 4 of 10: Hike of the Gods (“Il Sentiero degli Dei”)
For those who want to get a little workout accompanied with amazing sights: I highly recommend the Hike of the Gods (“Il Sentiero degli Dei”) which you can do the entire hike or just part of it. If you are doing the entire hike (~4.7miles, takes between 2-4 hours) I recommend taking the bus or a taxi to Bomerano and then hiking DOWN to Positano. Reward yourself with sunbathing and delicious food!
Consider two of the alternative beaches to Spiaggia Grande: Laurito beach which is accessible by boat or Fornilla Beach which is accessible by a beautiful narrow road from Positano Harbor. Tiny and secluded Laurito beach is home to Ristorante Da Adolfo, which provides a boat shuttle to the restaurant every half hour. Looking for the iconic red fish on the mast, I highly recommend getting reservations ahead of time because the beach and restaurant can fill up. Fornilla beach, which is easily accessible by the road next to the harbor, is often less crowded than the main beach; it can still get crowded in summer months.
Enjoy another evening of dinner and an aperitivo.
Day 5 of 10: Take a cooking class
Enjoy sleeping in during the morning, and leisurely walking around Positano or heading to the beach.
We took a wonderful cooking class through Ristorante Buca di Bacco. It started at 3:30 and then finished with a group meal at 5:00PM. They taught us how to make pizza, gnocchi and a dessert. It was a great way to rub elbows with local chefs while having a good time. It also is a great lesson to bring home and host others at your house (I “hosted” a dinner party and put all my guests to work creating homemade gnocchi and pesto)!
For those who are interested, spend your evening in the town of Ravello. Ravello is home to the Moorish-style Villa Rufolo, which hosts the Ravella Music Festivals on its beautiful terraced gardens. Get tickets beforehand because it’s quite popular.
Day 7 of 10: Side trip to one of the islands of Naples Bay (Capri, Procida or Ischia)
There are three islands in the Gulf of Naples: Rustic Ischia (for my readers- this is where Lenu and Lila from book and netflix series My Brilliant Friend vacation), quaint Procida (Europe’s cultural Capital of 2022), or lavish Capri. For those who choose to do a day or overnight trip to one of the nearby Italian islands, there are direct ferries from Positano to Capri and Ischia. Procida requires a transfer to get to the island, making it less enticing for a day trip from the Amalfi Coast. This can easily be an overnight stay, enjoying leisure overnight in paradise.
Day 8 of 10: enjoy a day on a Naples Bay Island (Capri, Procida or Ischia)
Each island has its own unique identity and interests:
Shopping and Dining: The island of Capri is famous for upscale shopping and dining in the downtown of Capri and more natural beauty is the higher altitude village of Anacapri. A highlight was getting a private boat tour around the island, a great way to leisurely see the rugged landscape. This included quite a few stops to swim including in the famous Blue Grotto (“Grotta Azzurra”). While everything in Capri is absolutely stunning, walking around the town is like walking through Disney, waiting in line for everything (including ice cream, restaurants, etc).
Spa: Rustic Ischia is known for its thermal baths: Negombo Thermal Hot Springs (at Spiaggio San Montano) and Giardini Poseidon Terme are the two most popular! Castello Aragonese, the Thermal Baths, and Green Grotto (Grotta Verde) are all worth it to check out. But if you are looking for a relaxing overnight: I recommend the beach and a spa!
Culture: Small but mighty Procida is a 1.5 square mile island between Naples and Ischia. Known for its colorful Marina Grande, this tiny island was nominated Italy’s Capital of Culture 2022. The island boasts: lovely mediterranean beaches, fisherman villages, fortified medieval town, and Vivara Nature Preserve. An overnight stay in Procida is relaxing and manageable.
Day 9 of 10: Stop at Pompeii on your commute back
Commute back to Rome in the evening. For the history buffs, you can stop at Pompeii on your train from Sorrento to Rome. They have free luggage storage at the gate to the site. I love using Rick Steves free audio guide to accompany my visit! For me, it gives just enough information without staying for hours.
Enjoy another evening in Rome!
Day 10 of 10:
If you are interested in other 10 Day European itineraries check out my posts on Italy: Rome, Florence and Venice; Puglia, Italy; Andalusia, Spain; or Greece: Athens, Santorini, Mykonos.
If you are exploring the Southern region of Italy, check out my itineraries for the Locorotondo and Martina Franca.