Travel Guide: Italy’s Amalfi Coast – Positano, Capri, and a little bit of Rome
We took our honeymoon to Italy exactly 6 months into marriage…and it was WONDERFUL! Due to our schedules post-wedding, we chose to delay our trip until the fall and we are so happy that we did! We were able to fully enjoy everything that Italy had to offer plus celebrate 6 months of marriage! I would recommend traveling to the Amalfi Coast at ANY time, but I absolutely loved being there in October. Because tourist season is coming to a close at this time, the benefits include smaller crowds-which means lower hotel room rates, more ease in booking the most desired restaurant reservations, and more space to spread out and enjoy the beaches! Don’t be expecting summer temperatures in October but it’s definitely warm enough to sit by the pool, wear resort wear , and even take a dip in the sea (a bit chilly, but a must)!
Travel agent, Alexa Scott with Smart Flyer, was recommended to us by several of our golf friends and we are so glad we enlisted her help! We contacted Alexa in the middle of July once Smylie and I found a window of time when we would be able to travel and she responded to us promptly with potential itineraries and hotel options. I am very happy that we took the advice of friends and used Alexa! We absolutely loved the hotels she recommended to us-the perks we received with the hotels she helped us choose were amazing including things such as room upgrades, champagne upon arrival, late check-out, and complimentary breakfast just to name a few!
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
After doing A LOT of research on transportation, I have a few tips we learned along the way. These tips can help alleviate some headaches and make your trip run so smoothly!
We flew into Rome (FCO) then made our way to the train station within the Rome airport (Rome Ficumncini). Through Italia Rail, we purchased train tickets ahead of time from Rome airport to Rome Termini to Napoli Centrale. In hindsight, we discovered that we should have just waited to buy our tickets once we landed in Rome so we didn’t have to waste time waiting on the train we had booked in advance. Trains from the airport are constantly running to Rome Termini and you can just purchase a ticket for the train leaving the soonest after you have landed and collected your bags. We purchased business class tickets for Rome Termini to Napoli Centrale to have a little more personal room plus room for our luggage and I highly recommend doing that. The train is an efficient and affordable way to travel in Italy and worked well for us!
We hired a private driver from Naples to Positano (about an hour and a half drive of beautiful views). We used Guemar Travel after hearing great reviews from a friend that had recently visited. I would definitely recommend hiring this company: efficient communication, English speaking driver, and most importantly, the driver was waiting on us at the train platform when we arrived!
Alexa, our travel agent, recommended staying at Casa Angelina and we could not have been happier with this recommendation! It is located in Praiano, which is just a short 10 minute drive from Positano. At first I was a little hesitant about choosing not to stay in the heart of Positano, but Alexa assured me that we wouldn’t regret it. *Cue the Instagram stalking!* I was immediately sold and our stay was absolutely WONDERFUL! From the service, to the pool deck with a canopy of lemon trees hanging over the lounge chairs, to the ocean views, crisp white interiors, and the BREAKFAST, just to name a few-I would recommend Casa Angelina to anyone. We were delighted with the choice! We went into Positano every day thanks to the complimentary hotel shuttle. We also had the option to lounge at One Fire Beach Club which is a hot spot just steps down from the hotel! We loved the small, secluded feel! It was a great escape after exploring the streets of Positano! You have to remember that because Positano is such a lovely, picturesque village, it is extremely popular and attracts TONS of tourists; therefore, we loved staying in quaint Praiano while being so convenient to Positano!
We started each morning with the most amazing breakfast buffet overflowing with every variety of fresh fruit imaginable, pastries, cured meats, and cheeses. We were also able to order specialties like omelets or pancakes off the menu. The icing on the cake was the ocean view of the Amalfi Coast from our table on the patio. There is no doubt that Italy KNOWS how to do breakfast!
Dining in Positano
Drinks at the Ocean Bar – After strolling the streets of Positano, we stumbled upon a bar on the main beach and took a seat for an Aperol spritz and a Moscow mule! This was the perfect place to relax and take in the beauty of Positano!
Lunch at Chez Black – We grabbed lunch at the very popular Chez Black, just steps off the main beach! Is it touristy? Yes. Is it the perfect spot to grab lunch, people watch, and take in Positano culture? YES! We ordered a Margherita pizza (which was heart shaped!!) and spaghetti with mussels! A delicious way to kick off our carb load extravaganza!
Le Sirenuse hotel just before the Champagne Bar opened in order to secure a table! If you are going just for drinks you do not need a reservation and the tables are first come first served. The views from the terrace are STUNNING and we had the most delicious drinks along with olives, Marcona almonds, and salt & pepper chips. I had a pink mezcal mule and it was one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had! Such a fun vibe with a DJ playing in the background and the perfect place to watch the Positano sunset. We had dinner reservations at another restaurant that night; however, we had to stick around to check out their incredible seafood display-and yes it was amazing! We also wanted to visit Franco’s, an outdoor bar with stunning views that is also owned by Le Sirenuse, but unfortunately it had closed for the season a few days before we arrived! We peeked through the gates and I would recommend it from the views alone-STUNNING! Tip: I would arrive at both bars a few minutes before opening to make sure you get a table!
Dinner at Ristorante Max – This restaurant was a recommendation made by friends that had just visited a few weeks before us! We made a reservation before we left the US and we were fortunate to be seated for dining in their garden! The restaurant is an art gallery, wine cellar, and garden all in one! I enjoyed a sample of four of their most popular pasta dishes and Smylie cleaned his plate of their divine lasagna! Every dish that passed by us looked wonderful.
Lunch at Casa e Bottega – This was one place on my list had big stars by it! When I walked in and saw all of the fresh produce on the counter, I immediately knew I was going to love everything about this special place! I had the most amazing (and beautiful) salad with mixed greens, fresh herbs, prosciutto, melon, figs, and grapes! This is the perfect place to grab a juice, smoothie, or choose from a variety of fresh sandwiches or salads! I LOVE pasta and pizza, but I was ready for some GREENS at this point in the trip! Smylie had a delicious sandwich and a smoothie which he loved, so Casa e Bottega is male-approved too! Their breakfast menu looked right up my alley, but I couldn’t imagine skipping a morning meal at Casa Angelina!
Dinner at Lo Guarrancino — This restaurant was on my list and then it was confirmed when a friend said it was her favorite meal of her recent Italy trip! I recommend going for lunch or just before sunset because Lo Guarrancino looks out over Fornillo Beach, a smaller beach in Positano, and the views are spectacular. I ordered lemon fusilli and a plate of mixed grilled vegetables and Smylie ate pasta with lobster! So yummy!
Path of the Gods
Just off the pool deck at Casa Angelina is a gate that leads straight to Praiano’s quaint town center. This is where we began our Path of the Gods hike….1,400 stairs up.
The Path of the Gods hike runs from Praiano to Nocelle (right by Positano) with GORGEOUS views of the Almalfi Coast. If you’re going to do it, be prepared!
Everyone told us the hike would take at least 3 hours and they weren’t kidding! It definitely takes 3-4 hours if you choose to do the whole thing. Bring water, LOTS OF IT and wear comfortable shoes! There is a convent along the hike where you can buy drinks or even sit at a cafe table and eat. We are so glad we purchased more water here. We brought our own snacks for fuel along the way (also strongly encourage). It’s safe to say that I was more enthusiastic about the hike than Smylie was, but he agreed to it and was up for the challenge! About halfway in, we were both second guessing our decision to go for it-Smylie was wondering what in the world I had gotten him into?! I kept reminding him how AMAZING the views were, but in my head I was thinking “Ok, I love this, but I’m going to need it to end soon if I want to be able to talk him into a hike ever again!” What goes up, must come down: Just when you think the hike is over, when you see a lemonade stand and flat surface, there are STILL about 700 stairs left to climb down to the end of the path! As soon as it was over, we, or should I say “I” was so glad we did it but you better believe we couldn’t get poolside fast enough to kick up our feet!!
Our next stop of our Italian honeymoon was Capri and I began to stress a little bit about how we were going to get our luggage down to the ferry after seeing several people struggling down the cobblestone streets with their luggage. That stress didn’t last but a brief minute because the staff at Casa Angelina stepped in and helped us handle EVERYTHING! They helped us pre-book our ferry tickets and hired a porter (Positano Porter) to not only take our luggage down to the port, but also store it so that we could enjoy one last lunch in Positano! 30 minutes before our ferry to Capri was scheduled to depart, we simply walked up to the ticket window to pay for our tickets plus a small additional fee to have luggage on board (It’s around 1,50 euro per bag!) and the porter promptly met us with our luggage right by the ferry. We paid the porter 10 euro per bag and it was worth EVERY penny!
I emailed our hotel in Capri the day before we were scheduled to arrive to ask if they offer a transfer service from the port. It never hurts to ask! They arranged for the hotel shuttle to pick us up from the port as soon as we arrived. A representative from the hotel kindly met us as we stepped off the ferry to assist us with our luggage. Taxis are plentiful as well if your hotel does not offer a transfer service. Most of the taxis are convertibles, which is a fun (and thrilling) experience! The roads are so narrow that I felt myself holding my breath a few times as we clung to curves and rounded corners.
The beyond beautiful island of Capri is an extremely popular day trip spot because it is so easy to get to by ferry or boat from Positano or Naples! We talked to several people before booking our trip that said they wished they had more time on Capri than just one day so we booked two nights in Capri. We thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience Capri during the day AND at night, when it is much less crowded! The island is made up of two towns, each with their own personalities: Capri and Anacapri. Capri is busier with an area which could be described as the Rodeo Drive of the island with designer shops lined up in a row. Anacapri is more rural and residential. Both are equally beautiful with so much to offer to visitors. It takes only 15 minutes to get from one town center to the other so it is super easy to enjoy both areas!
It was love at first sight at Capri Palace. In October, the most beautiful fall foliage covers the hotel and the lobby is so tastefully decorated! Capri Palace is located just steps away from the town center of Anacapri. Like Casa Angelina, Capri Palace has an outstanding breakfast which is served in L’Olivo, one of the property’s two Michelin star restaurants.
Our accommodations were lovely and we had a beautiful view of the Anacapri sunset from our balcony. Smylie’s favorite thing about our room was the ability to connect to surround-sound speakers via bluetooth!
Dining in Capri
Dinner at Pizzeria Aumm Aumm – This relaxed and extremely affordable authentic pizzeria was only a short walk from our hotel.
Our original plan was to dine at Da Paolino, a restaurant under a canopy of lemon trees, which so many of you have spoken so highly of! We emailed them about a reservation two weeks before our trip but unfortunately the restaurant was closing for the season just two days before we arrived in Capri!
Lunch at Il Riccio – This one-star Michelin restaurant is part of the Capri Palace Hotel where we stayed, but it is located off property, right on the water! I had a seafood FEAST with vegetable caponata and basil cream and Smylie enjoyed a pasta with lobster, clams, and mussels. If you’re looking for a chic seafood lunch with a view, this place is a treat! Don’t miss seeing (or indulging in) the “temptation room”, an entire room filled with decadent desserts! With a reservation (definitely make one if you plan to dine here), you can spend time before or after your meal at the beautiful lounge/beach club. We had such a special experience at Il Riccio!
Dinner at Da Gelsomina– This may have been my favorite meal of the entire trip! The restaurant is located within a family-run bed and breakfast and most ingredients used in their dishes come from their vegetable garden. They also make their own wine from their orchard, free of preservatives and sulfates, and it is DELICIOUS! (It’s not on the menu, so be sure to ask for it!) Ordering a caprese salad in Capri is a must, and I have to say the one served at Da Gelsomina is the best I have ever had – the buffalo mozzarella was unbelievable! Also on the menu was Ravioli Caprese,a traditional dish of the island, and we devoured every bite! The restaurant offers a complimentary shuttle from the center of Anacapri, so be sure to set that up once you have made a reservation!
Sandwiches from Cucurullo Aldo – Before boarding the ferry to leave Capri, we grabbed the most delicious sandwiches from the counter in the back of a market steps from Marina Grande! There is no menu so the options are endless, allowing each customer to create their own masterpiece. I went with a classic caprese sandwich with salami. I watched them cut tomatoes, drizzle them with olive oil, and cut fresh basil to put on my sandwich. They also cut the meat to order. This is the perfect place to grab lunch and a bottle of wine to take on a boat trip!
Pro tip: grab a number when you first arrive to avoid being skipped in line by locals (speaking from experience here)!
One of the best ways to see Capri is from the water! For our boat excursion around the island, we hired Gianni’s Boats based on TripAdvisor reviews and we were not disappointed. Their staff responded to my email promptly and our skipper, Antonio, was wonderful! We chose the three hour boat tour and Antonio was super knowledgable and showed us around the gorgeous island! We stopped in a few special spots to swim in the sea and my very favorite part of the day was swimming into a cave to see the most AMAZING blue water, the same color blue that you see in the famous Blue Grotto (which was closed that day due to rough seas). Speaking of rough seas…I became extremely sea sick during our excursion and it wasn’t pretty, but from past experiences I knew it was probably inevitable for me, even with Dramamine. My advice is to pack a sea band if you get the slightest bit motion sick! To make the story even better, the staff of a restaurant (that we later dined at) had a lovely view of this incident! Antonio was just awesome the whole day and knew all the most gorgeous and unique spots on the island. He was able to improvise and personalize our experience to make it unforgettable!
The Chair Lift to Mount Solaro
Mount Solaro offers the most beautiful panoramic view of the island of Capri. The easiest way to reach it is by chairlift and the chair lift was just steps from our hotel so we had to do it! About a 15 minute ride will take you to the summit of Mount Solaro, which is the highest point of the island. The views are STUNNING so put this on your itinerary! You can also hike to the top, but there was no WAY I was convincing Smylie to hike again on this trip!
Things we enjoyed doing in both Positano/Praiano and Capri:
Soak up the sun on the beach, by the pool or on a boat! – Remember we traveled close to the beginning of “off season” (mainly because that’s when we could fit this trip into our schedule!) so beach club hotspots like La Fontelina in Capri had just closed for the season right before we arrived. It is definitely on my list for next time! One thing to note is that you must rent lounge chairs at these beach clubs, which are extremely popular during peak season so always book them ahead of time! One of the many reasons we loved Casa Angelina was that a private section of lounge chairs for hotel guests at One Fire Beach is included with a room reservation! We also really enjoyed lounging at the pools at both Casa Angelina and Capri Palace.
Eat Gelato! – It wouldn’t be a proper post about Italy without mentioning this extremely popular Italian dessert. Smylie LOVES ice cream, so gelato was a must for him most days. We enjoyed Collina Bakery in Positano and Il Gelato di San Crispino in Rome.
Browse the Shops! – Because many of the shops can be pretty touristy, it’s important to get away from the crowds and try to visit the shops off the beaten path that have more authentic beautiful Italian pottery, linens and artwork. In the town center of Capri, there are many designer shops, of course!My favorite souvenir from our trip would be my handmade leather sandals from Capri! There are several shoe shops around the island where the sandals can be purchased, and I found mine at a store called Da Costanzo. They will always remind me of our honeymoon! Smylie’s favorite trip finds were all things lemon! The taste and scent of lemons are synonymous with this region so this was a great way to bring home things that will remind us of our trip! We came home with lemon hand soap, kitchen counter spray, limoncello, and even lemon candy! Smylie doesn’t even eat candy and he LOVED the lemon candies there! He totally bought in to the lure of the lemons, but I have to say, I do love having the yummy smelling hand soap in our guest bath!
We took a ferry from Capri to Naples and had our hotel pre-book the tickets for us. We then took a cab from the Naples port to Napoli Centrale, the train station. We bought tickets for the next train to Rome Termini (they run frequently!). We then took a cab to our hotel in Rome.
When choosing a hotel for our stay in Rome, we knew we wanted to use some of our Marriott points that we have acquired from all of our golf travel. Location was important to us since we only had one full day in the city and Smylie had never been to Rome!
The Pantheon Iconic Rome Hotel was exactly what we were looking for! It had opened just 5 months before our stay. The interior is chic and modern with gold and black accents. Our room was spacious and they even provide you with a complimentary cell phone during your stay with unlimited international minutes that they encourage you to use to make dining reservations or use for navigation. The hotel has a rooftop terrace with the most beautiful bar! We visited the rooftop terrace for cocktails and enjoyed the wonderful view of many Roman churches.
We had one full day in Rome and our hotel was a 2 minute walk from the Pantheon so that’s where we started! We then strolled through Piazza Navona, toured the Colosseum and like good tourists, we each threw a coin into the Trevi fountain!
Since Rome was our final stop on our trip, we decided to play it by ear with our dining and just make plans as the day developed.
The night we arrived we wanted to watch college football (remember it was October and we are both graduates of SEC schools-War Eagle and Geaux Tigers) so Smylie did some research and we landed at Scholar’s Lounge, an Irish Pub/Sports Bar. It appeared to be the hot spot for Americans/American students studying abroad! It was perfect for what we were looking for that night!
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner at Ginger – I cannot recommend this restaurant full of healthy goodness enough! There are 2 locations in Rome and lucky for us, one of was located right around the corner from our hotel! I enjoyed a papaya bowl for breakfast while Smylie caught up on sleep after watching the LSU game until 5 am that morning! We ended up right back at Ginger for lunch once he was ready to start his day! I enjoyed a large, colorful, fresh salad and Smylie had a yummy sandwich and a delicious smoothie! So many fresh and healthy options on the menu-a favorite spot for both of us!
On our last night, we were going to eat at Emma Pizzeria until a huge HAIL storm (yes, you read that right) came out of nowhere! It was our last night of the trip and we wanted one last yummy Italian dinner. We waited out the storm then asked our concierge where we should go near the hotel to get great Cacio e Pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper that is extremely popular in Italy). She didn’t even blink before recommending “Alfredo” aka Alfredo all Scrofa so we knew it MUST be good! As their name suggests, they are known for their Fettuccine Alfredo which is prepared tableside. I ordered Cacio e Pepe and Smylie had the famous fettuccine. Mine was good but Smylie’s was INCREDIBLE! I was definitely out-ordered that night. We ordered meatballs to add some protein and we both loved this meal! Such a great recommendation by our hotel staff.
As our honeymoon in Italy came to an end we couldn’t help but be extremely grateful for our time in this gorgeous country. We are huge fans of the Amalfi Coast and we made wonderful memories that will remind us of our special time in Italy for the rest of our lives! We highly recommend adding this destination to your bucket list of places to travel!
A Few Tips:
Tipping in Italy is not the same as tipping in the States. If service is exceptional, 10-15% is a sufficient tip over there! We tipped our driver, our boat captain, our hotel staff, and our servers at certain restaurants.
Bring an adapter! Our hotels all had USB ports to charge our phones, but bring an adaptor for all other electrical needs!
Bring your most comfortable walking shoes, even for dinner! Positano is truly a vertical city so you will you be walking uphill and downhill quite a bit! Also, hopping on and off trains and ferries throughout Italy can be quite tricky if you’re not wearing the right shoes!
Ask locals where to eat! I do this in any city I travel! Yes, I research A LOT before reaching a destination, but a local’s recommendation sometimes ends up being the most authentic and memorable meal of the trip!
Make sure you bring home olive oil! The quality and taste of the Italian olive oils are unbelievable compared to what I typically buy at home and I am so thankful I thought to buy some!
Try EVERYTHING! The food, the wine, the boat rides, the swim in the sea, everything!
I hope you check Italy’s Amalfi Coast off of your bucket list soon, if you haven’t already!