Travel Amalfi Coast, Italy

KYLIE MITCHELL-SMITH en­joys la dolce vita on a shoe­string

Woman’s Day (Australia) - - Contents -

It’s been 25 long years since I last climbed the steep steps of the Amalfi Coast but I’m im­me­di­ately trans­ported back to the sparkling blues of the Mediter­ranean and the sweet smell of fresh lemons as we make that one-of-a-kind clifftop drive along the coast from Sorrento.

Our mission this time? To un­cover new hid­den gems on a se­ri­ously shoe­string bud­get, send­ing me into a spin when I re­call the Amalfi I adore.

We de­cide to pick the smaller towns ad­ja­cent to the hotspots of Posi­tano and Amalfi, mak­ing our va­ca­tion both af­ford­able and re­lax­ing at the same time. We opt to go in early Septem­ber, post the Euro­pean school hol­i­days. Bud­get-bust­ing ac­ti­vated!

Pra­iano is our first stop and we get the heads-up from some well-sea­soned Amal­fi­ans to stay up the hill from the pop­u­lar Ma­rine de Praia at the pic­turesque fam­ily-owned Ho­tel Margherita, opened circa 1964. Steeped in his­tory, the ho­tel boasts mil­lion­dol­lar views while the rates are only a tiny frac­tion of that!

Margherita’s daugh­ter Suela has re­cently taken the reins but you can still find a lively Margherita bak­ing de­li­cious break­fast cakes daily. She also hosts a weekly cook­ing class, where we learn to make dishes like fresh ri­cotta gnoc­chi, eg­g­plant parmi­giana and, of course, the lo­cal limon­cello.

Nav­i­gat­ing the coast via boat – the one thing we did splurge on! – we pass the pic­turesque, bustling town of Posi­tano. We drop an­chor and feast on the sweet­est toma­toes, home­made pesto, parmi­giano cheese and lo­cal an­chovies. There are fresh fruit and veg­etable pops-up and tabac­chi – a bot­tle shop, deli and milk bar wrapped into one – pretty much ev­ery­where on the coast.

Our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion is a qui­eter beach just north of the town of Amalfi. Said to be Italy’s small­est mu­nic­i­pal­ity, Atrani is lit­er­ally a re­tail square with a church and tiny laneways that lead to hol­i­day ren­tals. We stay in an af­ford­able two-bed­room char­ac­ter-filled apart­ment that’s just a few steps from the Mediter­ranean.

Atrani has a re­laxed vibe, and deck chairs com­plete with striped um­brel­las and bar ser­vice are half the price of neigh­bour­ing beaches – just 15 bucks gets you a full day of sea­side plea­sure.

As dusk falls, we peel our­selves off the sand and catch a lo­cal bus to one of the high­est points on the Amalfi Coast, Ravello. There we are treated to stun­ning panoramic views and a truly awe-in­spir­ing sun­set as we sip on an aper­i­tif ac­com­pa­nied by com­pli­men­tary snacks, an Ital­ian tra­di­tion.

The Amalfi Coast has the bluest of seas, in­cred­i­ble ar­chi­tec­ture and an abun­dance of lo­cal pro­duce. Pick your time and head off the trod­den paths, and you’ll have your­self an af­ford­able yet au­then­tic hol­i­day at ar­guably one of the most de­sir­able lo­ca­tions on the planet.

Ho­tel Margherita of­fers good value for your money. Spec­tac­u­lar coastal views at Ravello.

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