Travel Amalfi Coast, Italy
KYLIE MITCHELL-SMITH enjoys la dolce vita on a shoestring
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.