There's no better time to head to the Amalfi Coast, if for no other reason than that the entire region practically shuts down once the cold weather comes. Known for picturesque seaside towns along the Mediterranean and traditional cooking served in family-run restaurants, the Amalfi Coast is an ideal destination for easy summer vacations, and Ravello is the go-to hot spot for high-brow visitors.
With only a handful of luxury hotels and a meager population of 2,500, it doesn't feel cramped with bus loads of tourists. So grab a cork screw and follow this perfect itinerary this sublime coast.
Have a Slice at Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente in Naples
Unless you're being dropped off in Ravello by helicopter or arriving by yacht (naturally), you'll have to drive through or from Naples to get there. The bustling port town of Naples invented pizza, so grabbing a slice (or whole pie, as you do) is a must. Avoid tourist spots and head straight to Il Pizzaiolo Presidente (interestingly renamed after President Clinton's visit in 1994). Don't be fooled by the tacky storefront with photos of the owner and menu items. This place is the real deal, where the owner only uses fresh ingredients and keeps pizzas simple. After this glorious dining moment, you'll never want delivery again.
Don't Miss: Naples is full of treasures, so stay a night at Romeo Hotel, a modern boutique gem with rooftop pool, a breathtaking spa and vintage pieces in the lobby.
Stay at Palazzo Sasso
There's a reason why Palazzo Sasso (soon to become "Palazzo Avino" in 2013) is one of the most highly touted properties in the Amalfi Coast: the intimate, 43-room boutique inside a 12th century building is perched 1,000 feet high on a cliff, with breathless views from virtually any vantage point. Prepare to be awed. Home to the two-Michelin starred Rossellinis, an outdoor pool terrace, rooftop whirlpools, and stellar staff to boot (with two-to-one staff/guest ratio), Palazzo Sasso is effortless luxury.
Don't Miss: Palazzo Sasso is the only hotel in Ravello with a beach club right on the sea. It's a tri-level platform built into the rocks with a restaurant, pool, and a sundeck on the brim of the Mediterranean sea, should you want to go for a dip.
Explore Regional Wines at Ravello Gusti & Delizie
Obviously, a trip to Italy isn't complete without wine, and Ravello Gusti & Delizie will ensure you don't leave without a bottle or two. On a quiet street off the main square, this charming enoteca carries a terrific, hand-picked selection of the region's best vino, including varietals from nearby Tramonti and San Francesco, many of which you can't find in the states. Don't feel like checking luggage? Gusti & Delizie ships all over the world.
Don't Miss: In addition to wine, you can't leave Italy (particularly this part of Italy) without a good serving of limoncello. Luckily, Gusti & Delizie offers tastings daily.
Shop at Hotel Caruso's Boutique
Ravello is chockfull of ceramic shops, art studios, and wine stores but the options for fashion are quite lackluster. Head to Hotel Caruso's boutique, which carries upscale clothing, accessories, and jewelry for men and women, all of which are hand-picked and many exclusively designed for the hotel. Caruso also has their own fashion line in which the latest collection features prints from their frescos on silk dresses.
Don't Miss: Not many travelers know that the boutique is perhaps the most important part of the hotel: the shop's frescos date back to the 11th century. Look up for a quick hit of art history.
The Million Dollar View at Villa Cimbrone
Going off-the-beaten path can be incredibly rewarding, and the fifteen minute walk to Villa Cimbrone is well worth it. From the main square, there's a path that leads you through traditional English gardens and lush foliage to this infinito terrace that stands 1,500 feet above sea level and captures the area's landscape in one sweep. It's the only place in Ravello where you have views of both the Amalfi and Minori coasts.
Don't Miss: If you have time, check out the actual villa (now a hotel). It's been visited by everyone from Greta Garbo and Virginia Woolfe to Gore Vidal and Winston Churchill.
Dine at Cumpa' Cosimo
There are not a lot of options for dining in Ravello outside the hotels, and the perfect itinerary wouldn't be right without mentioning Cumpa' Cosimo. This traditional, no-frills family-run restaurant serves up delicious and classic fare, and owner Netta makes friendly rounds during dinner. The atmosphere is laid-back and comfortable and, considering it's one of five stand-alone restaurants, you can expect a diversity of diners, from locals and ex-pats to celebrities and international visitors. It gets packed, so make sure you call in for a reservation (guests staying at Palazzo Sasso have priority).
Don't Miss: If you can't decide on a specific dish, Cumpa' Cosimo is one of few restaurants that offer a "sampler" of five homemade pastas.
Thinking of a trip to Italy?
For up-to-the-minute hotel and restaurant recommendations, as well as the best planning advice, check out our Italy Travel Guide.
Jimmy Im is a freelance travel writer based in NYC. He's hosted programs on the Travel Channel and LOGO, and makes regular appearances on morning news shows as a "travel expert." He teaches travel writing courses and is also cofounder of OutEscapes.com.
Photo Credits: Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente: Courtesy of Il Pizzaiolo del Presidente; Palazzo Sasso; Courtesy of Palazzo Avino; Ravello Gusti & Delizie: Wine bottles via Shutterstock.com; Hotel Caruso's Boutique: Courtesy of Hotel Caruso; Villa Cimbrone: Courtesy of Villa Cimbrone; Cumpa' Cosimo: Ravioli via Shutterstock.com