So many of us are in search of it, whether it be taking a moment to enjoy an al fresco coffee on a sunny day, sitting down to a candlelight dinner for two, or escaping on an extravagant holiday with no luxury spared. And there is perhaps no greater time to pursue La Dolce Vita than in the summer, when long days and balmy temperatures seem to make the search of happiness so much easier to fulfill. But the summer is not the only ingredient you need.
Location is everything, and of all the places I have travelled to in search of the good life, Italy’s Amalfi Coast fits the bill like none other.
The Amalfi Coast
Famed for its stunning mountainous geography, breathtaking villages clustered onto the hills and above cliffs, and spectacular cerulean blue seas, the Amalfi Coast has long been attracting esteemed visitors including writers, artists, politicians and film stars, and their patronage has resulted in a series of charming small towns which offer tourists the very highest quality visiting experience, offering top-class hotels and restaurants (all invariably boasting picture-perfect views), designer boutiques selling the best in European couture, and beaches which, while pebbly, offer beach-goers the most incredible views and warm seas imaginable.
On my recent trip to the Amalfi Coast, I stayed in Positano – one of the most famous of the coast’s destinations: a small cluster of houses nestled on the mountain side and in a deep valley opening up to the sea. The town, with its grouping of pastel-coloured houses clinging en masse to the dark green hills, is stunning to behold, and benefits from a long and wide stretch of beach by Amalfi standards. Deep in the valley, in the centre of town, a tiled roofed Duomo is the beating heart of a town around which little white-washed streets are full of boutique shops, contemporary art galleries, and covered with lavish bouquets of fluorescent pink bougainvillea. Nearly all of the town’s restaurants benefit from stunning views out to the Mediterranean sea on which luxury yachts and fishing boats move gently to the rhythm of the waves, and you would be hard pushed to find a bad meal in any of them.
Positano is small – the very best of the quaint little gems for which the coast is renowned – but it is also well linked. A mere 45 minute boat journey will get you to the beautiful city of Amalfi in one direction, from where the lush garden-filled hilltop paradise of Ravello is only a short 5km trip inland, while in the other direction, you will reach the stunning rocky island of Capri, famed home of the rich and famous, a utopia so complete that it is as though Capri was designed specifically to provide definition to the phrase “La Dolce Vita”.
Filled with perfectly preened people, glittering cafes and hotels, stunning coastal views over the most wonderful limestone scenery you will ever see, and filled with the very best of the Paris and Milan catwalks, Capri is truly a place that heaven sent. So if you are looking to find La Dolce Vita, you can’t go far wrong with a trip to the Amalfi Coast. It’s sufficiently far enough from Naples airport to feel like you have just discovered a hidden gem, but sufficiently civilised to offer the very best of luxury travel. What more could you ask for?
by Nicholas de Lacy-Brown
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