The Amalfi Coast -- a strip of craggy rocks and jaw-dropping cliffs extending down Italy between Sorrento and Salerno -- is, during late spring and early summer, an idyllic getaway and spiritual pilgrimage.
People often talk about the culinary and historic beauty of Naples. But between the gypsy pickpockets, overcrowded '70s-style airport and collection of dated luxury hotels that line the seafront, Naples may best be seen through a rear-view mirror.
Day 1 -- Sorrento
Insiders whisper that the best parts of Sorrento, a historic port city with lively main square, are kept outside the city.
Inner Sorrento looks as much like a city as you really want to see on the Italian Riviera. Just outside of town is where you'll want to check into La Minervetta, located on a perilous cliff overlooking the Bay of Naples and nearby Port of Sorrento, which is the gateway to Capri.
Chic loft-style rooms feature floor to ceiling windows and regional color palette with delicious in-house restaurant with blue-and-white tiling and stylish clientele.
Day 2 -- Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi
A trip to Don Alfonso 1890, located in nearby Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi, is essential.
This much-heralded restaurant is one of the best in Italy, located in a rural ocean community between Sorrento and Positano. Father and son chefs Alfonso and Ernesto Iaccarino have created a two-star Michelin sanctuary of fine dining located on a working farm with a newly unveiled five-room hotel.
The Iaccarino family operates the boutique hotel, paying attention to every last detail including morning homemade breakfast to afternoon strolls through local shops and markets.
Rooms are meticulously decorated without a hint of provincial taste, evoking Italian grandeur with a collection of baroque antiques, carved-wood furnishings and intricate color-tile bathrooms.
Day 3 and 4 -- Positano
Get an early start on the day in order to backtrack through local farmhouses to the highway leading to Positano. It's your first true stop along the Amalfi, accessed through harrowing roads carved out of ominous cliffs that drop to rock beaches dotting the seaside.
Positano delivers that iconic image of cuddled villas along the hillside interconnected by moss-covered roadways and pedestrian staircases carved from stone.
Navigating the city is tricky, but make your way carefully to Le Sirenuse, owned for generations by the Sersale family.
Positano -- Hit the Beach
Once you've unpacked, head to the beach. It's a busy stretch of rocks and pebble stones, dotted with the orange-and-white umbrellas of the local beach club and a small harbor of boats dropping off visitors and fresh catches to the local restaurants.
Walk toward the end of the beach for the best crowd of locals. Local women traipse about in bold bikinis, while the guys flaunt their bronzed torsos in swimsuits that would make most American men squirm.
Grab one of the metal canvas loungers, around €8 for all-day use, preferably in the second or third row from the beach to minimize the painful rocks encountered on the way to the water.
Positano -- Storm the Shops
The Emporio Sirenuse hotel shop, located across the street from the hotel, is operated by the owner's wife. It offers a stylish and chic collection of tableware, clothing and fragrances created exclusively for the Sirenuse.
One favorite is Eau d'Italie, available in the states through eluxury.com.