A honeymoon on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is painted with the colors of your dreams—pastel villages clinging to seaside cliffs and terraced green hills dotted with lemon trees marching toward the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean. This mountainous peninsula pointing toward the magical island of Capri delivers drama at every turn as you wind your way from town to town along the narrow Strada Statale 163, each boasting its unique cultural and culinary charms and exuding classic Italian “sympatica” to welcomed guests.
Rent a Fiat or Ferrari (or hire a driver) and begin your romantic journey westward along the Sorrentine Peninsula in Salerno, the capital of Campania. Your first destination is Vietri sul Mare, which welcomes visitors to the Amalfi Coast with its landmark Church of St. John the Baptist, its dome covered with colorful majolica tiles.
The mountain village of Ravello is famous for its elegant villas and ancient churches; exchange kisses at the lofty, 12th-century Villa Rufolo or the heart-stopping Terrace of Infinity at the Villa Cimbrone, now an intimate, 18-room hotel. With its lavish gardens and drop-dead views, the Hotel Caruso and the neighboring Palazzo Avino also welcome honeymooners with five-star style and Michelin-rated dining. The Hotel Caruso is a destination-wedding favorite: exchange vows at the Duomo of Ravello and the whole town will join in your celebration as your procession moves from the church to the hotel for the reception. “Italians love weddings—they will all stop and wait for the bride to come out, and you’ll hear about it for hours after in the cafés,” says Brenda Babcock of Italia Celebrations, a wedding planner based in Rome.
The most ancient community on the Amalfi Coast is Scala, a small town high in the hills that has a large Romanesque cathedral, the Duomo of San Lorenzo. Sip some limoncello and drink in the views from the piazza at the nearby hamlet of Minuta before moving on to Amalfi. Once the capital of the Duchy of Amalfi, the town is built around the Piazza Duomo and the cathedral of St. Andrew, dating back to the 12th century. Located on the water’s edge is the Hotel Santa Caterina, which boasts honeymoon suites with infinity-edge pools and an exclusive pool club where the cliffs meet the sea.
If you crave the sand and surf, continue down the coast to Praiano, a coastal village whose very name means “beach,” where you can also rent a small boat to explore the local coves and the famous Emerald Grotto. Be sure to make a stop along the way to see the Fjord of Furore, a narrow, hidden gorge where director Roberto Rossellini filmed his classic, Amore.
Relive the silver screen romance that bloomed in Under the Tuscan Sun in Positano, a fishing village famed for its Church of Santa Maria Assunta, home to a 13th-century black Madonna said to have been stolen from Byzantium and abandoned by superstitious pirates during a storm.
The hillsides above the town are crossed with ancient mule tracks such as the Path of the Gods, which rewards hardy hikers with unsullied views of the Gulf of Salerno. The terraced hotel Le Sirenuse, in the heart of town, is a former noble residence that retains the feel of a private home; guests can cruise the azure waters of the Amalfi Coast aboard the hotel’s private motor yacht, dine at the Michelin-rated La Sponda restaurant, and relax in the modern, Gae Aulenti designed health spa.
Sorrento marks the traditional end of a drive along the Amalfi Coast, where you can explore the Piazza Tasso and the Marina Grande before settling into your lavish suite at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria. From this bustling port city you can day-trip to nearby Naples, see the legendary Blue Grotto on storybook Capri, walk the doomed streets of Pompeii, or journey to the volcanic island of Ischia, home to the ancient Castello Aragonese and the far more modern (and welcoming) San Montano Resort & Spa and Mezzatorre Resort and Spa.
> Written by: Bob Curley