September 22, 2022
There is something magical about an Italian summer. Days aren’t counted by hours or minutes but by how many glasses of pesche al vino bianco have been drunk, swims have been swum, and shades of tan your skin turn. There is this irreplaceable feeling l’estate italiana evokes within you: a bit daring, carefree, explorative, and dare I even say, relaxed. Some head north to fishing villages in Liguria, while others travel down to the southernmost point, Puglia, packing these coastal destinations until the very last day of August. When September 1st rolls around, reality hits as people retreat back into the cities and daily rhythms of life, leaving a piece of themselves behind.
But what if I told you that summer doesn’t have to end when the calendar strikes the 1st? And there are still three or four weeks ahead filled with more-than bearable temperatures, clear blue skies, warm bath-like waters, and far-less crowded destinations. It is something I have been calling extended Italian summer for years and has quickly become one of my most beloved months. So, where am I headed? The Amalfi Coast.
The Amalfi Coast is a 50-kilometer coastline along the southern edge of Italy’s Sorrentine Peninsula. Recently, it has become an overly populated holiday destination in the summer months, with sheer cliffs and a rugged shoreline dotted with small beaches and pastel-colored fishing villages, like Positano and Praiano, and the coastal road winds between grand villas, terraced vineyards, and lemon groves overlooking the Tyhrennian sea.
My home base for this extended summer is its cliffside town, Positano. It may seem a bit cliche, as Positano has become the most famous town of Amalfi known by the masses throughout the world. Still, I fell head-over-heels for its pebble beachfront, hilly streets, and colorful homes long again, making each visit a priority to weave past the tourist traps as I pack my bags for more than a long weekend and head south, saying goodbye to Rome. Arriving in Positano, and for that matter all along the Amalfi Coast, is a bit of an obstacle course, but one with more than enough options and nonetheless worth completing.
Staying in Positano tends to come with a hefty price tag during peak months, another reason to travel towards the end of the season. For any property, you’ll want to keep in mind its location. Make sure you don’t stray too far from the town’s main seaport, which will be vital when hopping from one beach grove to the next. Suppose you’re looking to splurge and experience some luxury southern living. In that case, two options come to mind: Le Sirenuse, a former 5th generational Neapolitan family summer house turned relaxing and sophisticated first-class hotel, or Il San Pietro di Positano, a 5-star hotel a bit off the main drag. I love Hotel Poseidon or Hotel Savoia for a cozy and chic boutique environment. If you are on a budget, opt for a B&B that always comes with a quaint stay with pink and yellow ceramic tiled rooms, a lovely staff, sweeping views, and freshly brewed coffee in the dim hours of the morning.
Positano has as many beach clubs and linen shops as it has unspoiled nature and green landscapes. Exploring the land is a relaxing way to start each morning before making my way out to sea. Get lost on Positano’s main roads, between Amalfi Dr. and Via Corvo, and make your way up to the top town or embark on one of its famous hiking trails, like the Path of Gods. Either option is an ideal way to immerse yourself in the local Mediterranean countryside that offers mountain landscape views. Before making my way down the steep terrain, I prioritize stopping at Bar Internazionale for a coffee and morning breakfast. This no-frills local bar is a neighborhood gathering spot and one of the only places to get a glimpse of authentic Amalfi living.
As you descend the town, you will eventually arrive at Spiaggia Grande Positano, the village’s main beach iconically recognizable for its hundreds of umbrellas sprawled out along the pebbled beachfront. I typically recommend skipping this overly packed area, but passing by is inevitable as the water is attached, so it is worth a quick pause to snap a few photos. You guessed it, the best way to explore the coast is by water taxi! Rent a boat for a long day out at the bay, only occasionally pausing to dive into the sparkling sea. A trip to Positano isn’t complete without a lido (beach club) visit. I always reserve an umbrella and chair at the historic Arienzo Beach Club. Arienzo offers an energetically unforgettable experience, and the only way to arrive is by boat. It is recognizable for its bright orange umbrellas and chairs, terraced waterfront restaurant, and an abundance of Aperol spritz.
Make your way back to town tanner and happier, just in time for a bit of shopping and an aperitivo that eventually leads into a late-night dinner. The lower level of Positano is full of cute artisanal boutiques and linen workshops that pour out into the streets. For aperitivo, head back up to Bar Internazionale and sit inside to watch the soccer game on TV, or take your drink outside and catch the sunset over the hills. For a more dressy occasion, Franco’s Bar, part of Le Sirenuse, is open to the public with classic cocktails on a stylish terrace and extensive sea views. After a bit too much to drink, I head to one restaurant and one restaurant only: Ristorante Da Costantino. This traditional Italian trattoria is perched on the rugged hilltop serving classic seafood dishes, wood-fired pizza, and homemade desserts.
After one too many sips of limoncello and many flights of steps, it's time to call it a night and head back home. The best part of extended summer is waking up the following morning without a care knowing the only appointment you have for the following days to come is with that mesmerizing sea.
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Words and Photographs by Gabriela R. Proietti