House

A Perfect Weekend on The Amalfi Coast

Bridget Arsenault experiences the iconic views of Italy's stylish south on foot, stopping to take in waterfalls, ancient ruins and simple, delicious Italian food

Pinterest


A 90-minute drive along the most famously precipitous road in the world delivers me to my destination of breathtaking splendour, where I am met with the resounding chime of a bell, a cool glass of fresh lemonade and a clifftop view of the Amalfi Coast and the Gulf of Salerno. 

It's hard to imagine the lives of the nuns who once occupied the vertiginous Monastero Santa Rosa until 1912, but is easy to understand how an American, sailing past some 17 years ago, knew on first sight the property - by this stage a hotel past its best - would have to be hers. For 12 painstaking years, Bianca Sharma poured time, love and know-ledge gleaned through extensive historical and architectural research into the building's renovation, reopening it as a 20-room hotel in 2012. 

There is plenty to enjoy here now: the gardens cascading down the terraced cliff face; a vaulted spa with treatments using products from the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy in Florence; and an infinity pool like no other. Positano is just along the coast to the west; Amalfi and Ravello to the east. But I'm here to hike and to make the most of the cooler spring temperatures by heading into the hills. Led by a local guide and supplied with a rucksack packed with salads, bread, cheese and fruit, we begin our walk after a short road trip from the hotel.

The Valle delle Ferriere (Valley of the Ironworks) follows a path up centuries-old stone stairways, through vineyards and citrus groves (where lemons the size of grapefruits hang) and woods of shady chestnut and cypress trees. We glimpse soaring views of the Gulf of Salerno, we cross streams and admire waterfalls, and find the ruined remains of the foundries and mills that once produced Amalfi's highly prized paper. With a stop halfway for lunch on a riverbank, the walk takes roughly three hours. Our route brings us ultimately to Amalfi and a waiting hotel car, with the prospect ahead of a spa treatment before dinner al fresco at Monastero's much lauded Il Refettorio restaurant.

The following day, I choose a simple coastal walk, this time with a motive other than admiring the scenery. It is late morning when I set off and, after an hour, I find myself back in Amalfi, the busiest of this coastline's picturesque towns, dominated by the Arab-Norman cathedral of Sant'Andrea. Down on the seafront, there are enticing whiffs of sizzling calamari served directly from the pan into takeaway brown-paper cones, but I'm in search of a restaurant recommended to me by Pompeo Amendola, Monastero's concierge. At Lido Azzurro, a harbour-side restaurant where diners can arrive by foot or by boat, there is nothing complicated about the menu. It is the type of place you come to for homemade pasta and freshly caught seafood doused in Amalfi lemon juice and a piquant local olive oil. And it is the kind of Italian lunch that sticks in the memory long after the moment has passed. 

Bridget Arsenault stayed as guest of . The three-night Health & Hike experience, on offer in the spring and autumn, costs from about €1,250 per person, B&B, based on two sharing, and includes a guided hike, Signature Arnica Massage and tour of the hotel's kitchen garden and lunch with the chef. 

You might also like: The best boutique hotels in Marrakech; The coolest hotel on Lake Como

more from Travel

More from House

Go back up

Haven't found something you were looking for? Try searching...