We asked some leading experts to share their highlights of the Amalfi Coast, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands
Jennifer M. Saia, International Yacht Collection (IYC)
One of my favorite locations to recommend is the Amalfi Coast:
Starting in Naples, a busy crowded city becomes more tame with a private or charter yacht. I use Francesco Luise at Luise & Company to make all types of arrangements for my clients throughout this region, from dockage to restaurants, from private tours to musicians.
A must is a personal tour of Pompeii. Guide Nino points out the real meaning of the symbols that line the streets. A fabulous way to end the day is a long lunch in Sorrento at the Ristorante di Caruso. No ordering required, just an appreciation of great food, wine, and music.
Dotted along the Amalfi Coast are fragrant lemon trees and boutique ceramic shops. Indulge in the Limoncello and purchase a colorful piece of handcrafted pottery. A special treat is being at anchor underneath the famous Hotel Il San Pietro in Positano. One must is to take the hidden elevator carved out of the sheer cliffs to the Hotel and have a lunch on the terrace of The Restaurant. What a view!
Strolling through this charming town full of inviting shops is a nice way to exercise away your culinary delights. A treat is a having a pair of handmade Positano sandals custom fitted to your feet that same afternoon.
From the peninsula, a trip to Capri is the ideal way to enjoy the turquoise waters of this region. The famous Blue Grotto is well worth a private guided tour and if you are lucky, your yacht will be on the dock in the main Capri harbor (Marina Grande). A Funicular ride to Capri is pretty exciting. The island teems with life, from the restaurants to the nightclubs, and you are among all the famous people in the Piazzetta.
A visit to the beautiful Grande Hotel Quisisana is worthwhile. The lobby alone is reminiscent of an Italian Villa. Cruising along the Amalfi Coast is magical and other stops such as the islands of Ponza and Ischia, plus Amalfi itself, comprise a perfect 7-10 night itinerary.
Emily Fitzroy, Founder and Managing Director, Bellini Travel
Bellini Travel provides a highly exclusive, innovative and personal way in which to travel and entertain in Italy.
They offer a range of unique services based upon unparalleled local knowledge and unprecedented access to palaces, homes, foundations, museums and galleries throughout the country. Here the founder Emily FitzRoy suggests her favorite places in the Aeolian Islands and Sicily.
Salina’s main piazza in Santa Marina has some superb restaurants. Porto Bello is the most fashionable restaurant on the island and is famed for its pasta especially the spaghetti al fuoco, created by the owner Teodoro. Despite its unassuming exterior, Zurro on Stromboli remains a favorite with Dolce and Gabbana, who owns a villa nearby. The dishes are as flamboyant as the owner himself; Zurro was previously a fisherman who still sports a thick beard and his highlights include black ravioli stuffed with ricciola, a delicate local fish. Also on Stromboli is stylish Barbablu. With no menu, the Venetian chef Lucia cooks what she feels like and is so popular that booking is essential. On Lipari, eat al fresco in the garden of Kasbah owned by Sacha, the delightful son of the owners of the Hotel Carasco. The enchanting garden is illuminated by flickering candles and oil lamps that bounce off the surrounding castle walls. On Panarea head for Da Pina, a family run trattoria overlooking the harbor with a menu that lures most diners back night after night. During their all too brief season the highly sought after baby octopus known as moscardini is served here, however if ordered a day in advance the excellent zuppa di pesce is just as good.
The best granitas and ice creams in the world are made in the small shop of Da Alfredo on Salina. Prickly pear and fig are so popular that Giorgio Armani and Sean Connery have been known to send their staff out from their super yachts to stock up.
Only two miles from mainland Italy, Eastern Sicily has its own distinct personality, language and people, but still suffers from a poor reputation of crime and corruption, thanks mostly to the Godfather trilogy. In reality, Eastern Sicily offers huge variety. Astonishing Greek ruins at every turn, prehistoric tombs, temples and baroque towns, wild nature reserves and volcanoes and countless wonderful churches. On top of all this think guaranteed balmy summers, fish so fresh you have to slap it, excellent wine, gin clear waters, dramatic cliffs and swathes of golden sand. Harbors filled with brightly painted fishing boats flanked by shorefront cafes, clusters of smaller islands scattered round the coast… the list goes on. The best thing? As with the rest of the island Eastern Sicily is totally unpretentious – a natural beauty with no concept of her own allure.
The most beautiful hilltown in Sicily, Taormina, is perched high above the sea. Despite the number of tourists, the town still possesses great charm. Cocktails on the terrace of the Grand Hotel Timeo, with its dramatic view of Mount Etna, are a must. A favorite with Dolce and Gabbana, the hotel is an old Victorian villa on the water’s edge and just a short walk from the colorful local market. The Mazzaro beach is accessible via a cable car from Taormina and suitably luxurious for the wealthy Italians who flock there in the summer months, completed by an excellent restaurant which has been serving spaghetti with sea urchins to the likes of Truman Capote, Sophia Loren and Richard Burton since the 1950s.