For some reason, when I’m on the Amalfi Coast, I love to walk – it’s probably the pure sea air and good healthy food which make me feel more energetic. I remember on one particular holiday with Liz and the girls, we would walk from Minori to Maiori and back again on a daily basis to visit family and friends.
I also love the walk from the picturesque hilltop village of Ravello, down to Minori, through lemon groves, ancient stone walls, popping into tiny chapels and the impressive church built under a cave of St Cosima & Damiano – and of course admiring the stunning sea view. We did this when the girls were quite small and it took us all afternoon but it was well worth it.
Further along the coast, there is the internationally renowned chic resort of Positano, which Liz loves and where we have stayed a few times. The quaint narrow back streets, lined with bougainvillea-clad villas, are a joy to get lost in and explore the fashionable boutiques and cafés. A visit to my friend, Valentino’s, limoncello factory (Il Gusto della Costa) in nearby Praiano is a delight. A warm welcome is guaranteed and you can buy his excellent lemon liqueur and sweet locally-grown orange jam.
Along the main road between Positano and Praiano is one of my favourite places to eat – La Taverna del Leone – no frills or sea views and frequented mainly by locals, you can indulge in delicious platefuls of local antipasti, freshly made pasta, fish and seafood, or simply opt for excellent pizza. Above Positano, in Montepertuso, where my friend Erica is chef, is the lovely Donna Rosa restaurant. It's excellent for seafood-filled pasta dishes.
We sometimes hire a boat. In my younger days it was always a rowing boat, but now I somehow prefer a speedboat –we can escape the busy main beaches, admire the coastline from afar and find a quiet spot for some swimming and snorkelling. Or sometimes I take the girls fishing with me to the same places I used to go when I was a boy. Sometimes, if there’s a crowd of us, simply hiring a few sun loungers at the beach, building sandcastles and jumping off the pier into the sea is a lot of fun – my daughter Chloe is quite an expert!
After a lazy day soaking up the sea and sun, thoughts turn to dinner. If we’re in Minori, we first enjoy a leisurely aperitivo at De Riso. I recommend sitting outside and watching the world go by before heading off to Giardiniello Restaurant. Giardiniello was around when I was little and our families were friends. Over the years it has expanded but still remains the friendly family-run restaurant I have always remembered and loved, serving good home cooking - exquisite fish and pasta dishes and ndundari (ricotta dumplings).
For an Italian shopping experience, nearby Salerno, is a hidden gem – and easily accessible even by ferry. It boasts all the Italian designer labels all within a pleasant stroll of each other, with plenty of cafés, pizzerias and restaurants to stop for a break.
Each summer, the Amalfi Coast becomes alive with feasts, festivals and religious celebrations. In my home village of Minori, the Feast of St Trofimena, our patron saint, is celebrated on 13 July. It is just as exciting now as it was when I was a local boy. The statue of the saint is paraded through the streets, bands play music, firework displays over the sea and of course lots of food and drink to be enjoyed.
In Atrani, a similar feast is held a week later to celebrate Maria Maddalena, and at the end of June, the Feast of Sant’Andrea in Amalfi. On 15 August, known in Italy as Ferragosto and a national holiday, celebrations take place in honour of the Assumption of Our Lady and in Positano this is a festival not to be missed lasting two days.
Aside from religious feasts, the Amalfi Coast boasts local sagre (food festivals) like the Sfogliatella Santa Rosa festival in the small village of Conca dei Marini, celebrating this typical sweet pastry filled with local ricotta. In Cetara, the ‘blue fish festival’ pays homage to the local tuna and anchovy, and visitors can enjoy excellent fresh fish each evening, accompanied by live music.