Spain and the Amalfi Coast (We’re Going in June)


Thanks so much for all your emails and suggestions on my fashion dilemma from my last post! I really appreciated them so much!

I need your help again.

Terreeia and I are going to Spain and the Amalfi Coast in June for 3 weeks. We have our accommodation booked in Barcelona because we are only there for a week but haven’t booked anything in Amalfi yet. We’ll be there from June 18 – 29th.

Our travel agent suggests that we stay in Sorrento and take day trips from there, but I would like to stay in Positano as well.

Il San Pietro

Anyway, since we are on our laptops all day long, the last thing I want to do at the end of the day is start searching for places to stay.

I always wonder if I should be brave enough to just ‘wing it’ like so many people do, but it’s hard since I’m so picky about hotels. Some of you might remember my reaction when we arrived in Venice two years ago, I don’t want that to happen again.

La Sponda

It’s Easter and Terreeia just surprised me with the best present. She is flying my Mom out to join us for the last week that we’re there. She knows how much I love my mama.

So I need your advice, what should we do? Where should we stay? Thanks so much!

Happy Easter my lovelies, hope that your weather is better for easter egg hunting than it is here today!

Related posts:

The Timeless Flooring Everywhere in Italy

Cream is Old, White is New And Other Thoughts About Italy

3 Things I Learned about Myself in Italy





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  1. Hi, Maria,
    I have traveled a lot in Italy and went to the Amalfi coast about three years ago. I reread your Italy post about all the things you didn’t like and I don’t want to be negative but I don’t think you’re going to like it.
    Or maybe I should say you wouldn’t like the places we stayed or restaurants where we ate.
    We stayed in Solerno at the Plaza Hotel across from the train station. We found it to be convenient for day trips to Positano and Amalfi by boat and Pompeii by train. It was fall, which is off season, but I particularly remember thinking how dumpy the coastal town was. The boats at the pier and the beautiful waterfront seemed like it should be bustling with people strolling on the waterfront and lots of restaurants and shops. But it was weirdly deserted and run down. We walked around a long time before we found a place to eat. The Plaza room was fine for us but we don’t expect the atmosphere to be fabulous everywhere, because in Italy most places are hot, full of tourists and very old because Italy is, well, very old. Positano looks beautiful in all the photos, but it was very touristy, full of shops selling lemon related souveniers, pottery, lemonchello etc. and after a walk around we felt like we’d seen it and were ready to go. Amalfi was the same.
    Pompeii was amazing. I thought it would be a few streets but it goes on for miles and they are still excavating. An awe inspiring lesson in history. I did expect to see the art and frescoes I had read about, but they have all been removed and put in a museum in Naples which is a dump you don’t want to go to.
    I’m sure there are luxury hotels, but if you are going through a travel agent you need to make it very clear that that’s what you want or you will be disappointed. Maybe I’m a jaded traveler, but I think if you have very high expectations you will be disappointed. The rest of the world is not like North America, and that is the most eye opening thing about travel. And in my experience, in Italy, the less you spend on a meal, the better the food.

    As for dressing and looking cute when you are on a trip like this, I learned years ago to let all that go. Comfort is key or you won’t be mobile. And walking as much as you can in order to see as much as possible is to my mind the only way to really see the world.
    My husband and I have traveled extensively in Europe and what we do is research well beforehand and just see all we can and on our last night, we splurge on a fancy dinner at a place with lovely atmosphere. For that I do pack my one nice outfit.
    I highly recommend the Rick Steves travel guides. Read those in their entirety before you go and you will avoid a lot of disappointment. Follow his walks and you will feel like you are discovering the world all on your own and your experience will be richer and more rewarding.
    Bon Voyage,
    Heidi Paris

  2. Maria! You are going to two of my favorite places. I try to get to Barcelona 2-3 times a year as I have a cousin and “honorary granddaughter” there. Barcelona is very walkable. Many of the Gaudi sites are in one area. See them all! Especially the Sagrada Familia. My first visit I spent 3 hours in the church. Get the ticket for the upstairs as well as the ground floor. It’s the most amazing church I’ve ever seen. I’m sure your agent has advised you to book in advance. Reserve all the Gaudi places in advance and be on time. The lines are long so you want to have a reservation or at least have a fast track ticket. You can book online and save time. Book a performance at the Palau de la Musica Catalana. And reserve cheap seats in the top tier. The ceiling is gorgeous and you want to be close. Walking and shopping the main streets is wonderful but try to get to neighborhoods–I like Gracia. There are many small squares with quaint restaurants. You will get a different view of Barcelona and see how locals live. The old section is interesting also. Use online sources to tell you what to see. WARNING! Barcelona is full of pickpockets. It’s better if you don’t carry a purse but have a small holder large enough for your passport, money, and credit cards. AAA has a nice, in expensive one. Wear it around your neck and under one arm. Never respond to anyone trying to sell or give you anything on the street. Trust me, they are full of tricks. Don’t take your wallet out unless you are in a store or restaurant. If you get jostled or surrounded, scream. I know this from experience. With your beautiful blonde hair you will be id’d as a tourist. Gypsies like to hang out outside of hotels. I even know a guide who put his case by his feet when checking out and it was stolen inside the hotel. Just be cautious. Taxis are abundant and not expensive. They are regulated and you won’t be swindled. You can pay by credit card. I always taxi from the airport. Just outside baggage claim you will see a taxi sign–go downstairs, and get in line. It’s very well organized. There is very little tipping here. The mojitos are great in Barcelona. Sheep cheese with pear jam is a great combo. I really prefer small cafes but lounging along a main thoroughfare people watching is great also. I’m sure you know that you don’t need to feel rushed. Coffee and hot chocolate are very good.

    I hiked the Amalfi coast in 2011. We stayed in nice hotels but I can’t remember names. We stayed in Ravello, Positano, then crossed to Capri and stayed there. I was there again in 2016 as a cruise ship stop. Definitely not the way to go. The Amalfi Coast is not the place to “wing it.” I was there in May and already there were crowds. Book in advance. Do you like to walk? If so, walk the “Pathway of the Gods.” It’s a bit of a climb to get to the path but the path is level and offers fabulous views. You won’t regret it. I assume you will visit all the towns along the coast? They each have their own flavor. Capri was wonderful as was the boat ride getting there. There is a marvelous walk from Villa Jovis along the coast back to downtown Capri where our hotel was. I think it was Hotel Flora. I also suggest a ship along the coast– Positano to Amalfi. There is a great ice cream stand in Amalfi. Yummy. I’m sure you will make time to relax and soak up the ambiance. Have you tried an Aperol Spritz? We stayed at one small hotel in the mountains where we were treated to home made lemoncello. Everything tastes better on location. 🙂 If you are bored I posted photos of the hiking trip.

    Enjoy your trip–how can you not? I hope you post about your trip.

  3. Stay at Sorrento! We stayed in the Relais Regina, in the middle of a lemon garden full of lemons! Superb rooms. Positano is so crowded all the time. And so many hills! I preferred Ravello and Amalfi myself! Have fun! And TONS of seafood!

  4. Six of us rented a villa in Sorrento, and took day trips to Capri, Positano and Herculaneum. All these places are very accessible by train and boat. It was suggested that we visit Herculaneum instead of Pompeii because it was easier to get around. You need good walking shoes for sure but don’t worry about being fashionable. See as much as you can fit into your schedule but I would not advise renting a car unless you have nerves of steel;)

  5. Maria,
    We love the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento – been there twice. Positano is good for a one or two night stay for something different. Sorrento is full of colour – lots of local crafts and packaged spice and herb mixes (locally grown) to buy in the market which is fun. Limoncello, lemon soaps, etc. are made from the lemons grown nearby and the hill/mountain side has lots of olive groves. We’ve stayed at Il Nido (Sorrento) up the hillside on a twisty road. The view is spectacular over the Bay of Naples looking at Mount Vesuvius. It’s not fancy but very clean and comfortable – run by a lovely hardworking family. Has a nice restaurant overlooking the Bay and serves a great breakfast. They share a bus with a few other local hotels to take you down to the market. Have a caprese salad in Sorrento (delicious tomatoes)! We had a rental car and drove the coast both times – it was a great experience!! Pompeii is worth it if you have an interest in ancient history. The thing about travel for us is to interact with the locals, experience their customs, foods and smells and stay relaxed!

  6. Hi Maria,
    I am soon jealous! I have been to Sorrento. Its beautiful. But Positano is gorgeous too. In my opinion, you will enjoy either place. Can’t remember the hotel I stayed in but the pizza is the best I’ve ever had!
    Have a wonderful trip and the thank you for all of your great blogs.

    Iris Piercey
    Iris Interiors

  7. I spent my junior year of university in Spain and loved it, but that was so long ago I doubt if I could offer any advice other than to make hotel reservations in advance. You’ll be more flexible with day trips and restaurants. If you visit Barcelona please take the time to visit the old Jewish neighborhood because 40 years ago it was full of wonderful boutiques and jewelry stores. And if they are still open you should visit the Santa Eulalia (patron saint of the city) fashion boutique and see if you have time to have a custom piece made up for you!

    Have fun and send lots of posts, but we’ll be hearing from you before you leave,


  8. Hi Maria: I do not use travel agents. I read reviews on trip advisor, and ask friends. My daughters have been to both places… (one has a website: and could recommend better than me, but my younger daughter said Sorrento is lovely and the sight and scent of giant lemons is everywhere! Please be careful in Naples… I would not stay there. I travel with trains… not cars… too confusing! I read your “Italy” post from 2015 and can relate… While younger daughter was studying in Florence, older daughter and I visited her. Our hotel was rated good (not great but good) and my daughters’ friends parents had stayed there a few weeks before. We checked in… old and charming… it was “OK”. But what was different from when her friends’ parents stayed? 1. It was WARMER (no AC on for another month!) 2. They were REMODELING (no restaurant!) 3. Had to keep windows open so we had MOSQUITOES (daughter is a mosquito-magnet!) 4. They were a tad “snippy” 5. the area behind hotel was dark and a little sketchy. The second day there, we ended up at the Florence Westin for snacks and wine. It was LOVELY and BEAUTIFUL. It was also 10pm, but I went to the front desk and pleaded my case… I went back to the original hotel, and shared (calmly) that I had no knowledge there would be a warm room, mosquitoes, and no restaurant. I got my refund, and by 11:30 pm we were being escorted to our room at the Westin! Ahhhh! Air conditioning; beauty; help; restaurants! The next morning they booked complicated train tickets and a private tour guide. It CHANGED our entire trip… and it did not cost that much more! WRITE DOWN what is important to YOU… then find a match among the highly rated places! Please reach out to my daughter… the travel blogger… and me if need be!

  9. The Amalfi Coast is absolutely beautiful and you will enjoy both Sorrento and Positano. I would absolutely not wing it because I understand that it is extremely crowded during the summer months. I was in Positano in May and it was bad enough then. The narrow roads do not allow for passing so traveling from one town to the next can be frustrating. We used a private driver which was a bit expensive but well worth it as he was able to give us more of a flavor for the area and got us expedited tickets and an English speaking tour guide for Pompeii. As far as hotels, San Pietro is first class but that luxury comes at a price. You might try renting a villa. We found one with a terrace overlooking the sea. Although it was not particularly luxurious, it was clean and comfortable and the view was extraordinary. Like others recommended, be careful in Napoli (Frankly, I don’t think there is that much to see there). Also, make sure to wander off the beaten path in the small towns. We strolled out of the main square in Amalfi and found the most wonderful leather craftsman and a paper mill. One piece of advice – take super duper mosquito repellent. They are pesky little buggers.

    • Thanks so much I am so happy that I asked my smart and wonderful readers, WON’T be winging it 🙂 Maria

  10. Ooooh I’m so jealous! 🙂 I have been to all of the towns you mentioned but never got to stay overnight in any of them. My favorite, however was Sorrento, and it’s on our bucket list to stay there for a week. The Amalfi Coast is beautiful and fun, don’t think you can go wrong with any of the towns, so go with the hotel you like the best.

  11. Hi Maria My husband & I did a 18 day European bus tour last fall and Sorrento was a 2 night stop for us . Sorrento is beautiful and I loved the little alleyway shops (open in evening too). We went to a restaurant across from our hotel(cant remember name of restaurant)which was cliff side with beautiful view!. Our hotel and one of the highlights of the tour for me was the Island of Capri. We took a ferry across to Capri where we then took a boat tour around island to the Blue grotto caves. There is a small beach where some people were swimming but no washroom facilities etc. There are little cafes and shops along marina side. Others in our tour group took the bus tour up the mountainside and took a chairlift for view of Bay of Naples.
    I’m not sure I could spend 2 weeks in Sorrento with so much to see in Italy. I didn’t see beaches that were accessible. Day trip to Pompei would be worth it to see ruins,especially with a guide in ruins!The roads are steep and narrow and windy and I would not like to drive them myself…tour guides are really good on these roads.
    I would not recommend our hotel ( Ascot,Via Capo,6); it had mood in ventilation vents.
    We only had one full day in Sorrento so I’m not much of a critique really

  12. Maria, as there are so many coastal towns to choose from and though each share a scenic view of the Mediterranean Sea and posses an old-world charm history; I feel it would be wise to do some ‘personal’ filtering to ensure your choice of location (town) and hotel amenities meet your expectations. i.e.: Do you plan on doing some sight seeing and visit other municipalities along the coast? (I believe there are thirteen of them.) Do you want to be near a public beach or do you prefer a private one or pool? Will you want a suite to comfortably accommodate a party of three with access to a private balcony, etc. etc. Last but not least; as there is a artisan shop called Les Chic in Positano where they create ‘while you wait’ hand crafted leather sandals, you may wish to check them out . Compared to some of your other readers; sorry I’m haven’t been of much help re advice but as I feel travel is an experience as well as an adventure, I thus believe what meets with one’s approval may not to another.

  13. Wow, Back in 1985 We stayed in the Il San Pietro di Positano – our room was carved into the side of a mountain, you took an elevator down through the mountain to one beach which was a gigantic granite ledge overlooking the sea. The second time, in 2000, stayed at the Palazzo Sasso in Ravello, (had just newly opened) — magnificent views, in the morning we walked into the village square and ended up buying a set of dishes at a ceramics shop we still use today for our everyday dishes. The highlight was hiking on the Path of the Gods. For our walk, we walked to the start of the trail by driving to the northernmost city above Positano, parking the car, the road just ends in a city there, and walking along a path on the side of a ravine to a mountain village –Nocelle — the only other way there is a finicular — from there, we walked up a set of stone steps to the start of the path, high above the Almalfi Coast. Ambitious hikers hike along the top. (We wished we had gotten to that little village a littler earlier, as they only serve lunch overlooking the ravine and views!)
    Here’s a link to a description of the hike.. There’s also many other trails. From Ravello — which you must go see — there’s a path straight down to Almalfi — wished we could have done that as well. Also, the former Gore Vidal mansion is in Ravello — has sold but worth a checking out to see if on view– and the home of the composer Wagner was available as a tourist spot once. If you get a driver, have him take you to Pompeii — we drove over the mountains, hence one reason we stopped in Ravello for lunch, as there’s a route — sort of a short cut – instead of driving on the curved road, which of course you must do, either with a safe driver or on your own..the route over the mountains may not be as pretty for part of the ride, but Pompeii is must see if in the area.. (Herculaneum also)

    Enjoy.. can you tell I love Italy! Next time try the Cinque Terra area, more walking and villages along the northern coast.

  14. We stayed at Hotel Poseidon in Positano. It’s between Pompeii and Ravello (about an hour either way). The room, food, views, and music were amazing. If you stay here, wear comfortable shoes. You’ll want to walk through the fabulous shops, and it’s all up hill or down hill—but worth every step.

  15. Hi Maria,

    Several years ago, my husband and I stayed in Sorrento at the Grand Hotel Vesuvius. It was a lovely place that had a shuttle into town. We did drive the Amalfi Coast but did not stay in Positano. If stationed in Sorrento you can take the ferry to the isle of Capri, which is lovely side trip.
    One thing I will mention about Sorrento is that the cruise ships come in there, so it can be a bit “touristy”. One restaurant had items such as egg and chips.
    It took a day or two for us to figure out the best dinner was to go and pick up some bread, meats, and a bottle of wine, and sit on our balcony enjoying the beautiful view toward Mt. Vesuvius. We even saw fireworks one evening, from across the water. Wonderful!

  16. I’m envious of your trip and am not the least bid timid about stating as much! I followed the link to your Venice trip and laughed at how similar our experiences have been! That said, as to where and if to book accommodations. Let’s cut to the chase. Italy is full of travelers and with many European employees able to take up to three weeks off at one time to explore and travel. So, ‘winging it’ when it comes finding a place to lay your head for sacred sleep is dodgy and should be avoided. Perhaps we’d like to think we’re ‘flexible’ and devil may care with back packs and such but, c’mon. There’s simply nothing fabulous about sharing a cold shower or bath with strangers while more of them rap at the door. I was once filled with optimism while traveling Europe during Easter time sans reservations. Wrong, wrong. Not a single room anywhere for less than what we had hoped to spend for 3 nights!! Live and learn. Still, the trip was amazing as yours will be as well. Because you’re going to google the heck out of your options and look at a boat load of pictures while reading Trip advisor posts on your final list. I’d stay at least one night in Positano. How could you not! (def, download the soundtrack form “The Talented Mr. Ripley” you won’t be sorry)The pictures alone would set you up with a months worth of blog posts about how to mix colors! While you travel with others it can be problematic to leave your true self at home, the critic in you, who loves to work overtime. Remember, you’re not having the ‘Last Supper’. And once the meal is ruined, does it matter if it was your bad mood or the cold draft from the door. Decide in advance that what you really want is for all parties to enjoy themselves…. and take perfection out of the equation. Each time you agree with yourself to surrender to the ‘what’s best for the group ‘point of view, you’re becoming more and more capable accepting your beautifully flawed self.

    • Thanks for your lovely note and yes I have learned. That experience in Venice ruined my time there because I was so upset with myself that i handled it so badly. . . the following year I was in Paris, hated the room that i was to be in for 3 nights, ate the first night that I had already paid and calmly walked out of the hotel.
      Sigh. We get older, we learn. . . Maria

  17. Hi Maria,
    I’ve read all the suggestions up til this point and agree with a number of the comments already made, but the one that jumped out was Barbara 04/01/2018 at 8:12 pm with her suggestion to stay in multiple spots. For me 5 days would have been too much time in any one Amalfi spot. Especially if crowded which was not even the case when I was there in November,’15 and April ’17. So my thoughts:
    – there’s no upside to winging it because who wants to be searching for a property at the last minute when the entire coast could be sold out, and the best rooms booked months prior. If money is no object you will not regret staying at il San Pietro and Le Sireneuse. There’s a new Capri hotel with sister properties in Rome and Florence whose name I can get you if you decide to stay there. If ferrying to Capri – especially if Ferrying for the day, consider hotel proximity to the ferry. We stayed in Sorrento at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria which was perfectly located for the ferry to Capri (elevator on the property for exclusive use of hotel guests to get to sea level for ferries). It was super comfy with a lovely view of the water and on a large beautiful property. A friend stayed in Sorrento at La Favorita and loved it. In Positano we stayed at Hotel Palazzo Murat because all the high end hotels were closed for the season when we were there. Loved it for the view, super comfy beds, and breakfast patios, but bathtub that was a little too old world for my liking. I regret not staying overnight in Capri.
    – Food: book ahead!!! Check out Rick Steves for recommendations. Saw him in Sorrento in 2017, so even if he hasn’t come out with a new printed edition his notes online will be up to date. I highly recommend Ristorante Casa Mele in Positano. Sooo good. All the drivers will recommend La Tagliata near Positano. Maybe they get a kickback.. would love to know if others have been and liked it. We didn’t go because not a big fan of fatty cured meats which makes up the meat intensive one choice per night menu. The book ahead/plan ahead tip is especially important in Capri where there are so many touristy mediocre places
    -Capri: when Ferry docks, pay the 25 euro to taxi to Anacapri. the funicular is a mob scene and a huge time suck. Once in Anacapri consider walking up to the top of the gondola instead of riding the chair. very easy hike elevation wise, but easy to get lost, so get good directions.
    -You can save lots of money using the Rick Steves app (bring your earbuds) instead of a guided tour for Pompei. if possible buy tickets in advance or budget time to wait in line for tickets. This trip can easily be done en route to or from the Naples airport or train so as to give you an extra day to enjoy your Amalfi surroundings and not have to get up and out early and sit in traffic to get to and from this sight. The driver will drop you off and wait while your tour, then bring you to your next destination which for us was Mt Vesuvius, but it was a cool November day when we went – not a hot summer day. If you have a chance to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when in NY you might be interested in the frescoes from a Villa at Boscoreale Date / Era 1000 B.C.–A.D. 1 that were uncovered after having been buried by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius.
    Lastly: travel by water whenever possible, book ahead, and enjoy the best tomatoes and limoncello you’ll ever have!

  18. Don’t forget to treasure Terreeia (and, eventually, your mom). They know how you are, and they love you…but, if they are immediately captivated by a restaurant so much that they don’t wait in the front until you’ve decided you like it – that means it’s an opportunity to let them have a special moment. Do it for them, without inwardly steaming. If Terreeia mentions a hotel that she’s excited about even though she usually leaves it up to you, book that hotel. As a fellow picky person, I know it can be hard to let go. But I have been learning in recent years that I’m not the only one who needs to experience the perfect atmosphere. Sometimes it does my husband a world of good. If I can mentally position myself to think/feel ‘this will be my gift to him: not insisting on having my perfect moment, but enjoying him having one instead’, it helps him, helps me, helps our relationship. And usually, I enjoy *my* next perfect moment so much more.
    Any time someone suddenly cares about something they don’t usually care about (restaurants, hotels, paint color, etc.), it’s time for those of us used to being in the driver’s seat to pause and remember that if we curate a life around only our preferences, we’ll probably end up living that life alone.

  19. I love Ravello and Capri. Two of the most beautiful places in Italy. Traffic is crazy, roads are very narrow and parking spots are hard to find, public transportation or a private tour is the way to go.

  20. I’m thrilled that you’ve asked this question because we are also planning a trip to the Amalfi Coast in June – although a bit earlier that you are planning to be there. We have had great luck with Airbnb’s in Europe as have many friends. That’s probably the route we will go.

  21. Hi Maria, I am italian and live in Italy. I know the places you are going to visit. First of all: you have Costiera Sorrentina and Costiera Amalfitana. Book a hotel in Sorrento to visit Pompei and Capri. An hotel in Positano (or Ravello) to visit Amalfi and other nice small villages. Book a car with a driver. Roads are narrow and italian drivers are reckless. Ask your hotel for a driver to wait for you at the airport. Naples is a wonderful and unique town but it can be tough especially for foreign tourists. Visit shops called “rosticceria”: a kind of deli where you can have potatoes crocchè, calzoni and pizza, of course. Buy bespoke sandals in Positano. Visit Villa Cimbrone in Ravello. Rent a boat to go to Capri. Don’t miss Pompei (or Ercolano, smaller but wonderful). Enjoy. Barbara, Torino

  22. Hotel antiche mura in Sorrento is awesome. It’s unique- not luxurious but the orange grove and location was memorable. Your travel agent was right. Positano is beautiful but touristy. Ravello was really amazing. Positano has more shopping. I’m not sure when but sometime in the summer, Ravello has a classical music festival with a stage built out over a cliff. Looked spectacular.

  23. I went recently as well. We were booked at a hotel in Sorrento on the water but I am super mold sensitive and my glands swelled up the moment we arrived, so we know it wasn’t a good place. We paid the first night and left, and ended up at the Hilton. It is far from luxury in the room department, but the lobby is cool art deco, they treated us well, and the views were great. Lots of Brits there. (I just saw a review that said the rooms were recently renovated, and if that is the case I would definitely stay there!)

    We actually loved Sorento. Very cool vibe, walking the streets downtown during night or day. We took the public bus to Positano (an experience!) and it was beautiful but we were out of things to do after a few hours. We took a boat back to Sorrento. Also from Sorrento we took the train to Pompeii, which was awesome. Some of the home designs were stunning, with gorgeous courtyards and tile work. Capri was a waste I thought. Touristy and junky. I think it’s only worth going there if you’re going to spend a while and go hiking around the island.

    Now I’m going to Barcelona in October, so share back about Barcelona!