"Holidays to the Neapolitan Riviera combine the best bits of a city break with the main draws of a beach vacation."
The Neapolitan Riviera is one of Italy’s most popular holiday destinations. And it’s easy to see why everyone wants a piece of the area’s pie. Its coastline curves around the sun-soaked bays of Sorrento and Naples on Italy’s southwest coast. Inland, meanwhile, you’ll find ancient ruins like Pompeii and natural wonders like Mount Vesuvius.
Cosmopolitan cities and rustic towns dot the coastline. The leader of the pack is Sorrento, with its designer boutiques and pavement cafés. Swing round the peninsula and you come to the hamlet of Massa Lubrense. Carry on some more and the Amalfi Coast comes into view. Here, towns like Ravello and Positano spill down the cliffsides in showers of pastel houses.
This region also calls the island of Ischia its own. This place is the pamper capital of Italy. Its R&R credentials begin with its beaches. Maronti Beach on the south coast, for example, unravels for 3 kilometres. Then you’ve got the island’s spa scene to consider – you’ll find more than 70 thermal springs and mud baths over here.
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If you come to this lemon-scented paradise expecting long ribbons of golden sand you’re setting yourself up for something of a fall. Yes, the Neapolitan Riviera has beaches. But they’re more little pockets of sand tucked between the cliffs than big sprawling beaches more akin to the Spanish Costas. However, if you do fancy catching some rays Sorrento is home to two tiny sandy strips and a clutch of hotel bathing platforms. For the ultimate in beach-lounging, you’ll have to leave the mainland behind you. Just a short ride across the Bay of Naples by hydrofoil, the island of Ischia is ringed with Bounty-like shores. From the beautiful Sant'Angelo Cove to the secluded San Montano Bay, this is one part of the Neapolitan Riviera where spectacular slivers of gold dust sands are in no short supply. Oh, and it just happens to be where they shot a large portion of the Talented Mister Ripley. Just gorgeous.
- Fancy a bit of mama’s home cooking? Well, you’ve certainly come to the right place. It’s back to basics, no-nonsense fare on the Neapolitan Riviera. In fact, this stretch of shoreline is responsible for some of Italy’s most famous, and arguably best, dishes. As the name suggests, the ‘napolitana’ – tomato and basil - pasta sauce was born here. Likewise, the margherita pizza. Sure, it’s the plain Jane of the pizza world but like so much in life, it’s the simple things that are the best. Restaurants are ten-a-penny on the Neapolitan Riviera so your best bet is to lose yourself in the backstreets. Let your nose lead you down the alleyways of Sorrento, past trattorias packed with people twizzling spaghetti around their forks. Past waterfront restaurants in Capri that tempt you with freshly-plucked swordfish and big juicy prawns. Whatever you go for, just remember to save room for dessert, the ice-cream in these parts is to die for. Oh, and one last tip on the food front - with all that bright red tomato sauce splashing around, just don’t wear anything white…
- La Fenice, Sorrento Smiley waiters. Attractive décor. And top-notch pizza and pasta. No wonder this is one of Sorrento’s most popular restaurants.
- Antica Trattoria, Sorrento Repeat visitors to the Neapolitan Riviera always make a beeline for this place, thanks to its intimate feel, first-class service and varied menu.
- Delfino, Sorrento Tucked in Marina Grande with fantastic views out over the Bay of Naples, this is the place to come for a slap-up seafood supper.
- If you come here expecting big nights out on the tiles, you might be disappointed. Neon lights, karaoke bars and clubs that boom through the night are a bit of a no-no here. Instead, evenings tend to be a relaxed affair, revolving around the more sedate things in life. A candle-lit meal down a cosy little side street. An espresso in a pavement café. A classical concert beneath the stars. But having said that, there are some upbeat hangouts. Take Sorrento, for instance. Come nightfall young Italians draw up into Piazza Tasso on their Vespas, ready to hit the clutch of underground discos that fan out around the town. For real bright lights and boogie nights Naples is the place to be. The out-of-town Pozzuoli district to be precise. Here, you’ll find a clutch of open-air clubs and discos that get really busy in the summertime. For cutting edge cool, however, give the chic hangouts along San Pasquale di Chiaia, Lungomare Mergellina and Piazza Sannazzaro a whirl. But it’s worth remembering that Naples isn’t really a tourist-geared city and so little concession is made to visitors. What you’ll get is every inch an Italian night out. Things tend to start late, at about one or two o’clock in the morning, and end with a sticky pastry and a cup of coffee just as the sun starts its daily climb.
- Bar Fauno, Sorrento Slap bang in the centre of town, this is the perfect spot for some people watching over a chilled glass of Peroni or an espresso in the morning – which is always handy as the Fauno Notte nightclub is just underneath.
- Li’li, Sorrento A new bar-club on the Sorrento scene, it’s a cool place to be seen out late on a Saturday night. Check it out.
- Africana Nightclub, Praiano Housed in a cave, this place has a glass dance floor that juts out over the sea.
- La Mela, Naples Always heaving, this is one of the city’s most popular nightclubs, attracting an up-for-it crowd. Dress to impress to get past the doorman.
- Lanterna Verde, Capri This suave piano bar is the place not for an ‘evening out’ but for a ‘soiree’. Fabulous cliff-side location. Sophisticated atmosphere. And a cocktail list worth talking about.
Along with food, Italy’s synonymous with clothes. And not any just any old clothes, we’re talking designer togs that’ll leave you weak at the knees. Pack the plastic and prepare to let your jaw hit the floor when Capri unleashes its shops on you. Designer labels and chic boutiques rule the streets, with narrow alleyways crammed with labels like Gucci, Versace and Dolce & Gabbana. Back on the mainland, Sorrento’s got plenty to tempt you, too. Its main thoroughfare, the Corso Italia, brims with boutiques. There are high heels that stretch from here until next Christmas. Baby-soft pashminas that make cashmere feel like cardboard. And oversized sunglasses, the likes of which would make Jackie O jealous. Elsewhere, Naples is a fashionista’s dream-come-true. Make a beeline for the city’s main shopping haunt, the Via Toledo. The price tags rise as you head down this pedestrianised street towards the chi-chi stores of Via Chiaia and Piazza dei Martiri. But beneath the glam veneer you’ll find the Neapolitan Riviera’s rustic side. Naples reveals its grittier face at the Forcella open-air market and the Porta Nolana fish market. Back in Sorrento, the old quarter overflows with little artisan shops selling inlaid wood and bottles of limoncello. Plus there’s a big market at the top of town on Tuesdays. Handmade jewellery is easy to come by, too, as is leather – expect to see rack after rack of handmade leather shoes and tables stacked with purses, wallets, belts and bags. Being Italy, fine wine and fresh pasta line up to frighten your waistline wherever you go, and lemons are literally everywhere. In soaps, in candles, on tea-towels, magnets – you name it, there’ll be a lemon in there somewhere.