Leave the beaten track to discover glorious beaches with space to unwind.
A winding stretch of 50km leaves Sorrento following the coast south of the Bay of Naples. This is not a grand road nor a particularly smooth one, however, more than 5 million visitors flock here every year and queue along la strada statale 163 Amalfitana between Sorrento and Amalfi gazing at some of the most jaw-droppingly famous views in Italy while they wait to get into Salerno and Positano. It's a delectable wait - sea breeze blows through the windows and Amalfi sunshine sparkles on the sea with post-card views and a rugged coastline that truly takes your breath away, but did you know that there's much more to see here than your 'to do' list? And most of it lies off the beaten track.
Ancient territory of history and legend sits at the tip of the peninsula.
As the grottos of Capri are home to the Sirens, the protected marine area of Punta Campanella at the tip of the Sorrento Peninsula is where Ulysses once met the mythical temptresses, according to Homer.
At the Bay of Ieranto.
A spot of such divine significance that the Greeks constructed a temple here dedicated to their goddess Athena which the Romans subsequently transformed to Minerva.
On top of the recycled ruins was fashioned a watchtower in later years to alert invasions of Saracen ships by ringing an ancient bell, 'campanella' in Italian, where the peninsula gets its name. My favourite beach on the Amalfi Coast has to be right here.
To reach the secluded cove takes an hour's walk, signposted from the main square of fishing village Nerano to 'Baia di Ieranto'. The walk is unprotected and intense on a hot day but worth every second when dramatic cliffs and crystalline waters suddenly open up before you and you're facing the unmistakeable rocky Faraglioni outcrops off the coast of Capri, like something from a dream.
When I went there was nothing except wind through the rocks and the shrill of cicadas.
To think that 5 million visitors don't visit Punta Campanella because it's not on la strada statale 163 Amalfitana is probably a blessing for the pristine Mediterranean eco-system of this nature reserve. As an unspoilt gem on the Amalfi Coast, please be respectful when you visit and leave no trace whatsoever. If you aren't up for the walk, there's always a water taxi! Give Sant'Antonio Cooperative (+39-0818081638) a ring, they speak English too, and will take you along the coast from Marina del Cantone beach into the magical cove.
Nerano itself is another of my favourite places in Italy. This sleepy village springs to life during warm summer months between June and September when droves of visitors flock to her simple stone beach and gently lapping tides. It's glorious to visit out of tourist season - you can lie on a deckchair facing the island of Capri and drift away to the sound of waves between pebbles ebbing and flowing, I can hear it now. Lucky to have experienced the golden slumber of this spot numerous times before it became worldly famous, there's a serene sense of deep legend here while the foods ands wines are truly out-of-this world.
Marina del Cantone is the name of Nerano's pebbly beach which has been placed on the culinary map because of Ristorante Maria Grazia's now very famous spaghetti. This simple sauce of 4 ingredients cooked sublimely has been announced by Stanley Tucci as his favourite pasta, Spaghetti alla Nerano. Zucchine, butter, provolone del Monaco cheese and fresh basil are blended to perfection in one of the scatterings of restaurants along the beach.
Humble Nerano is home to two Michelin Star restaurants: La Taverna del Capitano and Quattro Passi and continues to expand but as popular as she gets, you can still find a few simple spots savouring gorgeous, local Sorrento cuisine to the sound of gentle waves.
In summer, multitudes of deckchairs are lined up and the small beach overflows with activity but do not worry - if tranquility is your thing, look for an unassuming path leading off the end of the beach near Maria Grazia's restaurant. Locate the narrow trail taking you away from it all, tracing the top of some rather dramatic cliffs. You'll find peace here with birdsong, butterflies and benches facing at the sea. Peek into the Saraceno watchtower with beautiful views from the inside framing the Galli islands and the rest of the rugged Amalfi Coast.
Then follow the path down to white-pebbled Baia di Recommone, a secluded, little beach hosting private club and restaurant "Conca del Sogno", popular with a more VIP crowd. Relax on the pebbles watching boats bob in the bay, dip in the sun-kissed water or go get exclusive peace and quiet, fine dining and luxury accommodation at the beach club where they sometimes stick on a sunset DJ set.
If Conca del Sogno floats your boat, you won't get any more idyllic than this.
Getting to Nerano is easy. Drive in and park at the beach or catch a bus from the Circumvesuviana station in Sorrento.
We've never visited Fiordo Di Furore but it's known as one of the area's little secrets. Where cliffs come together to form a hideaway just east of Praiano, the locals have named this a fjord. You'll see why when you reach the tiny, enclosed beach accessed by a stone staircase leading down from the road, or hire a water taxi for sea access. Time your visit well because as secluded as Furore looks, Instagram has put it on the map. Try early morning or out of season for the best times to visit this sparkling pool framed by an arched road bridge - a glorious stop for a swim.
Marina Di Praia is the cutest fishing beach with space to lounge and swim. Nestled in the cliffs between Fiordo di Furore and Praiano, it seems secretly built into the coastline.
You'd never know it was there, unless you knew.
Take the steps down from busy Strada Amalfitana or drive some steep, narrow bends into a small car park where glinting sun on turquoise water draws you closer to the sea. You'll find a couple of restaurants and dive shops jostling for space where you can also charter a boat to take you on a coastal jaunt. Stick your toes in the water, rent an umbrella with a deck chair or go for a proper swim or dive, but don't forget to wander the Via Terramare path carved into sheer rock beside the beach which takes you a 9th century tower and more stunning views.
Pause here and relax on a terrace overlooking the coast with an aperitivo. Seafood is supreme, caught fresh on the day, and nobody is prouder to cook for you than a local chef so if your budget permits, sit down, unwind and tuck into some of Italy's finest.
Our last secluded beach is so remote it's not even on la strada statale 163 Amalfitana.
It's back where we began on the Sorrento Peninsula and is so scenic that the Romans built a villa here 2000 years ago which you can still step inside, Villa Pollio.
The Bagni Della Regina Giovanna are named after Queen Joanna of Naples who allegedly entertained her lovers here in the 1300s. She definitely had something going - it's very private and very seductive. Crystal sea-water pools are cocooned within the cliffs with access through a gap in the rock. You can reach the glorious pools from Sorrento, walking 40 minutes from Piazza Tasso or by number 5070 bus to Caposorrento with the last 750m on foot. Alternatively, find a boat (or canoe even) to take you in. Information is available at the tourist info offices in Sorrento.
Marina Piccola, below the cliffs of Sorrento, features a small collection of private beach clubs which you'll pay around 10 euros to access. If you're struggling to find space, aren't mobile and/or don't mind paying for peace, find calmer waters with lots of amenities right here in Sorrento. It's not really our scene - we love to 'go rogue' and fit in with the locals, but extra options are always good, so all the info is here.
Now you're in the know, do tell us if you've been to these secluded beaches and where your favourite spots are on the Amalfi Coast!
Here's another one of ours...