LETTER FROM OVERSEAS EDITOR

In light of all my travels, people often ask me the obvious question, “So where is your favourite place in the world?” Naturally, it’s an impossible topic to answer given the endless variables which have to be qualified with such a query – culturally, visually, historically, favourite beach, favourite city, favourite mountain, which?? But forced to give one reply, my answer is always the same, “Costiera Amalfitana – the Amalfi Coast of Italy.” Looking back, I recognise my heart has been drawn to places first rather than people and I’ve fallen instinctively for the geography of lands. And the ultimate geography in Italy is found along the Amalfi Coast.

Water Ride PositanoThe area is reached by only two routes – via boat or by the famed Blue Highway. South of Sorrento, the barely two-lane wide road winds its way along the cliff-side Amalfi Coast exposing incessant hairpin turns and dizzying precipices dropping straight into the sea. With vertigo inducing panoramas unfolding at every turn, The Blue Highway reminds us of the precariousness of life on the edge. Each curve, rounding each corner, you find the light, then lose it, then find it again. For a moment you’ll be bathed in blinding sunshine, then dark shadows. This coastline, you’ll discover, is all about finding the perfect vista and, hence, chasing the light. The light represents all things good – beauty, hope, inspiration, love. In fact, the scenery here is so inspiring that Italians decided to add three of its most picturesque towns – Positano, Ravello and Amalfi. (In Edge Gold List I also highlight the Bay of Naples’s most compelling island, Capri.)

I first fell under the spell of this area in 2001 during a long summer in Positano (yes, it was an Italian romance) when I spent those days and weeks exploring and appreciating the Amalfi Coast with mia amore as my cultural teacher. That initial time in Positano, despite feeling like a dream now, did in reality alter the course of my life forever and each trip back I’m reminded of the magic that is possible there. As John Steinbeck famously said of Positano, “A dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and beckoningly real after you have gone.” After all, it’s a land so beautiful it’s the stuff of fairy tales. And, as we’d all like to believe, once in a Blue Highway, I mean blue moon, fairy tales can come true.

Sincerely, Kimberly Rosbe
Editor at Large

EDITORIAL
View

The Bluest View

I’m on the back of a motorcycle roaring up the Blue Highway from Positano to Ravello. And no, I don’t mean scooter, I mean a proper Harley. I’m trying to seem unfazed and elegant in my sidesaddle position and white skirt a la Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday and muffle the screeching inside my head despite the treacherous cliffs with no barriers inches from us. Reaching Ravello we stroll hand in hand to the Villa Cimbrone stealing kisses along the way. As we meander through the rose gardens, I listen intently to his broken English and Italian describing the history and culture of Ravello dating back to the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire when aristocrats and noblemen escaped to these hills to build another life. He leads me to what he describes as un panorama grande. The view from the Cimbrone’s Belvedere of Infinity terrace hovering in the clouds overlooks the entire Amalfi Coast and Bay of Salerno leaving me speechless. But others have found the words. When seeing this vista for the first time, poet Gabriele d’Annunzio declared it to be the only place in the world you can be “kissed by eternity.” My sentiments exactly.

FEATURE

Best of the Amalfi Coast

POSITANO

Positano

The town that launched a thousand postcards was a secret to the world, closely guarded by a handful of Italian writers and painters until John Steinbeck visited in 1953 and subsequently penned an article for Harper’s Bazaar exposing Positano’s magical dolce vita. By the mid-1960’s the Kennedy’s had discovered Positano and holidaying here became more fashionable than Capri. Arriving in Positano from the Amalfi Drive, the first glimpse of this magical village is from the point of view of the Madonna high on a cliff surrounded by Luigi’s fruit and vegetable stands of hanging lemons, strings of red tomatoes, chilies and garlic. Turn right and begin the descent into town after you nod to the locals perched lackadaisically on the black and white stones opposite the Bar Internazionale. Sitting on the wall or at an outdoor cafe contemplating the state of the world is the favourite pastime of locals – a relaxed attitude that one must adopt to fully appreciate the way of life in Positano. Positano’s role is to simply look beautiful and be enchanting. So don’t rush. Take your time on all those famous scalinatella, the thousand step stairways that zigzag up and down the steep hillsides of this spectacularly fairy tale beautiful vertical town.

Bar De MartinoWhile at the zenith of Positano, stop at the Villa Franca and ask Roberto, the concierge, if you can take a photo from their roof top pool, one of the three best in town (the Covo dei Saraceni and Le Sirenuse boast the other two finest). Villa Franca’s elevator will whisk you up to this sky pool which commands a 360 degree view from Paestum to Capri. Halfway down the Viale Pasitea you’ll come to the Bar de Martino, a Positano institution, where day or night friends or loners enjoy a glass of wine or acqua minerale. The cafe sits on one side of the road and its tables and yellow umbrellas skirt the railing overlooking the Bay, so be careful crossing the road with your coffee. The winding staircase starting below the Bar de Martino will take you all the way to the waterfront on foot. As you wind your way towards the main piazza by car or scooter, Positano spills down with you like a waterfall of pink, cream and yellow villas and pensiones covered in bright hues of abundant bougainvillea. When you reach the Piazza dei Mulini, take in your surroundings through a feast of the senses. Church bells donging on the hour, boys zipping by on scooters, tourists eating in restaurants, the smell of wild mint and fennel mixed with roasting garlic, the majestic green mountains soaring above, the cobalt blue Bay of Positano with fishing boats bopping below, the tiny piazzas, the endless paths and stairs – all intersect to create the theatre on Positano’s grand stage. And the show will not disappoint.

Positano

From the Piazza dei Mulini first head up the Via Cristoforo Colombo and stop off on your left at the Carro Galleria for fine art. Vincenzo Aprile’s oil paintings of the region are my favourite (one of Positano hangs over my writing desk, a gift from the Carro family themselves). A few moments farther up the lane, stop at Le Sirenuse, the town’s most elegant hotel previously the noble Neapolitan summer home of the Marchesi Sersale family. Its pool terrace is THE place to have lunch with lounging international jet setters overlooking the Duomo and islands of the Sirens for which the hotel took its name. After lunch meander back to the Piazza dei Mulini and descend the Via dei Mulini on foot shopping at dozens of linen boutiques along the way. First you’ll pass another of Positano’s culinary treasures, Max’s Ristorante. Across the street peek into the majestic 18th century Palazzo Murat Hotel’s courtyard and garden then continue onto the town’s church, the Santa Maria Assunta whose brightly-coloured majolica tiled dome is Positano’s most celebrated landmark. When you get to the bottom and waterfront, there is a pebbly grey beach (Marina Grande), a million little fishing boats and a row of three restaurants terrific for people watching while munching on wood-fired authentic Neapolitan pizza – Tres Sorelle, Chez Black or Buca di Baco.

Curve past the Covo dei Saraceni on the edge of the harbour around the quay where ferries to Capri and Amalfi depart and follow the staircase leading to the Via Postinesi d’America, one of the most charming stone pathways in town. Pass the Trasita Tower and continue onto a lovely beach guarded by two watch towers called Fornillo, as good as beaches get in Italy. After a sun and a swim, go to Lo Guarrancino to snack on grilled fish and sip an afternoon limoncello, the Amalfi Coast’s signature cocktail.

Fornillo If you have time and want a serious cardiovascular workout, take the bus up to Montepertuso and hike between the hamlets of Montepertuso and Nocelle, villages 3 km above Positano. As legend goes, the devil challenged the Virgin Mary to blow a hole in the mountain, the winner to take control of the mountain. The devil tried yet failed, while the Virgin Mary calmly walked through the mountain leaving the hole still visible today. The locals re-enact the scene every July 2nd with a fireworks parade from Montepertuso. Looking up from Positano, it appears the mountain is on fire while ashes and sparks float down to Positano below – so take cover on that special night.

FornilloThe classic way to end the perfect day in Positano is to watch the sunset from the San Pietro’s ornate grand terrace. Although the ultra-secluded 6 star hotel gem is two miles by road outside of Positano, alternatively simply take a 5 minute boat ride from the main spiagga to the San Pietro’s private waterway entrance. An elevator ride through the rock and cliffs dripping with bourgonvillea, you’ll reach their hand-painted multi-coloured Neopolitan tile terrace suspended 300 feet over the sparkling Bay of Positano. Enveloped by the perfume of dichondra, roses and fuschia, raise your glass and toast to Paradise as the yellow sun begins to sink over twinkling Positano. After dinner, join the locals at Music on the Rocks – a disco and separate open-air piano bar carved into the cliffs above the end of the main beach.

LOCATION: 35 miles southeast of Naples, 10 miles east of Sorrento; buses depart frequently from Sorrento or Amalfi; 20 minute hydrofoil from Capri or 15 minute ferry from Amalfi or Sorrento

POSITANO HOTELS

SirenuseSan Pietro – 6* – Two miles outside of Positano, a tiny entrance discreetly covered in ivy opens the gateway to the most prestigious hotel in the region and arguably the finest in the country. The hotel’s seclusion has made it coveted by VIPs and Hollywood elite. Several years ago, Julia Roberts escaped the omnipresent paparazzi of Capri to peaceful isolation at the San Pietro. The hotel itself has been dynamited out of sheer rock and hangs hundreds of feet over the Bay of Positano. Its suites are the last word on lux with private lounged terraces dangling over the sea, floor-to-ceiling windows, hand-painted furniture and elegant tile work in the sunken bathtubs flanked by picture perfect windows. It also offers a tennis court, a private beach and its own excursion boat with free shuttles to Positano’s main spiagga.

Le Sirenuse – 5*– Well-positioned for Positano dining and shopping just a few steps up from the main piazza along the Via Cristoforo Columbo, Le Sirenuse has been the choice for the international jet set since 1951. Cool and sophisticated white rooms and suites with superb views from every room. The numerous public lounge spaces contain white couches and Venetian and Neapolitan antiques yet the hotel maintains the atmosphere of a private home. Le Sirenuse’s yacht takes guests out to Li Galli and other coastal destinations several times per week. La Sponda, the hotel’s restaurant, is excellent.

Villa Franca – 4*– At the highest hilltop in Positano, the Villa Franca is an elegant hotel with the most impressive roof top pool in the town. From its perch you have panoramic views of Positano, Priano and the coast and sea. Bright Mediterranean decor and frescoed details in the standard, superior and deluxe rooms. Free bus shuttle into town – drop off and pick up at main piazza on the hour until 11pm.

CovoPalazzo Murat – 4* – In the heart of Positano just steps down from the Piazza dei Mulini on the left (reached only by foot from the piazza), this 18th century Baroque palazzo once belonged to Joachim Murat, briefly the King of Naples. Today it retains an old-world charm and authentic atmosphere with antiques in every room and a beautiful courtyard with tropical palms and exotic flowers where classical concerts take place during summer. Ask for a room in the Old Wing with ballroom high ceilings on the 3rd or 4th floor. The best room is No.5 on the 3rd floor with a grand view of the Bay and the cathedral’s dome.

Covo dei Saraceni – 4* – Located at the bottom of the hill right on the edge of the harbour where the hydrofoil/ferry comes in, the Covo dei Saraceni has been owned by the Carro family for over a century. The Covo is a Positano institution – best captured on film in a scene from Only You when Robert Downey Jr. ponders destiny while watching Marisa Tomei dine with another man at the Covo’s restaurant. Its rooms are simple and tastefully furnished and most have views over the water, but the Covo’s highlight is its prime pool location. Relax and let the sound of the sea lull you into a reverie.

Poseidon – 3/4* – Competitively priced four star, the most health and fitness-oriented hotel in Positano with a beauty centre, heated swimming pool, solarium, gym, sauna and hydromassage room. Located in a pretty garden just off the Viale Pasitea. Rooms have panoramic balconies where breakfast is served.

L’Ancora – 3*– Perched over the Spiaggia Grande, this small pensione with 18 rooms is simple and clean and a good alternative to the more expensive hotels in town. The rooms have the same designer as the Covo dei Saraceni. Offers ample parking, a rarity in the centre of town.

RAVELLO

Ravello

For a person like me – a writer, a romantic – beauty has no equal to Ravello. This town may be the most sublime spot on earth. For its perfect vistas alone, Ravello is literally a balcony for the Amalfi Coast. From endless vantage points 1,500 feet atop Monte Cerreto, its views stretch along the entire coast from Atrani to the temples of Paestum. Ravello is certainly the loveliest of the lovely villages along this coastline – a tiny town seemingly hanging in the clouds reigning like an aristocrat over the Gulf of Salerno and villages below. Most famous for its summer classical concerts and its gardens, Ravello represents nature’s music. Reveling in Ravello’s quiet contemplative atmosphere and secluded beautiful setting, the town’s romantic decaying ambience has attracted scores of famous writers, artists and musicians including Richard Wagner, Virginia Woolf, the Bloomsburys and D.H. Lawrence. Clearly creatively inspiring, Ravello manages to remain set apart from the world, distinctive in its superior solitude, serenity and breathtaking grandeur where cypresses and lemon groves are abundant, gardens burst with colour, vineyards roll across sloping hills, and the sea and sky are so blue that you cannot tell where one begins and the other ends. One day I hope to return here to marry.

Reached on foot from Amalfi below or by road 5 km inland from the coast road, Ravello stands alone on its stone perch. The winding ascent abruptly stops just outside the town’s walls and it’s all on foot from here, even getting to your hotel. There are two main attractions beyond the vistas, food and peacefulness – the Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbrone. Once the 13th century estate of one of Italy’s wealthiest men Landolfo Rufolo, the Villa Rufolo became immortalized when Wagner arrived in 1880 so inspired by its terraced flowerbeds and romantic ruins that he knew he had found the magic garden of Klingsor, the setting for the second act of his opera Parsifal. In fact, the great 19th century composer sat down at the Villa’s untuned piano and hammered out the music for the entire second act in two nights. The view from its upper terrace commands a celestial view of blue as far as the eye can see. Today the medieval gardens and awesome vista are home to stirring encores during its world-famous open-air summer concerts, the Festival Musicale di Ravello. There are ode to Wagner concerts in July and midnight concerts in August (Concerti di Mezzanotte that begin at 11pm). The most unique music event of the summer is the Concerto all’Alba, usually during the second week in August, when the entire town wakes up at 4:30am to watch the sun rise over the Bay to the accompaniment of a full symphony orchestra.

RavelloThe town’s other garden estate, the Villa Cimbrone, is slightly harder to reach but well worth the effort. Follow the Via San Francesco from the main Duomo piazza past the Villa Maria into the hills and you’ll reach the entrance to the Villa Cimbrone built at the beginning of the 20th century by Lord Grimthorpe. Later Greta Garbo and conductor Leopold Stokowski used the villa as their love nest. Lord Grimthorpe built a Gothic crypt, a Norman-Arabic cloister, a turreted tower, a Temple of Bacchus and a Grotto of Eve all surrounded by rows and rows of roses, camellias and exotic plants. The highlight is the Belvedere of Infinity at the end of the property and edge of the cliff which is grandly lined with classical busts and a view that stretches along the coast all the way across the Bay of Salerno to Paestum.

Hungry after all this sightseeing, the best dining in town is in the hotels, most notably the Villa Maria, the Caruso and the Palazzo Sasso – all three have open-air balcony settings with incredible vistas to admire while you eat. A less expensive alternative is the trattoria Cumpa Cosimo near the cathedral. The town’s cathedral San Pantaleone, named after Ravello’s patron, and the two churches Santa Maria a Gradello and San Giovanni del Toro are also worth a visit. From Ravello, for a refreshing stroll in the clean mountain air, there is a wonderful 1 1/2 km walk to Scala, a village on the opposite side of the Dragone Valley and the smallest and oldest of the three Amalfian towns. In summer, linger in Ravello’s magical mystical gardens and steal a kiss from your amore as classical music hangs in the balmy night air.

Ravello

LOCATION: 41 miles southeast of Naples, 18 miles west of Salerno, just up the hill from Amalfi. Transfer to the local buses from Amalfi which depart hourly between 7am and 10pm. Use of cars restricted in Ravello.

RAVELLO HOTELS

Villa Maria

Hotel Caruso Belvedere – 5*– Reopened in 2005 by Orient-Express after a major refurbishment, the Hotel Caruso set a new standard for service quickly apparent when they poached the maitre d’ from the Palace Hotel in Gstaad and the concierge from the Park Hyatt Milan. Only 26 rooms and 24 suites offering unrivaled panoramic views of the coast, the hotel retains its medieval ambience with Roman pillars, a 16th century chapel and 18th century frescoes. Its infinity pool perched atop Ravello’s highest point at 365 metres above the sea is nothing less than jawdropping. Experiencing dining on the Caruso restaurant terrace overlooking the myriad lights of the bay is unforgettable. Bonus: Complimentary boat excursions and shuttle service to Amalfi and Positano.

Palazzo Sasso – 5*– Set in a converted 12th century grand house on the eastern edge of Ravello and painted a light pink, the Virgin Group restored the Palazzo Sasso with characteristic Richard Branson glitz and glamour in 1997. 32 rooms and 12 suites share a rooftop jacuzzi, waterfall, glass elevator and Empire-size salons. Its two-star Michelin rated restaurant Rossellinis under chef Pino Lavarra considered the best on the entire Amalfi Coast.

Villa Maria – 4*– Perhaps the most welcoming place to stay in Ravello and my personal favourite for its authenticity (don’t expect the staff to speak English). Although its rooms are less expensive, splurge for the suite which is still very reasonably priced for its size. Its one suite (Room #3) has the single most impressive wrap-around terrace in Ravello boasting an astonishing 360-degree view. Even if you don’t stay here, it’s worth coming to eat in its acclaimed restaurant very near the Villa Cimbrone.

Hotel Giordano – 3*– For a more modern, less atmospheric and less expensive option, the owner of Villa Maria also runs nearby Hotel Giordano. Giordano does have a car park and heated outdoor pool and a staff with a wealth of useful information on the area.

Villa Amore – 2*– For a five-star view at a third of the price, Villa Amore offers the same matchless views as Ravello’s grandest hotels. A warm, homely atmosphere pervades for its 12 clean simple rooms.

AMALFI

Amalfi

Amalfi is steeped in a glorious maritime history deserving of our respect. From 800 to 1100 AD, Amalfi was the centre of a flourishing maritime republic rivaling Pisa, Genoa and even Venice. A reminder of the town’s golden age, Amalfi hosts the Palio delle Quattro Repubbliche Marinare – a regatta race on the first Sunday in June shared between the four former republic’s ports. Today, the pretty lemon-fringed resort town is the tourist hub of the Amalfi Coast lining both sides of the steep Valle dei Mulini overlooking the blue Gulf of Salerno. Unlike Positano, Amalfi entirely faces the southern sun so you can swim here from April to December. I would avoid the packed main beach/spiagga and seek out cleaner, quieter water in the series of coves to the west reached by regular circular ferry service from the main quay.

The city’s most famous landmark is its stirring 11th-century medieval cathedral Sant’Andrea. Set atop a flight of 62 steps, the church covered in Byzantine mosaics and bronze doors cast in Constantinople stands as a glittering testament to the wealth of Amalfi during its heyday. Begin your tour of the town at the cathedral’s home in the Piazza del Duomo, then walk up to the Hotel Luna Convento, the more tastefully designed of Amalfi’s two monastery hotels where Mussolini and Tennesse Williams once rested their heads. Perched on a rocky promontory on the Gulf, its Saracen tower holds weekly cooking seminars teaching Southern Italian cooking hosted by chef Enrico Franzese. From the Piazza del Duomo, walk the pedestrian-only path, Via Annunziata, which ascends cliff-side past the town’s prettiest pastel houses to the Hotel Cappuccini Convento where you must stop for lunch on its veranda. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was so moved by Convento’s panoramic veranda that he composed a poem to honour the spot.

PogerolaTime for a bit of shopping? Finding a souvenir is easy in Amalfi as there is one logical choice – stationery. The town is famous for its historic paper mills which can be reached following the Via Genova and Via Capuano to the Valle dei Mulini, a deep valley housing some of Europe’s first paper-making factories powered by a series of watermills. If you want to avoid the hike, you can also watch paper being made and purchase your own products at Armatruda in central Amalfi on the Via Fiume near the museum. However, walking shoes are a must in this region as one of the most pleasant ways to spend your afternoons in Amalfi is to meander along the many lovely paths that navigate the steep hills into the interior of the peninsula. If you are up for a climb, the best views from Amalfi require work via a number of vertical paths heading up thousands of stairs. My favourite is the one leading to the castle of Pogerola with a splendid vista overlooking the Gulf of Amalfi. For dinner, one restaurant stands out above the rest for its grilled fish and panna cotta – La Caravella. To avoid the mass crowds of day-trippers during the high-season summer months, visit Amalfi during May/early June or September/October. Although the summer months do bring a number of cultural events including the Notte concerts on the Piazza Duomo and the festival of Sant’Andrea from June 25-30th.

LOCATION: 38 miles southeast of Naples, 20 miles west of Salerno, 11 miles southeast of Positano. Easily reached by ferry or hydrofoil from Salerno, Positano or Capri. An express bus runs between Naples and Amalfi through the Lattari mountains, pick up from harbourfront Piazza Flavio Gioia.

AMALFI HOTELS

Santa Caterina – 5*– The choice of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in 1962, this legendary complex is comprised of a turn-of-the-century mansion on a terraced hillside above the sea amongst lush gardens, three villa annexes and one Victorian chalet. Waterside restaurant, beach and pool accessed by a private elevator. Located 1km outside Amalfi.

Hotel Luna Convento – 4*– Monastery converted into first hotel on the Amalfi Coast on eastern edge of town, comfortable 46 rooms and suites, a Baroque church, a bay-side swimming pool and Saracen tower.

Hotel Cappuccini Convento – 4*– Isolated over the town on the mountainside cloaked in lemon groves, the surroundings are reminiscent of its monastery beginnings with dark, unsophisticated rooms. With meals taken in the original refectory, a spiritual hush seems to prevail throughout the hotel. For atmosphere, this place is hard to beat.

Amalfi – 3*– The town’s best three-star, up a flight of stairs from the main street on a quiet lane, it has a panoramic rooftop terrace where breakfast is served. Good value in high-season.

Albergo S. Andrea – 2*– 12 room budget charmer located in the main square opposite the cathedral. No need for an alarm clock, the church bells will wake you.

EDGE GOLD LIST

BEST BAY OF NAPLES ISLAND

CAPRI

Capri Boat

After visiting Capri in 1910, Vladimir Lenin declared, “Capri makes you forget everything.” Since the age of Roman emperors, travelers have flocked to the Bay of Naples’ most beautiful island to experience its mysterious blue grottoes, cliff-faced vistas, sapphire bays and interesting ruins. Today, unfortunately, Capri makes you remember how much mass tourism is despised as during the high season (June through August) the town’s main streets and marina are packed with day trippers. Every year the mayor announces that he is considering limiting the number of daily visitors. But in time-honoured Caprese fashion, every year he doesn’t. So Capri is best appreciated by staying overnight. Even during high season, the island quiets down considerably in the evening when the lights come on in the Piazzetta. Discriminating travelers forsake Capri town and the Blue Grotto in search of secluded hotels, peaceful vistas and off-the-beaten track places like the Punta Tragara or even venture up to Anacapri. Rise early to tackle one of Capri’s numerous walking trails as the sun illuminates this veritable Garden of Eden boasting over 800 species of flowers and plants cascading over the sheer chunks of limestone tumbling into the sea. If possible, visit as early as April or as late as October to avoid the crowds while still enjoying balmy and sunny weather. Those months Capri remains truly enchanting. Whenever you visit, however, Capri fever still manages to cast a spell.

Capri

Arriving by ferry or hydrofoil into the Marina Grande, hire a convertible taxi to ascend the sheer road to Capri town and the main Piazzetta, the core of the Capri experience and perhaps the archetype of the idyllic Mediterranean island square. You will return to the Marina Grande only to catch a boat to the Blue Grotto or take a sea excursion around the island. Other iridescent caverns worth a visit are the Grotta Bianca and the Grotta Verde which grant breathtaking views of the cliffs and rock formations. If you are here to shop, head towards the Via Vittoria Emanuele to Via Camarelle and Via Tragara for the most exclusive boutiques. For a spectacular view of the I Faraglioni, stroll a half hour down the winding narrow cobblestone Via Tragara passing lovely 19th century villas and gardens and you’ll eventually reach the famed Punta Tragara. The three enormous limestone pinnacles towering straight up through the ever blue-green sea are the Faraglioni. From the Punta Tragara terrace, a stairway descends to a point called the Porto di Tragara where you can swim from the platforms beneath the vertical rocks. The best way to explore the Localita Faraglioni is to take the hour and a half long hike along the Giro dell’Arco Naturale, a scenic cliff-side trail which can be reached from the Punta Tragara. On a clear day, you will be able to see all the way to Positano. The trail passes the stone pinnacle Pizzoluongo, Villa Solitaria (Capri’s most evocative turn-of-the-century house hanging above the sea), modernist design Villa Malaparte and the Grotto di Matermania, a natural cave used by ancient Romans as a shrine honouring the Mater Magna.

Villa San Michele Sphinx

Another day, taxi up to Anacapri for a visit to the stunning Villa San Michele built in the late 19th century and once the site of the villa of Emperor Tiberius. Legend says the ringing of the chapel’s bells is supposedly the spirit of Tiberius begging forgiveness for sentencing Jesus. The Villa San Michele is now the queen of Capri houses filled with Gothic furniture, an abundance of ornate antiquities and marble busts. The villa is most famous for its pergola covered in wisteria, roses, honeysuckle and bougainvillea and a view to Calabria. At the end of the colonnade is a belvedere containing a stone sphinx. If you stroke its hind legs with your left hand, legend has it your deepest wishes will come true. In summer, come here for Friday night concerts.

LOCATION: Island 12 miles southeast of Naples, 5 miles east of Sorrento. Capri reached by hydrofoil or ferry from the Molo Beverello in Naples or the Marina Piccola in Sorrento. By helicopter from Naples Capodichino airport to the heliport in Anacapri. Ferries to Capri also from Salerno, Amalfi and Positano.

CAPRI HOTELS

Grand Hotel Quisisana – 5*– Capri institution conveniently located near the Piazzetta, this cream and white neoclassical facade contains the island’s top luxury hotel with two swimming pools, a shaded garden, a gym and health club and a refined atmosphere. Although this hotel must be mentioned as it is the usual choice, this would not be my pick as there are many other less expensive, much more charming and exclusive hotel choices beyond the Piazzetta insanity with far better views. At least stop in for a wood-fired Neapolitan pizza poolside at La Colombaia.

La Scalinatella – 4*– With a focus on treasured privacy, this jewel of a boutique hotel has superb, although a bit haughty service. The interior of its 28 rooms and suites, most with private terraces, exude romanticism with Moorish-style facades. The hotel does not take tour groups and is located a bit of a walk down Via Tragara.

Hotel Punta Tragara – 4*– Located at the absolute end of the Via Tragara, this hotel is my favourite on the island with the best views, a multi-level terraced seawater pool and prettiest restaurant in Campania, La Bussola. This pale pink hotel designed by Le Corbusier in the 1940s as a private home receives a perfect score for location with all of the suites having panoramic balconies overlooking I Faraglioni. (a total of only 50 rooms) The service is not always impeccable and a little slow, but who cares, the view is to die for.

Villa Brunella – 4*– My favourite place to have lunch in Capri after a morning of shopping, Villa Brunella almost at the end of Via Tragara, is a long narrow hotel descending the hillside with views over Marina Piccola and Monte Solaro. Due to its clever design, every room has panoramic terraces. The staff are all smiles, friendly and welcoming. The emphasis here is on villa-style accommodation well-suited for those looking for a retreat.

Villa Krupp – 2*– Best option in this price range, the white Villa Krupp is perched above the Gardens of Augustus with terrific views over the sea. Formerly Maxim Gorky’s house, the hotel’s ambience is relaxed and the rooms clean and bright, many with terraces over the sea. For high season stays this hotel needs to be booked well in advance.

EDGE PHOTO COMPETITION

Edge photo competition winner - Braun family

Edge Around the World

The winner of this month’s Edge Around the World Photo Competition is the Braun Family! This photo of Peter Braun was taken in Van Village, Mai Chau, Vietnam having a traditional lunch at the home of a Thai ethnic minority family during the family’s cycling tour of the region’s ethnic villages. Congrats Braun Family! Please see Yvonne to claim your travel-related prize.

Our Edge staff continues to participate in an internal Around the World photo competition highlighting their extensive globe-trotting travels. Pictured below is our own Amy Wasbutzki on a recent trip to the Kimberleys on a small craft flight to Bungle Bungles.

Amy

For everyone else – keep your entries coming. Next issue coming out beginning of August, our favourite client’s photo will be chosen and featured in the leisure newsletter and receive a travel-related prize. For consideration for the August issue, entries must be received by July 10th. (details below).

Simply shoot and win! Executive Edge Travel & Events announces its first all-client worldwide competition with exciting bi-monthly travel prizes. Everyone can participate and has a chance to win. Only three simple steps to enter:

  1. Book your trip with Executive Edge Travel
  2. Take a photo in a fantastic unique location of you or your family which clearly displays the Executive Edge white travel wallet. The better the background, the more spectacular the setting, the more likely you will be chosen.
  3. Email your photo, name and location to our Office Manager Athina Morfis at athinam@executiveedge.com.au

5 WAYS TO SAVE TODAY

Some of the best travel deals in years are available now – but you have to know where to look. Travel experts say we are facing a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of events with airline overcapacity, the low cost of oil, a plethora of new hotels and an economic crisis of centennial proportions. What does all this mean for you? It’s a buyer’s market and bargain central. But the deals are not universal – here are some tips which will allow you and your family to find the pockets of opportunity in the coming months and 5 ways to save big.

London
  1. LONDON – Still an expensive destination, but it’s 35% cheaper than last year thanks to the weak British pound. Furthermore, their hotels are virtually empty and are discounting heavily. Also, go online before your trip to get free entry to many museums – www.VisitBritian.com
  2. U.S. CONVENTION CITIES – Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Hawaii, Arizona and Orlando, Florida all are offering serious discounts. Large, high-end resorts that normally draw corporate meetings or cater to convention groups are the hardest-hit segment of the hotel market. Since luxury resorts/hotels are afraid of lowering their nightly rates outright, for fear they may not be able to raise them again, these hotels are discounting in other ways. Rather than lowering their room rates directly, these hotels are offering substantial added-value incentives such as free nights, free meals, free spa treatments, resort credits, etc.
  3. ALL INCLUSIVE RESORTS – Some all inclusive resorts are lowering prices by huge percentages. In the Caribbean, Sandals and Beaches resorts have slashed prices by up to 55%, even during high season.
  4. AFRICAN SAFARIS – Travelers who book through Edge consultants or other travel specialists who have negotiated exclusive, confidential rates direct with lodges can save up to 40% in South Africa and up to 30% in East Africa.
  5. LAST MINUTE DEALS – Travel companies are unveiling last minute deals all over the globe every day. If your dates are flexible and you are willing to consider various destinations, you may be able to save BIG. Check with your Edge consultant every week for the latest on great discounts around the world in air travel, hotels and car rentals.

EDGE TRAVEL

Anthony’s Travel Diary –
Hong Kong

Hong Kong

Well, it’s not as much fun arriving into Hong Kong since commercial airlines ceased flying into Kai Tak Airport in 1998. Back then one almost felt as though they could reach out the cabin window and pluck Mrs. Wong’s laundry off the line suspended from her kitchen window as the aircraft weaved through the obscenely tall residential buildings. Chek Lap Kok Airport, built on the island of the same name, is situated a lot further out but is no less convenient with the high speed train taking approximately 30 minutes with just one stop before arrival in Kowloon followed by the final stop in Central.

The big question is where to stay – Kowloon side or on the island? Reality is that they are just one stop difference on the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) or five minutes on the ferry across the wonderful Hong Kong Harbour from each other. Each side of the harbour has its own appeal. Arguably Hong Kong Island has a more sophisticated feel whereas Kowloon feels a little more local. But one thing is guaranteed – the shopping is brilliant on both. If it’s copy designer garb you’re after, take a stroll around the markets of Kowloon. Or if you’re pockets are loaded enough to seek out the real thing, best you take a stroll through the endless arcades and malls in Central on the island.

LKF or Lan Kwai Fong on Hong Kong Island is the area to find restaurants, bars and clubs made authentic with its steep narrow cobblestone lanes, flashing neon lights and noisy patrons spilling out of the different venues. One could spend an entire night sampling the different establishments and still not experience all the area has to offer.

As a destination or stopover to break a longer journey, Hong Kong has an abundance to offer tourists while also serving as an excellent gateway to mainland China. In just an hour on the train you can be in Shenzen or in a similar amount of time on the ferry you can be in Macau. A tip for those that are spending a few days in Hong Kong: Upon clearing Customs head to the MTR desk in the arrivals hall and purchase an Octopus visitor pass. This pass includes the return rail journey from the airport to downtown Hong Kong and back again as well as 3 days unlimited travel on the MTR which is by far the quickest and most economical way to get around Hong Kong. Zoom from station to station in this somewhat chaotic but incredibly enchanting city.

Amy’s Travel Diary –
Club Med Maldives

Maldives

Last year my husband and I went to the beautiful Maldives for his 40th birthday. Arriving at night, we were transported by speedboat to Club Med Kani – an exclusive private island resort in the Maldives archipelago and one of Club Med’s finest properties. Even in the moonlight, I could see how clear the water was when we got off the boat. I felt my excitement building as we were escorted to our overwater suite. It was absolutely magical. The suites are immense with a huge outdoor deck, balcony and pier for diving straight into the water. Inside we found a separate lounge area with two couches, bedroom with a four-poster bed, massive walk-in closet and truly unique bathroom. Not only is there a shower as well as a free standing bath tub but what makes it special is that there is glass behind the bathtub. So when you are having a bath, all you can see is the water and you feel as if you are floating.

Maldives

And the water is the real highlight in the Maldives. This is what draws everyone here and keeps them spellbound. The crystal clear water was a magnificent turquoise – an absolute pleasure to wake up to each morning. Every morning our ritual was to slip off the end of our personal pier into the 30 degree water and linger before breakfast.

This is a quiet Club Med that really caters to couples. All meals are inclusive as well as all types of beverages. This makes it extremely convenient as the only things that aren’t inclusive are spa treatments and diving. It is a very small island that offers a fantastic spa, snorkeling and diving as well. I had a spa treatment every day as they had a three-day special package – very decadent. Snorkeling was also a highlight as the coral and fish are bountiful like witnessing a rainbow explosion of colour underwater. I can honestly say that the Maldives is spectacular and a perfect way to spend a romantic holiday. I came back saying that it was so beautiful that nothing can ever compare.

Maldives from the air