Despite being hailed as the Cilento coast’s main resort, Palinuro remains relatively low-key (and low-rise), with a tangible fishing-village feel. Located in a picturesque bay sheltered by a promontory, and with superb beaches, it gets crowded with Italian holidaymakers in August.
About 3.5km east of Amalfi, or a steep kilometre-long walk down from Ravello, Minori is a small, workaday town, popular with holidaying Italians. Scruffier than its refined coastal cousins Amalfi and Positano, it’s no less dependent on tourism, yet seems more genuine, with its festive seafront, pleasant beach, atmospheric pedestrian shopping streets and noisy traffic jams.
Marina di Furore, a tiny fishing village, was once a busy little commercial centre, although it’s difficult to believe that today. In medieval times, its unique natural position freed it from the threat of foreign raids and provided a ready source of water for its flour and paper mills.
The first town you come to following the coast west from Sorrento is Massa Lubrense. Situated 120m above sea level, it’s a disjointed place, comprising a small town centre and 17 frazioni (fractions or hamlets) joined by an intricate network of paths and mule tracks. For those without a donkey, there are good road connections and SITA buses regularly run between them.
East of Sorrento
More developed and less appealing than the coast west of Sorrento, the area to the east of town is not totally without interest. There’s the district’s longest sandy beach, Spiaggia di Alimuri, at Meta di Sorrento and, 12km beyond that, the Roman villas at Castellammare di Stabia.
Despite the ring of drab modern housing blocks that announces Benevento, the city boasts a lovely centre peppered with remnants of its ancient past. Nestled in the green hills of the Apennines, it was originally known as Maleventum but was renamed Beneventum after the Romans ousted the Samnites in 275 BC.
Little more than a series of private bathing facilities, Marina Piccola is on the southern side of the island, directly south of Marina Grande. A short bus ride from Capri Town, or a downhill 15-minute walk, it has a 50m-long public pebble beach hemmed in by the Scoglio delle Sirene (Rock of the Sirens) at the western end and the Torre Saracena (Saracen Tower) at the other.
Sant’Agata sui due Golfi
Perched high in the hills above Sorrento, Sant’Agata sui due Golfi is the most famous of Massa Lubrense’s 17 frazioni. Boasting spectacular views of the Bay of Naples on one side and the Gulf of Salerno on the other (hence its name, ‘St Agatha on the two Gulfs’), it’s a tranquil place that manages to retain its rustic charm despite a fairly heavy hotel presence.
Sant’Angelo & the South Coast
Tiny Sant’Angelo attracts a voguish crowd with its chic boutiques, seafront restaurants and great beaches. Quiet lanes spill down the hill to fashionable Piazetta Ottorino Troia, where tanned Italians sip Campari soda and take in late-night summer music concerts.
Known to the Romans as Aequa, Vico Equense (Vico) is a small cliff-top town about 10km east of Sorrento and just five stops away via the Circumvesuviana train. Largely bypassed by international tourists, it’s a laid-back, authentic place worth a quick stopover, if only to sample some of the famous pizza by the metre.
In the 1950s and 1960s, French starlets and European royalty came to play at the legendary Terme Regina Isabella spa resort. The stars may have gone but one local icon remains, sprouting out of the sea: the iconic Il Fungo (The Mushroom) is a 10m volcanic rock formation spat out by Monte Epomeo thousands of years ago.