At Marina Grande, buildings in hues of pinks, whites and yellow crowd the waterfront as an evocative first introduction to the island. Fishing folk mend their nets under laundry hung out to dry and drink at earthy local bars, while waiters serve the catch of the day in well-worn restaurants. Narrow streets curve uphill to the wind-beaten complex of buildings called the Terra Murata, culminating in a rambling ancient abbey: the distinctive surrounding houses feature wide arches and external staircases typical of the island.
From panoramic Piazza dei Martiri, the village of Marina Corricella tumbles down to its marina in a waterfall of pastel colours. Fishing boats complete the rainbow of colours, docked alongside piles of fishing nets and, in the summer, a sprawl of terrace cafes and restaurants. The film classic Il Postino was partly filmed here; it really is a magical spot – don’t miss it.
Further south, off Via Pizzaco, a steep flight of steps leads down to sand-brushed Spiaggia di Chiaia, one of the island’s most beautiful beaches and home to several good seafood restaurants.
Marina di Chiaiolella
All pink, white and blue, crescent-shaped Marina di Chiaiolella was once the crater of a volcano. Today it features a yacht-stocked marina, old-school eateries and a laid-back charm. From the pier, you can catch a brightly painted water taxi to reach several superb beaches in the area (from €10). The crystal-clear waters around here are perfect for diving too.