Amalfi Coast intermezzo

Sometimes the shortest of breaks can give the biggest recharge to your batteries. The three nights I recently spent on Italy's Amalfi Coast, at two wonderful but very different hotels, was welcome respite from autumnal wind and rain and proved that quality not quantity really does make the difference!

My first port of call was the Monastero Santa Rosa, once the home of a Dominican order of nuns but now a spa hotel of unremitting luxury, whose rooms and infinity pool command sweeping views of the Mediterranean from their spectacular clifftop perch a mile west along the coast road from Amalfi.

Jane Italy Fam Sep 2012, Santa rosa terrace

The spa itself is state of the art and one of a select few allowed to use Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella products, which are made to order by this ancient Florentine company using the original methods and recipes created by Dominican monks in 1612.

I then moved to the picturesque town of Ravello for a final night at the Caruso, a very elegant Orient Express property that has the feel of an intimate Italian villa - staff are relaxed yet attentive, the style informal yet traditional. And, as with so many hotels on the Amalfi coast, the food was out of this world, sublimely thin and crispy pizza from the wood burning oven at the poolside bar for lunch followed by an al fresco dinner of fresh seafood and local specialities on the restaurant terrace with the lights of Maiori and Minori twinkling in the distance.

Jane Italy Fam Sep 2012, Caruso lunchtime pizza

The drive back to Naples and the flight home took me through the mountains and forests of the Riserva Statale Valle delle Ferriere where trees were already heavy with sweet chestnuts - an indication that these warmer, more southerly shores do experience an autumn and a winter, albeit a kinder one than ours!

NB:  Amalfi hotels close in early November for the winter.

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