"Painters, poets, musicians and film stars have flocked to Italy's spectacular Amalfi Coast over the years and it's not hard to see why.
In the torpor of the afternoon, a dog lazes on church steps, tools lie abandoned in an olive grove and washing hangs listlessly on a line. The village seems to hover somewhere between the sea and the sky: a backdrop so blue that it hurts the eyes.
The terraces fall away to a narrow ribbon of asphalt at the cliff edge and, far below, a speedboat cleaves a shimmering wake.This sublime combination of peace and spectacular beauty has attracted painters and poets, musicians and film stars to the Amalfi Coast since the 19th century.
JMW Turner, DH Lawrence and Richard Wagner all found inspiration here, and Greta Garbo came to escape the paparazzi. Today that sense of romance is still palpable and the coastline remains remarkably unspoilt.
The steep terrain has discouraged rampant development and the resorts retain a village feel. Behind the shingle coves, the higgledy-piggledy streets hide friendly trattorias and shops selling textiles, handmade paper and quirky ceramics. The Neapolitan cuisine is strong on seafood and the local lemons crop up in everything from pasta dishes to sweets and liqueurs.
For sunshine and culture, this part of Italy is hard to beat. The sights of Pompeii are less than an hour away and the museums and art galleries of Naples are not much further. And for a shot of additional jet-set glamour, you can always take the hydrofoil to Capri. Alexandra Ferguson"