A sapphire sea sparkles like an ocean of blue diamonds, reflecting a million tiny points of light from the Italian sun. The morning rays of sunlight spill into my room, illuminating the simple elegance of Saracen styled décor surrounding me. Awaking to the sounds of gently crashing waves lapping onto the pebbled beach below, I peek out to gaze at caramel colored cliffs protruding into the skies. Bellissimo.
This breathtaking panorama of southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast fills my entire vision, sweeping unrestrained past colorful little flowerpots across shimmering waters and azure skies. Salty sea breezes of the warm Mediterranean caress my face like an Italian lover.
“Buongiorno!” I’m greeted by Maurizio d’Agostino and his big gentle smile, asking in his musical Italian accent if I slept well and if the beautiful views of the Amalfi Coast agree with me. They couldn’t agree more.
On the main veranda, the warm morning air blows in from the sea through three huge arched glass windows, stirring the scents of breakfast throughout the hotel.
Aromas of buttery croissants, dark coffee, fresh fruits and a sweet, freshly baked cake waft through the air. My senses feel heightened.
This tiny hidden treasure, La Ninfa Hotel, is a precious secret found nestled in seclusion and carved into the dramatic rocky cliffs of the Amalfi Coast. Just 24 miles from the chaos in Naples, peace, romance and tranquility reign supreme on this coast of dreams. In this hotel, all my visions of what Italian charm and isolated intimacy should be have come to life, high above the tranquil waters of the Mediterranean Sea.
“This is beautiful, no?” Again I hear Maurizio’s lilting accent as my vision sweeps the 180-degree panorama of clear skies, soaring mountains and an infinite sea.
“My family wanted to share with the world our fortune of this special location, and of these beautiful views above the ancient mermaid’s sea.”
La Ninfa, meaning “the mermaid” in Italian, is in honor of Hercules’ mermaid lover “Amalfi.” According to ancient legend, she died young, leaving Hercules to bury her in the most beautiful place in the world: the Amalfi Coast. Maurizio winks. With a smile and a sparkle in his eyes, he adds, “It is a romantic story for a truly romantic hotel.”
And romantic it is. Located just outside the ancient medieval city of Amalfi, La Ninfa offers what few smaller hotels can. With a five-star view for a three-star price, lovers and honeymooners are seeking out this sweet little hideaway like bees to honey.
It has less than 10 rooms, half of which have breathtaking sea views. The charming, intimate feel of Hotel La Ninfa brings a sense of easy relaxation and personal attention.
Built in the 1800s, the villa came into the hands of Maurizio’s mother’s family, who transformed it into a hotel in 2003. Renovated with a zodiac theme in the architectural style of the 1950s, the elegant style of terracotta and blue majolica tiles creates an ambiance of fresh, open-air tranquillity during the summer and a warm haven of serenity in the winter.
A short 20-minute walk along the coast brings me to Amalfi, offering an intoxicating blend of traditional culture, pristine nature and fairy-tale romance, all wrapped within the delights of relaxed beach-style living. This is the city that claims my heart: the city of cobblestone paths, secret labyrinth alleyways, tasty Limoncello shops and romantic candlelit restaurants, where lovers sit sipping wine and stealing kisses.
The pristine waters of the secluded beach below beckon. A little adventure down the dramatic 400-step cliff-engraved stairway takes me to the stunning shores of Duoglio Beach, a secluded piece of paradise possessing turquoise waters, two restaurants and all the swimming, snorkeling, canoeing, sailing and windsurfing I could hope for.
You can even take fishing classes from a true Italian pescatore, learning the old methods of how to fish the seas of the Mediterranean.
And then, the bewitching beauty of sunset. With a feeling of dizzy delight and a permanent smile, I lean back and relax on the La Ninfa terrace, sipping an Italian bellini and thinking about the brave little fish that had surrounded my ankles earlier in those waters of blue brilliance.
A cherry pink sun begins to set over the soaring mountains to my right, reflecting off the shimmering waters and fading into the endless sea. I know that unlike the sunset, my memories in this dreamy little paradise will not fade.
If You Go
Hotel La Ninfa
La Ninfa guests have the pre-arranged option of reserving a beach umbrella, lounge chair and elevator access from the Excelsior Hotel to the beach for € 15 (US $23) per day. Bus service is easily accessible to the Amalfi centre, just 2 km (1.2 miles) away.
Rooms include private bath, A/C, color TV and computer connection, with free internet access offered at the front desk. Double and triple rooms range from €40 to €100 (US $55 – $140) depending on the season.
Amalfi Coast Web
Shannon Leigh Antony, a San Diego native of California, has traveled throughout 30 diverse countries pursuing wisdom and adventure, and strives to inspire others through her writing to follow their own dreams and passions. She currently resides on the stunning Amalfi Coast as a freelance travel writer and English teacher, living directly above the Mediterranean Sea with the man of her dreams.