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Travel tips Italy: Sant Agata, Amalfi Coast

Updated: Nov 12, 2022

Sant'Agata is a small food mecca, including Don Alfonso 1890, one of Italy's best restaurants.

This part of the tour is about areas near Sorrento. These can be useful tips so that you can enjoy your trip even more. NB! all my photos are taken with iphone 11.

Normally, we would have traveled by train from Rome to Sorrento, with a change in Naples and a bus or taxi up to Sant'Agata, but since it was mandatory to wear a mask on all public transport and up to 40 degrees, we chose to rent a car instead. Our destination for this part of the trip was a small town, a little way up in the mountains from Sorrento.

Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi. The first joy we got was that it was eight to ten degrees, colder here than down in Sorrento, which had a whopping 41"C.

Pool, hotel, italy
SantÀgata Hotel, (c) Ingar Næss, Norway

Then to our new hotel where we will stay for several nights and take trips around the area to get to know each other. The hotel we had chosen was called Hotel Sant'Agata, which turned out to be a good alternative.

The hotel is simple, but has a great pool area, it is centrally located, and has very nice owners and staff. This is also a family-run, hotel and one of the brothers was a collector. Down in the garage there were over twenty old Vespers and about ten small Fiats. If you are particularly interested, you will probably get a private introduction.

We got a great large room with a view of the city center. Since the room was located with windows to the north, the room was not heated during the day either. Which is good even with quiet air conditioning. Yes, we enjoyed ourselves so much here that we stayed for four whole nights. The pool area was very nice and was one of the reasons why we stayed longer than planned, but all the good restaurants also played a part in this decision. As I said, it was precisely good Italian food that was decisive for the choice, so let's focus a little on the offer of restaurants. First, if you are particularly interested in top food experiences, you have a unique opportunity to experience just that here. Right in the center is one of Italy's very best restaurants, namely Don Alfonso 1890. We first became aware of this restaurant in 2019 when Eivind Hellstrøm recommended it in his program on TV2. Don Alfonso is a two-star Michelin restaurant, which also gives the city a generally good reputation, which in turn means that the other restaurants make an effort to exploit this effect. Some with very good results, others with less luck! Il Fienile - "Value for money" Most often we always ask locals for good restaurant tips, but this time we only used the internet. We weren't going to Don Alfonso, it wasn't in the budget this time!

Il Fienile restaurant. (c) Ingar Naess

Instead, we chose the city's number one, based on its "short-travel kitchen", Il Fienile. We found this restaurant on TripAdvisor and thank you for that. This is a pleasure from start to finish. The hotel we were staying at booked a place for us and one of the owners came and picked us up in a small charming old Fiat 500.

The driver was the youngest son, Antonio, who was also a waiter. He smiled all the time and was very pleasant, like the rest of the family. He said that they had been running this place for ten years, just these days. The restaurant is located approx. 900m from the hotel, up on a hill with a great view of the Amalfi Coast.

As mentioned, they were known for their own local vegetables and olive oil, a lovely one at that. We chose a three-course meal and in addition, we got a welcome taste. We chose, Marinated beef carpaccio with flakes of Parmigiano and balsamic vinegar, Ravioli stuffed with shrimp, crab, and cheese with seafood, and Deep-fried shrimp and squids, with delicious local wine. Dessert was a cake and coffee. When we had to pay we were really surprised, here it was a lot for the money, so, therefore, the recommendation rises far beyond the limits set on TripAdvisor. Of course, we were driven back to the hotel too, "it was just going to be missing". Recommended! So thank you very much for the food for the whole family.

Maria Rosa mamma, Giacomo store bror og Antonio og Luici pappa, Guarracino`s
Il Fienile (c) Ingar Naess

Maria Rosa, mum, Giacomo, big brother, and Antonio and Luici, dad, Guarracino's Sant'Agata is a very pleasant town, with a good atmosphere, and the place is also a great starting point for pleasant day trips if you want to look around a bit.

If you want to travel around a bit to see the small places around this area and or parts of the , Sant'Agata is a great starting point, but if Sorrento is the destination, it only takes around 25 minutes to drive down there. There is a bus, but maybe a taxi is better!

Let's start with Sorrento. We were here for the first time in 2019, after a few days in Naples. When we got off the train in Sorrento at the time, I remember it was like a revelation. Finally a clean and beautiful city, where everything seemed pleasant. Yes, our first meeting with Napoli is a completely different story. This year we only chose a day trip to do a bit of shopping as you can make good deals on leather goods. (bags)

Many people of course choose to stay a few nights, maybe a week or more in Sorrento and just love the city. I have to be careful, but we felt that it has now been "invaded" by crowds of tourists. Yes, that is perhaps the flip side of the coin when many have been bragging about this great city for years.

In any case, the city is still a great holiday option, but as always when booking a hotel be sure to leave well in advance, if you want easy access to the beach, which is again about 30 meters below the city. We checked a bit and the prices have risen sharply, but it is still possible to make a warp. As I said, Sorrento has a clean and beautiful center, with lots of shops and top restaurants. Once we stayed here in 2019 and had a great experience.

There is one restaurant in particular that I would recommend and that is L`Antica Trattoria. Top food, top service, and a very good atmosphere. Here they have a pleasant patio within the "wall" and, of course, good food. This is a safe choice. Shopping is one of the major attractions in the old town. If you are going to be here for a few days, use the first day to look around before shopping. In some places, it is possible to haggle, especially on leather goods.

You can also use Sorrento as a starting point for a trip to Capri and or other round trips along the coast. So back to Sant'Agata! If you choose to take a small round trip from SantʼAgata, you have several choices. However, I learned that if you want to stop to eat and or bathe, leave the car because there is little chance that you will find a parking space, but you may be lucky. My first drive went via Termini and Roncato, where you get a great view of the island of Capri. Here it is also possible to stop at a couple of places and take pictures. Then you continue down towards the coast and maybe stop in Baia Delle Sirene and take a dip, or continue to Marina Lobra.

Here you can also book a boat trip to Capri and other tours, but it is almost impossible to park, which I experienced. I managed to conjure up a quick espresso, but then they started honking. Anyway, it was a fun drive down to the marina as I was driving the wrong way. There it was steep and narrow, yes very steep.

I recommend that you check with the hotel where you are staying, when the bus or other transport goes to Bagni Regina Giovanna, a favorite bathing spot, the same applies to the Pignatella Beach and the Riviera di Marcigliano, where you can also book a hotel. The next stop on this tour is Lo Scoglio di Gaio and Lido Delle Sirene, before ending up in Sorrento itself. Just to have mentioned, there are several larger car parks in Sorrento, where you pay around 3euro an hour. Back in Sant'Agata after a trip to Sorrento, it's good to have a dip in the pool and maybe something cold to drink. We often let wanderings around the streets of the places we live decide where we eat, after checking around on TripAdvisor and other recommendations. Tonight we were going to test the neighbor of Don Alfonso 1890, Lo Stuzzichino, who had received a statement in the Michelin guide. The reason I'm writing this is to put some focus on what can almost be called abuse of the Michelin logo. Worth noting based on our experience from the visit. Take a look at the images below, which are screenshots from TripAdvisor and you will see how it appears.

We checked the menu and saw that these were completely standard prices as in a normal restaurant, and began to wonder a little about what I hadn't got. Regardless, we were received with great kindness, given a table and water along with the menu. The atmosphere was very good and everything indicated that this would be good. Guests poured in, and it was clear that this was a popular place and many regulars made their entries. We couldn't be more wrong.

We chose our dishes from the menu, the starter was tomato and mozzarella classic Italian, and the main courses were veal and lamb. We had been given a drink and the starter arrived within a few minutes. Then the skepticism returned. If you get a statement in a Michelin guide, there are probably some elements you can expect. One of them is the way the food is presented and how it is served. We ate our starter which tasted quite bland, but with a little salt and a drop of extra olive oil, it improved, but not great.

Then came the next surprise, three minutes after they had taken away the plate from the starter, the main courses arrived. It is possible that I am strange and spoiled, but this would have been better on the "Danish boat"! When you order lamb in Italy you expect it to taste good, but this one was completely tasteless, but it looked ok roasted. The calf was pale and sad as it lay with its fried potatoes and some lettuce leaves. (note the picture below, this is how they themselves preset their "tomato and mozzarella")

Well-behaved as we are, we ate our food and waited for them to come clear so we could order dessert. Now the restaurant was full and everyone was running around like a bunch of chickens. After a while we got our deserts, which were the highlight of the day, they should have that. We enjoyed a good ending, but we couldn't pay for almost 45 minutes. Here there were routines to be followed and the "boss" was to take the payment and thank them for the visit. As I said, it took time, but he was cheerful and nice and that usually helps! Sorry, but this will not be a recommendation. On the other hand, the next dinner will be a real highlight! First, we are going on another local trip to one of the places along the coast. There are many reasons why the Amalfi Coast is on people's lips, one of them being that it is very different.

Positano, (c) Ingar Naess

If you are going to experience this area properly, I would already now recommend at least two to three days. Book accommodation and take one of the many boat trips that can take you to Positano, or one of the other places that you can find in this area such as Ravello, Praiano, and Maiori. Positano is the "hanging" city, yes here almost all the houses are anchored in the mountain. It also means that wherever you are you will have a magical view. If you know the "dinner bay" in the Oslofjord, this is almost the same, except that they are not so close together and cost ten times as much. (yes, yes, not all)

If you do like me and take a turn through the narrow roads down to Positano. Well I'm not sure it's that smart. Here there are queues and it is difficult to stop and get some good photos taken, but yes, it goes with a bit of "Italian" attitudes about what is allowed and what is not. I have learned that the car must be parked and the boats must be used.

Don't take the bus here! Now it is the case that when you first come here you will have a wonderful experience if you plan well. Here you will find small simple apartments from a few thousand Swedish kroner (out of season) and fantastic luxury hotels for over thirty thousand per night, such as Le Sirenuse (photos from the hotel and Airbnb) I expect it is possible to see which photos belong to which price range.

Since this was my first trip in this area, there was a lot of learning, and if or when the next trip comes it will be in May/June or September because then the worst "queues" are gone! If you should choose to drive in this area, remember to take it easy. Stop to take pictures, don't drive to see. Instead, stop 10 times more than you had planned. Remember you are in Italy, then you can also park like an Italian. Talk to everyone in the car beforehand. Do not stress. Don't be afraid to stop at the end or say the start of a row of parked cars, but use common sense. Remember you have to drive the same way back so you get two chances. However, my tip is to take a short trip and put a stop. Good trip.

So back in Sant'Agata again. The longer we stayed in this little town the better we liked it. Sant'Agata has a good and pleasant atmosphere and many different eateries and bars, yes something for every taste. Right on the other side of Don Alfonso is a bar and restaurant that has been here just as long, i.e. from the turn of the 19th century. The unique thing here is the atmosphere, which is completely relaxed and the laughter is loose. The old owner had also taught his cat to smoke and they still used this gimmick in their simple marketing. The pizza here is very good or if you just want to relax with a weed, you are just as welcome.

As I said, it's not a big city, but if you want to do a bit of shopping, it's possible, but it's quickly done. We will again plan the evening's restaurant and talk to our hotel host. He recommends Restaurant Mimi to us and here we will eat homemade pasta. As said so done. We go beyond and are lucky and get the last available table.

This is not a Michelin restaurant, but a restaurant full of mood, which suits us well. We get the menu and order. Since it is also so hot in the evening, we drink a lot of water and local wine. They don't have the biggest selection, but they hit the mark very well. We are recommended Bruschetta with tomato for starters, easy you might think, but! Yes, now the flavors are exploding, wow! This was real Italian food. Those tomatoes can taste so good. Now, I may be a bit more fond of Italian food than most, but I promise this was magical.

For the main course, I order, as recommended, homemade pasta with lobster. Now expectations have risen many notches and we hope that we will not be disappointed. There was no danger, this dish tops everything we have eaten so far on this trip. One thing we've noticed is that they don't cook the pasta soft, but leave a lot of chewiness behind. The fact that they have a cloud/sauce based on seafood and lobster shells makes this meal magical! This is worth the whole trip, you have to travel here and you have to eat here. Don't worry about the price, it's well within everything.

My wife had chosen the homemade lasagna and it was also a winner. Yes, what more could one wish for than pleasant company, a good atmosphere, wine, and fantastic Italian food. Well, it must be a good Tiramisu and a good cup of coffee to finish.

Takk for maten til kelneren, Dylan, The Chef him self, Peppe, og hans sønn, Liberat, som assistent.

We take a walk to the hotel and there we are served an excellent red wine as a bonus. A perfect ending to a great evening.

Then it's just a matter of saying thank you for us and leaving a pleasant Hotel Sant' and a charming little town, maybe we'll see each other again!

Now we are going to embark on the last days and we have decided to explore the areas around Naples, so we are heading north. The journey from Rome to here by car is approx. 4 hours 50 minutes, from Sabaudia 3 hours 20 minutes.

The next stop is only 1h 30min from Sant´Ageta and will be a new pleasure, join us tomorrow to Pozzuoli.


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