The Travel Cocktail

Cafe Life on the Amalfi Coast

Just because you are not in the big city doesn’t mean there aren’t upscale cafes…

 

Il Caffe is more than a routine for your average Italian, it is a way of life and as important as wearing the right pair of sunglasses. It is the Dolce far Niente and la Bella Figura personified. Because who doesn’t look cool at the counter sipping an espresso like you mean business and sociable at the same time. This IS Italy. And even if you are in a small town to a summer destination like the Amalfi Coast, a classic caffe is always close by.

 

Naples OK, yes, this is in the big city, but the style of Neapolitan coffee influences the whole coast. Probably the best coffee in Italy comes from Naples, and it is safe to say many Italians all over Italy (including the North) would agree on that. A “caffe” or espresso to the rest of us, is a thumbnail size portion of super strong flavoured coffee. It packs a punch. Usually accompanied by a wonderful pastry like the beloved sfogliatelle. The best coffee by far can be found at Gambrinus though of course Neapolitan have a variety of favourite places to partake in their daily ritual. But Gambrinus is that grand cafe from a bygone era still showing us that coffee is a multi sensory experience that should be enjoyed in glorious surroundings. The baristas here are not hipsters with multiple piercings but white suited and bow tied gentlemen with panache.

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Capri The famed Piazzetta is always a great place to go for a coffee. Sitting at a cafe table and watching the entertainment of people walking by and interacting is pure theater. Bar Tiberio is a trendy spot as are Il Picolo Bar and Caffe Caso to watch La Dolce Vita unfold while you sip on a coffee, aperitivo, of limoncello.. But for something at the counter, or a phenomenal bit of pastry to go with the coffee, go to Buonocore a minute walk from the Piazzetta. Bypass the long queue of people outside who are there to get ice cream and head inside to the back where you will see a pastry counter filled with some of the best selections of local pastries. Choose one to go with your morning coffee and stand at the counter. Buonocore is surprisingly quiet and relaxed inside. And if you are in Anacapri the Nautilus Caffe at the corner on the way to Piazza Diaz is a local hangout.

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Positano Not really known for cafe life here as more of a by the sea drinks sort of spot where of course you can get a coffee. There is however the iconic La Zagara which serves as a great luncheon spot as well, but importantly has a counter space serving some good coffee -and tempting pastry. And a bit up the road is the boutique and vegan restaurant Casa E Bottega which offers some great smoothies as well as coffee.  For a bit of a view head to Li Galli Bar Bistro that has outdoor street seating overlooking the beach from above.

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Ravello Caffe Calice with tables on the main piazza (and counter space at the nearby corner cafe) has the best iced coffee or caffe fredo of the coast. Basically its a slushier granita, very refreshing -and strong- on a hot summers day. Another place to stop for some refreshment is the Villa Maria outdoor restaurant which is conveniently located between the piazza and the Villa Cimbione. Sitting for a coffee or limoncello spritz in the garden terrace is a great place to rest as the walk can be a bit exhausting.

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Amalfi Has probably one of the only true classic “grand cafe” on the coast in Pasticceria Pansa. At the foot of the church and on Amalfi town’s small piazza this Amalfi institution serves some of the most celebrated pastries of the area. The small but grand old world interior has aged mirrors and old fashion glass counters filled with temptations. Here too they have a very good iced coffee which you can have at the counter or at one of the cafe tables inside or on the piazza. It is worth forgetting the diet and indulging in one of their Delizia al Limone. And don’t leave without buying some candied lemon peel made from regional lemons. There are chocolate dipped lemon peels too! Fantastico!

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