Each city along the nearly 32-mile stretch known as the Amalfi Coast plays a part in the multifaceted appeal of Italy’s sunny south. Known for its precipitous cliffs, and the colorful villages that appear stacked along them, the entire coastline seems to tumble into the crystalline sea with romantic abandon. The stretch of coast was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as an outstanding example of Mediterranean landscape, with “exceptional cultural and natural scenic values resulting from its dramatic topography and historical evolution.”

From the moment you land in Naples, the nearest airport to the Amalfi Coast, you’ll feel a world away from the heft of Rome, Tuscany or the substantial cities of the north. You’ll trade ancient history for the timeless allure of one of Italy’s most popular destinations. For those looking to soak up glamour, drama, and sunshine, Southern Italy is both feast and playground.

Just south of Naples, you can visit the ruins of Pompeii and the seaside city of Sorrento, considered the gateway to the Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri. The region is also known for its Neapolitan cuisine, hearty pasta dishes with fresh seafood and luxurious cheeses. Sorrento is the perfect place to settle into the slower pace of Southern Italy as you prepare to fall in love with the Amalfi Coast.

The destination’s namesake, Amalfi, is a picturesque piece of the cliffside coastline. Its charm belies a powerful past as the capital of a maritime republic, with all the multi-cultural heritage of the major trading crossroads of the Byzantine world.

Italy and Europe’s glitterati have long been drawn to Positano, another of the charming cliffside towns. In contrast to Amalfi, this once humble fishing village has only risen to prominence since the 1950’s, when John Steinbeck wrote that “Positano bites deep,” referring to the town’s indelible mark on his imagination and his memory.

Ravello, another popular stop along the Amalfi Coast, is a hilltop resort town known for its fragrant gardens and the Moorish-style Villa Rufolo. All of the coastal towns boast idyllic hiking trails as well, furthering the region’s appeal to those longing for fresh air.