Massa Lubrense was once an important town and a powerful rival to Sorrento for dominance over this coast. Times have changed, and Massa is now just one of the small villages that dot this rocky point. The diminished political importance of this area has not deprived it of its unique beauty, though, and the town and surrounding area are popular with Italians in the know both for its natural assets and sense of being off the beaten track.

Massa Lubrense prides itself on its church, Santa Maria delle Grazie (Piazza Vescovado), which was built in 1512 and redone in the 18th century. In the transept and presbytery you'll find some fine remnants of the original majolica floor, and from the terrace to the right of the church are fine views towards Capri. Below Massa is Marina della Lobra, a picturesque fishing hamlet with a little harbor -- and also one of the peninsula's rare stretches of sand. The sanctuary that stands on the road leading down to the village -- Santa Maria della Lobra -- was built in the 16th century over a Roman temple, probably dedicated to Minerva. Inside you can see the original 17th-century, wood-carved ceiling and the 18th-century majolica floor.

Back up in Massa, from Santa Maria delle Grazie, follow the sign toward Annunziata; the road leads to the old Massa Lubrense, established in the 10th century and destroyed by the Angevins in the 1300s. Here you'll find the church of the Santissima Annunziata, the original cathedral of Massa, rebuilt in the 17th century. Nearby are the ruins of the castle -- only one tower is standing -- which was built in 1389. From the Belvedere, weather permitting, you can enjoy a magnificent panorama that encompasses Capri and the whole Gulf of Naples.

Farther on toward the tip of the Sorrentine peninsula is the village of Nerano, perched atop a cliff at 166m (544 ft.). Below the village is the fishing hamlet of Marina del Cantone with its lovely beach where locals keep their boats. It's a lively little resort in summer and boasts two Michelin-starred restaurants, quite an achievement for such a small place. Nearby Termini is another small town built on a natural terrace overlooking Capri. From Termini, drive down the local road to Punta Campanella, on the tip of the Sorrento peninsula, with its famous lighthouse.

Finally, after a steep climb into the hills, you will reach Sant'Agata sui Due Golfi. One of the region's largest villages, it benefits from its matchless position overlooking the two gulfs -- of Naples and of Salerno -- hence its name. The village is focused around Santa Maria delle Grazie, a 17th-century church that boasts a beautiful altar of colored marble and semiprecious stones. Follow the signs toward Deserto, once a Carmelite hermitage and now a Benedictine monastery. Standing at an altitude of 456m (1,496 ft.), it affords a spectacular circular panorama over the Campanian coast from the terrace, and on a clear day, you can see all the way from Ischia to Punta Licosa, south of Paestum. Opening times are unreliable to say the least; if you want to visit, you need to call ahead (tel. 081-8780199). Entrance is free, but contributions are appreciated. From Sant'Agata, you can also head toward Torca, a village only a few minutes away, perched at 352m (1,155 ft.) above sea level. From the village, take in the beautiful view over Li Galli, Positano's small archipelago.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.