A Week on the Amalfi Coast

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Visiting the Amalfi Coast was a long-held romantic dream of mine. I had wanted to spend my honeymoon on a beautiful clifftop hideaway, but we ended up in Vegas.  I know, go fgure.  So for our 10th wedding anniversary I was taking no chances, the flights were booked well in advance.  Whatever it cost (and to be honest it didn’t break the bank) I was going and him indoors was coming with me.

 

Getting there…

 

Again, as we do with most of our flights, we booked with Easy Jet.  Tickets were around £150 return, per person, and I booked about 10 months in advance.  Flying out of Bristol, the flight to Naples took just under three hours and for this flight it was an early alarm call of 3.00 am, which I normally try to avoid, but sometimes you just got to go with it.

 

Arriving in Naples just after ten we looked out for someone holding a card with The Painters across it and off we went.  Traffic in and around Naples is super busy and arriving during a rain storm didn’t help, but we were soon winding along the Amalfi coastline and it took around an hour and 40 minutes at a cost of around £100 to get us to our hotel.

 

You can train it to Sorrento and get a taxi or ferry to various destinations, or of course hire a car, but from what we witnessed, someone else driving along the narrow clifftop roads where you’re squished into awkward spaces as vehicles manoeuvre to get by, was preferable to the other options. You need bags of patience and nerves of steel for that journey and SP and I bickering wouldn’t have been the idyllic start to the holiday I was aiming for.

 

Where to stay…

 

When it came to choose the perfect place to stay I asked my sister-in-law who had honeymooned in the Amalfi Coast the previous year.  I knew I didn’t want to stay in a big resort like Sorrento and reading reviews of Positano led me to think it was over-priced and over-crowded (I was right), so when she said to look at Praiano, a quieter spot with a 10 minute boat ride into Positano, I knew I’d found our holiday home.

 

A bit more digging around on destination websites and I found Hotel Le Fioriere, which offered the one thing I know SP loves (aside from being near water) a rooftop terrace.

 

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Run by brother and sister, Luigi and Rosalia, who made us feel immediately welcome and at home, we stayed on the first floor in a large sea-facing room that included a double and sofa bed.

 

Aside from the great location (in between Positano and Amalfi), breakfast was plentiful and served buffet-style with plenty of fresh coffee, our room was clean and tidy with a balcony, and the restaurant, Voce e Notte Grill and Sunset Bar, was an absolute treat.

 

We couldn’t believe our luck to find such a perfect view that we could enjoy every night.  The menu isn’t lengthy but offers plenty of delicious choice.

 

As for drinks, Steve worked his way through a number of Italian craft beers and I enjoyed refreshing gin from Tuscany, thanks to Federica the bar manager, who was always on hand to talk us through and pour some of the country’s quality drinks.

 

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Where to visit…

 

Positano

 

A must-see, Positano is picture postcard perfect.  I wanted to come in to the town from the sea, so that we could feel the effect and it didn’t disappoint.

 

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Plenty of restaurants, naturally serving all the classic Italian favourites with a good selection of seafood dishes and a side order of chilled Peroni.

 

The beach has plenty of beds, roughly costing 20 euros each with parasol and little table and bear in mind that you’ll find few sandy beaches here, it’s all pebble-based so we took our aqua shoes.

 

We just went the once and to be honest that was enough.  It is heaving and I’ve read gets worse in July and August, when really it’s best to avoid if you’re not a fan of crowds

 

Ravello

 

A ten-minute bus ride can take 30 on the Amalfi Drive and luckily on our way to the town of Amalfi I found a seat.  Steve had to stand.  Public transport is slow, but it does get you from A to B for just two euros each.  With crowds already building in the day, once we got to Amalfi our first step was  straight on to the next bus to Ravello, the hilltop town with the most amazing views.

 

A large village some 335m up, the climb is steady on a full bus, but the views at the top are fabulous.  However, I didn’t capture any of it on camera as we grabbed a table in a café on the square on arrival and as we went to walk around the heavens opened, so along with everyone else we got the next bus back down to Amalfi.

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If you visit Ravello, I have heard that Villa Rufolo is a must-see.  With cascading gardens high above the coast, the views are spectacular.

 

Back in Amalfi, we just stopped for a quick ice cream, before getting back on a bus to Praiano.

 

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One Fire Beach

 

There are two small areas to catch some rays in Praiano and the one closest to us (signposted the beach, next to the church) was Lido, One Fire Beach.

 

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There are 300 steps to get this spot, but once down there two beds and parasol costs 40 euros for the day and you can jump in and out of the water to your hearts content, knowing that bar service, a shaded restaurant and clean loos are to hand.  Staff are young and friendly and there is a good energy about the place.  You can also catch water taxis from here to reach Positano.

 

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Where to eat and enjoy a Limoncello

 

There are two main areas in Praiano, Vettica Maggiore and the Marina di Praiano.  We stayed in the former, which is the first stop after leaving Positano, so we ended up eating and drinking around this area as the walk to the marina didn’t appeal.  We did it once during the day and it took around 40 minutes, but with no pavements, I didn’t fancy doing it again, on an evening.

 

Voce e Notte Grill and Sunset Bar

Our hotel roof-top restaurant and the reason why I booked our stay here, was the nicest spot we found in Praiano.  Friendly service, modern surroundings, great food and a choice of drinks with an absolutely stunning view, it was the easiest choice to ‘stay home’.

 

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Trattoria San Gennaro

Next up is the first place we visited as it was opposite our hotel and was featured in my copy of Rough Guide to Italy.  Trattoria San Gennaro is garden-based with white plastic chairs, but don’t let that put off.  You overlook the square where local kids kick a football around every night blowing off steam after a hot day and the view over-looks Positano.

 

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The food is fabulous.  I went for home-made pasta with prawns and courgette – scialatilli con zucchini e gamberitti and Steve had seafood.  Delizioso!

 

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We tried our first Lemoncello Spritz here and absolutely love it.

 

Tramonto d Oro

This restaurant is upmarket and boasts panoramic views over the coastline.  We dined here for our anniversary, so it was lobster for SP.  Gorgeous food and a fine dining ambience, where we felt completely looked-after.  Pricier than the others, but worth it.

 

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Café Mirante

The best thing about walking up 300 steps from the beach is stepping in to Café Mirante at the top, where the shades are up, the vibe is relaxed, and the drinks made to order.  They also come with free snacks.  We loved the Café Mirante Mule that specially made for us as we (I mean me) like gin.

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What to know…

 

  • The Amalfi Coast is busy in June and gets busier July to August
  • SITA buses (orange) are regular and cheap. You buy tickets ahead in shops, hotels, etc.
  • Small resorts like Praiano have little or no pavements and if the Amalfi Drive runs through it then you will spend a bunch of time pressed against a wall
  • There is a hotel in Praiano that has a lift to the beach Le Grand Hotel Tritone
  • SP and I agreed we came at the right time, with kids or walking issues the trip wouldn’t have been so successful
  • The church in Praiano has a gorgeous square in front of it. If you’re running out of cash, grab a bottle of wine and snacks from a supermarket, sit and enjoy the view with the locals.  It’s the same view as every restaurant nearby.

 

The last word…

 

In another lifetime, as a millionaire, I’ll go back to the Amalfi Coast by Super Yacht.  I do think that’s a great way to see it and I can totally see why cruises around this area are so popular.  It is simply stunning and jumping off and spending the day in Positano is a day well spent.

 

 

We loved it.  We also really enjoyed the last night of our holiday in Naples, getting back into the bustling city was great fun. It was alive and bursting with energy and we were advised to visit Antica Pizza Fritta Da Zia Esterina Sorbillo for one of its famous pizzas.  We queued for around 50 minutes to enjoy that pizza, but was super delicious.  Steve ordered the famous fried pizza, but in truth mine was better.

 

Visit my Instagram page and click on Highlights to see videos and more pics.

 

Have a great weekend folks!

 

Gail xx

 

Have you visited the Amalfi Coast?  Please share your thoughts below.

Summer Holiday: Part 1

 

Summer is here, she says, as rain washes over the garden!

 

May was fab, but it’s ended as a wash up, so I hope anyone who has managed to get away for the half term school holidays is having fun, either here or on foreign shores.

 

I can’t wait for my summer holiday.  SP and I are off to the Amalfi Coast in two weeks, for our ten year wedding anniversary.  Cue early morning runs and shopping like a madman, trying to find some things to add to the summer wardrobe, because the ten year-old stuff surely needs to be replenished now (any excuse).

 

I haven’t had much luck in the shopping department to be honest.  I spent two hours in town this morning and came home with nothing.  Maybe it was an off day, but my usual haunts aren’t inspiring me and I’m struggling to find pieces for me in other people’s favourites, like Mango.  That didn’t work either.

 

However, I am loving good ole M&S at the moment and bought this dress (£45) for my hols a few weeks back.  I had seen it on Instagram and ordered it straight away.

 

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Pure Linen Half Sleeve Bardot Midi Dress

 

I love it Bardot-style, but also listened to another blogger, The Fashion Lift, who is wearing this style of dress as a one shoulder option too, copied by me on the home page.  If you like this dress, click here for more details.

 

Here are a number other dresses that I’m keen to try on in Marks & Spencer.  Some of which might be in a re-stock phase as they’re proving so popular.

 

 

 

Yes, I’m going for blues and neutrals for my holiday wardrobe this year.  Inspired by the new dress and loving the shades of blue around this season, I’m trying to include some more, and I’m trying to find more cotton and linen options as they’re both cool for when it gets hot.

 

After my poor performance this morning there is obviously more work to be done.  Follow me on Instagram to see how I get on and I’ll be back next week with an update.  I have to give myself a deadline or it won’t happen and I’ll end up in jeans in Italy!

 

Have a great weekend folks!

 

 

Gail xxx

Florence: A Photo Diary

This summer we had a fantastic six night holiday in Tuscany. You might have read an earlier post, Siena: A Postcard from the Ledge that told the story of our first ever experience of The Palio, but today’s post is a photo diary of our few days in Florence.

Fuelled by tales from friends who absolutely adore the region and go back each year, I was keen to get a little slice of the Italian action and wanted to learn more about the city that some say is the most beautiful city in Italy.

We love city breaks and normally go to Europe for a 2-3 night stay; once we even went to New York for two nights (my fault), which was obviously not long enough!

However, heading to Tuscany I wanted to cover some ground to see if there were particular places we would go back to for a longer period of time, so a trip was planned that would take in Pisa, Florence and Siena. You can’t fly into Florence from Bristol so we flew into Pisa on a Friday, stayed overnight and then caught the train to Florence, which is really easy to do, for a two night stay.

Put simply, Florence is gorgeous. A real jewel of a city, bursting with history and beautiful buildings to look at. You can literally walk around for days admiring the view – it is the birthplace of the Renaissance after all and known to be one of the great art cities of Europe. The Uffizi Gallery, a must-do, houses some of the greatest paintings and art in the world and, as for eating, well you’ve come to the right place, there’s somewhere to stop, eat and drink on every street. All under the warmth of the Tuscan sun.

First off, let me share details of the boutique hotel we stayed in with you.  In the heart of the city, The Antica Torre di Via TornaBuoni No 1 is one of the nicest hotels we have stayed in. I chose it because the rooms looked lovely and it was centrally located, but the real pull is its 360° terrace overlooking the city. It’s just fabulous.

From here we enjoyed our morning coffee, taking in the hustle and bustle of early morning commuters, and late night drinks (they have an honest bar) while listening to the street musicians below. It really was fab, as was our room and the breakfast, which was served buffet-style and offered everything needed for a hungry traveller and could be enjoyed on an outdoor terrace under the morning sun.

This week’s post is picture-led so I’ll let the photos do the rest of the talking, but I’ll finish here with my top three suggestions on what to do in Florence, which I would thoroughly recommend:

  1. Take a bike tour on your 1st day – it’s a great way to see the city with an expert guide, who knows their way around and is happy to share their knowledge. It also means you get your bearing real quick. Our tour was three hours of fun and ended with gelato!  You don’t need to be a fantastic cyclist or super fit to enjoy the tour.
  2. Book tickets to the Uffizi in advance – it houses the world’s greatest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings not to be missed, but the queue is long and it’s very hot outside. You can buy before you leave here and allow around three hours to enjoy the gallery, which is enough to see the key pieces.  There’s a nice outdoor cafe here too.
  3. Mooch around the narrow streets and sniff out great places to eat and drink or buy yourself a huge gelato  (they only come in one size, don’t they?) and walk along the River Arno towards the shop-lined Ponte Vecchio. The bridge is a tourist trap, but you do get some great opportunities to take beautiful pics.