Amalfi Coast's narrow coastal road. Barely wide enough for one bus
Day 1, Sunday, September 18, 2011
Hello everyone, we are in Praiano, Italy.
Our journey started yesterday afternoon when we boarded an American Airlines flight from Dallas to London. Arriving at London Heathrow Airport this morning, we retrieved our luggage, took a shuttle to London Gatwick Airport, and boarded a British Airways flight to Naples, Italy.
Landing in Naples around 4:00 this afternoon, we pick up a rental car, a Peugeot 407 station wagon with manual transmission, and start the 50-mile drive to Praiano.
From Naples, we get on the A-3 toll road, drive south toward Salerno, exit at Vietri sul Mare, then drive west on the main Amalfi coastal road past the towns of Cetara, Maiori, Minori, Atrani, and Amalfi before we reach our final destination.
Traffic on the coastal road on this late Sunday afternoon is horrific. Two-way traffic squeezes though a narrow road with the mountain on one side and the spectacular blue sea way below on the other side. Busses, cars, scooters, and pedestrians compete for space and somehow, everyone manages to get through just fine.
Drivers are treated with spectacular views. Looking down on Marina Praia Beach in Praiano
Arriving in Praiano around 7 pm, we meet and exchange greetings with the property manager. She shows us where we can park our car (a very narrow lot on the side of a street), takes us to our villa (several hundred feet uphill from the car lot), collects the security deposit from us, and hands us the keys to the villa.
Our villa, the I Gabbiani, is situated on the hill way above the main coastal road. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, spacious dining and living area, a modern kitchen; and a huge and beautiful terrace. The terrace has table and chairs, sun lounges, and an outdoor grill. The view of the sea and the mountain from this terrace is simply stunning. I can imagine that we will spend a lot of time here.
For dinner, we go to a restaurant at Hotel Tritone and get a table on the balcony. We cheer our first leg of the trip on this cool and calm evening with a wonderful meal of antipasti, meat balls, chicken, wine, and desserts.
More guests start to stroll in even after 11 pm and that is when we call it a night.
The terrace of our villa, the I Gabbiani in Praiano
Living and dining room
View from our terrace in the daytime ...
...and at night
Having our first dinner in Praiano at Hotel Tritone Restaurant
Day 2, Monday, September 19, 2011
A loud thunderstorm blows by very early this morning and wakes everyone up. We struggle to get back to sleep, succeed after a while, and get up around noon. The sky has cleared up, the sun comes out and it is nice and warm.
From the villa to the parking lot, we pass by a church, a public park, several other villas, and are treated with incredible views since we are so high up above the sea.
L-R: Don, Khanh, Lee, and Bo on our villa terrace
Walking from the villa to the parking lot, we stop and take pictures ...
... and enjoy the beautiful day,
and the panoramic view from high above the sea,
; and smell the fresh flowers which bloom all over the place
Today, we decide to explore Amalfi, Minori, and Mainori.
The drive to Amalfi takes about 15 minutes as traffic on the coast during the weekdays is light. Amalfi is a charming town located right in the middle of this magic coast and is one of Italy's best resort towns. The town is right on the water and has wide beaches and a marina where boats ferry travelers across the water to the Island of Capri.
We park our car off the main road, wander along the beach then walk a couple of blocks to the center of the town.
Amalfi's ninth century cathedral Duomo di Saint' Andrea, a spectacular architectural accomplishment, sits high above the town square and welcomes visitors with a wide and long stairway.
From the town square looking up, the cathedral looks so magnificent. We climb up the stairs and gaze at the view of the square below. The square is surrounded by sidewalk cafes, flower, pastry and gift shops, and is full of life. We wander around the square, check out some stores, walk some of the smaller streets, purchase some wine and pastries then head on to a couple of smaller towns east of Amalfi.
Amalfi Town Square is anchored by this magnificient church, the Duomo di Saint' Andrea
Looking down from the church's top steps
Relaxing on the Duomo's steps
Khanh and Lee shoping in Amalfi
Amalfi Town Square
A pastry shop in Amalfi
Minori and Maiori
The two towns are only a few miles apart and is a short drive from Amalfi. They lay along stretches of gray sandy beaches.
I would not be surprised if the towns’ economy is based entirely on tourism. Sidewalk cafes are set up along and sometimes right on the beaches, the town squaresare full of restaurants and gift shops, and parking can be hard to find.
In this part of Italy, restaurants seem to shut down between 3 and 6 pm and so we purchase some lunch and drinks, sit on a beach bench, and have a small picnic. Before heading back to our place, we stop and have coffee at a beachside café, then pick up some groceries for dinner tonight.
At the villa, Chef Don whips up a dinner of salad, grilled chicken, and seafood spaghetti paired with local wines. We eat dinner on the terrace then have coffee and tea in the living room. The villa has no internet access and just a few useless TV channels so we spend the entire evening chatting away.
Everywhere you go, you see lemon. Lemon liqueur, lemon gelato, and lemon scented soap
A beachside restaurant in Maiori
Lee walking along the Maiori Beach. Note the design on the sidewalk
Enjoying cappuccinos at a beach-side cafe in Minori
Back to the villa and waiting for the sunset
Chef Don demonstrates his talent
Dinner on terrace. We are having seafood spaghetti, grilled chicken and salad