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As I’m reflecting on my trip to the Amalfi Coast, I realize that it’s a difficult place to describe accurately. The word “majestic” takes away from its friendly charm, and “elegant” diminishes its lax. “Beautiful,” “stunning,” and “pretty” don’t do it justice.
The Amalfi Coast is where you can enjoy the serenity of dramatic mountains above lulling waves or laugh with a local limoncello maker as he invites you to taste his fares. You can hike the solemn “Path of the Gods” or relax on a patio that hangs above the sea. It’s a place caught between heaven and Earth and allows visitors to mold it into whatever works for them. During our 3-night stay in Praiano at the end of September, we found the Amalfi Coast both glorious and tranquil and made many fond memories upon the slopping hills.
Getting from Rome to Praiano was an adventure in itself. We woke up before sunrise to catch our bus, passed the infamous Mt. Vesuvius, and then winded through the narrow, sharp-curved highways that laced the coastline. While we were awe-struck by the beauty of the landscape, we were also a bit surprised to look down from our bus window and see how little space there was between us and staggering depths. Alas, we made it to our stop in the town of Praiano safely, but the real fun started when we set off to find our rental.
One thing you must know about the Amalfi Coast is that there are a lot of stairs – probably tens of thousands. One waiter told us he walks up and down about 500 stairs to get to and from his home! To get to our rental, we mistakenly took a footpath that contained roughly 200 or so. Mind you, we are a family of 4, and each of us had a sizable 40-pound suitcase and an additional small bag. Attempting to lug all of this up and down the stairs was chaotic – to put it lightly. When we were about to give up hope, a kind man saw our struggle and helped us take some of the suitcases up the rest of the way. I tried to offer him a tip because I felt terrible that he had to help the dumb tourists, but he declined with a wave and a smile. A bit of frustration and a lost suitcase wheel later, we learned that the rental was just a two-minute straight shot from the main road. There were no stairs required.
Despite the hectic start, our woes were quickly remedied by the breathtaking views from our rental. Downstairs, a small dining nook opened up to fantastic views of the sea and mountains. Upstairs there was a generous balcony with seating. We opened the windows to let the Mediterranean breeze soothe our souls and took a comfortable rest.
After settling in, we had a fantastic lunch with views and drinks at Ristorante Costa Diva. We rested a bit and then later walked up a steep hillside to try a restaurant I had found online for dinner. To add to the chaos from earlier, it was fully booked, and we got caught in a torrential downpour while searching for another restaurant. We were smart enough to read the forecast and bring umbrellas, but we still got hit by a lot of rain. Soaking wet but determined to not be deterred from a good meal, we popped into a restaurant we had passed earlier called Ristorante Il Pino. They had just enough space to seat us, and the meal was fantastic. I especially loved the clam pasta and my sister’s truffle pasta.
The following day, we woke to breakfast in the dreamy dining nook of our rental. My mom is a fantastic cook, and she prepared fruit, cheese, bread, eggs, and bacon for us to enjoy. Feeling energized by such a wonderful meal, my sister and I walked down the footpaths to find an alcove with thunderous waves and violent currents caused by the rainy weather. We spent the rest of the day exploring, shopping, and eating – as one does in Italy. For dinner, we went to a swanky spot I had booked in advance called Ristorante Il Pirata. It was directly next to the sea and built into a rocky cliffside. The ambiance was soothing, and the steak, mussels, and tuna were all fresh and rich with flavor.
Our final day was the most exciting because we had planned to see the iconic Positano by taking a bus from Praiano. I had seen many pictures of the famous pastel buildings streaming down the mountainside, but seeing it in person was incredible. However, I found strolling the less-pictured streets between the colorful hotels and homes even more fascinating. They were lined with elegant shops and restaurants busting at the seams with purple flowers and other variations of shrubbery. We had lunch at Ristorante Mediterraneo, and I was delighted with my lobster linguine. By the time we finished eating, the morning cloud cover had vanished, and the world was bright and cheery. We browsed the shops filled with breezy clothes and leather goods as we moseyed our way down to the main beach. We spent the entire afternoon under the glorious sunshine. When the sun began to set, my sister and I lined up for a table at a bar I had found online called Franco’s. The seats were only available on a first-come-first-serve basis, so we had to wait. Fortunately, we received one of the few tables with a front-row view of Positano! After days of rain storms and rough seas canceling our plans (we had planned a private sunset cruise and sun-beds at a beach club), this felt like a treat. We drank the night away as the twinkling lights from Positano blended into the stars. It felt as if we were caught in a postcard.
Sometimes with travel, things simply don’t go as planned, but with a positive attitude, it’s possible to make the most of it. Despite some of our plans going astray, I will hold onto the fond memories I made with my family and all of the laughs we shared in this humble yet heavenly place.