Almalfi Coast, Here We Come

Written By: Kim - Aug• 10•11

Due to our flight departure time from Rome and the three hours it takes to get there from the Almalfi Coast, we thought renting a car was the best option. Parking at our villa was free and we were not relying on public transportation. Strikes are common in Italy. But, we left Rome with no GPS (they were sold out) nor a country map. We had a map of Rome which showed Autostrada to Naples and the directions were simple: Get on the Rome beltway, take the exit for Naples and once you pass Naples, take the Almalfi Coastal Highway exit. Things always look so easy on paper, don’t they?

The town of Almalfi. ©Mike Howard

We load up the car and pile in. My husband hands me two maps, both of Rome and its surrounding highways and says “Navigate please.” What? Doesn’t he already know, after 21 years together, that I have terrible navigations skills even with a GPS? Doesn’t he notice that all the road signs are in Italian? I already know this will end badly.

The signs on the Autostrada do not prep the driver as we do in the US. There’s no warning about upcoming exits. Despite this, we manage quite well to get to Naples. It’s after Naples that the drama started when we missed, what we now know would be the only exit immediately south of Naples, to the Almalfi Coast.

We saw the correct sign but missed the exit because there were no warning signs. It simply showed up. Thinking that there would be more chances, we kept driving. An hour in to the mountains, we pulled over at an Autogrill (where you can eat and fill up your gas tank) and purchased a map for 7 €. I asked where we were: Campagna. As you can see from the map, this is no where near the water. The upside was that we got to see some Italian countryside.

After three attempts to get on to the coastal highway, we finally were on our way to Praiano….from the Almalfi end of the coast.

The coastal highway was jammed with Saturday transition traffic which makes for curvy and hairpin driving not on only stressful but long. But the scenery was just breathtaking; at every turn. We left Rome around 10:30 am and arrived at our rental apartment at 4 pm. This trip was only supposed to take three hours max. My advice: take the train to Naples and get in a taxi. It is not worth the expense nor hassle of renting a car. Just make sure you watch for pick pockets because this 1/3 of this city’s residents are unemployed.

The apartment was simply lovely. Given all the steep steps in the Almalfi Coast, we had quick access to the front door from the road. The local grocery store was a one minute walk from our apartment. They had a good variety of food options but the local produce…and I mean local, was simply beautiful. Any chef would love to cook here.

We enjoyed the balcony tremendously and watch the hills of Priano and the rest of Almalfi come alive as it got dark. We also experienced our first trip down to the water. A million steps and 500 turns later, we were there.

The never ending StairMaster - Almalfi Coast steps. ©Mike Howard

The water was relatively calm and chilly, but the kids enjoyed a quick swim. The walk back, all uphill, almost killed Mike and I. It was the Stairmaster that never turned off.

We slept well and awoke to 8:30 am church bells on Sunday.

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