TRAVEL & LEISURE

Amalfi and Ravello

September 26, 2014
Ravello

The Amalfi Coast is a 55km stretch of Italian Coastline. Beginning in Positano and ending in Vietri sul Mare, the coastline takes its name from the most central and historically important town of Amalfi. Getting to Amalfi from Positano is extremely easy. SITA buses run approximately every half hour from Positano to Amalfi, and the trip takes about 40 minutes. Tickets can be purchased in several bars and tobacconist around the area, but not on the bus. Sold as both a one way or as a round trip, tickets are good for any time, so to make things easy, buying a round trip ticket is the way to go if you plan to return same day. For us, the easiest location for purchasing all our bus tickets was Bar Internazionale in Positano. Not only do they sell tickets, but there is a bus stop located just across the street. Getting up to the town of Ravello requires first going to Amalfi, and then purchasing a separate SITA bus ticket up to Ravello. We decided to spend an entire day visiting both towns, and had so much fun adventuring around!AmalfiChurchDuo

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AmalfiDuo

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The Duomo in the center of Amalfi is very impressive, and after climbing all those stairs, gelato was a must. The port town of Amalfi is definitely more touristy and busy than Positano. A few hours of exploring and we were ready to venture up to the far more peaceful and secluded Ravello.

Ravello

Ravello

The second we stepped foot in Ravello, it was love at first site. The drive up the cliffs is a pretty impressive one. Tiny winding streets and garden after garden. And what a view from the top.

Ravello

Ravello

Ravello

Ravello

A beautiful maze of gardens high up in the mountainside, Ravello has a feel all its own.

Ravello

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Ravello

After wandering around for a bit, we sat down to a delicious lunch of pizza and caprese salad at La Veccia Cantina. After lunch, we headed over to the tiny wine shop with this sign out front after reading they serve very generous samples of wine. However, BEWARE: Do not buy wine from this shop! They are known to mark wine up 3 to 4 times its actual retail value. So go and take advantage of their generous samples, but kindly decline purchasing and be on your way. We actually found the experience very enjoyable and educational, and didn’t feel pressured to purchase in the least. We left having tried around 8-10 wines, aged balsamic with cheese, and chocolate. And without spending a dime, had our wine fix for the rest of the day!

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Ravello

Ravello

We finished our time in Ravello with a visit to the Villa Cimbrone Gardens and found the most spectacular views of the Amalfi Coast. I love the pattern all the boats make in the water and how tiny they are from so high up. Its amazing to look down and remember you winded all the way up in a bus as wide as the roads.

Ravello is an Italian dream, and I can’t wait to return again someday.

 

TRAVEL & LEISURE

Positano Travel Guide

September 25, 2014
Positano, Italy

Oh, Positano. The most magical of little beach towns I’ve ever been to.

Getting to the Amalfi Coast is very easy with just a little planning. We flew from Chicago to Naples International Airport and had a car service arranged to take us directly to Positano city center. Because we shared a van with a few others, the price was very reasonable at 35 euros each. I prefer this method of transport over using the trains and buses for convenience and saving time. The drive from Naples to Positano is just over an hour, and once you hit the coast line from Sorrento to Positano, the views are priceless.

Positano

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Positano

After being dropped off by our shuttle in front of Bar Internazionale, we made our way up to our AirBnb in Montepertuso, a little village directly above Positano. We choose to stay in Montepertuso in a private apartment because we wanted more of a local feel. The little village is only a 10 minute bus ride up from Positano by bus, and tickets are very inexpensive at 1,15 euros each. The Montepertuso bus also runs early morning to late night, so its easy to spend all day down in Positano without needing to worry about making your way back up. We enjoyed returning to the quiet and peaceful Montepertuso after a long day adventuring, savoring a glass of wine on one of our balconies overlooking the coast. There was a small grocery/convenience store just down the street which had everything we needed, including a great selection of wines, pasta, fresh vegetables and fruit, meats, cheeses and desserts. One of our favorite restaurants, Il Ritrovo, was also just down the street. And the hike up to Montepertuso Rock was absolutely spectacular. In about 15 minutes, we climbed 400ft to what felt like the top of the world. If you are planning to hike the Sentiero degli Dei, Montepertuso is also a great starting point for this panoramic footpath along the Amalfi Coast.

Positano

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Positano

Positano

Positano

Positano

Our first morning, we decided to take the steps down to all the way to the beach. And not just a few steps, we’re talking over 1500 steps down! But the views during our hike down from Montepertuso were absolutely beautiful. And after winding your way down the cliffside, you exit out this little passageway right into the heart of Positano. I would highly recommend making this hike regardless of where you stay. We ended up walking down twice, as well as hiking up twice! But what better way to burn off all the pasta and gelato than getting in a little exercise with scenic views?!

Positano

Every direction you look in this beautiful cliffside town is spectacular. But for one of the absolute best views, head over to Hotel California and pop under their covered parking lot. From here you have the perfect unobstructed view to get the infamous Positano snapshot.

Positano

Positano

The beach is getting closer! Spiaggia Grande is the main beach in Positano. Here you will find chairs for rent as well as an open area where you can use your own chair or beach towel.

Positano

Positano

Positano

Positano is filled with everything you would imagine a small Italian village to have: Scooters everywhere, hand painted plates decorating the walls, and beautiful doorways around every corner.

Positano

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Before heading down to the beach, grab some cold drinks and antipasti to-go from a restaurant or deli. This helps to save money for nice dinners and other activities, and maximizes your time soaking up sun on the beautiful beaches. This delicatessen was our go to for delicious vegetables and fresh made parma and smoked mozzarella sandwiches.

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Positano

Positano

Positano

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Positano

Positano

Positano

There are so many cute shops along Spiaggia Grande full of souvenirs, fun hats and beach coverups. Beware of high prices though—prime real estate comes with a cost!

Positano

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Positano

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Fornillo Beach, just a short walk from Spiaggia Grande, is smaller and  less crowded, with a more laid back atmosphere.

La Zargaza

Afternoon treats after a long day at the beach are a must. La Zagara has the best cakes, pastries, and coffee (or cocktails, whichever you’re in the mood for). We ordered the lemon tiramisu and my favorite, Sfogliatella. This shell shaped pastry is native to Campania, Italy, the region where Positano lies.

Le Sirenuse

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For a special birthday dinner, we made reservations at Le Sirenuse hotel. Between the views, the food, and the exceptional service, La Sponda restaurant was one of the best dining experiences I’ve ever had. Lit with 400 candles and perched in the middle of the cliffside, the glowing seaside town takes your breath away.

Fair warning: the michelin rated Le Sirenuse isn’t cheap, but for me, it was worth every penny. Here are a few tips if you are looking to keep your bill down: the champagne offered as soon as you sit down is delicious, but not complimentary. Kindly decline if you are interested in sipping on something else. However, several things are on the house. Complimentary breadsticks and vegetables with a dipping sauce are brought to the table to start. Followed by a zucchini tartlet and a small soup. So if you are debating on ordering an appetizer, keep this in mind. We choose to share two first course dishes (beef tartare and ravioli) and one second course dish (Sea Bass) and found this to be plenty. I had read that a small dessert is also complimentary and not to order one of your own if you are trying to keep your bill down. Following this rule, we declined dessert but immediately following I was brought a special chocolate and raspberry tart while being serenaded with Happy Birthday. After this, we were each brought three complimentary mini desserts, followed by a complimentary glass of Limoncello. By the end of the meal, we were astonished by how many things we ate, but did not pay for. I truly cannot recommend this restaurant enough.

Also, if you do go, I would advise going an hour early to enjoy a glass of champagne and watch the sun set at the Oyster Bar. They serve the most delicious bright green olives as well as marcona almonds and potato chips with your drinks. It is the perfect before dinner snack.

PositanoOther places not to miss in Positano:

Il Ritrovo – this restaurant just down the street from our apartment in Montepurtuso was one of our favorite meals on the trip. Nestled up in the hillside, theres a feeling of eating where the locals eat. If you want to sit out on the terrace overlooking the water, be sure to make a reservation.

Da Vincenzo – this family owned restaurant is a local favorite. They have cheap house wine and delicious food. I recommend the mussels and the eggplant parmesan.

La Brezza Cafe – a great little cafe to stop at for an afternoon drink. Customers get 30 minutes of free wifi and a delicious plate of snacks while enjoying a beautiful view of the beach.

Day Trip to Amalfi and Ravello

Boat Trip to Capri

 

TRAVEL & LEISURE

Pure Michigan

August 13, 2014
Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Park

What a great weekend in Michigan. Traverse City and Glen Arbor are so beautiful.

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We started our first day off with a bang at the highly recommended restaurant The Towne Plaza.

The Towne Plaza The Towne Plaza

^^The food did not disappoint. Look at those plates!

Traverse City Michigan

^^We were pleasantly surprised by the absolutely spot on naming of this park ;) Photo op was a must. Traverse City may be small, but it’s full of cute shops and wonderful restaurants. Unfortunately we didn’t get photos of everything, but a few other places not to miss while visiting:

The Village at Grand Traverse Commons: a;lskdjfa;lskdjfal;

The Cook’s House: Hand’s down the best meal of the trip.

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