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Naples, the Cilento, Positano & Rome. Sept/Oct 2012

Naples, the Cilento, Positano & Rome. Sept/Oct 2012

Feb 3rd, 2013, 03:48 PM
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Naples, the Cilento, Positano & Rome. Sept/Oct 2012

Our trip to Italy:

Late September to early October DH and I took a much-anticipated 2-week trip to Italy for our 30th anniversary. The actual date was in June, but we decided for work and weather reasons, that we’d go in late September. We were glad we did as the weather was warm and the tomatoes and figs were ripe.

Flights: used FF miles on American to get there, which meant a 22-hour layover in New York. We were happy to do that. Arrived late on a Wednesday night, stayed in a hotel, visited the Met’s newly redone American wing and had lunch with an old friend.

We flew to London and spent several days there visiting a very dear friend and getting to know her husband. But that was a visit, and my report is about Italy. Except I will mention that I loved the Courtauld Gallery and the Tate Britain.

We were very happy with every place we stayed:
- Meuble Santa Chiara in Naples. 2 nights at 65 EU per night.
- Tenuta Terre di Bosco in San Giovanni a Piro in the Cilento. 2 nights at 80 EU per night half-board. Yes, that great price includes the BEST dinner and breakfast.
- Marulivo Hotel in Pisciotta in the Cilento. 1 night for 130 EU a night for a superior room.
- Rifugio degli Dei near (but thankfully not in) Positano. 4 nights for 100 EU a night.
- Sistina1 apartment from RealRome. 4 nights at 110 EU a night.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2013, 05:09 PM
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We live in the Pacific Northwest and we’d had a long, dark, cloudy winter. In planning this trip my primary goal was to have a cold glass of white wine on the terrace every day at sunset and to swim in the sea. Except for our hotel in Naples, each accommodation had a terrace looking towards the setting sun. It was a perfect trip and we’d happily go back to each place. In fact, we hope to return soon to Naples, the Cilento and our steep little farm near Positano.

Day 1: Easy Jet from London to Naples. Taxi to our hotel. This was a nice, small hotel across from Santa Chiara. We liked the street, the location, the rooms and the owner. It was spotless and lovely with good sized rooms and pleasant views. I had considered staying in a more expensive hotel but was put off by the many reviews at the more expensive place complaining about Naples. So we stayed in a hotel where people seemed to like the city. We thought we’d love it and didn’t want to have breakfast or cocktails with whiners.

We checked in and made a mad dash for the Archaeology museum. It was a straight shot north from our hotel and the street was lined with musical shops. There were shops that made musical instruments and shops that sold musical instruments of all kinds. It was interesting to look in the windows.

At the Archaeology Museum we wanted to buy the 7-day ArteCard but the museum was out of them. Oh well. We enjoyed the mosaics and the views of Naples at rush hour out the windows but otherwise, I wasn’t as impressed with this museum or the collection as I’d hoped.

We wandered around to check out the night scene and look for an Enoteca that I had on my list. Couldn’t find it (turned out it was closed on Monday) but we didn’t really care as everything looked lively everywhere. We then headed off to Hosteria Toledo, Vico Giardinetto, 78, for dinner. It was just off Via Toledo. It was quiet, but the food was very good. We had a caprese salad that we split (huge, BTW), and DH had eggplant parmesan and I had swordfish and grilled zucchini. Both the eggplant and the grilled zucchini were amazing. I watched what appeared to be a huge argument between the owner and someone else for a while. As it turned out, the other woman worked in the restaurant. Since I don’t speak Italian and it was Naples, it could have been just an ordinary conversation. Then I had a tiramisu for dessert and by then the restaurant was filling up with people who worked there as things were winding down. We had house wine.

The streets were quiet as we walked back to Santa Chiara. By now we felt we knew our way around and all was familiar.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 04:40 AM
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Rose: I am thrilled to see this report and looking forward to the continuation! I spent a couple of nights in Pisciotta in 2011 and thought it was one of the most pictuesque towns I had seen, anywhere in Italy. Did not stay at MarUlivo but am interested to hear your comments about your stay there, and also in San Giovanni.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 06:08 AM
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Day 2: We had vouchers for coffee and a pastry at a bar around the corner. I’d somehow told myself that the vouchers were for the famous pastry shop Scaturchio so we happily sat ourselves in their outdoor seating area until the waitress came, checked our vouchers, and pointed out that our bar was the one next door. Oops! Pain au Chocolat and cappuccino for breakfast. Yum.

We headed to Piazza Dante to catch the bus to Museo Capidomonte. Here I have to interject to say that our family struggles to get on the right trains and buses in Europe. We have had disasters and near-disasters that always leave us running, sweaty and out of breath. So in Naples that day we managed to buy 2 tickets from the bus ticket machine! We patted ourselves on the back for our brilliance, and then even got on the right bus. I tried to validate our tickets but the machine was jammed and we didn’t see anyone else even try. It was a puzzle. The next puzzle was where to get off. Minor detail. I saw a tourist with a guidebook who looked well organized and I meant to keep my eye on him to follow, but everything was so interesting and I lost track. We overshot our stop by about a half-mile. I signaled DH and we got off. By that time the bus was a little crowded and in the time I left my seat and got out the door someone managed to unzip my bag. There was nothing in the main compartment so all was well. I’d meant to hook a pin to the zipper end and attach it elsewhere and forgot or ran out of time. This was a good, harmless lesson and I was more careful to always keep my hand on the zipper in crowds after that.

Off the bus, we weren’t sure where to go and followed a series of quickly degrading signs downhill. Sign 1 was a new metal sign for the museum. Sign 2 was a rusted, bent metal sign. Sign 3 was a sheet of white copy paper that said Museo with an arrow. Then we came to a T intersection with a group of men loudly arguing (or talking about the weather or a TV show, I could never tell) and one of them saw us and pointed downhill. That was Sign 4, the most hilarious of all. We laughed all the way to the museum, just around the corner.

The Museo Capidomonte was a great museum, well worth visiting. The collection is large and most are exceptional. For me the highlights were a full-scale drawing by Michelangelo displayed next to the painting, two stunning Bruegels, several amazing works by Caravaggio and some really great Titian’s. There were also great works of Italian mannerism. While that’s not my favorite era the layout was great and the quality exceptional. One of the things that struck me about this museum was how well preserved everything was. I left wondering if the paintings may have been handled less than usual? Not sure, but if you like art, go to this museum. It's not too big or overwhelming. I pored over the paintings and we were done before noon.

After that great museum experience we had a quick cappuccino in the museum coffee shop (since it was before noon!) and headed back to the bus stop. We got on the right bus, took it into town and got off near the restaurant we’d eaten at the night before.

I had another restaurant on my list - Nennella. Vico Lungo Teatro Nuovo, 103, off Via Toledo. This place was wonderful! It was very crowded and as we approached I couldn’t figure out how they’d squeeze us in but they did. We had a table outside and could watch all the beautiful people of Naples come and go from lunch. It was all locals and mostly professionally dressed people. Our menu had no prices and we weren’t sure what that meant but we ordered and the food and wine arrived. At one point we saw kitchen staff bringing a large tray of slices of melon across the street and inside. Then everyone seemed to have melon on their table so we asked for some too. Paying was a mystery. Nobody received a bill. Once done, they’d go talk to one guy who let people in and out and after some gesturing and shrugging, money was handed over and everyone was happy. So we went up and offered him 20 euros. Us he wasn’t sure about! He called over our waiter to find out what we’d had (primi? secondi? Vino?) and after more shrugging, they agreed that 20 euros was fine. FUN!

We wandered over to Santa Chiara and visited the lovely cloister and museum. We dropped by our hotel to check on how to get to the ferry to Salerno the next day. It turned out the ferry didn’t run the next day so that was easy – we’d be taking the train to Salerno! Then we walked up and down the alleys in that part of town and headed to the harbor to find the best place for a sunset view.

We didn’t quite find the perfect spot – I’d wanted to a place I’d heard about but it wasn’t close and in any event, the sun slipped away with little fanfare or color. We moved from one piazza to another watching the people. Walking through the back streets of the Chiaia neighborhood was amazing. So full of people! Rush hour in Naples seems to mean socializing in the streets. It was incredibly delightful.

But by then I had a headache and needed water and a small bite of food so I could take ibuprofen. We sat and had a pleasant snack and water at a bar in a square and after awhile made our way to Sorbillo for pizza. But which one was the ‘real’ Sorbillo? I couldn’t quite tell. Both displayed great reviews from American press so we went with the one on the right. Probably the wrong one but it was delicious, I had the DOP and wine and we enjoyed the evening.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 06:10 AM
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ekscrunchy - thanks for your help in figuring out where to go on this trip. We loved the Cilento and wish we'd been able to spend more time there.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 08:26 AM
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I had considered staying in a more expensive hotel but was put off by the many reviews at the more expensive place complaining about Naples. So we stayed in a hotel where people seemed to like the city. We thought we’d love it and didn’t want to have breakfast or cocktails with whiners.

I really like your style, rosetravels. I've been itching to get to Naples, and your report is making a visit even more intriguing. Thanks, and I look forward to more!
jmct714 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 12:51 PM
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Thanks jmct714 - we read various complaints in advance but didn't find much truth in them. The graffiti that we saw was interesting, as opposed to random. We saw a little garbage truck come through a couple of times and didn't see garbage piled up - just the bags left out for the truck. We found the city to be full of life and fun.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 01:03 PM
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Love your report. We loved Naples and we too had trouble finding Museo Capodimonte. We walked and walked and walked in the heat. Finally we gave in and took a taxi maybe a quarter of a mile.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 02:02 PM
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Day 3: Naples and Paestum

We visited the Duomo and wandered the streets in the morning after our visit to our bar with our breakfast voucher. I finally bought a sfogliatelle and we snacked on that for awhile. For hours, actually. The narrow streets of Naples are quite interesting and we were sorry to be leaving them. We went back to our hotel, got our bags, the hotel owner called a taxi for us and off we went, careening through the streets to the train station! I loved the taxi drivers in Naples and in general, found the Italian style of driving and crossing the street to work for us once we figured out the system.

Fortunately we’d given ourselves plenty of time at the train station as our credit card (chip & sign) didn’t work in the ticket machine and there was a long line at the ticket counter. We bought our tickets to Salerno and our tickets from Salerno to Rome that we’d need in a week.

I was fully expecting to be swarmed by thieves in the train station so I was ridiculously vigilant but nothing happened. I found a spot to wait near a pile of Italian soldiers (deciding they would somehow help keep thieves at bay?), ate my sfogliatelle (same one, it lasted for hours), held onto our bags and watched for our train to come up on the board. It was a quick ride to Salerno, we got off, found the car rental minutes before it closed (Europcar, used Kemwel to book and pay) and headed south.

Our goal for the day was Paestum, which we found and enjoyed (hookers by the side of the road near Paestum. Really? Sheesh!). We didn’t spend much time there. I wasn’t sure what the roads in the Cilento would be like and we were far from our Agriturismo so I hurried us through. We would have gladly spent more time in the interesting museum. We quickly walked the site – due in part to the millions of friendly mosquitos, not the clock – had a really delicious sandwich and water at one of the many bars across the street and headed off.

After some discussion we decided to take the SS18 across the center of the Cilento, rather than the main A-3 highway that GoogleMaps preferred. It turned out to be a great road. Fast and scenic! We were at our exit in no time and headed down crazy narrow roads for a few kilometers to Bosco. Our Agriturismo was well-signed, we turned off and there we were!
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 02:18 PM
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I am enjoying your report. Sounds like you have a great attitude to travel!
willowjane is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 05:13 PM
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I am also loving your report. I am in the middle of planning a 3 week trip to Italy for my sisters and their families. We are starting in Naples (brother-in-laws grandfather was from there.) I was worried because I,like so many have heard negative things. Now I can't wait! Thanks for the tips.
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Feb 4th, 2013, 07:48 PM
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Tenuta Terre di Bosco
in San Giovanni a Piro, the Cilento

I recognized the Agriturismo from the photos and we carried our bags in dropped them in the entry and followed the owner’s son, Giuseppe, to the bar. DH asked for water but I had a cold glass of wine (of course, I'm very goal oriented) We sat on the terrace and cooled off, then checked into our room.

It was lovely and spacious and had a large terrace with a view of the sea. Dinner was at 8 so we sat on our terrace, took photos, checked emails, uploaded photos from the camera, tortured friends on Facebook with our photos and read.

I’d heard that meals at an agriturismo were unbeatable and this turned out to be true. Dinner began with an aperitif and an appetizer, followed by a primi and a secondi. Plus fruit. Tonight’s primi was a delicious pasta. I think the noodles were homemade. The sauce was tomato and tuna and ….other amazing things. It was full-flavored, delicious and my favorite dish of the trip. It was followed by grilled swordfish and then figs.

The figs deserve their own paragraph. Figs of the Cilento are apparently famous throughout Italy. These were peeled and served on a skim of a light textured honey with a touch of chopped mint. Wow. Even the colors were gorgeous. Peeled, the fig was white with just a hint of green. This was one of the best fruits I’ve had anywhere, including fruits from roadside stands in Hawaii and blueberries from my county.

We slept well (so quiet on the farm!) and woke up eager to see what was for breakfast! It was a buffet and there were so many options. Eggs (boiled and fried), cereals, breads, pastries, homemade cakes and regular yogurt, buffalo yogurt and fresh fruit. We ate the entire LARGE bowl of buffalo yogurt both mornings. And all the fruit – fresh peaches, melon and more of the OMG figs. The buffalo yogurt and fresh fruit were a treat!

What? Buffalo yogurt? Yes, and it’s delicious. The Campania is the region of the buffalo farms and it was nothing like what I thought it would be. These are water buffalo and they produce milk that is lighter and better tasting than cow milk. It makes the best yogurt.

After breakfast we discussed our options on boat rentals with Giuseppe and headed out to dip our toes into the sea! From Terre di Bosco we drove down a series of switchbacks with stunning views before we reached the beach near Camerota. We stopped briefly at one lovely spot then moved on to Palinuro. At Palinuro we hired a boat to take us to the Grotto Azurro. It was SO BLUE! I read later that the color was best at noon and fortunately, we were there right at noon.

After our boat trip we swam in the sea, then saw a trail that led up, above the harbor. We hiked for a while and ended up above the grotto we’d just visited. It was a nice and easy hike. On our drive back to Terre di Bosco we stopped to wander through an abandoned medieval town on a ridge – San Severino. Interesting! Renovation work is being done on a small church and the square in front of the church was being reset. It looks like they’re using it for weddings – or getting it ready for weddings. Nice spot.

We were home in time to watch the sunset and relax before dinner. At breakfast we’d been given a menu to choose our dinner and so we went with lasagna and fish. Our appetizer was an assortment of salumi, served with an aperitif, and our primi was vegetable lasagna. It was amazing! Really light with layers of vegetables and a delicious white sauce. The secondi was grilled local fish. Very good.

Naturally we had a bottle of wine both nights. They have a nice selection of regional wines at good prices.

In the morning we competed with each other for the bowl of buffalo yogurt, generally stuffed ourselves with great things, and headed off. We were sorry to leave Terre di Bosco and wished we’d stayed longer. It’s off the beaten track and completely lovely. As it turned out, we were the first Americans to stay there. Can you imagine? No. Americans. Ever. For travelers who like to find amazing and untouristed places, we'd found the holy grail. We hope to return very soon. It’s a great price at 80eu a night for both of us combined, half board. There is also a lot to do in the area: lovely small and unexplored medieval towns, swimming, boating, hiking. I could happily spend a week or two.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 4th, 2013, 07:52 PM
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Thanks willowjane and yes, kmh7 - Napoli is really nice and I thought it was a good place to begin. I would have been glad to have another day or two there.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 06:38 AM
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DH loves road trips and today was road trip day. We knew that Cilento is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and so we needed to see more. While our next accommodation was about a 45 minute drive up the coast, we ventured deep – high – into the Cilento! Wow. Gorgeous mountain villages clinging to the hills. My ears popped at one point as we were high in the mountains! All of the towns we drove through – or wandered through - looked nice, not impoverished. At one point we stopped at a pullout to see if there was a trail and saw people pulling over and filling up their water bottles. So we filled up all of ours at a delicious fresh spring! We stopped in one narrow mountain town to get gas and use the bathroom. The gas station was just one pump that DH tried mightily (hilariously?) to use before the attendant came and helped. We believe we impressed him with how slow-witted Americans are. (“How do Americans manage to make a living? I met one once and they couldn’t figure out how to pump gas!”) I made my way 10 feet across the street to the bar with a toilet. (Yes, I ordered a quick cappuccino. Yes, it’s a vicious cycle.) Eventually we reached busier roads and made our way to the greek and roman ruins of Velia.

We explored for what seemed like quite awhile but were done in about an hour. There wasn’t much information and the signs were sun bleached or missing. It was 95 degrees and it was just us and the still-friendly mosquitoes so we headed off to Pisciotta and our lovely hotel.

Between Velia and Pisciotta the road was a little uneven. Since my husband is a geologist he was very excited and pulled over and looked at the hills and landslides. Turbidites! Ocean floor turbidites! (Deposited by underwater landslides.) Yes, the road is sliding down the hill. We could see the beginnings of what appeared to be a new, expensive and abandoned road project in the distance and no doubt there’s a story to be told there. We found the bumpy road slumping downhill to be very interesting, fun to drive on, and we were glad it wasn’t raining.

Pisciotta has just the one road and a parking lot at the end. After driving back and forth through the town a couple of times we realized that we needed to park in the lot and then walk through the town to reach our hotel. Easy enough. Hotel Marulivo is a restored medieval monastery on the edge of a medieval town. We walked through tiny passageways and up and down stairs following signs until we arrived. We checked in, visited with the hotel owner, got the scoop on restaurants, directions to the sea and then headed down, down, down the stairs until we reached Marina di Pisciotta and the sea! We floated until we cooled off, bobbing around in the gentle waves. Lovely place.

My husband has sensitive feet so when we were about to get out he had the great idea that rather than walk out on the rocks, we’d sort of crawl up the steep beach to get out of the water. Who would listen to that? OK, me. Looking foolish was fine but we were hit by waves that shoved us (really just me) down into the sand several times. My suit gained several pounds of sand in uncomfortable places. We stumbled to the nearby fountain and washed off a few pounds of sand. Heading back up the stairs the sand might have been a problem except the hundreds of steep steps up were a nice distraction. We reached Marulivo and its gorgeous terrace facing the sunset just in time to snag a table and order cold white wines. Oh my. Incredible views.

When the hotel owner gave us the details on the local recommended restaurants earlier she had asked, “Do you want the nice restaurant or the pizzeria?” I said the nice restaurant and DH said the pizzeria – both at the same time. Very funny. Naturally we went to the nice restaurant. We sat on the terrace and had a view of the full moon over the adjacent valley. Prices? 1eu for bruschetta, 4 eu for primi. In all, we paid around 30 eu for dinner with wine. It was very, very good.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 07:02 AM
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What a great report! Thanks.
Marija is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 07:06 AM
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I remember that road, northh from Pisciotta. Probably one of the worst road surfaces in the region but that scenery was just glorious! Great report, Rose! So glad you enjoyed!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 09:00 AM
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Loving your report! I really want to go here.
yestravel is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 03:14 PM
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Thanks Marija!

ekscrunchy - thanks for encouraging me. You were one of the few who'd ever been. It was a bit daunting to consider going somewhere with so little information, which is probably why we allocated only 3 days there.

yestravel - it really is amazing and this is one of our best trips. I want to go back and soon.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 5th, 2013, 03:29 PM
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On to Positano, Arienzo and Rifugio degli Dei

We had an early breakfast as we were on a mission. I had very carefully copied out ekscrunchy’s directions to the Venuto buffalo farm and now that we were such fans of the yogurt and cheese, it was a must.

We packed, ate our lovely breakfast, took off and made a beeline for the buffalo farm. When we arrived at 9 am it was packed with Italians but we took a number for the cheese line/mob and then wandered around to see men making cheese and to get a look at the dairy. We live in America’s 4th largest dairy county so we’ve seen our share of dairies. This one was spotless! DH tells me he saw less spotless ones on the train later that week so perhaps it was all the visitors. We looked at the leather shop (nice) and then I had gelato and DH had buffalo yogurt. Again. Since we were returning our rental car and taking the ferry to our next place, we decided we couldn’t carry a Styrofoam box of mozzarellas around. (How we regretted that!)

Eventually we found Europcar again, dropped off our car and RAN to the ferry heading to Positano, just in the nick of time. We loved the ferry ride. It’s a great way (best way IMHO) to travel the coast.

We arrived in Positano and it took a few minutes to get our bearings. I waited with the luggage, dismayed by the crowds of tourists, while DH went to find the right way out of town. We weren’t staying in Positano, we were staying in Arienzo, a couple of kilometers from Positano. We found the way up and out and headed along the road. I had been concerned with the walk along the busy road but it wasn’t a problem. After 15 or 20 minutes we found the entrance to the stairs heading up to Rifugio Degli Dei and Nocelle. DH ran up ahead to let them know we arrived and I waited with the bags. The owner’s son came down, attached them to the lift and we walked the 200 or so steps up to Rifugio and our home for the next 4 nights.

Rifugio Degli Dei is a small farm with 3 lovely apartments. Each has a private terrace and all have stunning views of Positano and of the sea. I’d stay here again in a heartbeat. We were welcomed with lemonade, provided with information and shown to our apartment. DH went back to Positano to get food for dinner (tomatoes, mozzarella, cheese, wine, etc.). The honor bar had a nice selection of things for the same price as the stores, which was very thoughtful.

There were chickens in a coop built into the wall along the path, turkeys on the terrace below, olive trees being prepared for harvest, fruit trees all around and the harvested tomatoes hanging from the pergola. We spent time talking to the owner's son about how they make salami and harvest olives and details of farming on the coast. It was delightful.

In reading the reviews it was clear that it had stunning views, friendly people and a shocking number of stairs. That was all true. I had been worried enough about the stairs that I spent the months before our trip running up 300, then 400, then 500 stairs on a nearby hill. I was in pretty good shape (for me) and able to really enjoy hiking the area.

The next day we hiked the Pathway of the Gods. Rifugio is partway up the hill on the path to Nocelle so we headed up hundreds of additional stairs. Of great interest to DH was the noise of water we heard while walking up. We finally realized that the sewer line from Nocelle was built into the stone wall below the handrail. It was the occasional vent that gave it away.

It was a steep climb up and once on top I headed straight for the restaurant. We cooled off, had a lovely and light lunch with a lot of water and headed off. After we reached the top hiking along the ridge was easy. We eventually headed down to Praiano on a side trail. Along the way we stopped at a small abbey. We were hot and a little weary and there was a young man there to show us the abbey and sell us ice cold water for cheap. Very nice. Between there and Praiano it was easy hiking and we passed the parish’s Stations of the Cross along the way. Charming!

At Praiano we took the bus towards Positano and asked the bus driver to stop at Arienzo. Unfortunately at Laurito my husband said it was time to get off. Aaargh! It was another mile or so of walking along the road…then up our 200 steps to Rifugio. I was glad to arrive.

The next day we took the ferry to Amalfi as I was keenly interested in visiting the Duomo and the paper museum. Loved both. I recommend the paper museum and on a hot day it’s refreshing and cool inside. I bought some drawing paper to take home. Slightly hard to pack but it arrived home unscathed and is now flat and on my drawing table ready for brilliant things to happen (I’m an artist).

Our last full day at Rifugio we went to the beach at Arienzo to swim. There was a book in the study of 100 best beaches of the Amalfi coast and the author said the one near us was the best. So we hiked down. Along the way, below the main road, was a most interesting driveway. Steep and narrow with a circle at the bottom. It was a mechanical ‘lazy susan’ to turn the car around. You drive in, park and turn it around so it faces uphill. Ingenious! The beach was very nice, we hung out for hours, then headed back up to our apartment for lunch. After lunch we loafed about. I sketched, DH napped and read. Very pleasant.

Each of the 3 apartments at Rifugio has their own private terrace and we had a lawn as well. Below our apartment was the large terrace where we all ate breakfast. Mornings were often showery so breakfast could be a series of moving tables in and out. All fun! However if you’re there in the fall I recommend you bring mosquito repellent. I bought a very small bottle of repellent at REI before we left and was glad to have it while we were on the coast. It had rained a few weeks before we arrived and there were a fair number of fast and tiny mosquitoes.

For dinner that night we’d made reservations at Il Ritrovo in Montepertuso. At 8 we walked down to the main road where the van for the restaurant came and picked us up. I had the seafood meal and DH had the meat meal. I thought his was a little better. The wine was delicious.

We were sad to leave Rifugio. We bought several bottles of the olive oil to bring home with us. This was oil we’d seen them harvesting, saw the sons haul to the press, and then watched them carry back up in barrels. It’s really good (peppery!) and we are very glad to have it.

Our last morning we walked to Positano, caught the ferry to Salerno, made it to the train station in time and took the train to Rome. There we took a cab to our apartment near the Spanish Steps where Tim with RealRome had someone waiting to show us in.
rosetravels is offline  
Feb 6th, 2013, 02:59 PM
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Our apartment was very near the Spanish Steps and we and another apartment shared a huge terrace on the top floor. We never saw anyone else up there but we ended up spending a lot of time, soaking up the sun, eating more Caprese salads and drinking wine. Hours and hours of sun soaking, as we knew it would be the last time in the sun for months and months.

We’ve been to Rome several times and always enjoy walking a lot. On this trip we visited the Borghese Gallery (4th visit, still in love), Santa Maria del Popolo (loved the paintings) the Vatican Museum on a Friday night (never again), St. Peters, the Markets of Trajan, the Capitoline Museum, the Largo Argentina, the Pantheon (of course), wandered the Ghetto and saw recent excavations and visited Santa Maria in Trastevere (loved.)

But here’s what we did that was really fun: we hired a terrific guide to take us on a food tour of cured meats. I’d emailed different people in advance and they were out of town but Katie Parla kindly referred me to Hande at VinoRoma. This isn’t a regular tour but she replied right away and in a few emails we settled on a time and a reasonable price and so at 9am Saturday morning we met Hande at the Testaccio Market.


We loved Hande, her tour was a lot of fun and so very interesting! We wandered through the incredible artisanal food market near the Testaccio Bridge and then headed north to the permanent Testaccio market. We tried a lot of different salumi, including horse salami (delicious and lean.) From there we went to Volpetti and sampled a lot of very good salami. Then 2 places near Campo Fiori: Salumi Violet and Al Bric. Violet was very good and we tried some salamis there that we really liked. After that we said goodbye to Hande and headed to a nearby bar for coffee and water, and then back to our terrace for a final day in the sun.

On Sunday we had coffee and a pastry at the little bar across from our apartment and went to a nearby Spar market to buy cheese and things to take home. Yes, we should have bought some at the Testaccio market but we didn’t think of it. Apparently we prefer to wait for the last minute and run to the nearest random grocery store for things to take home…. Then we packed our bags, walked quickly to the train station, scrambled around to find the bus stop there, caught the bus to the airport and flew to Frankfurt. We had an overnight stay in Mainz, ate German food, drank beer, walked along the Rhine, then flew home.

Final thoughts

We loved the Cilento. We’ll go back. Traveling there was easy; the accommodations were very good, stunning landscapes and delicious foods. Oh, and great prices.

We loved Rifugio degli Dei near Positano and would happily return to stay there and hike more. We liked the Amalfi Coast however, I’m not a fan of Positano. Even in early October it was jammed with Americans. Fortunately, we spent no time there – just picked things up at the store occasionally and caught the ferry. We much preferred traveling by ferry to traveling by bus along the coast. It was beautiful, pleasant on hot, sunny days and so fun to see where we’d been and where we planned to go.

This was our favorite of all of our trips. It was also our most affordable. We used miles on the way there but paid for single tickets back from Rome. We stayed in the places we wanted to and never held back on what we wanted to buy or order. Incredible trip.
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