Ravello, SML or Praiano? WWYD?

Jan 16th, 2006, 08:16 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 44
Ravello, SML or Praiano? WWYD?

After reviewing your posts here and reading through old articles on travelandleisure.com, I would love the expert fodorite's thoughts on my dilemma outlined below:

My husband, myself and our infant son ( who will be 8 months old in August) will be traveling to Italy to meet friends for a week for our annual villa rental (this year likely to be in Umbria or near the border of Umbria/Tuscany). Prior to that, we will have 4 nights (Aug. 29-Sept. 2) to spend somewhere in Italy on our own (we are flying direct from the states into FCO/Rome).

As we travel to Europe yearly, our criteria are as follows and may seem unusual: (i) we would like to be in an area close to the sea (beach not necessary but sea view is) as the remainder of our trip will be inland; (ii) we would like to be in town/region that doesn't feel too touristy, but where there is enough to do (walk to lunch, daily/weekly markets, some window shopping, boat excursions, etc) and where we get a good feeling for what the town has to offer (we don't need to do the touristy sightseeing everyday, etc since we have already stayed in Positano on a previous trip and found the town too touristy and filled with Americans) and (iii) we would like to be in an Italian village/seaside town that feels more "authentic" that some of the other resort towns we have been to in the past (i.e., Positano and Amalfi) (note that we stayed on the island of Ischia about 5 years ago and were charmed by the island at the time, as we didn't find the island overrun by tourists, but rather by other Italians on vacation and as such felt more authentic).

Having said that, I have found the following hotels (we would like nice accomodations if possible, as we will be traveling with our infant child and would like some degree of comfort) in the following towns and would appreciate anyone's insight/thoughts on the choices below (whether firsthand or otherwise) or other suggestions that you believe better meet our criteria.

Also, we are concerned that the trip from Rome to SML may be pretty lengthy on the autostrada (does anyone know how long) -- however, we have never been to this part of Italy and are intrigued....

Thanks in advance.

Hotel Caruso

Santa Margarita Ligure
Grand Hotel Miramare

Casa Angelina
dswl is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:38 AM
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Hi dswl,

Based on your criteria, if the hotels are equivalent, I recommend Praiano.

I have some pix at

ira is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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IMO, having visited all three places, at least briefly, Ravello lacks the charm of your other choices.

I am the world's greatest fan of SML. It would certainly be a much easier town to navigate with an 8 month old, as the promenade and most other streets are flat and wide. The Miramare is on a hill, but a slight one. The grounds are lovely, extensive, and provide plenty of relaxing shade.

I much prefer the Golfo Tigullio to the Amalfi Coast. To me, the Amalfi Coast is too steep and challenging to make for a really easy and relaxing vacation. It seems to me that getting anywhere requires at least a bit of work, and would probably require more work with a baby. An 8 month old is pretty much at that squirmy, but dead weight stage, and I would prefer an area where I could easily stroll.

SML is a resort town, no doubt. However, it is also a town where a lot of people live. There are upscale stores for shopping and window shopping, but also excellent everyday shopping just a block or two beyond the sea. The food of Liguria, is, again, IMO, the best. The light, the water, well, I just love it all.

It may lack the drama of the Amalfi Coast, bu I think it is equally beautiful.

The after dinner stroll along the water, and the many easy boat connections to Portofino, Ravello, Camogli and other spots all add to SML's attractions.

If you are interested in reading an article about the area that I wrote for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, email me at [email protected]

tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 08:59 AM
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I just wanted to add that the vast majority of visitors to SML are Italians and Germans. You won't find the same number of Americans there as on the Amalfi Coast.

You can very easily have a car in SML, if you are interested in driving in and out, and trains are frequent. The area is much easier to access that Praiano.

There are weekly markets in all the local towns, and SML has pretty continuous and good outdoor flea markets at this time of year.

The Miramare is a very nice hotel.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 09:21 AM
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I loved Ravello amd would describe it as "magical". The Caruso is a wonderful hotel with exceptional views. Having said that I think it is an adult village. I was there last July and another lady staying in my hotel was there with her 2 yr old. She had been numerous times before but this was the first time with an infant. She told me that it was difficult as there was nothing for the infant to do and they went to the awful beach at Amalfi. I must say that I saw very few children in Ravello.

I have never been to SML so can;t comment.

Spent a few hrs by accident in Priano and loved (will be going back there).
It has a lovely sandy beach and very accesible to other parts of the A/C

Hope this helps and have a good trip

cambe is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 09:44 AM
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duh, brain dead woman here. I saw "Ravello" but somehow read something else. Of course, Ravello is as charming as the day is long. My apologies for the brain that doesn't work as well as I wish it would. Ravello is a lovely place. Not easy to get to, though.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 09:48 AM
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I would agree with Tuscanlifeedit, SML would be the best choice with an infant. I have stayed in all three places. I love Praiano and would return there in a heartbeat, but the town is spread out and some of it accessable only by climbing steep stairs, or walking along the Amalfi Coast Road. Neither of these too wise with an infant. SML is more easily strollable, and if you have a car, there are many places you can visit without the dubious thrill of driving the Amalfi Coast Road. I saw few children in Ravello and would agree it is pretty much an adult town.
We also rented a Villa in Umbria several years ago and it was wonderful. Have a great trip. How smart you are to be taking these trips with your young child!
TravelsWithStDavid is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 12:29 PM
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THANK YOU EVERYONE! I didn't expect so many responses so fast!

I will share with my husband. We were leaning towards SML (since we hadn't visited that part of Italy yet) and your responses somewhat confirmed that.

As for traveling with a small infant, most of our friends have commented that it is much easier to travel with a small infant (under age of 1) than with an older child/toddler (since the baby can't yet walk around/move around independently) -- we are hoping to that this trip won't be that difficult since the baby will be with us (but who knows!!) in a baby backpack/baby bjorn, etc...

I think the point on flat streets in SML (vs. Ravello or Praiano) and general accessiblity are both good ones and ones to consider.

I think SML is still our first choice, with Praiano second. I will keep everyone posted.

Btw, way tuscanlifedit, where is Golfo Tigullio (is that the liguria area/SML/Portofino)?

Thanks again for such wonderful prompt advice!!
dswl is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 12:50 PM
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It seems you've made up your mind, but if you had any reservations about Ravello, I can tell you this:
We were there w/ our two children, when they were 6 and 9 and it worked welll, I don't think you would be happy there w/ an infant and would save it for another time.

We stayed at the Caruso and loved it, - the owners are wonderful, food, much from their own garden, fabulous - and their wines - but our kids were at the age where running up and down hills was fun for them - and there is no beach or pool - we were using it as a down time for 4 dys between traveling Italy - but I would recommend it later or for others w/ older kids.

The square in Ravello was so alive at night, and there were people from 5-90 sitting around, kids playing games, teens talking and our kids made friends in 2 seconds and were off playing as we sat and enjoyed in outdoor cafe - they actually made friends they ended up hanging around with most days we were there ! - they took them along with them to tennis, play dates, etc - it was a great experience for them.

The beaches nearby we went for lunch, but not a beach for babies in my opinion.

other locations sound better for what you want. There are beautiful gardens and vistas there, but I wouldn't want to be pushing a stroller up and around Ravello or Amalfi/Positano!
escargot is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 12:51 PM
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dswl...yep, you have that right. It is the Gulf of the Dolphins. I might as well put my link in here, as I have done it several times already, so why make you write to me?

tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Hi D,

Another vote here for SML. We stayed in SML and loved it. Very little American tourist impact (except for us). Nice shops, nice seaside park, great to visit other Ligurian towns.

As much as I love Praiano and have stayed there twice, I sure didn't notice much in the way of shops.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 03:34 PM
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My experience with Praiano was that it was very spread out along a road where it was scary to walk, but perhaps it was just my hotel [Onda Verde].
Ravello is the most romantic, magical place we've ever been, but don't know how it would be with children, as there is a LOT of up and down....of course, that pretty much defines the AC.
rexmor is offline  
Jan 17th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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ira is offline  

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