Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Italy: Salerno, Praiano

Hotel President had breakfast included for Sunita and her family. We had to pay for ours but it was a small amount of 5 Euros each for a full breakfast That was a good deal because most hotels of that quality charge 15-20 Euro each. 

We took the subway to the Roma Termini. Mike took the Leonardo Express to the airport because he was leaving today. Sunita, Belle, Ronin, Robin and I went off to the platform to get our train to Salerno. From there, we had to take a bus to Amalfi and transfer to another bus to Praiano. The entire bus ride would take an additional 2 hours in total. 

Scenery on the way to Salerno

Salerno city

The bus ride from Salerno to Amalfi was very winding - meaning the road had a lot of hairpin turns which were virtually blind corners on a narrow road with barely enough room for a large tourist bus and a small car. In fact, there were times either the bus or the car (and sometimes another full size bus) had to wait or back up slightly so the other could pass.  

Ronin ended up getting motion sickness from the many turns the bus had to make. Partly he and Belle sat in the very back seat of the bus and partly it was the ever moving scenery outside which was on the cliff side of the bus. 

We finally arrived in Praiano Town, which turned out to be one bus stop too far. Sunita called Brita, the woman we rented the house from, and she gave us directions on getting to our villa. Now imagine this: 5 people, each with one suitcase (mine had a broken wheel) and a backpack, walking along a narrow highway for at least 10 minutes to get to the village road. Then it was another uphill walk of about 5-7 minutes with a suitcase with broken wheels. I literally had to push my suitcase uphill the entire way in 32C temps. I was about ready to give up when Sunita, who was a bit ahead of us, announced that she was there. I was sure glad that we did not have to walk anymore. Brita arrived with the key to the villa, then we walked in the gate only to be confronted with 69 steps that we needed to take our suitcase down to get to the villa. 

The entire area of the Amalfi Coast is built on the sides of the mountain so there are stairs everywhere, and that's no exaggeration. There are winding roads but always a shortcut path down, which of course, means that its up as well. 

The walk down 69 stairs was worth every bit of sweating, huffing and puffing. My arm was so sore from pushing the suitcase (weighing about 45 pounds) for 15 minutes and then lifting it down the steps. I am glad I am not a wimpy woman or 'd never be able to do it. 

I could hardly believe our good luck. The pictures on the internet did not do this place justice. It was gorgeous. Every bit of disappointment of missing our flight, enduring the heat of the last week or a suitcase with broken wheels was gone. I thought I died and arrived in heaven. 

Terrace at the villa


Lattari Mountain Range in Praiano

Pears on the bush below the terrace


View of Mediterranean Sea from kitchen
We settled in and unpacked some things and headed off to the litte store which was about 200 feet from our villa. Of course it meant that we had to climb the 69 steps to get up to the road, then go uphill for 200 feet. Worth it though. The market was owned by the littlest, toothless , old Italian great grandmother who did not speak a word of English. Our Italian was limited to a few badly pronounced words but the fact that we were trying made her give us the widest toothless grin. She walked around the little shop pointing to veggies, eggs, cheese, wine, well, anything she thought we might need or she could convince us to buy. 

We picked up a number of things to stock out kitchen for the next day or two anyway. Then she stepped out of the shop, stood outside the door and shouted across the street in the loudest youthful voice : Saaa Raaaah!! Saaa Raaaah! A minute later, a younger man (younger than her but also old), showed up. He did not speak English either, but somehow we managed to communicate what we needed by pointing or using bad Italian. We saw a fresh basil plant outside the shop and asked for some. Toothless Granny grinned and said: Oh Basilico! Basilico! Se!. Then she picked a handful of leaves and offered it to us for free. When we said Grazie! her grin got even wider, if that was possible. 

Off we went to create our first Italian meal in our villa! Just that sentence sounds wonderful! 

Home made dinner

Home made dinner

It was gooood
For everyone

View from the terrace
This really is a piece of heaven. And to think, I had no idea of this place until earlier this year. That's why it's not good to have a bucket list.  You end up focusing on what you need to do to fill the bucket, that you miss out on all the other beauties like this. I am a firm believer in NOT having a bucket list and it annoys me when people ask me: Oh was that on your bucket list? I DON'T have a bucket list and I don't plan to make one. I go where my destiny, heart and opportunity takes me. That's the unexpected beauty of life. Spending time with my grandbabies in a villa in Italy cooking and eating great Italian food would not have been on a bucket list because it is too imaginative. 

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