Happy Friday, friends! I’m back with the last post in my mini travel series. I’ve been sharing snippets from our quick Italian anniversary getaway these past couple days- check out Venice & Florence, if you missed those posts. Today, we’re venturing to the Amalfi Coast! Click through to see how we spent a couple days exploring the small cities along the Tyrrhenian Sea…
I knew I wanted to go back to the Amalfi coast when planning our anniversary trip. It’s a special landscape I knew Emmett would also thoroughly enjoy, and I’ve been dreaming of going back. Years ago when I was living in Italy, my roommates and I hiked Cinque Terre, explored the coast, and even rented a boat for a day. Cassie, Meredith, Brandon, and Lauren… if you’re reading this, that trip was one of my all-time favorites and I wish we could do it all again together! Anyhow- somehow I persuaded Emmett to take a six-hour train ride with me and squeeze in a couple days on the coast, despite being short on time. I’m happy to report, he thought it was well worth the effort! To be fair, we did upgrade our seats on the train, so it was pretty relaxing to cruise and sip wine along the way…
A train ride landed us in Salerno where we were met by our hilarious driver, sent by our hotel. After a quick introduction, he offered to assist with our bags, as Emmett & I watched the mini van he had just hopped out of, rolling into oncoming traffic. He recognized the look of terror on our faces and quickly spun around to see what we were witnessing. Forgetting to put the car in park, he ran after the van, jumped in just in time, slammed on the brakes, and shouted, “MOMMA MIA!!” We knew we were in for an interesting ride. Haha! After some nervous laughing, we were on our way to the Amalfi Coast. The road along the coast is not for the faint of heart- or for those who get car sick. Luckily, Emmett & I are fine in those situations, but it was a crazy ride- swerving in & out of traffic along the narrow winding roads on the edge of the sea cliffs.
Having explored much of the Amalfi Coast and islands previously, I suggested we stay off the beaten path this time around… we opted for a local hotel in Conca Dei Marini and it was a lovely choice! Once settled in at Hotel Belvedere, we immediately descended down the narrow staircase to the pool for capresé and a spritz.
We took our drinks to-go and ventured down to the rocky beach at the edge of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Tired from our long day of travel, we opted to have dinner at the hotel restaurant that evening, which turned out to be really good. The lemon sorbet for dessert was the best I’ve had in Italy… when in Amalfi, eat & drink all the lemon concoctions!
The next morning, we were up bright and early. We headed into Amalfi, stopped by the market for picnic supplies & essentials, then made our way over to the marina to pick up the boat we had rented. I’d done this over a decade ago with my friends from art school, and knew Emmett would love it. Having experience with boats, we didn’t require a captain and were capable of touring on our own, exploring the coast and islands.
We cruised around, stopping to swim, picnic, and eventually parked for lunch in a little coastal town called Nerano.
You moor your boat, and a small water taxi comes to grab you, whisking you to shore. We had lunch at Il Cantuccio, which is a lively and packed seaside joint. We watched a couple get engaged and the entire place turned into a party. We hopped back onto our little boat, did some more exploring, enjoying the breathtaking scenario, stopping along the way, before turning the boat back into the marina.
We had some time to tour the famous Duomo di Amalfi, dedicated to Saint Andrew, which was absolutely stunning- I had never been in the garden area before…
We had a quick gelato and espresso at Pasticceria Pansa Amalfi, then did some walking & exploring before heading back to our hotel for the evening.
We were so stuffed from eating all day, we skipped dinner and opted for cocktails and dessert (more of that mouth watering lemon sorbet) at our hotel.
I have to say- this hotel was one of the most special and most impactful places we’ve stayed…. not because of the decor, service, pool, beach access, or food- but solely because of the people. I’ve never stayed at a place where the staff was as warm and welcoming.
They truly treated us like family, sharing their stories and asking about our own. The bartender, Bonaventura, is basically the Italian grandpa we all wish we had, speaking wise words, positive affirmations, and he made some of the finest cocktails we had the pleasure of sipping. We could have talked to that man all evening, had it not been for the drink orders keeping him busy. The same 5-6 people wear multiple hats and are there every single day from sun up until the dark hours of the night- it was evident how hard they worked, and always with a smile… a classic family-owned Italian hotel. While old school with a bed & breakfast kind of feel, there was a magic to that place that was really inviting, and the people had everything to do with that. The location was fantastic, and the fact that it had a pool, beach access, and was affordable sealed the deal for us. I’ll drop some photos in a gallery below… one image shows the hotel in proximity to the water- it’s right on the edge with the arched details.
The following morning, we had an amazing breakfast at the hotel, said our goodbyes, and hopped into the car with the same funny driver, winding along the swerving road out of Amalfi back to the Salerno train station.
I hope you enjoyed seeing snippets of our trip, and these travel journal type posts! Maybe someday they’ll be helpful for your own Italian adventure. I’m happy to share any recommendations or answer any questions you have. We’re already trying to figure out when we can get back to Italy. There are so many more places I’d love to share and experience with Emmett… Lake Como, Siena, San Gimignano, Portofino, Assisi, Milan, Atrani, Bologna, and Tropea, to name a few. Ha! Once you begin exploring & learning about a wonderful country, it’s tricky to hit pause. Often times, I’ll visit a place once and then dream of other destinations- after all, there is an entire world to discover and we only have so much time. However, Italy is one of those unique countries I’m always game to revisit.
Next week, I’ve got some fun fall & Halloween posts lined up for you. Peggi also has a lovely curated post that I’m looking forward to reading myself. Be sure to check back next week. Thank you again for following along and for taking the time to read, say hello, and connect! I missed this place. Now that I’m feeling a bit better, I’m ready to focus on home projects once again. We’re also taking the camper out this weekend- one last time before the snow flies! I hope you have a wonderful weekend as well. Ciao!
PeggiSeptember 23, 2022 at 6:14 am
Good morning, good morning! Wow seems insufficient. That hotel looks like a slice of heaven. Talk about location. I would absolutely endure a 6-hour train ride for that, although I’m less sure about the harrowing car trip. 🤯 Your glowing recommendation means a lot, considering your extensive travel. Each leg of your journey was uniquely beautiful, but I must say that the images and video of the Amalfi coast knocked me out. (I’ve really been feeling the call of the ocean…) The day spent exploring the coast by boat? An absolute dream. What about lesser seaworthy humans? Are boats with captains available? I’d be seeking an experience somewhere between terrible tourist and moneyed magnate. Is that possible? Speaking of tourists, what’s the vibe in some of these extremely popular spots? The beautiful blue skies make me think you visited during peak season. Are crowds a bummer? (Not that I’d be prepared to complain if I was in Italy…just curious!) I’m also wondering about the pull to return to Italy when, as you say, there’s the whole world to experience. Do you think your deeper knowledge of the country, due to your time living there, has made it more appealing? More homelike? Or is Italy just that magical? Your images definitely deliver enchanting! How tough was your return to reality? Ha. Thanks so much for sharing all the details and recommendations! I’ve soaked up every little bit. Happy Pizza Friday and cheers to your last camper adventure of the season!💜
SarahSeptember 23, 2022 at 11:25 am
Good morning, good morning! This entire trip really felt like a slice of heaven. I feel so lucky that Emmett & I were able to make it to Italy for our anniversary. The Amalfi Coast is always mesmerizing… we love trips that involve boats & the water. The sea & ocean always calls to me, too. There’s something very grounding and restorative about it, I think. You can definitely rent a boat that comes with a captain (it’s just a bit more expensive). We just opted for a small center console boat, which was ideal for the two of us (although it may be a little rough for anyone who gets seasick). Ahhh tourists, yes. Some parts of Italy are extremely jam packed & touristy, and crowds can be a bummer- other times it’s just part of the deal. It’s kind of fun to meet all sorts of people, but it’s also nice to find a low key secluded spot. Being older, wiser, and less party people than we were back in the day (ha!), it was nice to stay in quiet Conca dei Marini this time around. Amalfi & Positano are always a hot spots this time of year (peak season is definitely summer). We went to the market in Amalfi and a big group of American frat boys were making a scene, chanting, chugging limoncello, just being a bit obnoxious. Those are the kind of crowded touristy scenes I try to avoid. I love all your questions! It’s interesting, I always want to return to Italy and France. I think for Italy, it’s a mix of nostalgia, feeling a sense of home, THE FOOD(!), and it’s just so magical. There’s always something to discover and admire. My Italian was pretty decent this time around, too. A local complimented me on it and I was beaming. I like trying to communicate in the native language! Emmett is convinced I need to add a language to my repertoire. So far I’ve only got English and French. Italian felt really natural though! I think I’m going to learn. I’m terrible at Spanish and Emmett got kicked out of Spanish class (lol!) during school, but he thinks he can give it another go and cover us there. Haha! I need to have my brother teach him. My sister-in-law is Cuban and my niece & brother speak Spanish, too. Anyway, clearly we’ve got the travel bug. Returning to reality was rough, given we got Covid. Compounded with my other health issues, it has been a tricky week and a half of doctor appointments and more lab work.. and now we’re preparing for Bali (less than two weeks away). I can’t complain though! I feel very lucky we’ve been able to travel internationally twice this year- even if it is less than a month apart. Happy pizza Friday to you, my friend! We’re making this one tonight (I’ll report back to share how it was- you could opt out of the bacon or make some swaps to make it vegan): https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/shallot-and-bacon-goat-cheese-pizza/ Have an amazing weekend! xo
LaurenSeptember 23, 2022 at 7:58 am
This post is proof positive that the Amalfi Coast must remain in the top spot for Italian travel. Good morning! I’m in absolute awe. Your images capture so much of the gorgeous coast, architecture, and design in the best way possible. That first image of Emmett on the balcony sent chills. The tiled balcony in its own right would have stopped me in my tracks, but having that appearance of meeting the water…breathtaking. Exploring by boat seems like the best way to take in the stunning landscape. How sweet to witness an engagement! Marble, columns, and millwork oh my! The Duomo di Amalfi looks like a design lover’s dream. Your hotel sounds like many of the places Jeff and I have loved the most in our own travels. You just can’t compare even the priciest hotel to one like that- where you just feel a sense of home. I’m so glad you had that experience.
I am ver y much like you; always thinking of the next destination. Very few places have given me the pull to return, but the ones that do always involve coastline. How long did you live in Italy? Do you feel like you’ve experienced much of what the country boasts, or are there still areas of Italy you’d love to explore? It looks like a wonderful time was had, are you fully back on the home routine? Hopefully you’re both feeling much better. Have a wonderful last hoorah for the summer in the camper. Where to this time? Enjoy your weekend! Xo
SarahSeptember 23, 2022 at 10:56 am
It’s such a pretty place, Lauren! We’re all about travel by boat, so this leg of the journey was especially fun for us. We actually saw multiple engagements and weddings- always in Italy! I suppose it is *the* country for love. Hah! I should have shared more photos inside the Duomo because it had gorgeous dramatic Baroque architecture… Emmett said the crypt was his favorite (which was surprisingly fancy!). The hotel was wonderful! It wasn’t the most fancy or best designed, or even the best food of the trip- but all of those things were good, the price was right, the location was amazing, and the people were our favorite from the entire trip! We really enjoyed it there. Bonaventura asked if we’d be back next year and we both agreed it would be fun to return someday. I was only in Italy for a couple semesters- basically spring & summer. I’ve never visited in the fall or winter, but I’d love to! It’s funny, I was just talking to Laurie Anne about that same topic (she and her husband are planning a trip now) and she also studied abroad in Florence. She said her biggest regret was not traveling around the country more. Every week I visited someplace new- I went to at least 25 cities / regions. I only went out of the country a couple times (sky diving in the Swiss Alps called to me, ha), but I primarily spent those months sole exploring Italy. I feel like I’ve seen a lot, but I’m always happy to return! Laurie Anne’s approach was to take a few longer trips to surrounding countries (Spain, Germany, Ireland). This trip was much different than my previous time there. Traveling with Emmett, being older, and more financially stable, allowed us to do things like take the high speed train, stay in great areas (instead of hostels or couch surfing), etc. It was just a different experience… both were wonderful and fun! Anyway- thanks for asking :) We’re doing so much better! I feel back to 100 today, but my other health issues have had me down. It was back to reality with more bloodwork and doctor appts. Boo! We’re so looking forward to camping this weekend- just going 15 minutes from home for one night (with friends). A nearby park has a Halloween camping trick or treat and our friends have kids, so it will be a fun family weekend. Short & sweet! What are you guys up to this weekend? I hope you’re doing something fun and enjoy the cooler weather! xox
LaurenSeptember 24, 2022 at 10:01 pm
We are celebrating the about-to-be-9 year old: Aaron turns 9 on Monday. We spent today at Raging Waters and let’s just say it was highly interesting. I threw my back/pelvis out a few days ago and haven’t had a chance to get it looked at- high speed water slides were definitely testing my pain tolerance. We had a great time though- I was the only one who had been in the past so it was fun taking the whole family around; also fun to see how it’s changed over the years. Tomorrow we have a small family gathering to celebrate him. He’s most excited that to take cookies for his class on Monday. 😊☺️ Sweetest boy! I hope your camping trip was fun filled and enjoyable!
SarahSeptember 27, 2022 at 11:48 am
So fun!! I hope Aaron had such a fun weekend celebrating. How is he already 9?! I feel like I was just talking to you about him a few years ago, and now all of a sudden he seems so grown up. I’m so sorry to hear about your back / pelvis. That sounds absolutely miserable and very painful. I hope today you’re continuing to feel better. I hope cookies at class went well yesterday- what a sweet boy!
Danna FSeptember 23, 2022 at 11:10 am
Gosh, it’s just gorgeous! I enjoyed all the videos and photos! Really want to go and experience it now more than ever! Wishing we had more train opportunities to visit places instead of car or air here in the US. What a great way to relax and take in the cites. Such a great location for a hotel. What a special treat to meet Mr. Bonaventure and gain wisdom from. I am a ‘people watcher’ and learn so much by just observing.
With cooler temperatures a weekend in the camper sounds perfect. We are supposed to get lows of 56 and highs of 86 next week and I am excited. I am sure the temper changes will have me doing fall cleaning and decor swapping. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! ;)
SarahSeptember 23, 2022 at 11:29 am
You definitely should! I vote you and your husband plan a getaway someday :) You’ll want to once your daughter gets back and tells you all about it, ha. Emmett & I said the same thing- America needs better high-speed train transportation. It’s such a fun and relaxing way to travel. It doesn’t require getting to the station hours early like it does for flying. It’s the best. I miss train travel! We’re also people watchers… that’s of my favorite things about traveling- just observing. It definitely feels like fall here! We’re only going 15 minutes away from home, but it will be wonderful to catch up with our friends and celebrate the season (even if only for one night). I just put together our front porch for fall. I’ve got a Halloween / fall decor blog post lined up for Monday! I need to finish photographing everything tonight. Have the best weekend! xo
Wenda ScottSeptember 23, 2022 at 11:30 am
i really enjoyed your Italy posts. Wish i could go. Glad you are feeling better.
SarahSeptember 23, 2022 at 3:06 pm
Thanks, Wenda! I’m so glad to hear that. I hope you have a lovely weekend :)
IsabelSeptember 23, 2022 at 4:23 pm
I have absolutely loved this mini Italian anniversary travel series. I too studied abroad in Italy and was based in Rome. I love Florence just as much! Keep these types of posts coming! Your way of storytelling and capturing beautiful photos are truly magic.
SarahSeptember 23, 2022 at 5:18 pm
Thank you so much, Isabel! I’m so happy you enjoyed this little series. We had a wonderful time. How fun that you studied in Rome! Have a lovely weekend.
BrittanySeptember 23, 2022 at 8:02 pm
I loved reading about your Italian vacation this week! This hotel sounds amazing. When I studied abroad, I visited Florence, Verona, Venice, Bologna, Rome, and Cinque Terre. I had freshly squeezed blood orange juice and a Nutella croissant in Bologna that I still think about, 8 years later! :)
SarahSeptember 27, 2022 at 11:50 am
Thanks, Brittany! Ooooh how I missed blood orange juice. I wonder if we had the same one in Bologna. It was some of the best I’ve ever had. The food in Italy definitely cannot be beat!
MelissaSeptember 26, 2022 at 5:26 pm
I always enjoy hearing about your travels, but this trip to Italy is my absolute favorite. The photos are stunning and it looks so beautiful! I was lucky enough to go on a family vacation to Italy and Greece years ago, I was barely 20 and it was one of those guided bus tours through the major cities… but I still remember how magical it felt to be there. I would so love to go back now that I’m older and wiser (lol). The Amalfi coast is simply stunning! How do you plan vacations like this – what resources do you use and trust finding hotels, restaurants, etc? I struggle with trying to find something outside of the American mainstream tourist traps without worrying that we’ll end up somewhere terrible!
SarahSeptember 27, 2022 at 11:12 am
I’m so glad to hear that, Melissa! We had such an amazing time. Isn’t it wonderful how travel leaves a lasting impression? I feel the same about my own travels- even the ones from my teens and early twenties. We’re headed to Bali next week and we’re excited to make more memories and learn about the culture there! In terms of planning, I rely heavily on reviews. We also try to be “responsible tourists”… we’d rather put our money back into the local community / economy, so we research food, places to stay, entertainment, etc with that in mind. For example, in Bali- we really wanted to white water raft (we used to be guides), and discovered the company we were going to use also owns an elephant “refuge” that isn’t a refuge at all. We would never want to support animal cruelty or put our money there, so we opted for another activity instead. I think my biggest tip is to devote lots of time to researching and really digging into to trusted resources. We definitely try to avoid the tourist traps. I hope that helps!