Italy (Getting There)

Back in January I tore my ACL skiing. When my doctor gave me the clear to have surgery later down the right (vs. that winter/spring), I jumped on the opportunity to buy tickets to Italy. But instead of our usual city dwelling excursions, we opted to do the Amalfi coast and a little bit of Naples.

I booked tickets through Alitalia. We splurged and spent an extra $200 round trip each to upgrade to Premium Economy. Days leading up to the flight though, I started reading horrific reviews of Alitalia, the Premium Economy class and luggage weights. Uh oh. I am hear to dispel the myths that plague travel forums and blogs! And also to share a little bit about my elite packing skills.

Alitalia only allows carry on luggage that weighs less than 8kg (a little over 17 lbs) in addition to a personal item (which I always convince people is a backpack. Americans here afterall!). We bought a luggage scale back when we flew Wow Air and had a 5 kg limit. I knew I could do this – but I was going to Italy for a full week, not a long weekend. And no, checking a bag was not an option. I did not want to deal with picking it up, rechecking it during our layover in Rome to Naples, and that’s just not my MO. If I can get away with not checking a bag, I don’t.

So here’s what I packed:

  • I purchased a light weight Kenneth Cole suitcase before my trip to California with the family. This proved to be a lifesaver. It took up a very minimal amount of my 8 kg.
  • 3 bathing suits +  3 cover ups
  • 5 dresses (3 nice for dinner, 2 day dresses)
  • 2 pairs shorts (1 workout, 1 black)
  • 4 tops
  • 1 Longchamp duffle bag (these fold up to next to nothing and make coming back with all my souvenirs significant easier – I will check my bag on the return trip home)
  • Undergarments + pajamas
  • 2 workout tops
  • 1 hair straightener (purchased in the EU because it’s just not an option to use one from the US with a converter)
  • 1 pair nice sandals

Yes, that’s it. In my suitcase at least. Alitalia does not weigh your personal item. I purchased a Tumi backpack for travel and let me tell you, other than it not having an outside pocket for a water bottle, this thing is amazing. In the Tumi, I managed to fit:

  • All of my toiletries, makeup, liquids, chargers, glasses, sleepmask, etc.
  • 2 pairs of shoes (Birkenstocks and water shoes for the rocky shore!)
  • A turkish towel (also an amazing buy, rolls up super small, and doubles as a blanket on the plane)
  • My camera, an extra lens and charger
  • Kindle
  • Purse with the usual inside
  • Tickets, papers, international drivers licenses
  • Food! Against the Grain pitas, Kind bars, dried chickpeas, almonds
  • Scarf
  • Compression sleeve (sadly, the ACL does bother me on flights)
  • Neck pillow
  • Baseball hat
  • Umbrella
  • Hiking trails of the Amalfi coast

My suitcase weighed 7.8 kg. James made it in (barely!) at 8 kg. A luggage weight was absolutely critical to ensuring this success. I also typically bring iron spray, a tide to go stick and a small packet of tide for any bathroom sink laundry. My backpack probably weighed more than my suitcase.

OK, let’s move along to the airport/flying experience. Because we saved $100 each by not having to check a bag, we treated ourselves to passes to the first class lounge in Logan. Air France lounge is not exactly the best, but it beats the horribly crowded and angry airport. This is not posted anywhere online, but you can purchase a day pass for $35 to the lounge. It’s quiet, there is free wifi, plenty of food (at one point they brought out sushi and roasted veggies, so I had a snack) and if you drink before red eyes, lots and lots of liquor, wine and beer. My rule of thumb is nothing to drink but water and a melatonin. Magic.

The Premium Economy class is absolutely fine. In fact, I was thrilled after reading so many horrible reviews. I would compare it to first class on a domestic flight – thought the flight attendants are not as attentive and the food is sub par – but I never really expect much from airplane food (hence bringing all the aforementioned above!)

The seats recline significantly more than coach, they are wider (for four seats in coach, there was three in premium) and larger screens for their entertainment system. There was even a foot rest! We each got about 5 hours of sleep on the 8 hour flight – not too shabby. Enough to drive to Minori once we land in Naples.

Of course the Italy stamp was faded. I have literally 1090384983 stamps from Iceland though.

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