Italy Day 4

The forecast predicted rain ALL day. We were pretty sure that we’d be washed out – or at least that our kayak tour would be cancelled. I am pleased to say that neither was the case (and yet, the forecast continued to remain rain all day… hmm… Italian weather is like Italian time?)

View from the ferry to Amalfi.

This morning James and I hopped on the 8:45 am ferry to Amalfi. Once we arrived, we desperately tried to figure out how to get to Duoglio beach – about a mile from the city center. Eventually we realized we had to walk on the highway – something I was not pleased with at all. Italians here drive like maniacs, but I am slowly getting used to it, and starting to understand. After about 40 minutes, we made it to the steepest set of stairs I’ve ever laid eyes on, and made our decent down to the beach.

We booked our kayak tour through Amalfi Coast Sea Kayak. After a brief lesson on sea kayaking, we were on our way to Furore Fjord. Our guides were comical, and gave us an overview of the history of the different cities, pointed out spots where the road was exceptionally perilous with not much sandstone beneath the pavement  and even gave an explanation of the cave that was above the five-star hotel our yacht captain told us about. In case you’re wondering, it’s just a cave, but rocks keep eroding away. Time will tell how long that property sits there…

GoPros are awesome.

We kayaked through arches, into a sea cave and eventually made it to the fjord. The water was pleasantly warm, which helped make up for the amount of it that ended up on my clothes and in the boat!

At the fjord, we had a quick snack, tried to swim (the water here was less warm) and watched dare devils jump from the rock formations. After about a half an hour, we loaded back into the kayaks and experienced super tired arm syndrome. At this point, we’d been kayaking for about two hours! We eventually returned to the hidden beach, and opted to enjoy a late lunch at the restaurant on shore. I had the freshest fish – grilled and served with a potent lemon. James had pasta with mussels.

View from lunch.

The restaurant then drove us back on their inflatable dingy boat to the center of Amalfi, where we proceeded to walk around the town for 45 minutes before the ferry took us back to Minori. Amalfi is cute – and has numerous shops and a lot of tourists. We enjoyed gelato (ricotta and pear, niccotella and stratatella) and made a few purchases (my favorite wine is 9 euros here – a bottle at home runs me around $40!). We hopped back on the 4:30 ferry and relaxed at the hotel before dinner.

James on a dingy.

Dinner was again in Ravello. We could have walked but we were beyond tired after kayaking all morning. So… we called… Ambrosio. He raised his price too. Same drive, 55 euros each way. I know, I know. But if you were here, you would understand.

We had dinner at Ristoro del Moro – a Michelin star rated restaurant on a cliff overlooking Minori and Maiori. The views are AMAZING. I couldn’t get enough of them. And even though the temperature had dropped significantly, we opted to sit outside because when else will we get a chance to enjoy this?

HOW does this exist?!

The restaurant earned extra bonus points because they also had a completely gluten free menu which included pasta (and not just pasta from a box, we’re talking raviolis and gnocchi). James and I both had the octopus salad for our antipasto course – which was served with a green bean sauce and tiny diced potatoes. For the pasta course, I had the gluten free agnolotti stuffed with ricotta and spinach with basil pesto and pistachios. Oh my god. James had pasta with prawns and tomatoes. We both had red tuna for our meat course. It was served with this delicious balsamic vinegar and honey sauce. Neither of us could make it through even half our fish. Our waiter took pity and wrapped it up in lots of tinfoil for us to take home (luckily our hotel has a mini fridge!).

Following dinner, we had booked tickets for a piano recital in the Annunziata Historic Building (luckily the concert was indoors because we were both frozen!). The music was beautiful (mostly Chopin I believe). We left the recital to see that Ambrosio had called us seven times (you know, Italians can get away with this stuff – that’s borderline crazy girlfriend in America!). He just wanted to make sure we still needed a ride. And we did…

PS: They serve limoncello during the intermission.

Italy Day 2

The weather gods were in our favor, and so we set off on Day 2 in a yacht (though small in comparison to most yachts around here) to tour the Amalfi Coast and explore the island of Capri for a few hours. The boat picked us up at the end of the Minori jetty (which is really just a pier, or a dock) and we took off to Maiori to visit Pandora’s cave. Afterwards, we jetted back across the coastline, and stopped at the Emerald Grotto. It was a bit cloudy, so not as ideal to see the green shimmering water inside this cavern in the middle of the ocean, but we paid the five euros each anyway. There were a few patches, and we enjoyed the miracle of nature.

Emerald Grotto entrance
Emerald water

We stopped between Positano and Capri for a quick swim. The water here is the purest blue. It’s absolutely breathtaking. And eerily clear. Needless to say, I’m glad I packed my goggles on a last minute whim.

The “tour” part of the boat ride was a bit comical. The first mate was in charge of telling us facts about the coastline. Instead of telling us how this massive cavern appeared in the middle of the cliffside, he instead shared that Amalfi’s best hotel (5 stars!) was directly beneath it.

We arrive at Capri around  1pm and had three hours to explore the island. Unfortunately, there was a lot of Capri I wanted to see (like an ancient Roman villa) that was just too far to get to in the time we had. So we took the funicular up the cliff to what I will describe as rich people Disneyland. The Kardashians are currently vacationing in Capri, if that helps set the stage for you. The town itself reminded me of Miami or Naples, Florida – palm trees, lots of color and way too much glitz. We people watched outside a cafe, enjoyed surprisingly decent salad (me) and pizza (James), and eventually made our way to Giardini di Augusto.

View from the Garden

On our return back to the pier, we stopped for some amazing gelato (toasted almond, crema and strawberry), got lost in the maze of streets and eventually climbed down the cliff (if only we had known there was a foot path to go up!).

We fully expected the boat to drop us off in Minori, so when they docked in Amalfi and told us we were on our to figure out how we were going to get back, James and I did a bit of a “oh crap” dance. Taxis were 35 euros (for a ten minute drive!!). The buses just look terrible. So we took a ferry and made it on with a minute to spare.

At the hotel, we showered and got dressed in our fancy clothes for a very nice dinner in Ravello at Rosellinis. The weather app told us rain was imminent. The doppler showed nothing. So we grabbed some umbrellas and decided to brave the walk (it’s about 40 minutes, but breathtaking views) and figured we would cab back. Driving here is just not an option for us. We make it up the first layer of stairs, it’s raining lightly, but nothing too bad. We feel embolden by this and start walking with some purpose. And then… the heavens (maybe the hells!) opened. It was pouring so hard that the streets started flooding. I ran underneath someone’s garage for cover and we realized that we were defeated.

So I did what any respectable girl does. I took off my shoes and started to make my way back to the hotel.

I saved my shoes by doing this. I figured anything bad on the ground was washed away by this flood. *Hopes*

James did not fare as well as I did. I would say I was damp. James was soaked. His one sole pair of pants was soaked from the ankle to thigh. Covered in mud. His shoes were another color of brown. We asked the hotel to call us a car while we dealt with this outfit disaster. The hairdryer and hair straightener did nothing for the pants, so I used a Tide to go stick to get out the mud stains and James put on his only other pair of “pants” – his new lululemon athletic pants. Shorts weren’t going to fly at this restaurant. We died laughing. He put on his soggy shoes and a new button down and we went downstairs…

This is  where we met Ambrosio – our driver. Not a taxi, a private driver who lived up to every Italian stereotype. Super tan. White capri pants. Fancy shoes. A light blue racing jacket. Aviators. Perfectly oiled back hair. And an “A” tattooed on his neck. He spoke about as much English as James speak Italian. So this made for an interesting drive. But he got us to the restaurant in one piece, and we essentially figured that we should only call him to drive us around because the other guys steal your money (we later realized this is true).

Our dinner continued our trashy American theme. Now soaked, and in athleisure, we proceeded to wrestle with the menu. The sommelier kept trying to convince me to get a glass of rose until I told him I didn’t want to spend 40 euros for a glass of wine (so he only charged me 10…) and everything gluten free on the menu was tuna, prawns or spaghetti. So I got the tuna and spaghetti (no, I don’t want a meat course.. you eat too much… I am content with this amount of food….) and James had a four course tasting menu: egg foam soup, rabbit ravioli, suckling pig and a hazelnut box with cream inside.

Ambrosio picked us up afterwards, and we made our way down the winding roads of Ravello. He charged us 80 euros – which yes is outrageous, but he saved the day, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but we’ll probably call him again later.