10 Things To Do While Visiting the Amalfi Coast

10 Things To Do While Visiting the Amalfi Coast
10 Things To Do While Visiting the Amalfi Coast

This past weekend, my friends and I went on truly one of the most incredible and beautiful trips to the Amalfi Coast. In our three days there, we covered Capri, Anacapri, Positiano and Pompeii. I loved just about everything I did, but if I had to only pick 10 things to do and/or see and/or eat while visiting the Amalfi Coast, these would be them:

  1. Take a boat tour around the island of Capri.
  2. Try the freshly squeezed, freshly made orange-lemon slushy. For those of you really looking to “relax”, make sure to ask for the “special”, with a little splash of booze.
  3. Do a sampling of the different limoncellos from the original town it was invented in.
  4. Design and customize your own pair of beautiful leather sandals - they will make them right in front you!
  5. Take the chairlift to the top of Mt. Solaro. The 13-minute ride up to the top is truly one of the peaceful experiences I’ve had. Don’t forget your camera - you wont want to miss that photo-op!
  6. Take a “topless taxi” back down to the bottom of Capri!
  7. Take a boat tour from Positano.
  8. For those adrenaline seekers-go cliff jumping and swimming through incredible caves.
  9. Visit Vini e Panini for the best panini you will have while you are in Italy. I ordered a Panini on Foccia bread with turkey, salami, goat cheese, pesto, balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, tomato and rocket. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  10. Take a guided tour through the ruins of Pompeii. I emphasize guided because my friends and I thought we would try and save a few bucks and figure it out on our own…Let’s just say that didn’t work out to well. It’s worth the extra 9 Euros.


Thinking of Chianti...

During our first August in Italy (in 2011), we decided to take a last-minute, weeklong trip to an agriturismo just a forty minute drive from Florence. It was an amazing week. We relaxed, drove aimlessly around the backroads of Tuscany, took family photos on a dusty road, ate like pigs at Dario's in Panzano, and generally had a fantastic time.

We thought about venturing to the countryside again this August, but we've been so busy with work that it wasn't possible. Even though we've got plans for more travel in the fall, I still find myself wanting to rent a car and drive out to the countryside with the Hash crew.

I had a conversation with a friend/client a few weeks ago about how, as an American expat in Europe, you feel pressured to constantly be traveling to new places. See new things! Try new food! Can you believe where RyanAir can take you?! Sometimes, however, you just find a place that you love and want to keep going back. That's how I feel every time I'm in the countryside around Greve/Panzano.

I'm not a natural "relaxer" (read: I'm high strung), nor am I even remotely close to being "outdoorsy", but something about the countryside in Tuscany just sets me at ease. I can kick back and just let my mind rest.

About Your Vacation...

Tourist mob in Florence, Italy There is an essential aspect to living in destination city like Florence that most people never talk about: that tourists inevitably become part of your daily existence. There is no getting around the fact that you will interact with tourists on a daily basis whether you want to or not.  As a college student studying abroad in Florence 8 years ago I was oblivious/ignorant to it because I was essentially a tourist on an extended vacation.

But, as a resident of Florence for 2+ years that has seen a few tourist seasons come and go? I am very aware of the tourists. 

I am not one of those people that finds joy in excessively mocking or complaining about people on their vacations. Quite honestly, I think it would be rude to do so. But, there is no denying that most tourists exist in their own little world in which they are 100% at the center. It can be fascinating to watch it unfold in front of your eyes.

Rob and I call phenomenon "once-in-a-lifetime-trip syndrome."

I kid you not, something psychological happens to people when they head out on big trips -- the kind they will talk about for years -- that makes them certifiably insane.

Most notable among the changes? Any access to the order, decency and humility portions of the brain fly out the window.

The extreme end of the syndrome spectrum was highlighted in spectacular fashion a few days ago at the grocery store down the street from us. We were in to pick up ingredients for lunch when we spotted the guy in front of us plop bananas and apples on the conveyor. Without a sticker.

We both sighed. In most grocery stores here you need to weigh your own fruit and veggies in the produce section and bring them to the register to be scanned. We sighed because we thought it meant we'd be in line an extra 3 minutes while he figured out. But, what happened was unexpected.

The cashier told him he needed to weigh the fruit himself and he got indignent. For those of you not familiar with Florence city center groceries let me emphasize that they are teeny tiny. The weigher is probably 15 paces away. He tossed the fruit aside and yelled, in English:

"I'm not weighing anything. I'm on vacation."

Naturally, he was American so Rob and I were hanging our heads in shame and apologizing (in Italian) for our countryman. We tried to explain to him that it was really quite easy, but he just repeated it: I'm on vacation.

This man literally wanted the the cashier, the store, Florence and Italy to cater to his every wish. Because -- he was on vacation.

Now, Rob and I are avid people watchers so it was fun in that respect, but the scene was just as horrifying as it was fascinating. What is it about vacation that makes a grown man (with a charming Southern accent) act likes he's in Disneyland? The brief bits of small talk he made with us while he paid told us he wasn't a really bad guy, yet here he was acting like everyone owed him something.

And, I will tell you that this man is/was far from unique. Every May - September we see this behavior on a daily basis -- from the old and young, West Coasters, Easter Coasters, men, women, seemingly rich, seemingly budget. It's pervasive.

So, my question is this. About your vacation...

You do know we're not on it with you, right?

If anything, I should thank tourists for making me a much more aware traveler. During our trips to Paris and Amsterdam I tried to stay keenly aware of how our behavior was being perceived and adjusting as needed to what I saw locals doing. I don't claim to be perfect, but I do claim recognition that when I'm on vacation that doesn't mean everyone else around me is, as well.

Anyone else witness this syndrome in action lately?


Windows on Italy - Apartments in Florence

woi-1 woi-2 I've been working on a bit of a special project lately and found myself in need of an apartment for a single day -- not to actually sleep in, but for photography and video purposes. Florence has no shortage of amazing apartments, but finding one that was available for one day and that had the "look" that I needed was a bit of a tall order.

Thankfully, I found Windows on Italy, a holiday rental company that not only rents apartments here in Florence, but all over Italy. In fact, I confess to checking out rentals on the Amalfi Coast and the Lake Region (clearly someone is dreaming about an August vacay). Back to Florence, I found an apartment that looked great in the photos, is furnished beautifully and had amazing natural light -- which was a big reason why I couldn't work on this project at home...our place is a bit of a cave.

Full disclaimer: they gave me the apartment for the day (minus a cleaning fee that I paid) in exchange for this review, but I'm telling you the honest truth when I say how nice it was to work with them. Even when I was initially inquiring I was impressed with how quickly they responded via email. Anyone that's planned a trip to Italy or tried to reserve things from abroad knows how difficult it can be to get prompt email service, so this was huge! Also, the staff speaks great English.

I found the apartment's photography very true to what was actually there. If you've ever rented a place you know that this is not always the case. Somehow, apartments always look better online. I think the high-end nature of most of the Windows on Italy apartments is the reason you actually get what you see. I also love that their descriptions of each apartment are so detailed. They do a great job of capturing the personality and unique character of each place.

I may have spent extra time on the site collecting ideas for how to furnish a potential new apartment (no news now...maybe soon) and found these great rooms that really got me dreaming. You can click any of the photos to see the entire apartment:

Screen shot 2013-05-14 at 4.06.26 AM

Screen shot 2013-05-14 at 4.05.52 AM

Screen shot 2013-05-14 at 4.09.39 AMLong story short, I would highly recommend Windows on Italy to any of my readers that are planning a trip to Italy and are looking for great rentals from a great company, Windows on Italy.


Baptized in Florence


Regular readers know that we don't share photos of Livia very often on the blog. BUT, it just seemed like cruel and unusual punishment not to share a few of the stunning photographs shot by Birgitte during last weekend's baptism.

It really was a special night. We had a little (ok, not so little...25 people) apertivo at our apartment before celebrating the baptism during Easter Eve mass. Even though she wailed like a crazy girl during her big moment, it was beautiful and wonderful and we felt really blessed to share it with so many family and friends. I never could have imagined how much Florence would/could feel like home after two short years.

On a side note, the photos shot by Birgitte are nothing short of spectacular. If you are a Florence mamma looking for family photos or a soon-to-be traveler to Florence looking to capture your time here, I cannot recommend her enough!