Italian Tid Bits

Bellissima Italia!

Italy is a top choice for many when deciding where to go for vacation.

If you are planning a visit to Italy this summer, and it is your first time, I’ve put together a few tips that will hopefully help to get you through it all a little easier.

Based on my own experience:

1- Pack light. The smaller your bag, the better. (Very challenging for me btw.)

  • A large suitcase can be difficult to cram into a shared transfer or taxi.
  • In Venice for example, it’s likely you will need to walk at least a few blocks to and from your hotel. The sidewalks are narrow and broken, not to mention the many steps you’ll encounter lugging your bag over canal bridges.

2-When ordering your cappuccino or coffee, pay at the register first, and then take your receipt to the counter where drinks are being made.

  • Note- “caffe” is espresso
  • “Caffe Americano” is like American drip coffee.
  • Be prepared to possibly squeeze in between the patrons lining the bar enjoying their beverage.

 

3-When choosing a restaurant, avoid menus that are printed in several languages. And steer clear of the gentleman trying to lure you into his ristorante. It’ll cost you a lot more than it’s worth.

4- Before you go, learn some useful phrases like;

  • “Dov’è La toilette?”

“Where is the bathroom?”

  • “Dov’è stazione centrale?”

“Where is the central station?”

  • “Una pasta piatto, per favore.”

“A dish of pasta please.”

  • “Scusi! Non capisco.”

“Excuse me, I don’t understand.”

  • “Il Conto, per favore.”

“The bill please.”

 

5-If traveling by train, depending on the train company in which you are traveling, you may need to validate your ticket before you board. A ticket stamp machine is available just before you enter the platform.

If the conductor sees that you do not have a validated ticket, you will receive a fine. The fine is about 50 Euro if you can pay with cash on the spot. But pay the fine, always carry ample cash. A fine can be costly if police get involved.

Trenitalia I know is one of them. The Leonardo Express running from Rome airport to the Roma Termini station can be tricky too. Make sure your ticket is taking you exactly where you need to go. You can be charged a fine there too.

 

6-Enjoy the amazing wine, but not too much. Respect the culture and the Italian people.

THE TRICKY AND BEAUTY OF THE AMALFI COAST

Italy’s coastlines are some of the most picturesque destinations in the world. The stunning combination of the Tyrrhenian Sea and Italy’s Amalfi Coast has created many unforgettable vistas.

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The seaside cliffs are stacked with pastel villas overlooking the coastal towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Minori, to name a few. Ravello, perched high above Minori, has proven to be an incredible back drop for wedding ceremonies.

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photo courtesy of Sam Segar

Positano is known for its narrow streets filled with boutiques and cafes’. Its pebble beach is laden with rows of umbrellas all summer long.

Amalfi is nestled far below the rugged cliffs and was once the seat of the Maritime Republic. The Saint’Andrea cathedral resides in the heart of town showing off its medieval Italian striped Byzantine façade.

Minori sits within an un-crowded cove, retaining its identity as a fishing village. Scattered among the sunshades’ and beachgoers, are small wooden sea ready boats.

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photo courtesy of Jim Goodrich
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photo courtesy of Charis Tsevis
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photo courtesy of Ravanous
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photo courtesy of Ravanous

Besides being known as a wedding venue, Ravello is recognized for its gardens, town square, and Duomo.

 

 

Getting around can be tricky

I don’t recommend that you take on the Amalfi Drive yourself.  The road which was built by the Romans is narrow and winds up the coast with some hairy scary turns. If you are prone to motion sickness, medicate accordingly!

Traffic can be thick, especially in the summer months. It is not uncommon to meet other vehicles at the curves and forcing drivers to stomp the brakes in order to slowly pass with mere inches between the cars.  A bus can’t make some turns without oncoming autos reversing to a place with room enough for the bus to pass by.

The bus is the least expensive mode of transportation and advised.

If going from Minori to Ravello for example, you can take the ferry to Amalfi (10 min) and then the bus to Ravello (15 min).

A taxi will cost 30-40 Euros. (20-25 min drive)

If you are going in the opposite direction, Ravello to Minori, there’s a nice walk, all downhill, takes about an hour.

I suggest a private driver from the Salerno train station to your Amalfi Coast accommodation. The cost to Ravello for instance, is 100 Euro, but well worth it.  Sit back and enjoy the scenery.

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In summer months ferries are available from Naples, Sorrento, and Capri.

There is also a bus that runs from Naples airport to Sorrento.

And a bus is available from Rome to Positano and Praiano.