Category Archives: Priano

Staying in Praiano

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our room at Hotel Holiday

Praiano is definitely cheaper because it is not a major tourist destination in comparison to the likes of Positano, Amalfi or Ravello.

As I have briefly stated in an earlier blog (click here), Praiano is less touristy, quieter and quainter.

If you are traveling on a budget, like Cholo and I do, it’s always best to travel during off-peak season*. We arrived In Italy on September 10th 2011. The peak season was already ebbing. Most European tourists have left to return to their countries. The Italian shops are now open. The sun was still out but it was getting cooler.

Most of all, the prices were getting cheaper.

There a lot of places to stay in Praiano:

Hotel Holiday (http://www.hotelholidaypraiano.com/accommodation/index.php)

Hotel Margherita (http://www.hotelmargherita.info/)

Hotel Onda Verde (http://www.ondaverde.it/)

Room rates vary according to room location, view, amenities, etc.

Prices starts at 80 euros up to 180 Euros; which includes breakfast.

Hotel Holiday and Hotel Margherita are affordable while Hotel Onda Verda is a splurge.

You can also check out Hostelbookers.com (click here). Just be mindful that prices here are shown on a per person basis.

We paid 110 Euros per night for our room at Hotel Holiday.

*It has been said that Peak season runs from May to September and off-peak season is from November to March. August is the month when all of Italy goes into summer vacation and the temperature might get too hot.

Spiagga La Gavitella

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Spiaggia La Gavitella

Praiano

Amalfi Coast

Campania, Italy

Chiesa di San Gennaro

Deciding to explore Praiano, with some help from Laura and the ceramic copula, we found ourselves in Chiesa di San Gennaro. Around here we found an arrow leading to Spiagga La Gavitella. Since it was almost sunset we decided to follow the arrow and find La Gavitella.

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watching the sunset at La Gavitella

mode of transportation

On our way back up to Piazza di San Gennaro

Getting to La Gavitella involved alot of stairs. ALOT! More stairs than that of LaPraia. If you are not decided to go all the way, like some tourists, it’s better to go back as long as you don’t go beyond the half way mark.

La Gavitella enjoys the sun the entire day, thus this is a nice venue to watch it set.

La Gavitella doesn’t have a beach. You jump straight into the water from the stone ledge.

Some people take boat trips around the area. It’s easier than the stairs.

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Chili left to dry in the summer sun

Walking through the the residential area, you see many reflections of the culture. Such as chili left to dry in the sun and poems written on ceramic tiles (click here to be brought to that blog).

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the lights are out, ready for the coming fiesta

Mama, bambino y nonna

Making our way to Piazza di San Gennaro, we decided to sit down and relax before moving on. We enjoyed watching the locals who were evidently fired up for the upcoming fiesta.

A round of applause rang throughout the piazza when the light bulbs were lit.

A few more days to go and it was fiesta time.

Too bad we left the next day.

To Spiagga La Praia and back

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To Spiagga La Praia and back

Spiaggia La Praia

Praiano

Amalfi Coast

Campania, Italy

Cholo

Walking down to Spiagga La Praia

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You see the occasional water fountain

If you're thirsty, it's safe to drink.

A ceramic altar of San Luca

hanging out in one of the steps

Walking the alley ways and back streets affords you to see many things that bring the community to life. Even if you don’t see a lot of people, you get a sense of who they are.

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An Italian man roasting under the sun.

On their way fishing

dry docked for the day

Spiagga La Praia is describe to be a “lonely” beach because of its relatively small size. It’s scenic location and the fact that it has a beach (in comparison to La Gavitella which doesn’t have one) makes up for the “loneliness”.

During the day locals and tourist alike flock here for a little R n R.

Some spend their lunch break roasting under the sun.

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walking up the stairs, the first among many.

Let the arrows guide your way

Walking back up to the hotel can be quite a work out. The key here is to take it all in stride.

Torre Asciola : Mostra d’Arte

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Torre Asciola

Praiano

Amalfi Coast

Campania, Italy

Mosta d'Arte

This was the sign we saw at the gates of Torre Asciloa that intrigued Cholo and I.

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Torre Asciola

We decided to venture inside not knowing if it was open to public. I was getting a little tense becasue I didn’t want to be charged with trespassing in a foreign country.

“Don’t be crazy!” he says. “It’s an art school.”

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The Artist : Paolo Sandulli

We were met by Signore Paolo Sandulli. After the initial introductions, he showed us around his work shop.

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An Art Installation by Paolo Sandulli

This was quite nice.

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the rabbit

Here’s the other king of this domain.

Praiano

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Praiano

Amalfi Coast

Campania, Italy

"The rising sun seen from our room terrace" photo by: Cholo Laurel

For centuries, Praiano was known to be a quiet fishing village along the Amalfi Coast. These days it’s still a fishing village that coexists peacefully with various hotels and restaurants that has sprung up over the years.

Praiano is a comune located between the towns of Positano and Amalfi. Praiano is a 30 minute bus ride from Positano and if you wish to go onwards to Amalfi it will take you another, give or take, 15 minutes on the Sita Bus. Since Praiano is a comune (in English terms a municipality) it is smaller that the rest of the towns mentioned.

I asked Cholo,  “Why did you choose to stay in Praiano instead of Positano? After all Positano was where Frances (Diane Lane) found her mojo back thanks to the handsome Marcello (Raoul Bova) in the film Under The Tuscan Sun.”

“Well, it’s cheaper than Positano. It’s less touristy. More quiet.” was his reply.

I realized after we spent an entire day in Positano (that will be another entry), indeed it was true.

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walking the back alleys to Spiaggia La Praia

Though there are the occasional hotels and restaurants when you go up and down the stairs of Praiano, you still feel like you are living in a small village.

As you make your way through the stairs, you pass by a school which was empty because it was summer vacation. You pass by a municipal hall. You pass by ceramic altars decorated with cherubs and hanging rosaries. You pass by a blue Vespa parked on side of the walkway.  You pass by the neighborhood gym playing euro dance music.  You pass by a garden tended to by an old man who is curiously eyeing you as you pass by while he takes a piss on his banana tree.

Torre Asciola

On your way to the beach, you will pass by an old lighthouse converted into a “Mostra d’Arte” . As you make your way into the lighthouse, you’d notice poop all over. A rabbit resides there too.

There an artist by the name of Paolo Sandulli calls this his workshop. He paints, creates art from clay, and infuses his art with the lighthouse.

Inside I saw different art forms of naked voluptuous women. Naked voluptuous women swimming on the sea. Naked voluptuous women cavorting with dolphins. There were also clay heads of different townsfolk made by his students; kids from all over town learning art while school is out.

It was a quaint workshop that reflects the character of the artist. Quite inspiring.

the towering cliff behind La Praia

Father down, you hit the beach called Spiagga La  Praia which is nestled between towering cliffs from the back and on the left and right hand sides. The beach itself is small.  It isn’t like the white powdery sands of Boracay and Palawan; grey stones fill up the beach.  The water is clear but cold, which is actually perfect during a hot summer’s day.

La Praia is also a Marina. This is your starting point if you wish to go boating for the day. You can visit the Isla of Capri, La Grotta dello Smeraldo (The Emerald Grotto) or take a boating tour of the entire Amalfi Coast. I’m not sure how much it would cost, but if you can spare a hundred Euros or so, then go for it. As for Cholo and I we decided not to do these tours, we still have 3 more weeks of travelling ahead of us, so every Euro counts.

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Spiaggia La Praia

We spent the entire day basking under the warm Italian sun while the cool breeze caressed our bodies. As you lay there you see the locals enjoying the last days of summer.

the occasional butt crack

You see old and young Italian men in skimpy swimming trunks. Young and old Italian women in two piece swim suits. You get the occasional Easter European tourists. You see boatmen coming in from an Island tour. You see young lovers whisper sweet words to each other. You hear Italian families chattering away emphatically. If you’re lucky you see the occasional butt crack!

For lunch we went to the family run restaurant called Bar Mare Petit Restaurant. Where I had the best tasting pasta vongole con tomato ever! No meal in the Amalfi Coast is complete without having a shot of Limoncello at the end of every meal.

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View of the setting sun at La Gavitella

By late afternoon after washing up in our hotel room, we decided to explore other areas of Praiano.

While walking from Hotel Holiday to the main Praiano bus stop, we see a copula made out of yellow, blue and white ceramic tiles jutting out. According to the arrows that was Chiesa di San Gennaro.

We discovered Spiagga La Gavitella while we on our way to Chiesa di San Gennaro. By following the arrows, walking through quaint houses with drying chilis hanged on  the walls, and going down alot of stairs we found La Gavitella. Another beach that is described to  be literally “Kissed by the Sun” until sunset. Make sure to leave La Gavitella while there is still some light sicne there are a lot of stairs to navigate.

Chiesa di San Gennaro

Chiesa di San Gennaro and Piazza San Gennaro is a where locals hang out until early evening. You see kids playing ball, grandmothers exchanging gossip, and young mothers chasing after toddlers around the piazza. Workers were also very busy installing lights around the piazza.  With my curiosity bubbling over, in barbaric Italian with a hint of Spanish, I asked one of the men if there was a fiesta going on. Indeed there was. They were preparing the piazza for the Feast of San Gennaro on Septmeber 19th.  We were to miss it by 3 days.

We decided not to have dinner in  one the trattoria that lined the main street. Instead we walked all the way to our hotel, passed it, went down the stairs and had a pleasant dinner at Hotel Onda Verde. We sat on the table outside the hotel’s restaurant overlooking the Marina di Praia.

By now it’s dark.

alfresco dinning at Hotel Onda Verde during day time

All you see are the twinkling lights of the boats moored in the marina, dancing to the waves.

The stars are out and the cools sea breeze blows in from the shore.

We kept ourselves warm by having a glass of red wine.

Torre Asciola is now lit up and serves as a reminder of it’s Medival Past.

Our waiter is now coming into view.

The celebration of our last night in Praiano has begun.

The Moon Rises Over Praiano

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September 13, 2011

Spiaggia La Praia

Praiano, Costiera Amalfitana

Campania, Italy

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It is now late afternoon.

We had just settled into our room at Hotel Holiday and decided to explore the area.

“Let’s hit the beach!” exclaims Cholo.

“Let us!” was my reply.

The owner, Anna Maria, gives us verbal instructions on how to get there.

She said in her thick Italian accent, “Just follow the stairs all the way down and the arrows that will lead you to Spiagga La Praia.”

We now start our walk.

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Well, she really didn’t tell us how much stairs were involved but believe me when I say, it was ALOT! Don’t forget that people living on the Amalfi Coast build their houses into the cliff face. Thus the reason why if you come to the Amalfi Coast, there are lots of stairs involved.

What I found pleasant about walking the stairs and back alleys of Praiano is that you realize that the people living here are a small and tight knit community. Each stair case would lead you into someone’s garden, to someone’s main entrance, or to someone’s Vespa parked in one area. On a good day you might see a cat relaxing on one of the steps.

After walking for over thirty minutes we found ourselves at La Praia.

The beach umbrellas are now closed.

One by one incandescent yellow lights bulbs come alive.

A hint of red, yellow and orange begin to fade as the sun finally set over the horizon.

It is now getting dark and the sea is turning into different shades of blue.

All you hear is the rushing of the waves to the shore.

And when you look over to the sea and look up to the twilight sky,  you see the moon is rising over Praiano.

On A Ceramic Tile

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September 15, 2010

Praiano, Costiera Amalfitana

Spiaggia Gavitella

Campania, Italy

 

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Seen on the main entrance of a house, a poem on a ceramic tile

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They are perched
houses and churches
and trusting people
with the saints.
On this piece
of heaven on earth,
sinking
unto the emerald green sea
to search for
the slumbering sirens.

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Making It to Praiano

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Making It to Praiano

September 13, 2011

On board the Sita Bus

Praiano, Costiera Amalfitana

Campania, Italy

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The Sita Bus has just departed from the Positano bus stop.

I looked at my watch. It’s a little over an hour since we departed from Sorrento.

I looked over the window and enjoyed the breath-taking views of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the great cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.

The Sita Bus is now about to round a corner and I am snapped away from my reverie.

I look down at the ravine and I could hear myself gulp. My grip on the metal handles become tighter.

I sheepishly remind my self,  “If ever the bus falls over, no matter how tight your grip, you’d still fall along with the bus.”

I told myself to relax.

I leaned over to Cholo and whispered, “I have come to the conclusion that Italian bus drivers will give  Filipino bus drivers a run for their money.”

He Laughed.

I look around the bus and I realized it’s all filled up with tourists and locals a like. The noisy Americans are becoming a staple. The Eastern European couple wearing white linen shirts and pants are quietly conversing in some language I could not fathom. The boisterous Italian kids are singing their hearts out.

The Sita bus makes another precarious turn and the Italian kids burst out into nervous laughter while I breathe out a nervous sigh.

I begin to wonder. The roads along the Amalfi Coast are so narrow it could only fit one car on a one way street! Then I remembered that Italy is a haven for small cars.So what looks like a one way street to me is actually a two way street!

Ahead, I see that we are about to cross a hole on the side of the cliff and the Sita bus comes to a stop.

Cholo and I look around.

I feel the bus go on reverse. I strained to see what was going on. I see that the bus driver lets the small cars on the left hand side of the road pass through. It then resumes on its journey a few minutes later. I came to the conclusion this is how Italians living in this side of their country navigate the roads. Give and take.

It’s been a little over an hour and Thirty minutes.  I turned to Cholo to ask him if we missed our stop when the Sita bus came to a halt and the bus driver announced, “Praiano!”

With wide eyes filled with excitement, Cholo looks at me and says, “We’re here!” He immediately stands up and goes on to disembark from the bus ahead of me. I sat on the seat for a moment to bring my back pack around my shoulders while the noisy Americans made their way to the doors.

I stood up and made my way to the exit. I held on to the railing atop of the 45 degree angled stairs and just when I was about to descend…….wwooooooosssh!

The next instant I found my ass on the autostrada.

I had slipped.

I looked up and saw Cholo with his hands on his waist looking over the Tyrrhenian sea.

“Are you alright?” asks an American Girl.

“Yes, I’m fine. Thank You. My ass hurts though.” was my reply.

We both laughed.

I stood up with my arms shaking from the burn I received from the railings.

I finally arrived in Priano.

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Getting to Praiano is quite an adventure. It took Cholo and I  4 hours via 2 train rides and a bus ride to get to Praiano. There are other alternatives though, such as renting a car or flying in to Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport. But I deem these two to be an expensive alternative.

There are no direct trains from Rome to the Amalfi Coast.

We started our journey at Roma Termini. We bought ourselves tickets to Naples for 34 Euros each. The journey would take 1 hour and 45 minutes on the not so fast train. If you want to reach Naples in 1 hour and 15 minutes you have the option of riding on the faster train for 44 Euros per person. But we were not in such a hurry.

Make sure to validate your ticket on the yellow box (validating machine) located by the waiting area of a train platform before riding on the trains. This is standard operating procedure all over Italy.

When we arrived in Napoli Centrale, we didn’t venture out from the station. Let me just say that I got a little bit scared of the people who I saw milling around the train station. When you in Naples always me mindful of your luggage or else you’d loose them.

We then made our way to the Circumvesuviana ticketing booth. It was a bit confusing to find the booth at first but once we’ve located the arrows that led us to the ticketing booth, we realized it’s just a short underground walk from Napoli Centrale. Here’s the thing, if you get lost all you have to do is, walk to the center of the station and follow the arrows that will lead you to the ticketing booth.

We purchased our one way ticket to Sorrento for 4 Euros each. We Hopped on the Cercumvesuviana commuter train and enjoyed the one hour ride. We passed by so many small towns and the train was filled with locals. There were a group of old ladies one of which reminded me of Sophia Petrillo (from the Golden Girls), chatting away in rapid Italian with five fingers up in the air. There were the cute boys going home from soccer practice, one of them eyeing my watch. Tons of young women wearing brown  lip liner and dark eyeliner and there were the occasional tourists.

The Circumvesuviana passes by the towns of Herculaneum and Pompeii. So if you are spending your holidays in Sorrento or Naples, this would be a good day trip to take.

As for Cholo and I, we were just passing by. Next time perhaps.

Once we arrived at Sorrento, we made our exit. We asked the Italian girl manning the tourist help desk where to take the Sita Bus to Praiano. (If you don’t see her, just walk directly outside the main exit. The blue colored Sita buses  are stationed directly at the corner.)

“You just missed the bus by five minutes. The next bus will be here in 25 minutes.” she said.

“Where can we buy tickets?” I asked

“You can buy it from the conductor or in the cafe over there.” She turned around and pointed us to the direction of the cafe.

We thanked her and made our way to the cafe. We purchased our bus tickets for 3.60 Euros per person.

Sita Bus tickets are priced differently along the Amalfi Coast. They are sold in the following  denominations:

  1.  A 45 minute ticket for 2.40 Euros
  2. A 90 minute ticket for 3.60 Euros
  3. A one day ticket for 7.20 Euro
  4. A 3 day ticket for 18 Euros.

So all you have to do is to buy according to your travel plans along the coast.

Since it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to get from Sorrento to Priano we bought the 90 minuti biglietto.

Since we had extra time in our hands, we decided to have some panini for lunch at a nice restaurant a short walking distance from the train station to fill our grumbling stomachs. After some 20 minutes or so, we were on the Sita Bus for Praiano.

Make sure to validate your bus tickets every time you enter the bus. All you have to do is to insert the ticket unto the yellow box (validating machine) when you get on the bus. Again this is standard operating procedure throughout Italy.

The Bus ride from Sorrento to Praiano was wonderful. The landscape and the seascape before you is so beautiful that words cannot simply describe them. It’s also quite a ride because as I stated earlier, the roads are quite narrow and the bus drivers drive quite fast. *laughs* Not to mention the autostrada is located on the coast line which is made up of towering cliffs and steep ravines. It will take your breath away figuratively and literally.

Praiano Bus Stop

An hour into the trip our Bus made a quick stop in Positano where most of the tourists get off. After picking up locals and tourists alike, the bus continued on its way along the Amalfi Coast.  We reached Praiano 30 minutes after.

We made a call to Hotel Holiday Praiano and told them we have arrived. The lady told us to wait by the bus stop for we will be picked up by her son.

Five minutes later a silver Ford Fiesta came into view and a cheery Italian teen comes to great us.

“Welcome to Praiano!” he says.