It’s been so hectic lately, I can hardly believe that just one week ago, I was soaking up some Italian sunshine and gazing out at the Mediterranean…

My four days with E on the Amalfi Coast came together perfectly – a great balance between exploring the various coastal towns, relaxing back at our hotel and attending the weekend’s various wedding events. We even squeezed in two awesome coastal runs, which helped us earn at least some of the incredible food we enjoyed!

I should note that I didn’t plan this trip – well, at least not until we set foot in Italy. It was E’s friend who was getting married, so it seemed only fair to let him take the reins. But as some of you know, I am a slight control freak, so I couldn’t help but wonder how it would all turn out. Thankfully, everything was fantastic. Sure, there were a few things that E hadn’t thought out very well (or at all) which concerned me at first, but didn’t end up mattering. It was a truly lovely weekend from start to finish, which I of course documented with tons of photos! Check out my complete PHOTO ALBUM here.

***

E had convinced me to take the 6am flight from Gatwick on Friday morning. I certainly was not a happy camper when I woke up at 3:30am (or for the many hours that followed), but it was quite nice to land in Naples by breakfast time! After a strong cappuccino, we picked up our rental car – an adorable brand new Fiat – and started our 1.5 hour journey south. We drove down the A3, a big highway that passes through Pompei (which sadly we had to miss) and eventually leads to the SS163, a beautiful road that winds its way around the Amalfi Coast.

I think it was upon turning onto this narrow road that I left all my cares behind – the views were breathtaking, the weather perfect and the massive buses, trucks and other crazy Italian drivers confronting our little car and each other on nearly every blind curve took over all other thoughts!

  

Did I mention that this road was also our running route?! But more on that later…

We finally reached Hotel Marmorata around noon. Marmorata isn’t exactly a town, but a tiny peaceful spot just beyond Minori, below Ravello, and before Atrani and Amalfi. The hotel wasn’t within walking distance of Ravello (where the wedding was held) as E had originally thought, but it was only a 15-minute drive away and the location, perched right above the water, was perfect. It’s hard to beat waking up and falling asleep to the sounds of crashing waves, as well as being able to jump into the ocean within a minute of leaving our room. And when we craved a bit of action (or gelato), we simply hopped in our Fiat or went for a stroll, and soon enough, we were wherever we wanted to be. In particular, I LOVED the private sunbathing/swimming area, far away from all the usual beach crowds.

Once we settled in, E and I decided to drive to Positano. Normally, this wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes, but with heavy traffic on such a tiny road, it ended up taking nearly an hour. At least it was beautiful, and trying to dodge all the oncoming buses and cars kept us on our toes! We ditched the car, had a quick coffee granita to keep ourselves awake (it was actually slightly different from other granitas I’ve had – a very light, tastier version of a frappuccino – which we first became obsessed with in Trieste last summer) and then headed to a beach front restaurant called Ristorante L’Incanto, which our hotel had recommended. We shared a delicious lunch of pizza, salad, grilled vegetables and fresh local grilled fish – exactly what I had been craving – followed by a long walk (or shall I say climb) up and down the hillside town.

  

After exploring Positano, we drove back to Marmorata to enjoy a quick dip in the ocean, followed by a bottle of local wine and a bag of local cherries that we had picked up on the way home. The cherries were fantastic, but I certainly would not recommend the wine, whose name has thankfully escaped me. At least by our last glass (i.e. once sufficiently tipsy), it didn’t taste quite as bad, and watching the sunset from the hotel terrace more than made up for it.

Ten hours of much-needed sleep later, we went for a 5M run along the SS163. I normally wouldn’t consider a windy road with loads of traffic to be an ideal route, but it was the only place to go and we had seen so many other runners and cyclists out and about, we figured it couldn’t be THAT bad…

It was already scorching hot by the time we left at 8:45am – at least it was early enough that the traffic was relatively light. We ran along the main road for about 5 minutes, at which point we turned off onto the 5km road up the mountain to Ravello.

  

We only had about 45 minutes if we wanted to make it to breakfast and were hoping to run towards Atrani as well, so we didn’t reach Ravello. However, as you can see from my Garmin details, we still got a very solid workout!

The run also provided tons of local flavor, which is why I always love to run while I travel. Aside from the incredible views, highlights included observing a group of older Italians buying fresh produce from a truck along the road (they were all just hanging out and gossiping); getting encouragement from/giving encouragement to various groups of cyclists passing me by (Força! Coraggio! Yes we are all totally crazy!); and perhaps most entertaining of all, hearing a woman in an apartment next to the road shrieking a tirade of abuse in Italian to her poor (or perhaps deserving) husband/lover. Yeah, I’m in Italy.

Before attacking the breakfast buffet, E and I threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the ocean to cool off – I can’t tell you how good that felt.

Not as good, however, as spending the rest of the day sunbathing, napping and swimming at the hotel, pictured below. I think it was the first time I actually felt RELAXED in a very, very long time. Pure bliss.

  

In the early evening, we headed to Amalfi to meet up with some of E’s friends and walk to the rehearsal dinner, held in Atrani at a restaurant called Le Arcate. I would fly back to Italy simply to have their white pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella and rocket all over again (so simple, with a smoky flavor) – and that was a VERY tiny fraction of our delicious meal, hosted by the groom’s parents. I guess now is a good time to point out that the groom is American (and Jewish), and his bride is an Italian from the Amalfi Coast. As you can imagine, there was a lot of food involved.

  

With all those carbs in our bellies, we were more than prepared for (and very much needed) our second, longer run the next morning. We woke up slightly earlier on Sunday so that we would have plenty of time to reach Ravello, and that we did! Check out my Garmin details – nearly 2,600 feet of climbing, and it was hotter than the previous day!

I brought my camera along, which I never do, so I got some great action shots.

              

Pretty scary to think that this is just a small section of the Amalfi Coast marathon. Perhaps I won’t be running it in December…although with views like these, it’s tough not to be at least slightly tempted:

  

We spent the rest of the morning chilling out at the hotel, with a short excursion to Minori to seek out some much-needed mid-afternoon gelato. It had started to rain, but thankfully the clouds cleared and the sun came out just in time for our walk and, more importantly, the evening’s outdoor festivities.

  

I was very excited for the wedding – not only because it would surely be a unique and beautiful event and I had never been to a foreign wedding before, but E and I also don’t get dressed up very often. Generally, we are fairly causal people, and many of the things we do together involve running or other active pursuits, so it was quite fun to put on a nice dress and see him in a suit and tie. We of course took plenty of photos on our way to (and at) the wedding to document the occasion:

  

Villa Cimbrone was breathtaking and beyond romantic – a fairy-tale wedding venue if I’ve ever seen one. There’s no way I can do this place/the event justice by describing it, and even my photos pale in comparison to actually being there, but here are a few from the ceremony, cocktail hour and dinner reception (all held in different parts of the Villa) to give you an idea:

       

We were feeling a bit rough the next morning, but waking up to yet another (and sadly, our last) gorgeous day in Italy and a refreshing swim in the ocean helped us brush off our hangovers. Our flight wasn’t until 9pm, and we still hadn’t visited Capri, so we drove the rest of the SS163 to Sorrento, ditched the car and hopped on the fast ferry (20 minutes) to the island.

We got to Capri just after 12pm, and decided to take one of the many cheap tourist boats on offer (no need to do a pricey private one). Although we had to wait nearly an hour for the next tour, it was great to get an overview of the entire island, which is surprisingly quite big!

We had heard that Anacapri, the second largest city, was much nicer and less touristy than Capri Town, and also would allow us to take a 12-minute chair lift up to Monte Solaro, the highest point on the island. So, we headed to Anacapri on the public bus (an adventure in itself), in the hopes of getting a quick look at the town and catching the lift up the mountain. Unfortunately, it took so long to get up there (the buses are rather infrequent) that we only had time for a quick lunch of pizza and gelato in one of the squares, which was nice but not quite special enough to make the trip worthwhile.

I would have loved to have made it to Monte Solaro and spent some time exploring the quieter footpaths around the island, but we would have needed a full day to do that. I’m still glad we went, though, and at least we managed to get some excitement at the end of our trip. As we wandered around eating our gelato, we lost track of time and nearly missed our ferry back to Sorrento! Clearly we had done a bit too much relaxing and gelato is, um, very distracting. We quickly found a taxi (a convertible, I might add) whose driver was determined to get us to our boat within 20 minutes, even if it meant killing us (and others) in the process, all while blasting techno music.

  

Normally, this type of situation would seriously stress me out, but somehow it felt more like being on a roller coaster – we were laughing the whole way! Nervous laughter perhaps? I think so. Guess there wasn’t much else we could do…but the good news is that we made it to our ferry in one piece, got our car back in Sorrento without any problems and found our way back to Naples Airport without getting (too) lost. Success!

This is where everything started to deteriorate. Nothing serious, of course – flight delays, screaming children kicking our seats, being questioned for ages at the UK border (which never happens), causing us to miss the last train – the kind of stuff that makes you feel like you need another holiday by the time you get home in the middle in the night, with work early the next morning! Thankfully, my Italian glow helped masked the bags under my eyes…

My trip to the Amalfi Coast was far too brief, but I got a taste of an amazing place that I will definitely be seeing again – perhaps not at the marathon later this year, but most definitely at some later stage of my life!

Advertisements