Next stop, the Amalfi Coast! …with a brief pitstop in Pompeii.
I meant to post this three weeks ago, but I had to send out my laptop for repair. When I tried to find this post in my backup, it wasn’t there, but I figured that it just hadn’t backed up before I sent it out. NOPE. I just completely forgot to save about 7 posts that I will now be rewriting.
In terms of this specific post, that’s probably a good thing. To share a wholly unpopular opinion, I’ve never enjoyed visiting Italy. I know so many people find it charming, and romantic, and beautiful – and some moments in certain parts definitely are like that – overall, I find it a little dirty, overrun with tourists, and it’s the only place I visited where I’ve experiences multiple instances of [attempted] theft and pickpocketing. And yes, I know it’s wrong to generalize an entire country… but with so many amazing places to visit in the world, I wouldn’t return to Italy. I can’t say the same about the South of France (our next stop) and I’m dying to go back to Croatia.
My original post basically started with this confession and delved into a rant about all the little things that went wrong so my opinion of Italy remained unchanged. To quickly sum it up, I made my opinion clear to our travel agent, yet she still insisted we’d prefer Italy to Croatia. She then decided we’d spend extra time in Italy, taking extra days from my preferred vacation spots.
To make matters even worse, she had us fly into the Rome airport, instead of the much closer Naples. So not only were we forced to leave Croatia a day early, we spent an ENTIRE DAY in a car driving to Amalfi instead of enjoying ourselves. As someone who gets extremely carsick, I was absolutely miserable. There were also some poor activity recommendations, but it was honestly so disappointing that I’m not even going to discuss it and move on to the good and the great. <rant over>
We stayed at Casa Angelina in Praiano, which is located between Positano and Amalfi. I personally would not recommend our hotel to most people (especially during the peak season) because it was just ungodly expensive. I would want a bigger room and a larger resort space for the price. For reference, it was about the same price as the Four Seasons in Cap-Ferrat, which we turned down because of the price. HOWEVER, if you are looking for a boutique hotel experience, want to be able to access the crowds and energy of the Amalfi coast but still have a quiet sanctuary to return to, and cost isn’t a major issue – Casa Angelina is absolutely the hotel for you.
The hotel is located at the bottom of a long driveway scattered with giant abstract statues. Casa Angelina is actually filled with statues, sculptures, and other modern art that contrasts but also compliments the serene views. The long driveway isolates the hotel from the bustle of the main street, but it is still situated high enough on the cliffs that you get gorgeous unobstructed views. The welcome was absolutely outstanding. While checking us in and processing our passports, our bags were taken to our room and we were given a tour of the property. They also arranged for an oceanside table at the pool bar (below) where we could snack on some deep-fried pizza after the check-in process was complete.
While at dinner this first night, the maid serviced our room. When we returned, the bathroom and our bedside tables were stocked with all the L’Occitane products we could need. There were also bottled waters, a bowl of fresh fruit, small Italian weeding cakes, and a bottle of champagne waiting for us in the bedroom. The bathroom glowed with candlelight (battery powered, for safety) and rose petals were scattered on the floor and in the freshly-drawn bubble bath. It also helped that our room had a big patio with the most beautiful view.
Casa Angelina did a few things better than the other hotels we stayed in. First, their breakfast was absolutely outstanding. I would have lived entirely off their freshly baked breads, still-warm doughnuts, and homemade cakes, and savory tarts if I didn’t have to worry about fitting into a wedding dress a week after our stay. That actually turned out to be a blessing. If I wasn’t worried about a hip-snugging dress, I wouldn’t have tried the cured meats, salmon, smoked vegetables, smoked cheeses, or the most perfectly ripe fruit (fresh red currant with a little bit of custard – YUM). All that is just in the buffet, there’s more once you sit down at your table overlooking the cliffs of Positano and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Once seated, you will be offered coffee as well as eggs or any other hot dishes. My personal favorite was the eggs stewed with tomatoes. Also, there’s just absolutely no beating this view.
After breakfast we would typically make our way down to the pool, which is the second thing that Casa Angelina did better than any other hotel. Their pool is gorgeous, it almost made me “get” Italy. It is a bit small, and there are maybe only 10 chairs in the sun overlooking the sea, which is why we went straight there after breakfast. If you don’t want to sit in the sun, you can sit under the pergola to the side of the pool, which gets its shade from the lemon trees growing over it. That’s right, you can sit under the lemon trees, listen to the waterfall of the pool, sipping on an Aperol spritz, and gaze out to the ocean. Probably the most Amalfi thing you can do. The only downside is that the Aperol spritz is going to cost you 20 Euros…
The pool bar actually has an entire section of their menu dedicated to Aperol spritzes, featuring of course the classic spritz, but also a Passion Spritz (Aperol, Soda water, Champagne, and passion fruit liqueur) and a Russian Spritz (Aperol, vodka Zubrowska, Verbena, and rosé Champagne). The poolside drinks may be expensive, but the service is outstanding. All drinks come with a personal snack tray that contains pretzels, chips, peanuts, pistacios, and fresh green olives – my personal favorite – that was constantly being refilled. I mostly sipped on Campari + Soda or Limoncello Spritzes, but my husband had a different order in mind. Casa Angelina has a lovely cigar selection featuring Cuban cigars that you can request and enjoy at the pool. Snacks, spritzes, and cigars… it is our ideal pool set up.
It was about this time that evacuation orders started for the southern United States… specifically for our wedding venue. As weddings across the island were cancelled, a relaxing pool day was exactly what we needed.
The final thing that Casa Angelina did better than any other hotel is the farewell. The staff arranged for private transfer to the Naples airport and provided a bagged breakfast consisting of coffee, juice, and a variety of items from their breakfast buffet. We were also gifted a bottle of the olive oil that is made in Praiano and is used in the hotel’s restaurants. After such a frustrating journey to the hotel, the ease and sense of calm surrounding our departure was the perfect ending to our stay.
There was one other highlight to Casa Angelina – it’s located right above One Fire Beach. Unlike beaches in Amalfi and Positano, One Fire Beach is angled just right so it gets sunlight all the way until sunset. While this party beach wasn’t quite our scene, the water at the beach is deep enough that boats can drive right up. Despite the 200+ stairs you have to descend/climb to get to and from the beach, it was so nice to be able to hop on the yacht right from our hotel!
Up next, I’ll go into our yacht day in the Amalfi Coast. Stay Tuned!