For my husband and me, Italy’s Amalfi Coast is our special place. We honeymooned there. And we have returned every other year since that honeymoon to recapture some of that early-days romance, some of that excitement of our younger selves, and to bask in the golden rays of the sun-soaked Coast.
But this year, we brought our baby. And my mother.
So, we knew going in that the romance factor would be dialed down a touch, and that the excitement of Amalfi would probably belong more to our small child than to us. But, it was still Amalfi – our Amalfi, and so of course, the old razzle-dazzle would still be alive and well and waiting for us.
That is, it could have been … if we’d only planned a little better.
Because my mother and a young child were with us, we thought to forgo our usual hotel and instead, stay in a house. A friend of mine owns one in Conca dei Marini and she rents it out, so we figured this was the perfect solution. Gorgeous views of the Tyrrhenian Sea, a perfect location between the different towns of the coast, about halfway between Praiano and Amalfi, with Positano and Maiori just a little farther up on either side of us. Perfect, right?
Wrong. The house was lovely. It was everything it appeared to be in the pictures and in my friend’s description, except, well, the beach was 700 stairs down – and back up again. And, don’t think to take your car, because the beach can ONLY be accessed by stairs and there is nowhere to park the car. And the beautiful, little house with the unbelievable views? Well, the washing machine will electrocute you, there is an ant infestation beyond anything you could imagine, and if you want coffee in the morning from the local cafe, it’s a quick 300 steps up and back down while you carry the drinks on a tray. Oh, and the bathroom floods when you take a shower, so enjoy that 2-3 inches of water you’ll be sloshing around in while you dry your hair.
But we had a car this time, so we could flit back and forth on a whim, correct? Well, no. Because parking is nonexistent and when you do find it, prepare to pay €8 an hour and be thankful for it.
Romance? Hardly. Instead, we spent a great deal of time waging an all-out, un-winnable war against the ants, washing load after load of clothes in the electrocution machine, and praying to the Italian saints for the water to PLEASE drain, so that we didn’t have to wear water shoes in the bathroom.
We were all tired of walking down to the beach, and especially tired of walking back up (carrying a baby, too). My mother was sick to death of the ants and we were all on edge with each other because of the heat/bugs/general dissatisfaction.
So, in an effort to save the trip, we opted out of our rental early and rented an expensive, but oh-so-worth-it house up in the hills of Ravello. Away from the ants and the water and the steps of the house in Conca dei Marini.
The Coast was still the Coast, though, even with the added stressors, a baby and too many steps to climb. If there was anywhere to be miserable, Amalfi is surely the best place. And if our marriage is still intact after that vacation, maybe the romance is doing just fine.
Will we return the year after next? Of course. But this time, (and every time forever) we’ll stay in a hotel.