Heading south

View from our villa – hazy weather means Capri is shrouded in the distance

Yesterday we travelled from Camogli (south of Genova) to Positano (just south of Napoli). The 2 hour drive to Firenze to catch the train south was negotiated successfully – including the Firenze one way system which is always a challenge.

It felt like it was going to be a good day.

As it was Saturday the rental car office was frantic (most villa rentals run for a week from Saturday to Saturday) with tourist picking up cars. The queue went out of the office and down the street – quite hard work for those waiting in the 32 degree heat.

We drove past all this chaos, into the garage, was met by a lovely Avis rep who checked the car (no dents this time), helped with our bags, ordered a taxi for us and handed me a receipt in about 3 minutes flat.

It was really looking like a good day.

The taxi dropped us at the organised chaos that is Firenze train station with time to spare for our train. Luckily we could escape the chaos as our tickets included access to the Frecciarossa lounge – an air-conditioned haven of peace, tranquility, free beverages and snacks.

Jean discovered the shopping mall under the station and disappeared for a few minutes returning successfully with “that t-shirt top she’d been looking for” and “something to wear by the pool”.

The train trip south was 3 hours. We arrived in Napoli at 5pm and were greeted by our driver Enzo on the platform. An hour later we were in a warm and slightly muggy Positano being greeted by the Eden Roc team.

Definitely a good day.

Camogli – pronounced Cam-oh-yee


We have stayed twice at Camogli in the past – but only for a night each time and in the off season. We stumbled across the hotel Cenobi Dei Dogi on Booking.com when we were travelling from England to Italy in 2011. The reason we picked it was two fold – free parking and dog friendly – two things that were important to us at the time.

We always said we’d come back and stay longer in the high season – and that’s what we’ve done. We have a week here to relax, swim, lie in the sun and explore the local area.

Camogli is on the coast about 40 kms south of Genoa. It is a favourite Italian summer holiday destination for people from Genoa, Milano and Bologna so this week it is very busy in that laid back Italian way – no rush, no fuss, just people getting on with the hard task of enjoying themselves.

 

Chianti with friends

Our short stay in Chianti in Tuscany was a chance to catch up with friends – some Italian locals and some Kiwi’s on tour. For three days all we seemed to do was eat and drink and tour the small villages of Chianti.

The base for our stay was the delightful Relais Vignale in Radda in Chianti. Spread across a number of traditional tuscan buildings, this hotel is a great way to enjoy a break without being limited to the “Saturday to Saturday” villa booking cycle. The service is excellent – in fact the manager Serena went out of her way to help us when our booking was affected by our overly long stay in Hong Kong.

We met up with friends from New Zealand who were staying just up the road and our good local friends Olga and Dani. Meals were had and stories relayed.

As always when in Chianti, the surprises were off the beaten track – the small village restaurant we stopped at for lunch and the gallery where the artist told us the story behind the small print we fell in love with and bought.

But after a shortened stay we packed up our rental car with our already expanding suitcases, farewelled friends, and headed north to Camogli for a week by the sea.

 

 

Let the fun begin

Our guest room has taken on a new role – the packing room. It’s Sunday night so the bags are being filled with many things we won’t need and some that we will.

This afternoon we dropped the girls at their home for the next 4 weeks – Waglands Dogs’ Holiday Retreat. I kid you not, that’s what it’s called. When we left there were tears, a lot of barking and a very quiet drive home.

Tomorrow starts early at the airport at 7am and then we spend the next 34 hours travelling to Rome.

It’s odd what you can find in Italy sometimes

When visiting Matera we discovered that it was a town obsessed with beer – craft beer to be precise. Every bar and restaurant had a range of craft beers which were proudly displayed on its menu.

The task of finding a simple Peroni or a Nastro Azzurro at our hotel was impossible – but they could supply three types of wheat beer and a gaggle of obscure IPAs.

One beer that we were surprised to find was “New Zealand” IPA from Motueka. Who would have thought you could find a kiwi beer in, of all places, Matera. And of course, once we spotted it, we had to try it.

That night we drank Matera’s entire supply of New Zealand IPA dry – both bottles. So, gentle travellers, if you are looking for a taste of home in Matera – you’re too late. Cheers.

Rush hour in Positano

One thing we have noticed this visit is that Positano is busy. Much busier than we remember – even in the middle of August during festival week – which is peak season.

Everywhere there are people, people and more people.

Last week when we went to restock our groceries we ran into this midday crush of people trying to negotiate the narrow pathway to the beach.

Our advice – visit in late August and September. The weather is still warm and settled but the number of visitors drops quite dramatically as August comes to an end. Even now – 23 August – the village feels calmer, emptier and more inviting.