amalfi coast :: vettica maggiore, praiano

I'm still pinching myself after our stunning trip to the Amalfi Coast! It is one of the most picture perfect places I've ever visited, and we just had such a wonderful time there. 

Two years ago, E and I struggled to decide between going to Lake Como or the Amalfi Coast, and although we ended up choosing Como (which was incredible, I've blogged all about it!), we couldn't get our minds off of the latter. So this summer was our time to tick it off, and we are so, so happy to have made it!

To kick things off, I'll start with the area in which we stayed for the week, which was Vettica Maggiore in Praiano. We hit the jackpot with our Airbnb apartment, which was beautiful, spacious, perfectly located and with a gorgeous view from the balcony. Having visited a few of the popular towns on the coast, we were so glad that we'd chosen Praiano as our base. It's much less busy than Positano, has some fantastic restaurants, two beaches, and a sense of calm and quiet. 

One of the first places we discovered was the charming Café Mirante, on our way to hunt for a bite to eat the morning after we arrived. Although it's really a bar that serves coffee and cocktails, the owner (who's rather attractive and very lovely, we referred to him as the (Italian) stallion thereafter) made us delicious fruit salads and we had our first taste of the dreamy coastal life. We came back to this bar (it's a tiny space en route to the beach, with an impeccable view) multiple times, it was always packed at sunset time and the cocktails were divine. The Amalfi Mojito was the best!

The walk down to the beach was always such a pleasure (apart from all the steps after we'd done our hike, which I'll get to later on...) - they make the path so fun and pretty with the sea life ceramics and beautiful signs, I never got bored of walking past those. Italians can't help but be stylish in every corner!

A couple of evenings, we went to the bar for a pre-dinner drink, then picked up some ingredients for dinner at the local grocery store (a 30 second walk away from our apartment), cooked some simple pasta (the one with the huge and flavourful lemons was my favourite), and enjoyed our dinner on our balcony. That's the life.

We'd eat while the locals gathered on the street below, chatting to each other, passing around a box of fresh figs and contentedly perched on the low walls and scooter seats. It's these kinds of scenes that are so memorable to me.

Now, you know that E and I love our food, and love to explore different restaurants. So when I tell you that we had a favourite local restaurant that we ended up going to three times, and that we chose over trying different places, you know that we really, really loved it. 

The place in question is La Strada, and it's clearly a popular and well-known spot, as it was always bustling at dinner time. We reserved a table on the second floor terrace each time (best to book the day before or the morning of to get the best tables for the view), and the staff were wonderful. Although their pizzas were the best of the Neapolitan type we'd ever had, we also tried their pasta and starters and loved everything we ate. The view and atmosphere were just perfect, and we don't regret our repeat visits one bit!

Another tasty highlight we had in Vettica Maggiore was a little visit to Il Gusto della Costa, a limoncello factory. The friendly man there showed us how they produce limoncello, and how they use every little bit of the lemon so none of it goes to waste (the rind and fruit are also used to make lemon marmalade). We had a tasting, and there is really nothing better than a perfect sip of ice cold limoncello when the fruit is this good. 

I mentioned that there are two main beaches in Praiano, one of which is in Vettica Maggiore. La Gavitella was a short walk from our apartment, and although it's more of a concrete beach with a small area of stony "sand", it's quite the relaxing little corner.

We went down there a couple of times. and on our last day, we rented sunbeds on the One Fire beach for maximum vegging out and dipping in and out of the crystal clear waters. 

There are quite a few steps up to street level from the beach, so you'll definitely want to rest up with a cocktail in Café Mirante on your way back!

We loved this area that we got to call home for a week, and if (hopefully when!) I return to the area, I'd definitely stay in the exact same apartment again. 

More to come on our Italian adventure!