Italy had always been on top of our Europe bucket list (and the list just keeps getting longer each year). We absolutely LOVE Italian food, wine, culture and there are so many places we wanted to visit there! Books and movies have had a huge influence on where we wished to visit – from going to Sicily (Godfather), to Florence(Room with a View) to beautiful Rome and magical Venice up North. It just happened that at that point in time in 2012, I had just read Eat, Love, Pray and I just had to go to Naples to have Pizza!
Somehow from Naples, to Amalfi Coast, to more budget destinations near Agropoli, we ended up staying at the quaint fishing village of San Marco Di Castellabato. As with most of our travels, we combine solo family(4 of us) travel with meeting and travelling with friends and family. Some of our best Europe road trips – Austria and Switzerland – have been fun spent with other people.
This trip to Italy wasn’t really planned that way but different people jumped on the bandwagon and our group ended up having 4 Americans(my sister, her hubby, their toddler and one of their close friends) and 4 English folk(our neighbours/great friends and their two kids/our kids friends). One big happy family of British, Americans and Bengalis in Italy!
We flew to Naples, flights were very cheap as it was off-season, end of April. Our drive along the Amalfi Coast was memorable to say the least. Views were stunning, road curves were fun to drive for Ashique and to add to the excitement, we managed to have suitcases(one big suitcase) go flying out the back of one the car(thank goodness the one following behind) onto the twisting highway! Thankfully there was no car behind and the flying object didn’t hit anyone or cause any fatalities. My brother-in-law had to walk on the treacherous highway with no side path and retrieve the luggage while avoiding speeding cars coming around the bends.
We waited at the next viewing point and seizing the opportunity, took lots of pictures. In all the excitement, my husband(who at that point in time was growing a full beard and looked slightly scary) accidentally climbed into a strangers car – the look on the bewildered passengers who couldn’t figure out why this strange hairy man was confidently climbing into his car…rest of us couldn’t stop laughing 🙂 We also managed to lose one family while driving out from Naples Airport– the English folks who had their own set of adventures and finally made it to the villa three hours after us!
We stayed at Villa Liberti, had a pool, big garden, and we rented two apartments next to each other. Again, since it was off-season, we paid £400 for the week for each apartment that had large spacious bedrooms and living room. The hosts Antonella and Massimo lived on the complex, were super friendly and helpful. There was also a game room with pool table and games. Outside there was lemon trees, other local fruits as well. Our hosts had a family vineyard nearby and gave us HUGE quantities of local red wine! It was also artichoke season and we bought fresh artichokes with Antonella kindly cooked for us.
Next few days were spent exploring the village, going to the beach, water was so crystal clear, some of us actually swam! And most of we enjoyed having good food and lots of Gelato, everyday, few time a day 🙂
We had our share our rainy and windy days, but that was to be expected in April. The prices were great though, and it was absolutely perfect for visiting the famous historical ruins with less crowds and having lovely cool weather. Having just been in popular tourist destinations – Venice, Italy, Lake Bled, Slovenia and Croatia during peak summer time (first week August) I so appreciate that we did two big outings to famous Pompeii and Paestum – Really the best time for sightseeing with young children! Both trips were amazing, they deserve a post of their own which I will do next, but here is just a taster of what we saw.
We also explored the Cilentro National Park nearby, visited these amazing underground limestone caves. Drive there was lovely too, I can imagine now that kids are older, we can do lot more there! On our last day we had a great meal at the village, on the top of the hill with amazing sea views.
Overall a memorable first experience in Italy 🙂
Kept us going back for more over the next two years!