Arienzo Beach from Positano

One of my favorite days during our trip to Italy, and perhaps one of my favorite days ever, was our day trip to Arienzo Beach off of the coast of Positano. I knew I would have to share my experiences on the blog, as I wanted to commit every detail to writing and never forget the feeling of being in this magical place.
After stuffing ourselves on omelettes, capucinnos and nutella at our hotel’s breakfast (Hotel Margherita – you must stay there!) that morning, we hopped on the bus to Positano. We stayed in the neighboring, sleepier Praiano, and a creaky orange bus conveniently rambles along the winding cliff road that connects all of the coastal towns. After a  treacherous short ride through narrow streets, packed with fellow, sweaty tourists, we arrived at the center of  bustling Positano, right on the beach. Not a bad reward at the end of our trip.

Our journey had just begun, however, and we patiently awaited for our little water taxi to arrive and take us to our beach club, reachable only by boat or hundreds of steps down the cliffside. Americans that we are and with my track record of clumsiness, we chose the boat option.

 

Without much to-do, we climbed onto our jetty helped by tan, shirtless Italian men (you become very good at leaping into boats when staying on the Amalfi Coast). The views of Positano from the sea are spectacular – you really can’t get a bad photo, and I probably took hundreds, including a selfie (or ten)!

Our steadfast captain led us past the picturesque coastline dotted with almost fake looking colorful houses, and just around a bend to our destination – Arienzo Beach. Or Bagni d’Arienzo if you’re a local.
We arrived to the welcoming site of the most aqua sea water meeting black shoreline, dotted with bright orange umbrellas and lounge chairs.  For only 10 euro, the chair, umbrella and service are yours to soak up the Mediterranean sun all day long. I loved how most beach clubs in Italy had chairs with face shades attached to them. Perfect for us pale folk who need protection or bookworms who don’t want to strain their eyes.

Our fellow sunbathers we’re a little more scantily clad in speedos and bikinis; it’s pretty empowering how almost all Italian women will rock a bikini, even if they’re not in great shape. I’m also proud to say we were only a few of the handful of Americans at the club. Patting myself on the back, I thought it must be a good sign if you’re outnumbered by locals. The lazy crowd was a mix of couples sipping on prosecco, schoolchildren playing hooky to play water polo, and families cooling themselves in the crisp, turquoise water.

Upon becoming properly crispy in the high noon glare, our stomachs began to rumble. We decided to make our trek on the rocky shore to the club’s restaurant, nestled on stilts above the beach. The black rocks were “hotter than the surface of the sun” according to my dad, and I definitely recommend you bring a pair of flip flops for a barrier.We of course had forgotten to pack ours, so we raced across the stones to our lunch.

 

Properly shaded under umbrellas, our friendly Italian waiters brought out fresh al dente linguine, decorated with succulent clams and mussels. Funnily enough, our waiter was from Praiano, the town where we were staying, and was friendly with our hotel owners. Instances like these make the Amalfi Coast have this cozy, familial feel, and we definitely felt more welcome and at home here than in busy Rome.  Slurping down the delicious pasta and seafood, I made sure to wash it down with a watermelon Mojito.

 

Freshly buzzed on rum and sunshine, we took in the beach from our birds eye view. The restaurant was the perfect spot to practice my best Gray Malin and snap away at the photogenic sherbet toned umbrellas.

 

Returning to our chairs for a few more hours we alternated between sunbathing and dipping in the sea. The ocean floor was also blanketed with rocks, but the buoyant, salty Mediterranean makes it easy to lean back and float away.  I’ll never forget these little moments spent bobbing away in the Italian sea with my parents, simply savoring each other’s company and the enchanting surroundings.
Sadly, the time to leave eventually arrived with the waning sun. Our accommodating hosts arranged for a private water taxi to take us directly back to Praiano, allowing us to skip the bumpy bus ride home. The ocean interstate was an immensely more pleasurable mode of transport, but I was sad to say goodbye to our little dream beach, our  “Avalon” on the sea.

 

You can find more info about Bagni d’Arienzo or reserve a chair here. It came highly recommended from locals as a more authentic alternative to the popular Da Adolfo, and it far outshone my high expectations.
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What to Know Before You Go to Italy

While I had an amazing time during my recent trip to Rome and the Amalfi Coast and regret nothing about our journey, there are a few things I wish I would have known before arriving in Italy. While I’m an obsessive planner and scoured Pinterest for tips, there were a few things, cultural and logistical, that caught me off guard and slipped through the cracks. I’ve included a list of these tidbits and tips below, so you can learn from my experience and mistakes and make your hopefully upcoming trip to Italy all the more prepared and easier. You’ll be able to focus less on dealing with hassle and more on fully immersing in la dolce vita.

1. Bring more cash than you think you’ll need. While most major restaurants and attractions take credit cards, cash is still king and you will run out of euros quicker than you think. You cannot tip waiters or guides on credit cards, most taxi drivers prefer cash, and some stores and restaurants will still push you to fork over the euros. Simply put, you will become quicker friends with the Italians if you are able to pay them in cash. Save up and withdraw plenty before you leave the States, so you don’t get stuck using an exchange with tons of fees once you are abroad.

2. There are public restrooms in major piazzas and train stations, but you will typically need to pay a euro or two to use them (see tip above!). They are usually well maintained and clean, but we Americans are spoiled and not prone to being charged for public restrooms. I definitely was caught off guard, fumbled with my cash and ended up walking into the men’s toilet at Termini train station – yolo!

3. Selfie sticks are everywhere! If you are in a tourist heavy area, you WILL be accosted by an endless barrage of aggressive dudes trying to sell you a selfie stick. A firm no will get them away, but be prepared for the constant onslaught as you walk near the Trevi Fountain, the Colosseum, Pantheon, or really any major attraction. You will never want to see another selfie stick in your life (also, isn’t your arm essentially a selfie stick?) If you absolutely HAVE to have one, buy one before you go. Most of the sellers are part of syndicates that are usually tied to the mob and human trafficking, and the actual poor immigrant sellers see little of the profits.

4. Italy is a very Catholic country, it is the home of the pope after all, so most restaurants or stores are closed on Sundays and religious holidays. Double check hours and openings online or with your concierge before setting out for the day or be prepared for more casual dining options.

5. Bring hair conditioner! In order to save space in my suitcase, I typically rely on the hotel’s shampoo and conditioner, but the majority of Italian hotels only provide a single shampoo/conditioner combo. If you have thick or tangly hair and need a standalone conditioner, you will end up buying conditioner at a farmacia or spending 10 euro at Sephora like I did.

6. Also pack bug spray! I was eaten alive by mosquitos on the Amalfi Coast (humblebrag) and few stores sell insect repellent. Plan ahead.

7. There is abundant FREE clean drinking water. Most streets have public fountains with great, fresh drinking water straight from the aqueducts. Save some money and produce less plastic waste by forgoing constantly buying water bottles and pack a bottle to fill as you go (this foldable bottle would be a great space saver!)  Even inside the Vatican and smaller coastal towns like Capri and Positano had abundant fountains to refill. You will need it after climbing the Colosseum or hiking through Ravello.

Happy trip planning – I hope these tips help improve your stay in beautiful Italy!

WORDLESS WEDNESDAY: WHERE TO NEXT?

Feeling restless….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

via: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine

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Travel Tuesday: Carry On Essentials

I am jetting (not literally, I’ll be going commercial as usual) off to Italy next week, so I am in full on planning mode. One essential piece of planning is ensuring that my carry on is packed and ready to keep my flight comfortable, clean and boredom-free. Below I’ve shared some of my essentials for a stress-less and all around zen journey.

THE BAG:
1. I am a Longchamp devotee, and nothing beats these durable bags that can fold up once you’re finished with them. They’re ready to be overloaded in flight, then out of my way once I reach my destination.
2. I’ve been using this Flight 001 seat-pak to keep my smaller items organized and easy to find.
NON NEGOTIABLES:
3. A girl’s gotta have her passport and wallet on hand in order to get around. Be sure to have some currency from the country your visiting on hand in case airport cabs only take cash, or you have trouble finding a currency exchange once you land.
COMFORT:
4. I am a horrible sleeper, but this foam neck pillow and eye mask help me get at least some decent shut eye on long flights. The mask molds over your eyelids, so as not to disturb rapid eye movement. I also carry some ear plugs, to shut out any noisy seatmates.
CLEANSE:
5. Long flights can be full of germs and leave you feeling all around less than fresh. I always stash some wet wipes to wipe down my arm rests and fold down tray. Emergen-C also helps to prevent you from catching anything from sick passengers. You may look like a germophobe, but at least you won’t land at your destination with a cold!
ENTERTAIN:
6. My iPhone is always fully stocked with Spotify playlists, eBooks, and several seasons of Bravo shows for in-flight entertainment. You never know when your airline provided entertainment may malfunction or just suck. Additionally, I bring a good ole-fashioned book in case I get tired of staring at a screen. This travel-inspired read “What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding,” will definitely stoke your wanderlust. Lastly, I’m sure to bring my moleskine notebook, in case inspiration strikes or I want to be sure to remember something once I land.
FRESHEN UP:
7. Long plane rides can leave you looking tired and dull, so I’m sure to pack a few skincare and makeup items, so I’m looking my best upon landing. My makeup bag includes some Cetaphil, mascara (this Benefit one is amazing!), concealer, BB cream, a Nars multiple to add a little color, a highlighter (love Benefit’s Watts Up!), eye cream, dry shampoo, and a great night cream sample. Once I land, I also change into some fresh clothes and some sunglasses, to hide any dark circles of course.
So, did I forget anything? Let me know if you have any essentials that I should be sure to pack on my transatlantic flight!
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