Life On the Mediterranean Coast!

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Is this Heaven? No it’s Iowa Praiano, Italy!

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After 4 days jam packed with sight seeing and touring ancient ruins in Rome, Ben and I hopped a bullet train, a local train, then a bus to Praiano, on the dream-like Amalfi coast in southwest Italy.

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Once an ancient fishing village, Praiano, located between Positano and Amalfi, is home to under 1,000 residents and a handful of quaint hotels.

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The phrase of this leg of our vacation was – “no seriously – people actually live here!

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It blew our mind that this is normal. This is a normal, every day sight for the people that live on the Amalfi Coast. I can’t imagine growing up with this kind of natural, breathtaking beauty in my backyard.

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The houses and villages in this area are literally perched and built into the cliffs of the coast.

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Aka – you CLIMB to get home!

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And climb we did!

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Every morning, after breakfast, we’d set out on a hike. We’d either climb down the main hill to town from our hotel, and begin wandering that way,

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(making sure to stay VERY CLOSE to edge of the road, as they’re literally only wide enough for a 1 bus and 1 moped, as evidenced by Ben getting scraped by a bus as it tried to squeeze through a tiny street  next to a car and us!)

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or we’d head straight to any of the half dozen staircases right outside our hotel, start to ascend and explore!

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The scenery in the hills will take your breath away. The seemingly ancient stone cliffs, walls and staircases that the town residents use to get home are covered with beautiful flowers and vines.

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Every new turn lead to a new discovery.

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Whether it be a beautiful rose bush growing out of the planters that are built into the rock,

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a quick peak at the beautiful sea down below,

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or an entrance adorned with the Virgin Mary.

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Beautiful!

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Homes are named by their owners (Villa IGE has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?!) and are located right off the staircases and paths.

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We never got sick of smelling the luscious scent of meals being prepared, wafting through open windows as we passed by. The house in this picture was cooking up sausage and peppers when we walked by at 10am. The scent was unmistakable and were this close to knocking on the door and asking to stay for lunch!!!!

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One of the most interesting things we found in Rome was the abundance of free flowing public water fountains, cascading clean drinking water (water in Italy is high in calcium, btw!) at all hours of the day and night. We were so tickled to find the pattern continue in the hills of Praiano. How cool, right?!

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During our hikes we ran into friends like this tiny, grey kitten.

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Who found us mighty interesting and followed up for a good ways.

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OMG CAN I TAKE IT HOME?!

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But we never got sick of climbing and exploring. Well, ok, once we were racing up the biggest staircase possibly in the entire town trying to get to a local pizza place before it closed for the afternoon (I know) and I literally thought I was going to die. I was ready for a break after that!

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The COOLEST thing, though, about the villas in the hills, was the orchards and gardens that nearly everyone grows in their backyards!

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There were grape vines hovering over pumpkin patches, spilling over the tops of stone walls.

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Ok, I’ll admit…

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I picked one. I KNOW!!! I held off all week because I KNOW these are on people’s private property, but I couldn’t resist – it was so hard!!! Best grape I ever had.

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Pumpkins are a local specialty here,

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and of course the tomato vines were off the charts.

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Many homes had sweet, juicy tomatoes bunched and drying in the sun. Can you imagine what those must taste like?  

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 The crops that were in most abundance were lemon trees,

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pomegranate trees,

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olive trees (literally, olives just littered the ground throughout the entire town!)

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and banana trees! Fig trees were EVERYWHERE too, and we also delighted in seeing cactus fruit, oranges, limes, eggplant, zucchini and peaches!

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When we weren’t hiking in the hills of town, we were at the beach!

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The water in this part of the Mediterranean is crystal clear and perfectly turquoise.

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!!!

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There was a main beach in town that was tucked between three sheer cliff faces.

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So cool, right?!

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This day, during particularly rough seas, a small boat had sunk and a group of locals were pulling it to shore.

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Success!

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Of course it wasn’t all hiking and exploring. We sipped our cappuccinos every afternoon and drank our wine on the terrace at night.

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We sat in the piazzas and listened to the sounds of the town. The children laughing, the church choir singing and the sounds of the waves down below.

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And we swam. ;) Infinity pool into the Mediterranean, anyone?!

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If you’ve ever thought about taking a trip to the coast of Southern Italy – DO IT. Start saving $20 a week and go in a couple years. You will never forget the experience and perspective it gives you on your own life. Do we NEED Costcos, Super Targets & giant shopping malls? Would life be simpler without them? Maybe yes, maybe no – but it’s still neat to see how other people live their lives in simplicity.

I’d also encourage you to stay in a smaller town like Praiano. Neighboring Positano and Amalfi are bigger, but are largely tourist towns. We took a day trip to Positano and were weak with relief when we got back “home” to Praiano – away from the crush of high prices and tourist traps! Don’t get me wrong – both are absolutely beautiful, but I think Praiano gave us a real taste of what life is like in a small, coastal town in the Mediterranean!

Be back tonight with highlights from Roma! Ciao!

Other Italy Recaps:

Vlogs, updates and posts from Italy

When In Italy: Eat, Drink & Have Gelato!

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Comments

  1. Oh my gosh – SO beautiful!

  2. Definitely agree! A couple years ago we went to Rome, Florence and Salerno, and it was the small town of Salerno that truly made me fall in love with Italy. :)

    I think I need to start saving $20 a week asap. ;)

  3. Katie 09.14.2010

    I used to say “omg people actually LIVE here” about CO and then I finally did it and moved there ;) . Not quite the same ancient charm and gorgeous coastlines but who knows, maybe someday you guys can actually live there (retirement?? Wow that seems ridiculously too far away..)! Again like the last post, totally loving your recap and all the gorgeous scenery. Thanks for sharing!

  4. OMG, I literally in awe of your pictures. Italy is my DREAM vaca, too, but you just made it that much dreamier. Amazing pics!

  5. All of your pictures look like they came straight out of a travel magazine! They are SO gorgeous. I hope to experience those amazing views myself some day :)

  6. Oh gosh…this is so amazing. I am simply in awe. It is my dream to go to Italy on my honeymoon some day. I think you just confirmed this dream for me!

  7. Emily 09.14.2010

    I’m a new reader and – woah! What a fabulous trip. Can’t wait to hear about the FOOD.

  8. La Nae 09.14.2010

    WOW!!!!!! I am speechless , and that never happens!

  9. Angharad 09.14.2010

    Kristin. Oh my god! I’ve just read up on this recap and last night’s and I was literally ogling my way through! All your pictures are beautiful! You look absolutely glowing. I’d love to visit the Amalfi coast. Can’t wait to see your recap of Rome though.
    Also, I think you’re so right about the saving up and just going thing – you could save $2000 with $20 a week put aside – that’s nothing!

  10. Melissa 09.14.2010

    Gorgeous. I am sooo jealous. I agree – the little small towns are always so much more authentic and relaxing.

  11. allijag 09.14.2010

    OMG – now ALL I can think about is how badly I want to go on vacation!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely amazing! I was wondering *(and you def dont have to answer) – did you guys put this together/book it yourselves, or did you go through a travel agent? That’s probably one of the biggest reasons we’ve never booked a foreign vacation – it’s SOOO intimidating to me!

  12. Melissa 09.14.2010

    Jealous, jealous, jealous. Putting my money in the bank NOW!!!

  13. Wow, these photos are breathtaking. You’ve made me want to move to Italy!

    Another really fun and quaint place to visit is Montacantini (I think that’s how you spell it.) Supposedly, it’s where the Italians go for in country vacays.

  14. oh. my. gosh. this place is so beautiful. i can’t even imagine what it must be like to just live there…. wow! thanks so much for sharing :)

  15. Daisy 09.14.2010

    I really want to visit. You guys had the best time ever!!! Awesome photographs.

  16. Alyse 09.14.2010

    Everything is so beautiul there. I totally would have snatched a grape too. ;)

    I gotta wonder though, how well did the communication go? I would feel totally overwhelmed in a country with a different language.

  17. Amanda 09.14.2010

    I am really loving reading your vacation recaps!! Almost feels like I was there with you guys (I wish!) If it isn’t too personal, would you mind sharing with us how you went about planning your trip/booking your hotels/etc? I never really know what the best resources are and it seems like you go on some great trips and really hit up the best spots!

  18. andrej 09.14.2010

    2 very Lucky people!

  19. Janna 09.14.2010

    Wow.

    I am hoping to go to Italy in the next few years, I will have to email you for tips! It looks like you guys had the most amazing time.

  20. Lena 09.14.2010

    gosh! so beautiful! i would love to go there! thanks for the trip there just by looking at the wonderfully taken pics!!! (:

  21. Seth 09.14.2010

    Praiano looks absolutely astonishing. Glad you loved it and thanks for sharing some amazing pictures.

  22. Nic 09.14.2010

    I was just on the coast as well! First time… and it will not be my last! It is amazing there, huh? Thanks for sharing your photos, it looks like you had a great time!

  23. MelissaOklahoma 09.14.2010

    Gorgeous, amazing, breathtaking! Gah! You have returned from my absolute DREAM vacation. I’m drooling over the pictures. Last night I was showing Matt all your pictures – literally I was saying “Oooh, look at this one.” Pause “Now look at this one.” :) Cannot wait to hear more!

  24. MelissaOklahoma 09.14.2010

    Also, what kind of camera do you use?

  25. Maggie 09.14.2010

    Ahh this looks amazing! Can I ask where you stayed in Praiano? Were there hotels?

    Would you ever do a trip like this by yourself? Obviously you have a built in traveling partner in Ben, but I wonder what your thoughts are on solo traveling. I’m sure it wouldn’t be as fun, but I’m curious to know if you think it would still be worthwhile!

  26. Tina 09.14.2010

    What a cute little town! Reminds me of Cinque Terre, which I loved. We didn’t get to go to the Amalfi coast on my trip and I so wish we had.

  27. kate 09.14.2010

    Those pictures remind me so much of the Greek Islands. Heaven on Earth!

  28. Debby 09.14.2010

    Waw the sea is so blue , it’s gorgeous

  29. Julie S. 09.14.2010

    OMG, I am absolutely GREEN w/ envy! Italy just jumped to the top of my bucket list. Seriously. Not kidding. For like 2011…

  30. It looks amazing. I have wanted to go to the Amalfi coast for a while but could never decide whether I would like it or not. I think you may just be persuading me!

  31. anne 09.14.2010

    Amazing!! Thanks for sharing with us.

  32. Bree 09.14.2010

    Wow – this post totally brought me back! I was in Naples, Capri, and Sorrento in high school as part of an Italy/Greece trip. Sorrento was one of my favorites by far. The whole area was absolutely amazing – and I agree hard to believe people live there so wonderfully simple. Life moves a little slower there and I loved every second of it.

  33. mina 09.14.2010

    you’re hilarious, you grape thief!

    i loved looking through these photos – i almost felt like i was there because it seems like you took a picture every few seconds! glad you had a great time – looking forward to seeing the rest.

  34. JennyV 09.14.2010

    Fabulous!! Thanks for showing us some of the ‘nooks & crannies’ of the Coast (I loved all the staircases and roadway pics.) Speaking of pictures — any way I can convince my husband that pictures are necessary!? He thinks I’m crazy when I want any pictures… apparently IBE is used to it? :)

    • admin 09.14.2010

      Ben is actually just as into photography as I am, believe it or not! Sometimes it was me tearing HIM away from a shot!!!

  35. Julie 09.14.2010

    What a fabulous trip!!! I love love love the Amalfi Coast but haven’t ever visited this town. Now it’s on the list!

    And PS you have the cutest haircut!

  36. sandra mc combs 09.14.2010

    Thank you soooooo much for sharing this incredible vacation with us.Sandy in Belton Missouri

  37. Bridget 09.14.2010

    Beautiful! Doesn’t it make you want to pack up and move there? Some people really do and it’s so fun to dream! Fantastic pictures again. Nice job IGE!

  38. Melinda 09.14.2010

    Looks beautiful! What a fantastic trip. Our next trip is to Italy, but we have not planned yet. My grandparents have beens tons of times and just love it there.

  39. Christy 09.14.2010

    Thanks for sharing your photos! My husband and I did Rome and San’Angello (also in southern Italy near Sorrento) for our honeymoon last year and your pictures bring back great memories! I think we even ate at the same restaurant near the Pantheon :-)

    keep on traveling!

  40. MOM 09.14.2010

    Ok – the more I look at the pics the more $20 a week looks like the way to go! When we celebrate our 35th year anniversary in 3 years and have saved enough to go on the trip to Italy, will you plan our vacation too!!!!???? We’ll just repeat your itinerary!!!

  41. [...] very great example of clean and healthy living through the life experiences of the traveling cook.  Her most recent post is packed with spectacular photos of her recent trip to Southern Italy. We at Cafe di Scala are all [...]

  42. Ms.S 09.14.2010

    What do I even say to post like this? Wow! I think the traveling bug just bit me. And bit me hard! (That kitten is SOOOO adorable, btw!!)

  43. EM 09.14.2010

    I live in Europe and miss stuff like Super Target! (Miss the convenience of one-stop shopping.)

    Beautiful photos! Italy’s my favorite country over here to travel in and now you make me want to check out the Amalfi coast.

    The next time you go to Italy you should check out Tuscany.

  44. Melanie 09.14.2010

    I am pretty much in stunned silence! It looks like a dream there! …and I am SO GLAD that you tasted a grape off the vine! :)

  45. jen 09.14.2010

    so beautiful! looks like absolute paradise!

  46. Cheryl 09.14.2010

    I’m in the process of convincing the hubz that we MUST to go to Italy for our 25th anniversary next year – your pictures and descriptions will certainly help! Can you give us the low down – what websites you used to plan, how you picked your hotels, etc?

  47. These photos are so breathtaking :)

  48. dmcgirl 09.14.2010

    Rick Steves move over!!!
    Wow, georgeous!!!

  49. [...] up and heading off to Italian class. My Italian quiz went molto bene (very good ). How lucky is Iowa Girl Eats for having just vacationed in Italy? SO jealous. I’m going to share with you all [...]

  50. [...] Comments « Life On the Mediterranean Coast! [...]

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