Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 1653: Amalfi Life, Brezza di Praiano
2bed/2bath house in Praiano, Amalfi Coast, Campania
12-19 August, 2005, one week
This absolutely lovely apartment is in the town of Praiano along the Amalfi Coast. One of the famous former fishing villages along this coast, Praiano is lesser known than its tony neighbor Positano to the north, and much quieter than its touristy neighbor Amalfi to the south. It is a perfect location for exploring all up and down the coastline from Sorrento to Vietri and beyond. After busy days of driving, walking, and swimming, it was a pleasure to come back to our cool, quiet casetta and relax in the garden or on the terrace while enjoying the fabulous view.
The apartment is in a residential area overlooking the coast, with a private entry from the street and a very well kept private garden. There are other homes on the far side of the garden and above, and the city hall to the opposite side. The neighbors were friendly but reserved, and the proximity to city hall (one of the only buildings which can see onto the apartment's terrace) meant that outside of office hours you had almost complete privacy.
It was always very quiet, especially at night. There is a hotel in the area which had music playing in the evening, but it was never distracting. You are over the famous Amalfi drive, so can hear traffic in the distance and the odd vespa pass by on the residential street below. This is a perfect base for both day tripping or for simply 24/7 relaxation.
Praiano is a small town, so almost everything is walking distance. There is a grocery store that stocked everything but fresh meat about a block away (which delivered, so we had our first big shopping after our arrival which included our six pack of bottled water and other heavy items, delivered).
There is one bar in the main piazza, which is walkable though we always drove there, which had outdoor seating and good cornetti and cappuccini. There are also numerous restaurants (we especially liked La Brace) and other food stores around the main piazza.
Praiano has a marina and beach (pebble), which was reachable by car or bus (or there was a walking path, though to come back up was something like 843 stairs). At the marina were a few good restaurants as well, and the taxi boat dock for visiting other towns or beaches.
Praiano is also a destination itself, and has a number of historical churches and monasteries to visit in addition to its fabulous coastline.
This is a private home that was restored just a few years ago, quite obviously with a huge investment of love and money. Everything is brand new, sparklingly clean, and done in impeccable taste. It has all the high-end amenities, including a full kitchen, air-conditioning, satellite TV, and Jacuzzi.
There is an open plan kitchen/sitting room, and the bedrooms and bathrooms all open into this central space. This is the only apartment in the building, so there is complete privacy and silence.
This owner of this home is an avid gardener, and the outside area reflects it. The garden is small, but beautifully maintained and full of lush oleander, rose, and geranium flowers. There is a table with four chairs under the orange tree, and two or three benches nestled in the shady corners. There is also a small plot of vegetables, which are maintained by one of the older neighbors, who was happy to share the tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant with us. We also enjoyed the fresh lemons from the lemon trellis.
The neighboring houses above look onto the garden, so it is less private than the terrace to the front of the house. On the upside, we were never worried about leaving our valuables in the apartment, as we were sure that the neighbors kept an eye on things when we were out.
This apartment is quite clearly someone's second home, and the furnishings show it. This is an A list property, and the furnishings are new, comfortable, and chosen with a decorator's eye. We especially loved the fabulous hand-painted ceramic dining table. The decorating theme is nautical, and the wall art, bathroom tiles, and linens are all done in this style.
The apartment was spotless, as were all the bath and bed linens.
This is a two bedroom/two bathroom apartment. The bedrooms have bright white walls, high ceilings, huge built-in wardrobes, and lots of natural light. The king bed bedroom opens onto the terrace, whereas the bedroom with two twin beds has a small, but very sunny, window which opens onto a neighbor's terrace.
The mattresses are firm, the linens top quality (I especially loved the crisp, white matelassť bedspreads and eyelet bedskirts).
The bathrooms were four star. One with shower, one with Jacuzzi, both done in the local handpainted ceramics and with huge, fluffy towels embroidered with the name of the property.
If there was one thing that separates this apartment from your normal, high-end rentals, it was the kitchen. Huge, well stocked (sharp knives, baking dishes, enough glasses), with all appliances including dishwasher, microwave, and oven new and in perfect working order. Fabulous lighting, a breakfast bar, and even a small collection of Italian cookbooks in English. The window above the sink looks out over the garden and the sea in the distance. The one time I actually looked forward to washing the dishes!
Problems or Bonuses
One of the things we loved about this apartment was the attention to detail that you usually don't find in vacation rentals. Screens on the windows, a small DVD collection, extra lighting in the kitchen, a basket of soaps and bath salts in the bathroom, beach chairs and towels provided, fans in the bedrooms, a hairdryer, handpainted ceramic dishware. We could have stayed a year and not lacked a thing.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
This property is managed by Amalfi Life, which has two partners: Laurie Howell in New York and Giocondo Cavaliere in Amalfi.
I can't say enough about Laurie and Giocondo. I only had contact with Laurie until we arrived in Praiano, and she was faultless. Professional, easy to work with, prompt in responding to emails, sensitive and responsive to the needs of our family (we were travelling with two young children), extremely knowledgable about the area and the specific properties she represents. The few details about the area or property she didn't know immediately, she was able to fill me in on within 24 hours. Laurie is obviously passionate about her business and about the Amalfi coast. It was a true pleasure planning a vacation with her.
With Giocondo, Laurie set up a housekeeper, babysitter, and a private cooking lesson for my husband during our stay, all services which made our stay perfect. She also sent detailed information regarding restaurants, shopping, and general travel tips before our departure, all of which was right on target (we had some incredible meals following her advice). This is not just a property agent, but a full service trip planner.
Giocondo, Amalfi Life's onsite English-speaking partner, was equally wonderful. Again, truly passionate about the area, he seems to know everyone and, even more importantly, know where to park. He was always available by cellphone to answer questions or trouble shoot, and checked in occasionally just to make sure we didn't need anything.
The property was, if anything, nicer than what we had expected from the photos and description on the website. The asking price for this rental was more than fair given the location and superb quality of the property, and the high end service of Amalfi Life.
In the year between when we booked and when we stayed at La Brezza, I must have heard Laurie say, "The important thing is that you have a good stay" twenty times. This seems to be Amalfi Life's unofficial motto.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I would unconditionally recommend not only this property, but Amalfi Life in general. We will almost certainly be back in the future.
Things to do in this area
We liked La Brace in Praiano (family friendly, casual, pizza too), La Taverna del Leone outside Positano (slightly less casual, pizza too), and Chez Black along Positano beach (we go there for tradition sake every time we are on the Amalfi coast...great people watching). We also liked the Cantina di S. Nicola in Amalfi for the great wine selection. My husband took a cooking class at Da Gemma in Amalfi and then we had lunch there. The food was excellent, but expensive. Some of the best beaches can only be reached by boat ... it's worth it to book a taxi boat if you really want good swimming.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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