Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 363: Casale Villarena, Il Galli Lungo
apartments in a village on Sorrento Peninsula, Campania
Oct. 2002, 1 week
This property is located in Nerano, a small village on the "other" (Bay of Salerno) side of the Sorrento Peninsula. Nerano is a country village, very vertical, about 25 minutes from both Sorrento and Positano. Our apartment was one of four or five in what must have been an old, stone and stucco country house or mini-castle. It was attached to the other houses around it and connected, via narrow stone street and steps, to the church and tiny village, about three stories above it. It was very peaceful and quiet, with a private terrace overlooking the sea and islands below as well as other houses and olive and lemon orchards.
The village consists mostly of the church and 2 or 3 snall food stores, where the merchants spoke much better English than we did Italian. It was 2 to 3 stories above us on the hill. Down the steep, winding road to the marina (Marina Cantone) below there are several restaurants, from basic to fancy. Our neighbors used the fairly steep walking path down but would walk back up on the road at night (about 1.5-2 K)
Condition of what must be an ancient structure was excellent, with newish, small bath, granite-countered kitchen and evidence of excellent cleaning and maintenance. We shared a central courtyard terrace and washing machine with 2 or three other apartments.
No pool, but I think swimming arrangements are available though the landlord. We shared a common coutyard terrace (sea view standing up at the edge) with the other tenants. Our apartment, Il Galli Lungo, also had a very large private, covered terrace w/table and 6 chairs, as well as a sunny upper area with outdoor furniture for sunning.
Furniture was in very good shape. Master bedroom had antique or reproduction furnishings. The second bedroom had narrow twin beds and one desk with drawers (no closet). The kitchen was very big w/benches and chairs for 6-8 around a long table. There was no living room, so in dark or bad weather times, there was really no comfortable place to read or just sit around. Everything was very clean.
The master was a king-sized bed (twins together) with a slightly bumpy mattress. The twins in bedroom#2 were narrow. Both rooms were large, but you walked though one to get to the other, so privacy was poor in the twins bedroom. The single bathroom was almost new but not really large, with small shower but no tub. The space was gracious and ample for a couple, but I wouldn't recommend it for a larger group or lots of rainy days.
Kitchen was great, with the usual minimal vacation rental equipment. It was entirely adequate for cooking full meals, which we did.
Problems or Bonuses
We were surprised at the elegance (very high, vaulted ceilings, large rooms, privacy) that came with the modest price (under $700 when we were there).
Agency and Representatives (and price)
We booked directly with the landlord online. His English seemed very good, but it was not always easy to understand him. For instance, we did not quite catch where exactly he would meet us, so it took a while longer and with a little more anxiety than is ideal. Over all, the place exceeded our expectations and was better looking than its photographs online.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
Yes, I would recommend this place, although we did not see the other units. We were not quite prepared for how long it took to go anywhere from here on the twisting, turning roads, and we did not realize how sheer and rocky the whole peninsula is. This is not an area for the nervous driver or passenger, or for anyone who is not fit. The village and the marina below are still relatively undiscovered and underdeveloped for being in a resort area, and very quiet in shoulder season when we were there. The NY Times reviewed three high-end restaurants in the area, and we were not surprised to find lots of Americans around.
Things to do in this area
Sorrento offers all the usual old resort features, including shopping, churches and grand old hotels to visit. From there we took a hyrofoil to Capri for a day, and could have done the same with ferries to Naples and Ischia. There are boat trips available by arrangement to Capri and the Amalfi Coast from the marina at the bottom of the hill in Nerano. The drive to Pompei from our apartment took about 45 minutes. Driving down the Amalfi Coast is also an option. You cannot rent here or anywhere else outside Sorrento proper without a car, unless you want to rely on the local SITA buses and trains, which take about 2 to 3 times longer than driving.
We enjoyed a simple dinner at Baia Nerano at Marina Cartone. The fish was extremely fresh. Prices reasonable. Our landlord recommended this place as well as Il Scoglio at the Marina.
We had two expensive dinners, both very good. The first was at Taverna de Capitano, also at the Marina. There were very few people there midweek, and we found the service a bit stiff and formal for the circumstances; the lights were much too bright in the dining room. The seafood-oriented price fixed menu of local specialties was only available for at least two people. The food quality was reasonably inventive and emphasizing local specialties. The NY Times review was high, except for their then-available wine list; they now have a cave they offer to show you, which seemed to us to have been assembled yesterday. Prices were o.k., though.
Our second big night out was at Quattro Passi, also reviewd by the NY Times and on the road down to the Marina from Nerano. A very pretty outdoor room was romantic and gracious, and the staff was very friendly and attentive, from owner to buspersons. There was a group of about 15 North Americans at a nearby table, all of who seemed to be staying upstairs. We did not realize this was also some kind of small inn. Again, the pricey but price-fixed menu of good local specialties was available to groups but not individuals, so we ordered from the regular menu. The wine list was fine but dear -- we found an Umbrian red that we buy at home for about $7 priced at $36.
We had originally planned to dine at Don Alfonso, the Michelin 3-star restaurant in St. Agata over the hill. But with the other two so close by, we declined to drive home the hairy distance so late at night -- no one seems to seat you before 8 p.m.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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