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Review 4603: Summer in Italy, Villa Micana


Review by CBRH from NY

2bed/2bath house in Praiano, Campania


May 15-22, 2010, 1 week


Our overall assessment of Villa Micana: perfect. Absolutely perfect.

The owners, father and daughter, were exceptionally warm, and helpful ... especially since we missed a flight connection in Rome and didn't arrive at Micana until 22:00. (The drive from Naples airport is about 90 minutes if you don't get lost.)

And Summer in Italy, the rental agent, was amazing ... we must have asked a million questions ... like, "Are there ice trays?" "Where do we shop?" "Is the a pepper mill?," etc., etc., which were always responded to immediately. They are a totally trustworthy, service-oriented, family firm.

So, here are some of our comments about Villa Micana, Praiano and the surrounding area.

The Micana Terrace: This is really the centerpiece of the property. It is huge and functions well in sunshine and rain (we had both). If you love living outdoors, this it is it. The terrace was great for sun bathing, cocktails or cooking. In fact, we ended up creating our dinner out there all but one evening.

There are pads for the lounges that make napping outdoors a pleasure. And let us not forget the 180 view. Amazing.

Right next to the terrace is a massive vegetable garden (which the owner lovingly tends to for an hour, or so, each morning) with multiple herbs that we used to flavor our cooking. And ... a lemon tree with your own "personal" lemons.

About the house: The house offers a view from both bedrooms, the living room and kitchen. Both bedrooms are identical in quality. So if you're traveling as two couples there is no "second class room." The beds were very comfortable.

The bathrooms are both excellent, though the over-the-sink lighting was rather too weak to allow for make-up application (had to move to the balcony for that!). One shower had a "steam chamber" option. We tried using it and blew the circuit breaker ... it clearly needs someone with an advanced engineering degree and who reads Italian to operate.

The heating worked well (we never needed air-conditioning, but assume, since it's the same set of units, it would also perform well.)

The kitchen was very well equipped (we learned to love the Moka coffee maker, though there is an American-style machine as well.)

There is a TV, but except for the BBC, you need to be fluent in Italian to use it. The WiFi worked perfectly, as did my US-based iPhone.

There are 76 steps to get to Micana from the parking or bus stop. By the end of the week, we were doing fine, but a bit of "Stairmaster" work prior to going would have made it easier.

The parking (costs extra) is in a secure, covered, lot close by.

About Praiano: We were extraordinarily happy that we staying in this charming town rather than in very crowded Positano, Amalfi or Sorrento. It is truly a village. We went to Tutto per Tutti ("everything for everyone") the local store (though it should be Tutto per Tutti tranne i pesce, "everything for everyone except fish" ... the fishmonger is in a different part of town.

There are several restaurants in Praiano, but we loved cooking at the house too much to sample them. We walked down to the Praiano "beach" ... a small rocky cove. It was lovely, but it was also 400+ steps back up. Think ahead.

The great part of Villa Micana's location is that it is directly above the large piazza in front of the church where many townspeople gather to talk and children to play soccer. Just listening to the sounds of families enjoying themselves while having a glass of wine was spectacular. You don't get that everywhere.

The church has bells. And they ring around the clock. But, we found them lovely and they never bothered at all.

About the Area: Though buses are frequent, we were very happy we had a car. It gives you flexibility that buses can't easily provide. Parking can be expensive, true, though, by NYC standards, it's cheap. Direction signage is in very short supply, but we managed to find our way around getting lost only three or four times (a portable GPS would be very helpful.) Driving along the Amalfi requires a great deal of concentration, a great, great deal, but is, nonetheless, very do-able. You need a very small car to survive. And all of them have manual transmissions, so, if you're not used to a stick shift, it would be better to opt for 100% public transport.

We enjoyed Ravello and Pompeii, both sort of the classic destinations in the area. For Pompeii, we opted to hire private guide (about $250) for several hours which made the experience far more meaningful. The 600 step walk down from Ravello to Atrani is very terrific. It was not easy, but certainly more so than the climb would have been. And, in Amalfi, we were totally fascinated by the 700 year old hand made paper factory. Positano was fun for clothes shopping. We also went to Sorrento, but found it very crowded and not much fun.

Fully appreciating the Amalfi coast and how so many of the structures are nestled into the side of steep slopes requires seeing the coast from the sea. We did it two different ways. We first took the ferry from Amalfi to Salerno and back which was delightful and took about two hours. Then, on another day we contracted with Amalfi Charter and were escorted by the owner's son, Manuel, too all of the grottoes and islands (including the island Nureyev owned for many years.)

We look forward to a return in 2012.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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