Vacation rentals in Italy (villas, farms, estates, agriturismo, apartments)
Review 5462: Summer in Italy, Villa Annagrazia
2bed/2bath apartment Praiano, Campania
Late October 2012, One Week
Villa Annagrazia is in the town of Praiano, though east of the "commercial" center. While the apartment has a couple of other units in the building and is surrounded by other apartment residences it still manages to be quite private and in a beautiful location overlooking part of the town, with an unobstructed panoramic view out to sea.
There was a small, min-grocery literally right across the street, where a very basic selection of food items could be purchased. The nearest full grocery is a fifteen minute nice walk away (uphill coming back) or s short ride on the local bus (inexpensive but not necessarily convenient in terms of some parts of its schedule). The nearest caffe bar would likely be Hotel Margherita (I will do a separate review of it), which is about five minutes walk (again, steeply uphill coming back). There is a surprisingly good "hole-in-the-wall" locals only pizzeria two streets away but it is only open in the evening.
The apartment itself is just as pictured on the web site ... quite lovely. There were fresh cut roses in the living room and an orchid plant in bloom in the dining area. The furnishings are traditional and of good quality. A nice aspect of access is that there are no steps to get to the unit from the street, which can be a real challenge in some of the rental places I looked at before deciding on this one.
The apartment was stocked and supplied fairly well, with the basic salt and pepper, as well as sugar ... and both vodka, gin, and some liqueur that previous guests must have left. There is more than adequate glassware and dishes, and the cookware is of decent quality and quantity.
The apartment has nice architectural touches such as high, coiffured ceilings with refined plaster trim, and smooth terra cotta floors bordered in a glazed, floral design. The living room has seating for four to six people, and the dining table can accommodate at least six. The master bedroom is large, with a comfortable king size bed, with furnishings consistent with the rest of the apartment, and the master bath is modern, clean, and nicely decorated, including a hand painted flowering tree on the white tile walls.
The second bedroom and bathroom are more basic, with twin beds and simple furniture. While this room does have a sea view the window is fairly small, and the ceiling is steeply sloped to the point that there is only standing room for an adult in about half of it.
The true glory of the apartment is the gallery from the living room to the bedrooms. This is on the sea side of the apartment. In addition to the dining area it contains sets of double French doors at each end and a picture window between them. The view out to sea is unobstructed, and the terrace the doors open onto is over 40 feet long and stocked with two tiled tables, one large enough for dining, dining and lounge chairs, and a large umbrella. It too is tiled in terra cotta, and looks out over the western part of Praiano past Furore all the way to Conca dei Marini. The view is unobstructed as the terrace is on the back of the building, away from the street, and above the street below. This whole vista is just so stunning that we spent a good deal of our week just sitting out on the terrace eating, reading, enjoying a glass of wine or just relaxing.
The furnishings are in excellent condition, and though well equipped we did not find the living room sofa particularly comfortable. But the kitchen, dining area, and master bedroom, as well as the terrace, were well furnished and comfortable. There was adequate seating for dining and lounging on the terrace as well as in the living room.
The master bed was firm and comfortable. The master bath was both pretty, with its hand painted tiles, and nicely laid out, with good lighting. The second bath looked functional, though like the second bedroom, was tucked under the slanting ceiling, with low headroom. It also contained the washing machine.
The kitchen window looks out over the sea, which made it pleasant to be in. Pots, pans, and dishes were more than adequate and of decent quality. Like most places we've rented in Italy, for some reason Italians seem to think only one knife is needed, and this kitchen was no exception. We did cook a couple of dinners in the kitchen and everything worked fine and there was enough space for two of us to be working at the same time.
Problems or Bonuses
While the pictures on the web site are quite accurate, the reality of the place is even better. The architectural details, the level entry, the glorious terrace-all contribute to a great experience. There also is a security gate in front of the entrance. The owner (Ivan) pointed out that he lives just across the street and said he was available any time if there was a problem (there weren't any). We would run into him from time to time during the week. A word about noise: Like virtually all of the buildings on the Amalfi Coast, Villa Annagrazia is built right on the edge of the street. The advantage, as noted above, is lack of steps up to the apartment. The possible disadvantage is road noise. I say “possible” because I have not rented any other places here for comparison.
There are three commercial businesses directly across the street that may contribute to the issue: a mini-market, an “Urgent Care” medical office, and a hardware store. The proximity of the mini-market is, of course, more of a positive than a drawback. Also, although the street turns into a lane only suitable for scooters about 50 yards away, there is also a public parking area and the end-of-line turn around for the shuttle bus that circles the town and goes as far as Positano. Again, both of these are as much pluses as minuses. The net of all this is that it can be fairly busy at various times of day, including as early as 7am and as late as 11:30pm. The noise is not constant and it never got beyond mildly annoying for us, but some people might be bothered by it.
Finally ... parking is an issue. We parked the car two streets away and never moved it the whole week. The buses are a much more practical way to get around the peninsula. I would advise folks to turn in their cars in Sorrento or Salerno at the start of their stay and hire a car and driver to take them to Praiano, and then reverse the process and get a new rental car at the end of their stay.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Luca at Summer in Italy was good to deal with and quite responsive to email queries. He supplied an extensive packet of information about what to expect in Italian rentals, and while we did not need this it would be of great value to "first timers."
At €800 for the week we consider the apartment to be excellent value and were glad to be in a quiet location like Praiano and away from the tourist bustle of Positano and Amalfi.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
We absolutely loved the apartment and would indeed stay there again and recommend it to friends.
Things to do in this area
We were there at the end of the season and places were beginning to wind down for the winter. But we did go to Amalfi, which we found tacky, Positano, which was very touristy, and Ravello, which we loved, for the town itself, the restaurant we went to (Pizza Vittoria ... I will do a separate review), and Villa Cimbrone. In Praiano our favorite restaurant, recommended by Ivan, was Mama's in Hotel Margherita (I will also review this one). We also liked "Pizza Jolly" as it had excellent pizza and was a nice and inexpensive option for a change of pace.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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