Wednesday, April 29, 2009


On Monday we checked out of the Inn at the Spanish Steps (which, by the way, had a *fantastic* roof garden/terrace where breakfast and their complimentary evening snacks were served... I don't know why I didn't take a picture of that because it was really beautiful and made you feel like you were at home in the heart of the city) and after being told that the Via Condotti was in a restricted traffic zone, loaded up all of our bags and took a cab up to the Avis on the Via Sardegna.

Originally we had rented a Mercedes A180, but before heading off to Italy we had done some research and came to the realization that in the A180 we had a choice: either (a) our luggage could travel to the Amalfi Coast or (b) we could travel to the Amalfi Coast, but apparently there wouldn't be room enough for all of us. So, we "upgraded" to a Passat Wagon. In theory. When we got to Avis (or should I say when the cab driver dropped us and all of our luggage on the sidewalk *near* Avis) we were given the option for 5 Euro more to "upgrade" further to a Ford Mondeo wagon. Oooooh! And, it was a 6 speed manual transmission! Even better! This thing was the size, and had the handling capacity of, a Boston Whaler. But at least our luggage fit in the trunk. We had also asked for a child seat for Miss B. They had one (and it was brand new), but for "liability" reasons Avis couldn't install it for us so the Husband had to become quickly aquainted with how to install this Chicco car seat. All the while our car had been parked perpendicular to the Avis garage entrance and another American couple were sitting in their rental car, blocked in by ours while I loaded the trunk and the Husband worked on the car seat installation. It was actually quite comical.

Once finally on the road we made really good time since Kilometers, convienently, are shorter than miles.

Our first stop? The Abbey at Montecassino.

Unfortunately, it was closed.

Miss B's answer to that?

Climb the gate!

Afterwards, we elected to lunch at none other than McDonalds!
The Husband informed me that he had never eaten at a McDonalds outside of the Northern Hemisphere. I informed the Husband that I've eaten at McDonald's in France, Italy and Germany! You know how a few years back McD's made a big deal about how now all McNuggets would be made out of white meat? Well, any stockpile of mixed meat McNuggets must have been sent to Europe. In Italy you can still find that dark meat boot shaped McNugget. Oh, and don't forget-- ketchup packets? 20 cents per packet.

After lunch it wasn't too long on the Autostrada to get into Napoli proper and head around Vesuvius towards Salerno.

Nothing like a toll road to make you feel at home!

First stop before hitting up the Costieria Amalfitana proper? Vietri sul Mare!

Where we stocked up on ceramics (because our luggage wasn't heavy enough...)

And then we began the drive. The coast road is pretty amazing and not unlike a roller coaster. It is completely built for driving with a little Alfa-Romeo, or other such sportscar (though noting, not a very large sportscar since around every turn you have the possibility of being face-to-face with a tour bus). The road was designed less with a giant Ford boat in mind. Poor Miss B. tossed her cookies about half way between Vietri and Amalfi thus making the car smell like wild boar sausage and chicken McNuggets for the rest of the trip.

Finally, we arrived at the Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi. It is absolutely gorgeous and we got a lovely room with a nice terrace perfect for Miss B. to run around on and enjoy.

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