The top places to visit in Amalfi

Bar Masaniello Simply the best bar in Amalfi if not the world (ok ok I am biased). Indoor and outdoor seating, free wifi and the best selection of beer in the area (including Leffe) without any doubt. Service is great and very friendly and the food is also really good, no rip offs here. Good music always to listen too and sometimes live music in the evenings

Boat Museum Situated right next to Masaniello, this place is quietly amazing. Few visitors will know the history, Amalfi was one of the four Italian maritime States. The compass was (perhaps) invented here and the boat museum is located where they used to manufacture the boats! Well worth a 30 minute wander

Hotel Aurora gardens You don’t need to be staying in the hotel to go and admire the wonderful terrace gardens and sit down for a happy hour or so looking out over the harbour. Good selection of beer and wine plus cocktails and tasty sandwiches. WHAT a view

Hotel Luna Convent Cloister. This hotel building dates from the 1200s (in parts) and has been managed by the Barbaro family for more than 200 years. The amazing cloister dates from the 1200s too and is well worth a visit and a cup of tea. Living history

Paper Museum Amalfi still makes paper and this lovely Museum gives you a taste of the old times, methods and traditions. Lovely place

Panza pasticceria The Panza family owns several activities in Amalfi and the most famous is this lovely old bar. You can sit outside right next to the cathedral steps and enjoy excellent coffee  and home-made cakes in the sun

La Tonnarella If you wanna eat in this town then there are several excellent restaurants. But if you want a unique eating experience then try this place. You need to book (your hotel can do that for you) and the food price includes the water taxi to and from the beach eating place which is about a 15 minute ride from Amalfi centre. Stunning place and food and experience

Paper shop This shop sells all sorts of articles and is specialised in hand made paper, great for gifts to take home

Lacoste and Colmar shop Wonderful shop in the main street with a good selection of branded clothes including these 2 great marques

Advertisements

Visit the wonderful Amalfi coast with a guide or just some practical guidelines

We all know that the Amalfi coast is stunning and well worth a visit. Nothing new there. But the best way to get there? The best way to get around? What to avoid and why? All of these important points and more are not always obvious as the coast is very long, winding and varied and each town along the coast has its own quirks and characteristics.

Here follow a few insider tips and guidelines for you to consider before you visit and/or I am happy to offer more precise guidelines for specific visits:

  1. Avoid August. Period. Unless you love sweltering heat, massive overcrowding and traffic queues then it is better to leave well alone. July is also very hot and slightly less crowded. August swells the 3,000 Amalfi population to 30,000 per day.
  2. Do not bring a car unless you have to. The coast road is very beautiful but also very crowded and narrow. Driving in the area is not easy even out of season, and from May through to October is really slow and hard work. Or get a local to drive you.
  3. The wonderful ferry service works from April thro’ to October and covers the entire coast from Salerno to Sorrento. It is not expensive and hops along the coast, the ferry is probably faster than any road transport and you also get to view the coast from the sea as well as enjoy the sea breeze.
  4. Book early, as last minute is very complex and expensive and generally you will find only out of the way places. Folks still book the same room for next year when they leave their favourite hotel, like in the old days!
  5. Be very cautious of the giants like Booking, TripAdvisor and the rest cos they are not reliable on the coast. Simply put these giants cannot get the percentages they want here as the hotels and restaurants are generally full anyway, so often they seem to publish rubbish. Use the direct web sites for better information.
  6. Avoid taxis as they generally charge you a fortune, I guess because there are so few of them. If you have to then ask then to know the fee before you go and you can negotiate. Ask the hotel to book for you for some protection and always ask the fee in advance.

Any other information you require, just ask.

Multi service point on the Amalfi coast

Ok so here is the latest idea. We will soon have our first property in the Amalfi area, in Tramonti which is about 12 km from Amalfi and about 6km inland from Maiori. We should hopefully take possession by June given that there is no purchase chain and we can settle quickly. We have several ideas for this property (which is actually two properties, one tiny “house” and one very large garage):

Storage. The city of Amalfi is tiny and has NO spare space. Property in Amalfi is wildly expensive and limited, every square metre is used for hotels, restaurants, housing and shops given also the physical layout of the town which is confined by the sea in front and the mountain behind which rises up to almost 1,000 metres above sea level.

There are no storage facilities to rent in a radius of 20 or so kilometers from the town. For instance mopeds and motorbikes are used by all of the locals during the good season and then need to be stored over the damp winter months. Car parking is very very expensive, the 2 public car parks cost 2 Euro per hour or 30 Euro per day all year round.

Every activity in the area needs more space to store all sorts of things they need in the season including spares, for instance essential parts or equipment that may be needed during the very busy summer season. An aircon unit will generally fail in August when it is mighty difficult to get a replacement, hence the need to purchase and store one or two reserve units nearby. In August a van will take even 2 hours to arrive from Salerno.

Even routine maintenance for cars or bikes means that you must travel to Salerno or Castellammare, each of which take 40 minutes by car if the traffic is good or 3 times that in the peak season when Amalfi town swells from the 3,000 residents up to 30,000 visitors daily!!

So we have many ideas and options for our new premises, watch this space!

A new bike, a suprisingly good Yamaha FJR1300AE

I recently traded in my lovely Yamaha blue Super Tenere 1200 for this stunning almost new FJR1300. NEWS FLASH the Super Ten was sold within 2 days! My mate Martin had offered me their demo FJR that he had registered in September 2017 (he is obliged to have six new bikes as demos all year round, which is a bit mad given the severity and duration of the British winter), so it had a grand total of 63 kilometres so perhaps 2 test rides on the clock!

I owned an FJR 1300 a few years ago but I had made the mistake of buying the version with the automatic clutch, which I never really got on with. Setting off from a standing start was always nerve-wracking. This new one instead has the new 6-speed gearbox with conventional clutch, this is the AE version with full LED lighting and electronic everything from suspension to ABS to traction control and cruise control and and and. Amazing. Perhaps it even makes the tea??

I went to collect the bike with my trusty Vito van (a 4600 km round trip), as Brian and I had tried for a meeting in Germany for a weekend to swop the bikes but the weather was cold and terrible. Luckily both the Super Ten and then the FJR just fitted into the van by a whisker, only removing the windscreens (plus mirrors in the case of the Super Ten which is a bit taller). I unloaded the FJR from my van in Roma and refitted the screen, and then this weekend the weather was finally suitable so I rode her down to Amalfi.

Wow. This bike is really like nothing I have ridden or owned before. It feels very very powerful (150 horses) but her muscles are very well hidden. Of course the bike is very heavy so not easy to push around, but as soon as she gets moving she feels like a small bike, as the weight is very low down and well balanced with plenty of aluminium (the frame, for instance). The gearbox is sweet, the clutch is very light, the engine is the smoothest I have ever tried and the overall feel is really amazing. And the suspension really gives you the feeling that the bike glides over the bumps and deals with everything you can throw at it with ease.

The ride was wonderful and the new 6th gear means that on the motorway the revs are low so the fuel consumption is really good for a big bike (more than 15km per litre, 43mpg) even at really high speeds. At one point I took her up to 225 kph just to try and she still wanted to accelerate, even at that speed she ran as straight as a die. What a lovely feeling, what an amazing bike.

I love this one! Wow.

 

Service no limits

I am Simon, I am English and I live between Roma and Amalfi in Italy. I have lived in Italy since 1990 and I speak reasonable Italian and French, plus some English!!

I love travelling and exploring, I have worked in Export Sales for more than 30 years which has taken me all over the world, and I like nothing better than travelling around Italy and Europe by car, van or motorbike alone or with friends.

I know Italy fairly well and I love to help others to discover the beauty of Italy and to avoid the many pitfalls. Many visitors love Italy but do not really know how to avoid the difficult bits, as the language and the mentality is very different from the American and North European “norms”.

I also have a small fleet of vehicles that I can rent out to the right people or can use to transport you around. You fly into Roma and wanna get to the Amalfi Coast?? I can take you. You need to transport you and/or your luggage around between hotels? Call me. You wanna try a motorcycle experience?? I can supply a touring bike with a satnav in English all ready to go. You wanna visit the Ducati or Ferrari factory?? No problem. You need a route for a 3 day visit to Sicily or Sardinia? I can supply it.

Here follow some blogs to give you a taste of the Italian experience. Thanks!!

New property comes closer

We have found and made an offer on a new property, as threatened!! This small property is fantastic and is perfect for what we need, a small working base in the Amalfi area. The property is a WONDERFUL double garage and is very recent indeed, it looks virtually new, and has all of the permissions and stuff in order too which is very unusual, so it can be used for storage, as a garage, for working or whatever. It has a small bathroom too plus water and electricity.

The location is almost ideal too as it is only 12km (about 15 minutes) from the centre of Amalfi and is in a small residential area with houses on each side. Photos and stuff to follow if our offer is accepted!!!!

Stop press: We have revisited the property today and it would appear that all is in order and we can go ahead. We aim to conclude at about the end of March. Watch this space.

Used spare parts for cars and scooters

Given that cars (and bikes) become ever more expensive and complex, and the spares follow, we see a fiendish idea to start a potentially-interesting business with used and regenerated spare parts. We therefore intend to purchase some cars and some scooters and strip them for spares, indeed we have already acquired a Honda SH125, the best selling scooter in Italy. The market for used spares is an interesting one and traditionally mainly in the hands of not totally honest suppiers. We want to start an honest business with spares and repairs, we already have a Roma base and we are now seeking another in the Amalfi region so that we can operate in both areas.

Photos to follow of our SH125 and then the cars too, as we start operations so watch this space.

 

New enterprise!! Another arrow to our bow (or something)

Services enters one (or even two) new activities. We have purchased a lightly damaged VW van and we have started work on the strip down and on the repairs. We intend to document this work with a series of photos which will follow. This work will be carried out by a specialist who does this for a living and the idea is of course to return some profit when we sell the van, but along the way I hope to learn alot as this is a totally new field for me and very interesting indeed.

The second idea is also to start an interesting sub-business with spare parts. We intend to purchase some (VW) cars and some (Honda) scooters and strip them for spares, indeed we have already acquired a Honda SH125, the best selling scooter in Italy. The market for spares is an interesting one and possibly mainly in the hands of er not totally honest sellers. We want to start an (honest) business with spares and repairs, we already have a Roma base and we are now seeking another in the Amalfi region so that we can operate in both areas.

Watch this space!! More to come soon.

A week takeover of the lovely Aurora Hotel, Amalfi. October 20-27th 2018

Ok so here is the master plan for the hotel so far:

  1. I have asked her indoors if I can book the whole hotel PLUS the 3 apartments for the whole week, and (so far so good) she said yes. Poor woman. This event is by personal invitation only and is NOT open to the general public BUT we do plan to run similar events in the future.
  2. I therefore have 15 rooms in the hotel to host my “guests”, plus the 3 apartments if required.
  3. My idea is to offer the lucky chosen few an “all-in package price” for the week to include almost everything, B&B plus some happy hours and even some meals too.
  4. I am looking to organise a wide range of activities, events and visits for the week and everyone will be able to select say 3 activities. Additional events (if we can arrange them) will be charged but more or less at cost.
  5. I will rent a minibus for the week so that we can provide all local transport free. I suggest that you try to come either by motorbike (free safe parking under the hotel) or by public transport, cos a car will cost you about 30 Euro per dayfor parking!!! From Roma the best way is train to Salerno (2 hours door to door) and then either bus, ferry or minibus to Amalfi centre. The hotel is then only a 10 minute stroll.
  6. I need to plan carefully so I need your yes or no asap please and I will then ask you for a non-refundable deposit for every room, to ensure that you will really come.
  7. We will organise trips to Pompei, Caserta, Thermal Baths and Underground Naples for sure. Other activities will be organised depending on the weather we have that week, for instance a boat trip and motorcycle testing. My Raptor 700 Quad and TMax 530 will be available.

More to follow very soon, watch this space………

I wanna show you the lovely Amalfi coast….by bike. Watch this video!!!

Ok here we go, I have the GoPro 5 and I intend to make some trips along this stunning coast and show you the beauty of this area……please let me know what you think.

Please enjoy the trips…..here is the first one, from Amalfi along the coast to Positano. The GoPro is mounted onto my Yamaha TMax 530, please let me know what you think.

What an amazing long distance scooter er bike…..

I know and love the Yamaha TMax, I owned an old 500 briefly a few years ago and really enjoyed the experience, except the fuel consumption!. When I recently found an almost-new one for sale with very low mileage in the UK I could not resist her so then I needed to bring her down to Roma. I flew to the UK with Ryan Air and the excellent crew at Alf England serviced the bike and fitted a charger lead for me. I then set off from Coventry down to Cambridge where my sister lives, about 140km south.

This so-called scooter is really a true motor bike and indeed if you remove the plastic a full motor bike frame and engine is revealed, which explains why it goes and handles like a “proper” bike. The engine is a really strong twin and pulls like a train in this new 530 version, just the continuous transmission reveals the scooter conversion but this means no clutch and gear lever.

The ride to Cambridge was slow and uneventful due to the usual heavy traffic and constant road works, I noted that the screen gives great wind protection even at motorway speeds and the bike always feels stable and pinned to the road. The long wheelbase means that the bike always goes straight and the brakes are fantastic, two large discs at the front and one at the rear.

Then the next day in the constant drizzle I set off to ride back down to Roma. I had not really planned my route (cos I hate planning) and I have already made the trip several times by bike, car and van so I knew more or less the route the way I wanted to take. So first stop in the constant rain was the Channel Tunnel terminal near to Folkestone where I was sent to the front of the queue for a 15 minute wait for the next Chunnel train. The bike was fantastic over these 200km in the rain and only my helmet and my hands got wet, the bike’s bodywork kept me almost dry. I also discovered that bikes do not pay for the London Dartford Crossing, good news!

Fourty minutes later I rode off the train in downtown Calais and quickly hit the motorway, still raining but now less heavily, and headed south towards Reims. Reims is a lovely city and I know a good Ibis hotel quite near to the motorway. I covered the 270km quickly as I was quite hungry and I filled the bike with fuel so that I could make a fast getaway early the next morning. The TMax was averaging almost 60mpg and never missed a beat despite the rain. So I parked and locked her in the hotel car park and went to eat.

The next morning I left after an early breakfast heading south, my aim was Lyon and then Chamonix and the Mont Blanc tunnel. The rain had finally stopped and the sky started to brighten and the temperature increased with every kilometre towards the south. I covered about 640km that day stopping only for coffee and fuel, the bike performed faultlessly and required fuel only every couple of hours, so progress was quite fast. The ideal cruising speed for the 530 is about 140kph (indicated) which is just below 6,000rpm on the TMax, as over 6,000rpm the engine changes sound and starts to drink more fuel. Every engine has its sweet spot. At about 4pm I was really hungry and tired so as I approached Chamonix I spotted a Mercure Hotel just next to the road and so I turned off the motorway, found the hotel, took a room and rested before dinner and then bed. Lovely food and great place!

At 4.30 the next morning I checked out and left the hotel heading south again, firstly through the Mont Blanc tunnel and then onto the Italian motorways where I could use my Telepass, so I did not need to take tickets or pay the motorways tolls. I made good time and stopping only for fuel plus drinks and snacks I headed past Aosta and then picked up the west coast motorway towards Genova. Past Genova I headed south to Livorno and then turned east to Firenze, and then from Firenze it was only 300 kms to Roma. I got to Roma at about 1330 and the bike had covered 2,000 kms from Cambridge without missing a beat. Indeed I still felt good so after a 2 hour stop at home I headed south again and I got to Amalfi for dinner and a very well-earned rest. That was a 1,000 km day!!.

The Yamaha TMax 530 really suprised me. I never thought that a “scooter” could be such a great travelling companion for a longish trip. It proved totally comfortable and reliable, easy to ride and with excellent fuel range between fill ups. WHAT a bike!! This is really a revalation as the TMax is generally used in the city to go fast between traffic lights whereas she is really a superb touring bike. Amazing. And of course this Yamaha engine consumed zero oil in the 2k kms,

Services moves to purchase a property

We have recently been studying the property market in the Amalfi coast area. To be more precise, inland near the coast where the prices are more reasonable, given that we are not looking for a holiday home with sea view.

The ideal property may be a small detached or semi detached house/villa with some land, or it could be a small business unit or even a piece of farm land with a stable or even a garage. Our plan is flexible as there are very few properties on the market and of course anything with a view over the coastline is worth a small fortune!

We may indeed need to rent some parking space to have a fast solution, and then search for a property to purchase later as the ideas are growing as we search. Some ideas are:

a. Car and van parking. There is always a need for safe parking spaces in the Amalfi/Ravello area. In Amalfi town there are only 2 public car parks and by 10am they are both full and so no more cars can stay. Also, the hotels always need more parking spaces.

b. Van and minibus parking. For daily visitors, as again there is nowhere to stop.

c. Rental car services. To be explored, we have alot of ideas on this front.

Etc. Watch this space, we start our property visits this week!!!!