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.

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European trips for you….I have the superb Vito 3.0L van plus an excellent 2-axle car trailer

You need a car or a motorbike delivered from the UK to France or Italy?? You wanna bike holiday in the south of France but do not fancy the 1000km down from London?? No problem. I can come to you, collect the car or motorbike or bicycles plus your panniers or luggage or whatever and take it for you, you pay the fuel plus motorway plus a charge but I aim to keep the costs as low as possible cos I can sleep in the van!!! Perhaps you wanna buy a bike from France or Italy but dont wanna ride it home???

Ask me for a price and dates!!!! I can be fairly flexible and I have winter tyres on the van for the cold and wet months so I can run most of the year round.

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.

 

Some classic cars for sale, offers welcome and visits available for viewing, chats and coffee….

My mate Riccardo is a nutcase and a very passionate car collector and restorer. He was in the past a car racer and he competed in classic car races around Europe with various Alfa Romeos, his first love. He has accumulated a load of cars (plus some motorbikes) in his amazing workshop near Orte in Italy, less than an hour north of Roma.

His hobby is restoring his fleet of cars and he spends loads of time in his workshop. To visit him is to see some living history. I know very little about cars and even less about classic Italian cars so to spend some time with him is to share his passion and long experience. As well as the cars and bikes, he has endless shelves full of spares as well as partly built cars and he seems to know every spare part and engine, he has a story to tell for each!

Here follows some pictures and prices but note that the prices are only a guide, he is open to reasonable offers. The prices are fairly high cos he loves his cars and he seems to want to keep them all, but of course he is ready to consider serious offers. And if you wanna see the cars then if you fly into Roma (Ciampino if possible) I can always take you there for just petrol and motorway costs. So here we go with the current stock:

Number 1. Simca Rally Group 2, 1973. 18,000 Euro.

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Number 2. Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. 1963. Totally original and very low miles, rust free. 55,000 Euro.

Giulia

Number 3. Alfa Romeo 1900 Saloon. 1957. Totally original and no rust. 50,000 Euro.

1900 saloon

Number 4. Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAM Autodelta 1970. 150,000 Euro as is or 300,000 Euro fully restored.

GTAM 1750

Number 5. Mini Innocenti Cooper Export 1300. 1974. 14,000 Euro.

Innocenti

Number 6. Porsche 924 Turbo 1979 with new engine. 12,000 Euro

Porsche 924 Turbo

Number 7. Alfa Romeo GTV 2000 Group 1 track car. 1971. 30,000 Euro.

GTV2000

I can promise you that all of these cars are well worth seeing and Riccardo is always pleased to show folks his car over a coffee or a beer. These prices are ALL open to offers.

 

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!!!!

Restoring a truly unloved 2008 Audi A5 3200 V6 coupe

I bought a very neglected and really scruffy 2008 Audi A5 in early 2015. The car had two owners from new and was a really sad sight when I went to view her in the corner of a yard of a second hand dealer in the south of Roma. Badly scratched and damaged paintwork plus a very tatty interior, but I was specifically looking for this two-wheel drive version of the A5 with the 3.2 litre non-turbo petrol FSI engine, which was in production for only a few years. I love a large lazy engine as in my book this makes for very relaxed driving, I am not a fan of fast and furious turbo or supercharged engines.

This car would have cost over 55,000 Euro new in 2008 and was listed now at 19,500 euro, so after a quick inspection I offered 15,000 euro which was accepted after some very gentle haggling. Anything over 2.5 litres is considered a large engine here in Italy so prices are quite low, the Italian state makes you pay very heavily both to transfer the car into your ownership as well as for the annual road tax, which both go on the horsepower of the car.

I knew well that the cash I had “saved” on the deal would be needed to put the car back into decent working order. The front tyres were totally bald, for instance, which on a 265 bhp car is not a good start, so 950 Euro went on a new set of Pirelli P-Zeros. The seats of the car were threadbare (amazing!) so I found a complete new leather interior from a scrap A5, bought and fitted for 600 Euro and it even had electric seat controls!! The car was totally unloved so I also took her for a full service (for the first and last time!!!) to an official VW Audi dealer, that cost me about 700 Euro (and I even supplied the engine oil).

I found a web site for the A5 called http://www.a5oc.com and this helped me to gather loads of useful information advice and opinions about the A5. Well now two years into my A5 ownership (and love affair, I confess) I am happy to show my progress so here are some recent pictures. The leather interior is lovely. The bodywork still has quite a few scars but I am reluctant to spend on a respray given that the car lives in the city of Roma and so bumps and scratches are the order of the day. I have had the lovely 19″ alloy wheels refurbished and I have recently fitted a full set of Brembo brake discs and pads and also repainted the brake calipers.

The engine and auto gearbox have very luckily required only normal servicing so far. I did take quite a gamble as the car had zero service history but luckily the engine and gearbox have been bulletproof over the 40,000 km I have covered so far. I think that I will keep her for a few more years ‘cos the A5 is a lovely car and wonderful fun to drive.

Update: As it was time for the annual service, we put the A5 up onto the service ramp to have a good look underneath. Beppe spotted a very worn bush on the front suspension upper arm. So we decided that both bushes should be changed and at the same time we decided that all 4 shock absorbers should also be renewed as they showed some leakage. Some photos follow, and the car feels MUCH better!! I also opted to change all 4 discs and pads for Brembo and the car now stops better than ever. Lovely, such a fun drive.

 

 

 

Ok so how can I help you to discover Italy and the Italian way of life…lets see a few examples

So how about you wanna fly into Roma, and then spend a week in beautiful Amalfi and a few days exploring Roma?

Or perhaps you fly into Roma and you fancy exploring the areas of Abruzzo and Umbria. Or you really want to visit Tavullia and see the famous Valentini Rossi ranch???

Or you really fancy visiting the Ducati factory in Bologna, and or the Bimota factory in Rimini, or you would like to see one or more of the Italian race circuits Mugello, Vallelunga, Misano, Monza or others. You fancy some cooking classes, or you would love to see some Italian wine makers or olive oil producers. Maybe you and your partner want to follow two different programs??

Well it could work like this:

You tell me what you need, you give me an idea of the proposed itinerary plus some idea of the hotels you fancy (look on booking.com so I have an idea of the level of hotels you fancy). Tell me how many are in your party and I can work out the rest. Collection from the airport (Roma has two, Ciampino and Fiumicino), then I can take you to your hotel. Then collect you and take you around Italy, and of course I speak Italian so I can help.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

Cars and bikes for sale….cheap (ish). LOOK at the beautiful new MT10

Our fleet of cars and bikes are always up for sale, at the right price. Here follows a brief description and a photo of each with an approximate value, but any prices will be calculated at the time you make an enquiry ‘cos of course the value depends on many factors including the age and mileage, so I list the current mileage (updated March 2018).

Mercedes Vito 120 CDI (diesel). 2009, red, worth about 18k euro. Purchased new in Roma in November 2009, this lovely van has loads of factory extras as well as some stuff I have fitted over the years. Here we go:

  • Vito Van “medium” wheelbase with 3000cc V6 turbodiesel engine, auto gearbox (5 speed) plus cruise control, 205bhp. 3 seats “leather look” with arm rest for driver, extra side sliding door, protective load tray with hooks both on floor and side walls. Fitted with Pioneer satnav/stereo with decent speakers plus subwoofer fitted under the middle seat. Motorbike front wheel holder in rear of van. Chrome mirror covers plus rear light surrounds. Lovely black alloy Merc wheels with summer tyres (new July 2016) plus a set of standard metal wheels with winter tyres. I have just this month fitted a SuperChip to increase the power to about 235 horses but above all this has greatly increased the driveability and torque so its now even more fun to drive. Currently about 105k kms.

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Audi A5 3200V6 (petrol) S line silver 2008, purchased very third hand in Roma in 2014. Quick description:

  • Audi A5 Sline, front wheel drive and 3200cc V6 normally aspirated petrol engine with 265 bhp and 8 speed auto gearbox, worth about 16k euro. Full black leather interior with electric front seats. Standard stereo with subwoofer added in the boot. 19″ Audi alloy wheels recently refurbished and finished in gunmetal grey with Pirelli PZero tyres. Currently about 170k kms and running great. Just fitted a throttle controller and so now much more responsive.

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Yamaha FJR 1300 AE 2017 dark grey, UK registered.

  • The FJR is the latest model (2017, worth about 18k euro) with electronic suspension, ABS, cruise control, heated grips plus a host of other electronic stuff. Beautiful in grey. Support for TomTom satnav.  Currently about 700 kms. Amazing for cruising 2 up and fully loaded this bike just floats, fairly quick too. Photos to follow.

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Yamaha MT10 2016, blue, UK registered.

  • The MT10 is the latest Yamaha to be launched, worth 15k euro. It has the 2016 R1 crossplane engine, detuned from 200 to about 160 bhp. Mine is standard just fitted with the Yamaha comfort seat plus a small windscreen and TomTom satnav holder. Now about 4500km after I rode her down to Roma from the UK. FLIES!!! Here she is on the train, ready to cross the channel tunnel. Aftermarket Leo Vince exhaust system just fitted, lighter and faster too, as if she needed!

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Yamaha Giggle 2010. UK registered and yellow.

  • The most amazing 50cc moped ever, the 4 stroke Giggle was made in Japan for the Japanese market and Yamaha only brought a few to Europe, they sold very very few cos they cost almost 3000 Pounds new!!. Mine is worth about 1.0k euro. It is 50cc with electronic fuel injection and limited to 50kmh so returns about 60km per litre. Mine has a Yamaha windscreen plus metal front carrier fitted and has suffered some Roman road rage but still runs great, some 6000 miles now. I must find a picture, in the city I am asked for a pizza or an ice cream at almost every traffic light….

Yamaha Raptor 700R Quad 2006, white.

  • The Raptor is powered by a fuel injected 700cc version of the 4 stroke single cylinder XT660 engine, now worth perhaps 6k euro. She is rear wheel chain driven and has 5 speeds plus reverse. Mine is standard just with a topbox and goes really well, amazing fun off-road. Will climb almost anywhere and is at her best off road of course, sand mud and snow are her specialities. Fun on the road too but needs a firm hand to convince her to turn a corner.

Call or text or whatsapp me on +39 333 8153190 or email me on simon.f@spirometry.com.

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Here is the Raptor, having a quick spin round the office car park.

 

 

 

 

Another amazing discovery with beautiful old cars…

Look at these pics!!! This car workshop restores old cars and also has some of his own. Mmmm. He is based in Roma and some of these cars are up for sale, for instance the Lancia Thema Ferrari which has a 3.2L Ferrari engine is up for offers and there are VERY few around.

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