In short, rent a boat.
Last year we noticed boats for rent; some by the day, some with a captain, some with groups and we were interested but didn’t really have time. During the planning for this trip I searched and sent some emails but really had trouble nailing down the rates (as it turns out this is chronic; when Francis, our B&B host tried to get info for guests she got a runaround too). We finally found a company that does boat excursions along the coast, with 12 or so people per boat including lunch that listed the price or could confirm their price via email. When I emailed with them in the spring their prices weren’t firm (which was fine) and we selected a date, although the confirmation seemed fuzzy. In early June we changed the date, again the company responded, but confirmation seemed fuzzy—just show up on the dock at 11 isn’t confirmation to me, but I accept some things with Italy. Not long after that I emailed them to cancel altogether, figuring we would play this by ear when arriving.
I’m glad we did!
When we got back to Atrani on the last of the scooter days we stopped down at the boat rental desk (not really a desk, a folding table under an umbrella with a nice man who clearly enjoys tanning and whose English is as bad as our Italian). We were able to determine that a 6 meter boat, with 15hp engine and a canopy cover was 130 Euro for 10 hours. That was cheaper than the previously mentioned boat trip, but didn’t include lunch. But it also didn’t include 10 other people, so we booked it. We didn’t communicate very well and he called over his translator, a woman from Staten Island who comes to Atrani in the summer. Total aside on Staten Island Lady: she brought her nieces with her this year and the locals loved them, mostly because they were fulfilling all the Italian American stereotypes that Italian Italians hold.
The next morning comes, we return the scooter to scooter man and get our boat. We packed some water, bread, cheese, prosciutto, towels, and sunscreen. The boat tutorial is thus:
theeees is forwaaarda
theeees is reeeeversa
don’t heeeet the rocksa (some sage advice!)
and off we go. We swim, we tour the coast, we drop anchor, see some fish, and eat our lunch.
Eventually we decide that wine would be good, but we don’t really have a good way to get any (really, who would have guessed?). We didn’t want to pay the mooring fee at Positano but it seems that you can drop anchor just about anywhere without too much trouble. Maybe we could swim to shore, buy wine, and swim back. Swimming with wine bottles is going to be hard, but we’re swimmers, we can do this, right? And then Jake has a flash of genius. He has a small Eddie Bauer backpack that is light weight and folds up into a small pocket. Our towels were in it. He proposed to empty the pack, put it on, swim with it to shore, head to the first shop for wine, put it in the bag and swim back. We also need to have our sandals with us as the beach is both super rocky and on fire hot.
Imagine the sight: two people jump off a boat, one with a backpack and Keens on his feet, the other with flip flops on her hands (as paddles, so I wouldn’t lose them!). They swim to shore, first over the barrier and then through the swimming area, walk through the sunbathers, head up the sidewalk into town, pick out two bottles of cold wine, ask the cashier to open and recork them, pay her with soggy money, and then return to their boat the same way.
The plan was flawless, except the Keens as swim wear part. Jake says they are great for everything, but now knows they are terrible for swimming. Even the backpack worked well. Oh, and the part about the sunburn. We really didn’t think too much about the sun, but the plotting, swimming and then drinking in the sun took its toll on our good sense.
Remember the sage advice from the boat rental guy, about not hitting rocks? One way to not hit them is to force your body between your boat and some sharp rocks. Not that anyone we know had to do anything like that, after anchoring to swim, turning to finding the wind strong enough to move the boat, and swimming hard to prevent an accident. No, something like that might violate the terms of the contract we signed that we couldn’t really read.
After returning the boat without incident we stopped at La Risacca (again) for some bruschetta before heading to our room to clean up and meet Francis and Bruno for dinner. And that’s when we discover the evil sunburn. Jake worse than me, but both of us lobster red. His back might never be the same, and I’m going to peel in all new ways. But I wouldn’t trade the day for anything!!
That night we had dinner with Bruno and Francis; pizzas and beers at the beachside. I can’t tell you how fortunate we are to have met them! Not only do the run a great B&B, we also have a great time hanging out with them. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else!
Our sunburns got the best of us that night and the next day. Neither of us slept well and Jake’s burn was bad enough that the heat of the sun through his shirt hurt. We stayed in our room for much of the day, venturing out for lunch and a brief walk. The room is not a terrible place to be; we’ve got A/C and a view:
This was our last night in Atrani, and we didn’t want to let a sunburn ruin it. We made a reservation to sit inside at Mistral, another restaurant on the piazza. The Festival of Santa Maddalena was to culminate this evening with a parade, a band in the square (a good reason to sit indoors; they were loud, good, but loud), and fireworks at midnight.
Our meal was one of the best values we had on the trip. I didn’t record it, because we decided to enjoy the meal and our company without picture taking and recording notes on food, but I can say that the fried zucchini, pasta with mussels and zucchini, and sausage and peppers that I ate were excellent. Jake also had three courses, and we had two bottles of wine for a grand total of 80 Euros. Great food and not nearly as expensive as some other places we’d gone. It’s not Il Pino, or Da Gemma, but it’s very good. The waiter was a harried young guy who works everyday during the high season, generally 16-18 hours. Despite this he was surprisingly upbeat!
We finished just in time to climb to our terrace and watch the fireworks. Our pictures of this didn’t come out well, we really need a tripod! I think it was best that we stopped trying and just enjoyed the show. I can’t think of a better way to spend your last night!
When we planned this trip to the Amalfi Coast after our previous visit we really intended to do some hiking. Have you read about our hiking? No. Because we failed. So on our last morning, before heading back to Rome for dinner, a sleep and the airport, I insisted that we hike. Take a look at this picture again:
See the white church way up high? See the outcropping of rock above it? We hiked to there. It’s actually not as hard as it looks, just all up hill. That said, you might want to ask Jake his thoughts…
Jake’s Thoughts: I feel like shit. I have a badass sunburn. She makes me climb a fucking mountain. The view was worth it. I think.
Next Up: Our final night in Rome and our trip home.