AZinItaly

A couple of Phoenicians living temporarily in Roma

Archive for the tag “booking.com”

Catching the end of Summer

Views of the sea from SarAnd Relais.

Views of the sea from SarAnd Relais.

With fall approaching and the weather still sunny and warm here, we decided to take advantage of some of the remaining beach days and headed a few hours south of Rome to the seaside towns of Sperlonga and Sabaudia.

We’d heard that the beaches in both Sperlonga and Sabaudia were wonderful. Long stretches of clean sand and clear sea. The beach at Sperlonga is a blue flag beach. The Blue Flag program is a voluntary, not for profit, non governmental program that awards an eco-label to beaches and marinas around the world. “The Blue Flag works towards sustainable development of beaches and marinas through strict criteria dealing with water quality, environmental education and information, environmental management, and safety and other services”. In other words, it means it’s CLEAN!

We drove to Sperlonga on Saturday morning using our newly downloaded navigation program, Tom Tom. Mama mia, just figuring out how it worked was an adventure! We headed straight for the sea and were rewarded with clear blue skies, warm sun and a beautiful beach. I walked out into the water which was so clear and clean that I could not only feel, but see, all the fish nipping at my feet.

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Once again using the travel website Booking.com I found a lovely agriturismo that was located high up in the hills between Sperlonga and Fondi, a neighboring town. Agriturismo, which comes from the words “agriculture” and “tourism” is a working farm that incorporates a bed and breakfast. SarAnd Relais, who’s name comes from combining the names of the family’s daughter Sara and son Andrea, sits on 50 hectares (1 hectare = 2.47 acres), where they raise their own beef, pigs, and olives. Seventy percent of the food served in the dining room is raised on the family’s land. The property has 17 lovely rooms set in small casita buildings around the main house, and includes a swimming pool, jacuzzi tub, and a newly built equestrian facility. The grounds were lovely, nestled in the mountains with distant sea views. It would be an amazing place for a small wedding. We had dinner in the dining room in the evening and it was some of the best pasta with ragu sauce that we’ve eaten in Italy!

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We were able to catch just a few rays of sunshine the next morning before the clouds rolled in, so we decided to head back north towards Roma and took a detour to see the beach at Sabaudia. It was nearly empty that day and we stayed long enough to enjoy the views of the sea. I’m going to miss the beach days of summer. I’m also really grateful for the many opportunities we’ve had to enjoy them this year.

The beach at Sabaudia

The beach at Sabaudia

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Salerno

Frank, the owner of delirium

Michael’s daughter Kelsey came for a visit from the States, so we wanted to plan a trip outside of Rome to show her more of Italy. We decided to travel south to the coastal town of Amalfi for the weekend.

While planning the trip, I looked at a map to see what was the best route to take to get there. It looked like there were two possibilities – drive south towards Naples and then on to Sorrento, and pick up the coastal road east over to Amalfi; or drive more inland from Naples and head over to Salerno and from there drive west towards Amalfi. The later seemed like an easier drive, so I made arrangements to stay the night in Salerno.

So far, I’ve had pretty good luck using a website, Booking.com, to book hotel stays while in Italy. I found a hotel online that was 4 stars, on the water with views and even boasted a spa, so I didn’t hesitate to book it for the night.

While in Salerno, we were also looking forward to having a fabulous dinner at a restaurant called Il Buco, which was recommended by our friend Teresa. Her friend, a chef from Naples, knows the owner and chef of Il Buco, so a reservation was made for us to dine there and we were assured the chef would treat us like family.  Since Teresa had given me the name of the restaurant, I thought we were set.

When we arrived in Salerno and finally found the hotel, we were struck by both the intense heat, which was worse than Rome, and Rome is very hot right now; and by the fact that it looked like we weren’t in the best part of town. We checked into the hotel (no air conditioning in the public spaces) and were shown to our room without a view. Upon our request the room was changed to a view room.  After getting settled, we explored the hotel, which might have been 4 stars in the 1970’s, but clearly wasn’t today.

The only place in the neighborhood that even seemed safe to go inside was across the street from the hotel, a bar/restaurant called delirium. Again, no air conditioning, so Frank the eager young owner, escorted us to the “garden” out back where he assured us it was cooler. The garden was lacking in anything garden-like, i.e. plants, but we were hot, tired and crabby, so we ordered drinks anyway and tried to pretend we weren’t sitting in a back parking lot.

Michael and Kelsey in the “garden” at delirium

We went back to the hotel to get ready for dinner and each took turns to shower. We knew it wasn’t a good sign that there was black mold in the bathtub (it’s not totally uncommon here to have mold due to the humidity), but we weren’t prepared for the bathroom floor to be flooded by water seeping out from the bathtub tiles!

Ready for dinner, after using all the towels to mop up the bathroom floor, we had the hotel call us a cab to take us to Il Buco. I looked up the restaurant on Google maps and found an address that I gave the cab driver, who was surly and spoke no English.  After a 15 euro ride, he stopped the cab seemingly in the middle of nowhere, insisted we get out and pointed to a corner pizza stand indicating that this was Il Buco. We tried to protest that this couldn’t be the place, but he was already gone.

I got on the phone and luckily was able to reach Teresa at home. She attempted to calm me down (at this point no one else would speak with me!) and looked up the address for Il Buco online. It’s at blah, blah, blah in Sorrento, she tells me. “Teresa! We’re in Salerno, not Sorrento!” She apologized profusely, and I kicked myself for not having gotten the address from her sooner. So much for the lovely dinner we were so looking forward to!

Lost in Salerno, we trudged towards the water searching for someplace to eat.  Luckily we found a lively restaurant where we ate a decent meal. We were able to let go of enough of our upset to speak with each other again, and eagerly planned our early morning escape from Salerno, never to return again!

 

 

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