Italian Honeymoon – Villa Rosa

Catch up on KA’s honeymoon here

We arrived near sunset on Saturday evening at our Amalfi Coast home for the next week–Villa Rosa. It’s a small complex of little apartments and casitas, halfway up the cliffside between Atrani and Ravello, a place supposedly known as the Valley of the Dragon. We booked our stay through Summer in Italy: I was very impressed by their informative website, and very pleased (pleasantly surprised even) by how communicative and helpful they were.

We settled on Villa Rosa for several reasons, the first and foremost being there’s really no where else quite like it. Throughout my usual copious research into all manner of accommodation options from Praiano to Minori, it just kept popping back up. Here’s what it had going for it:

For the Amalfi Coast, it is a steal. It was so affordable on our budget that we decided to rent it for the week and use it as a home base to take 2 quick overnite trips to Sorrento and Castiglione di Ravello. (That was my Doing All The Things personality rearing its head again.) The reason Villa Rosa is so affordable is because it is not exactly luxury accommodations. As someone who curates Hotel Porn, this was not an easy sacrifice to make. Although it is very basic, it is also very clean and well-tended, and what it lacks in luxuries, it makes up for in the uniqueness of its architecture, setting and the view!

The views from Casa Sesta.

The views from Casa Sesta.

Casa Sesta

Casa Sesta

I knew we didn’t want to stay in the tourist hell that is Positano or Amalfi. I was leaning towards Praiano for that reason, because Ravello up on its cliff seemed too isolated, but the more I learned about Atrani (not an easy thing to do, as it is such a unspoken secret), the more I fell in love. It is walking distance to Amalfi and Ravello (if you’re feeling fit and adventurous), and we were truly among only a handful of tourists staying in the village. Or above the village, as it were. People really live in Atrani, and it is amazing to see them go about their day-to-day lives in a place so far removed from the reality of the States, and especially New York.

The views of an from little white Casa Sesta, and the main building of Villa Rosa.

The views of and from little white Casa Sesta and the main building of Villa Rosa.

We picked our unit, Casa Sesta, because of its aerie-like perch built directly into the rock. Since our casa was actually on the cliff-face, the view was a bit obstructed, so one day when we were certain no one was staying there we snuck down to check out the view from another unit. It was a whole other level of amazing. So “amazing” that both Scott and I were a little freaked out by how it felt like you were floating in the middle of the ravine. The rest of the magical grounds, covered in lemon trees, bougainvilla, and all sorts of other fragrant, blooming plants were gorgeous and well-tended. (No doubt by Signor Nicola, the caretaker.)

Villa Rosa

Well, it has one. Unfortunately this pro on paper became a con in person. The pool is not heated, and due to the location on the side of the ravine it got very limited hours of direct sunlight. Even though it got into the 80’s F most days we were there, and we went swimming quite happily in the sea, the pool was freezing. I thought I could tough it out, but I was so wrong. I would have traded it for a tiny hot tub in a heartbeat. If they heated this pool they could double the rates and it would be quite nearly as magical as all those infinity pools in the luxury hotels of Ravello.

Since I’m making a review of this, I’ll discuss the cons as well:

Other than the cold pool and basic accommodations (no TV, no internet, no microwave – but a Moka!–which we fell in love with and bought one at home), Villa Rosa’s other main deterrent might be The Stairs. As two reasonably fit New Yorkers who walk A LOT, the first time we went down the 300 stairs into town was fun and adventurous. The first time we went up there was cursing. And of course, by staying at Casa Sesta, we had about three extra flights of Escher stairs over the residents of the main building. (Pics coming in a later post.) For anyone less than the completely healthy and fit, I would actually urge NOT staying here for that reason. But if you are healthy and fit, the first day or two will be a workout, and by the end of a week you will be a mountain goat. And if you’re anything like me, you’ll get to even ground and your legs will hurt as your muscles strain to readapt.

This is a surprising one, but it did affect me, so I’ll share it. I am usually a sound sleeper, but my post-wedding PTSD came in the form of a bout of insane insomnia. Not having the distraction of television and the internet, I immediately read all of my books (I have literally since bought a 3G Kindle so this never happens again), drank all the wine, and then laid awake for several nights on end listening to the sounds of the countryside. And WOW there were many. It seemed like every noise rings throughout the entire valley, from constant gushing of water from up in the hills, to the daytime sounds of the church bells (if I recall they stop them between like midnite and 4am), the children playing calcio on the roof of the school, the dogs, the horses, and the ever-present wee-woo wee-woo of ambulances down the Amalfi Coast road, to the nighttime owls, birds, more dogs, and finally THE ROOSTER. I realized I am more of a city girl that I thought, because I would gladly take the hum of traffic over the cacophony of the countryside.

No couch.
Another con only due to my insomnia was the lack of a place to “hang out” while I was endlessly awake–Casa Sesta had no couch or comfortable chairs, so it was either sit in bed with my snoring husband or sit at the kitchen table. I tried to sit outside one nite, but promptly stubbed my toe in the dark on a stair, and so gave up.

All things considered, the pros heavily out-weighed the cons. Villa Rosa and our little Casa Sesta were quite special, and I would return in a heartbeat. To me, Italy is the densest place on earth to explore and uncover, and we only scraped the surface of Atrani and its neighbors in the week we were there. But I’m excited to share the adventures we had!