Ischia to Praiano -how hard can it be?

The view from our terrace at Hotel Villa Antonia on Ischia over to the Castello Aragonese

Sometimes it just goes wrong. What should be a simple journey, turns into a drama. At these times I repeat our mantra (borrowed from The best ever Marigold Hotel) “It will be alright in the end and if it’s not alright it’s not the end”. Ischia to Praiano, they are both in Italy, both on the Amalfi Coast, how hard could it be?

I suppose we had been lulled into a false sense of security by a blissful few days on the island of Ischia. This little known gem of an isle is just off Italy’s Amalfi coast, a short ferry ride from Naples. Today we are travelling back to the mainland and up the coast to the town of Praiano, which is sandwiched between the tourist meccas of Positano and Amalfi.

On the map, to an Aussie, it looks no distance at all. To a seafaring Pom it looks an pleasant ferry ride. But our darling Italy has other ideas.

An easy bus ride to the port and straightforward ferry crossing to Naples maintains our confidence. Then the fun begins. My basic Italian which works fine asking for two ferry tickets doesn’t really cope with the rapid fire answer. After much pointing, some English from him, some French from James and my Italian we get to the root of the problem. There is no ferry up the coast to either Positano or Amalfi, the best on offer is a ferry to Sorrento at 1pm. It was only 10.30am.

Travelling involves a lot of waiting around – here I’m waiting for the Sorrento Ferry in Naples

We change plan and decide on a bus. After over hour waiting for the bus, to the bus station, then trying for a taxi, we give up. In need of caffeine we decide to have a coffee break, then take the 1pm ferry to Sorrento, surely we can catch a bus from there to Praiano.

Ischia to Praiano
A much needed caffeine hit at the port of Naples

After a fortifying coffee and a glorious ferry ride to Sorrento our spirits are restored. All we have to do now is get a little bus up from the ferry port to the bus station, so we wait. And wait. And wait some more, until the little bus is full enough for the journey up the hill to the bus station.

There I again trot out my feeble Italian, it is met with a blank stare but then two tickets appear, we’re in business! We circumnavigate the bus station before finding our stop, always a delight with suitcases in tow.

The drive along the coast is stunning, the road hugs the cliff face but I avert my eyes from the steep rocky descent into the sea below. At Positano most of the passengers alight leaving us, one lady and the driver.

Coast road
Looking down on the coastal road

We are on the final leg of our journey when an ominous noise comes from beneath the bus and we begin to slow. The driver steers the bus dangerous close to the road edge. Efforts to restart it fail. He babbles away into his phone, then turns to the three of us with the answer. Fortunately the woman in front speaks excellent English and translates for us that the bus has broken down and another will be sent from Naples, we are to get out and wait.

Ischia to Praiano
Waiting by the roadside for a replacement bus – Positano in the background (please note James is still smiling)

The driver, like a sea captain stays with his bus. The three of us walk up to the bus stop. We drag our bags, she clips along smartly in her high heels, chatting into her phone. At the bus stop we all make polite conversation. She too is headed for Praiano, it is a beautiful town she tells us. From the other direction a sleek black Alfa Romeo sweeps around the corner, does a totally illegal U-turn and stops beside us. Our new friend struts over to it. She opens the door, turns to us and says, “ A bus will be along shortly, enjoy your stay in Praiano” before getting into the car and being whisked off.

James slowly puts down our suitcases he had picked up ready to pop in the Alfa’s boot. My words of “Oh, thank you this is so kind” have stalled in my mouth. James breaks the silence, with a muttered “Bitch” under his breath. On cue it begins to spit with rain. What have we ever done to Italy to deserve this! After a few moments of language I will not repeat we decide to start walking toward Praiano, occasionally looking over our shoulders incase a bus should miraculously materialise.

A car pulls up beside us, a window is lowered.
“Are you English?”
“Yes” replies James, right now we would have be martians if it would help our cause.
“Where are going?”
“Jump in!”

Our saviour is a photographer, a fellow Pom, with a broad cockney accent and a great fondness for 4-letter words. James and I squeeze into the back of his car with our two suitcasese stacked between us. Our hero drives like he is a Formula 1 entrant around the coast road. He slows enough as we whip through Praiano for me to spot our hotel. We are decanted without ceremony by the roadside, our hero refuses our offer of a thank you drink as he wants to catch the sunset further down the coast. A cheery wave and he is off, our faith in human nature is restored.

Ischia to Praiano
Finally we made it to the Open Gate Hotel in Praiano

As we march up the road single file to our hotel James calls over his shoulder ”Didn’t I say to you, “It will be alright in the end, and if it’s not alright it’s not the end”?” Yup, I am married to a smarty pants!

Ischia to Praiano
Celebrating surviving our adventure from Ischia to Praiano

Tips for the trip from Ischia to Praiano

After this episode of “winging it” travel-wise we found a fab app called Rome2Rio which tells you all the different ways you can travel from one place (town or country) to another.

On Ischia we stayed at the Hotel Villa Antonio which we would strongly recommend. The rooms are simple but the view of the Castello Aragonese is stunning. Ischia is not on the tourist trail like Capri and English is not widely spoken so some Italian is a very good idea! A trip to the Castello is a must.

We stayed at the Open Gate Hotel in Praiano which we loved, it isn’t as touristy and pricey as Positano. The Hotel is right on the road but surprisingly it is not noisy. The owners spoke excellent English here which made life easy for me!

Posted in : Funny Mishaps, Italy

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