Arriving in Massa Labrense & Villa Erca

Goodbye Tuscany…

Siena Piazza del Campo panoramaHello Amalfi Coast…

Arriving Sorrento panorama

Along the way…

countryside, sheep in fieldWe left Tuscany to drive to our next destination for a week, Villa Erca, http://www.ercachiena.com/ercachiena.com/home.html in Massa Labrense on the Amalfi Coast. We thought we knew where we were going, and had programmed directions to Massa Labrense into our phone (thank goodness). It was raining and Wally’s knee began killing him as we neared Naples. (He had knee replacement surgery when we got home). However, there was no way I was going to drive!

Arriving low clouds on hills on hwyNearing Naples, we were looking at all the farms and vegetables growing along the highway with their rich, black volcanic dirt, and missed our exit to turn off at Naples for Sorrento. After 20 minutes or so, I realized we had gone too far, so we stopped to get directions (turn around, you’ve got another hour and half to go….) so back we went. It is not an easy thing to get directions when they don’t speak English and we don’t speak Italian. Happily for me, the fellow whipped out his phone and programmed Massa Labrense in to it and showed me the way.

Drive - stormy countrysideWe found the correct exit this time, however, still weren’t clear on what to do next as the highway split off. Another wrong exit into the suburbs, turn around, go the other way… okay, here are the signs for Sorrento..

Wally’s knee was getting to excructiating level as we wound up and over the hills along the Bay of Naples. It was late afternoon when we came over this big hill and Sorrento came into view. Wally pulled off into an overlook parking space ~ I thought he might just drive off the cliff at this point, to put himself out of his misery.

Arriving Sorrento panorama

Arriving Sorrento high hill viewSo after resting a few minutes, we pushed on into the city of Sorrento in search of Massa Labrense. Luckily the phone directions kept kicking in to tell us where to turn as my Mapquest directions I had printed out were ridiculously long and complicated. Note to everyone renting a car – get the GPS for Italy!!!

So, back to Sorrento… to add to our stress, it was now the afternoon rush hour, and everyone was rushing around in the road to get somewhere – bikers, mopeds, motorcycles, vehicles – all sharing the same 2 lanes. INSANITY! Here’s a shot when I could stand to look when it wasn’t so bad…

Arriving, Sorrento traffic, bikers

After stopping at a cafe once we got past town to make sure we were still going the right way, the people were kind enough to give me a map. Which kind of helped, if we had known where our destination was supposed to be on said map. *sigh*

We were supposed to meet Lucia at The Tower Restaurant in Massa Labrense. We finally saw some signs for La Torre Ristorante, so thought we were going right and kept following them. And finally found the restaurant…which was closed and no one in sight. Wahhhh!

Massa La Torre bldg extWe looked around for people to guide us to Villa Erca, as we did not have international calling on our phones and couldn’t call or text Lucia. We saw a tower, a church, a park with a map, but still were clueless.

Massa tower

Massa La Torre and churchFinally, a kindly older gentleman was walking by and I stopped him and tried to ask directions. He didn’t speak English, but tried to convey to us to go back up the hill, past the Santa Maria Church and the road was “here” (the only word we could grasp in our quick translation guide book).

So we went up the hill, past the church and were “here”. Now what??? There was a lady that happened to be standing “here” sweeping, so we asked her where was Villa Erca. Again no English, but she understood what we were asking. She pointed to the little road next to the road, and then a car with a couple pulled up that was turning into THERE and THEY SPOKE ENGLISH and said to follow them up…whew!

So you can grasp how “little” the road is and why the owner wanted us to meet Lucia at the restaurant and to be sure and have a small car… here is the road (we went for a walk later).

Erca road, jamie and lucia walkingSo the problem is that the road is VERY steep and NARROW, and as you get higher up, has 90-degree turns. SO, if you meet someone coming the opposite direction, one of you has to back all the way back to a slightly wider spot or driveway. JEEPERS! I wonder how many transmissions have gone out trying to reverse back up that hill???  Thank goodness for that couple leading the way our first time in – we didn’t have time to stop and think about it!

So when we were down at the La Torre Restaurant looking for Lucia, if we had known to look up the hill, where Villa Erca is perched (on the left top corner).

Erca far view bottom of hill

Erca at dusk from below, olive branches

Erca best from below, close

So having arrived at the gate we began calling for Lucia… and she was there! We were earlier than she expected (but later than we expected), so it worked out.

Our lovely balcony in the Capri Apartment upstairs in the villa. It has fabulous views out to the Mediterranean and the Isle of Capri.

Arriving, Erca Jamie & Lucia on balconyOur view… that is Capri off to the left past the hill.

Erca view to water, blue sky

Wally was SO happy to be done driving!

Arriving, Erca Wally & Lucia on balcony

Arriving, Erca, Lucia & Wally balcony silhouetteThe Capri Apartment is two floors, with the kitchen and living room on the first and then up a spiral staircase to the two bedrooms and bath. (Just don’t expect to take your big suitcase up those spiral stairs – it won’t fit!) There was a nice little covered balcony off the bathroom that looked over the pool and on the porch outside the kitchen are containers with herbs for cooking.

Wally is on our wraparound balcony on the second floor.

Erca and pool, vert

The living room fills with light and has beautiful antiques.

Erca living room sunny

Erca wardrobe, door

Lucia introduced us to the house kitty – Alicia, I think was her name.

Erca kitty & flower pot   There is a nice covered dining area at the end of the pool and great outdoor kitchen and bbq.

Erca pool and house

Erca side view of house, pool edge

Erca balcony & cafe tableHere’s the view from our bedroom window upstairs.

Erca view out bedroom window to capri  Erca cat under olive treeWe learned how to make coffee the old fashioned “Italian” way …

Erca coffee makingLucia showed us a bit of the rest of the villa and I loved the antique key collection in the Garden Apartment.

Erca Garden apt, keys

Erca green shuttered windowMeow!

Erca kitty in blue chair, tableI loved the mill stones – they are used in landscaping everywhere. I guess they were used for olive pressing or grapes.

Erca mill wheel table

Erca two grist stonesView of the pool from our balcony. It was a bit chilly in October, but was great to soak our weary feet after long walks.

Erca view from Capri apt to poolWe decided a walk would be good to stretch after the drive, so Lucia led us down the “shortcut” path to the bottom of the hill. It was okay going down, but coming back up was no fun. Looks like Lucia’s fitness program had begun. We had texted her pictures of our meals the week before in Tuscany and her response was, “Jamie – you’re eating toooo much pizza!”

Erca, path shortcut, Jamie & Lucia 1

We walked down to the little park past the tower that has a fabulous view towards Capri. Here’s Wally and Lucia and Capri silhouetted at dusk.

Capri, Wally & Lucia silhouettedSo back up the hill to Erca, where we had a nice dinner Lucia had prepared outside by the pool. We watched the sun creep down over the water…

Erca view to Capri, sun & storm clouds

and amazing lights began to dance on the water around Capri.

Erca view to water at dusk, sun spotsThis was just a little introduction to the amazing sunsets to come during our stay.

Tomorrow, Lucia and I go on a walk around the community while Wally rests. Stay tuned…

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Categories: Travel: ITALY | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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