When I travel I like to avoid the tourist traps. I like to meet the locals, get an insider perspective, go to the best local restaurants and feel like I’m getting the real experience. I decided that on this trip I wanted a local guide – that’s when I found Faith.
Faith Manna owns a company called Amalfi Vacations. (www.amalfivacations.com) She spends half the year in the Amalfi Coast and the winter in the U.S. In the summer, Faith guides small groups (max 8 people) and families around the coast and her company is the only one on the Amalfi Coast that does a guided trip by boat around the small towns and islands. She started the company because the best way to see the coast is by boat and no one was doing it.
Having a local guide means you can fast track getting to know a place and see it from another perspective. Faith took us to the best local restaurants, (Le Tre Sorelle in Positano, Il Cantuccio in Nerano, Il Giardiniello in Minori) even to small local restaurants that are exceptional on the sides of cliffs that you can’t even see from the road. (Il Pirata in Praiano is incredible). These are truly local gems and well off the beaten path of the tourists. All of the restaurants we went to were incredible and we were spoiled with glasses of limoncello, delicious dessert samplers, getting advice on what is best to order, taking us to the most incredible pastry shops and Roman ruins that noone would otherwise know about. She has access to a variety of boats and shows off the coast and islands with plenty of stops for swimming. Of course I was thrilled when she pointed out Marcello’s apartment in Positano and gave us another insider story about Diane Lane in the movie.
These things are NOT in the guide books. In fact, even Christian, a self-professed foodie and the Italian driver that works for Faith, was able to go through every restaurant in Fodor’s Guide and tell me that none of them were any good. That is why you need a local guide… or you can ask the locals where to eat. Do not rely on guide books!
I do have to mention in this post a little background on Faith, which as a soppy romantic I loved. Faith is now engaged to a gorgeous Italian guy, speaks Italian fluently and they live in Praiano near Positano during the summer. They met at the Hotel Tritone where I stayed, when she stayed there five years ago. It turns out after they first met they spent nine days together and then she left to go back to the U.S. After he called her every day for a while she moved over to Italy to be with him. She also decided to start her company at the same time. If anyone is living the dream, it is Faith. But, she also explained to me that being an outsider there has its challenges. “Italy is great for a vacation, but is a tough place to live” she reminded me. I don’t know. I think 6 months a year in the coast sounds pretty good.