Positano is easily one of the most beautiful places I have been too. It’s the type of place where pictures don’t do the beauty justice or show what I can only describe as magic hour when the setting sun casts hues of pink light over the hillside town. It is quite something and I can hands down say Positano is one of my favourite places in the world and what better way to discover and share this place with special friends, Pips and Stu.
The closest airport to Positano is Naples. We caught an Easyjet flight into Naples arriving in the morning. After looking at various options for getting from Naples to Positano we opted for a private transfer. If you opt for public transport, one route is to make your way to the train station and get the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Sorrento and then the SITA Sorrento – Positano bus from Sorrento to Positano. You can also get the Curreri Viaggi bus to Sorrento and then the same bus from Sorrento to Positano. You could make your way to the port, catch a ferry to Sorrento and then the same bus to Positano but I think this may be a bit long winded. There is unfortunately no direct train/ferry.
Because we were limited for time on this trip we bit the bullet and paid a bit more for a private transfer with La Mammola Car Service Transfer and Excursions. We would do this again in a heartbeat. Our driver was waiting for us on arrival and quickly whisked us off to our air-conditioned car dropping us directly at our hotel. After doing some research on Trip Advisor, this company came highly recommended and also quoted us much less than other options so I would definitely recommend them. There is also the option of shared transfers which do bring down the cost.
As we whizzed past Mount Versuvius, we soon found ourselves on the famous SS163, known as the road of 1000 bends covering the towns from Sorrento to Salerno – the route is a UNESCO world heritage site. The winding and narrow roads are synonymous with the Amalfi coast and we were rather glad we weren’t attempting this as drivers. That being said another option is to rent your own car which gives you the freedom to explore the Amalfi coast more – one tip if you do hire a car is to bear in mind parking once in Positano as some hotels don’t have parking facilities. There are public car parks so you’ll need to budget this in at around 20 euros per day.
Positano is a small town and accommodation can get booked up quickly. Because this trip wasn’t planned too far in advance we luckily still managed to find a wonderful, family run B&B in Positano, Hotel Pensione Maria Luisa. The owner and staff were very friendly and helpful and while the rooms were basic, they were spacious and clean with a lovely view over the rooftops of Positano and a terrace and views of the ocean.
Our B&B was closer to Fornillo beach offering a better swimming beach than the main beach although there was a rather daunting set of stairs to get back up. Pippa and Stu stayed in another family run B&B, Casa Soriano with even better views and on the main road that runs through the town so if you can manage to sneak a stay here, I would highly recommend it – again low key and basic but everything you need and a brilliant location. Positano isn’t without the glitz and glam so budget dependent you can find anything from hostels and small family run B&Bs to five star hotels like Le Sirenuse or Il San Pietro di Positano – both worth visiting for a drink if nothing else.
Arriving in Positano around lunch time meant that after dropping our bags we headed off in search of a lunch spot. Positano has one main road that runs through the town, it’s a one way and rather narrow but this is the best way to explore the town, browse shops and make your way down to the main square and beachfront area. The buildings seem to have been stacked on top of each others and scatter their way up the mountains that surround the bay. The pastel colours give the town its dramatic look that make Positano so iconic and enchanting. We stopped at Café Positano for a quick pizza and coffee and although the meal wasn’t the best, it offered wonderful views of the bay and main beach. After a quick siesta we made our way down to Fornillo beach for our first dip in the med.
That night before dinner we headed into town for some sundowners. We were aiming for drinks at either Le Sirenuse Champagne bar or Franks – both belonging to the same hotel but with a private function on we couldn’t go to either – I’d definitely try squeeze in a visit to these bars, Le Sirenuse is regal and echoes old world class with terrecota coloured walls that only amplify the glowing sunset. Franks is a stylish and trendy bar sitting high above the bay with beautiful decor. We opted for Ristorante Lancora next door and it was perfect as we busily chatted and caught up with old friends. It had been a year since we saw these two at their wedding so we toasted to sitting together in Positano and a much needed reunion.
For dinner we went up to Montepertuso to La Tagliata which conveniently offers a free shuttle service and collects you from your hotel. If you can, I’d try book the earlier seating so that you can grasp just how high up you actually travel. On arrival, we were ushered to our table and seated in a wonderful, open air room. There are no menus at all, the owner walks around and describes how the evening will work and that all that ‘mama’ in the kitchen is responsible for all the food. We were wined and dined the entire night, tasting local delicacies and home cooked pasta paired with what seemed like bottomless wine made on site. Just when you think you are almost done, another big platter of barbequed meat and freshly made pasta arrives accompanied by anther shot of limoncello. This was a highlight of the trip because of the good food, great company and a rather unique experience on the Amalfi coast (I think Pips and I spent 80% of the meal in hysterics much to the amusement and bafflement of the boys).
The next day we had aimed to do the Walk or Path of Gods, a hiking trail running from east to west between Nocelle, the highest neighbourhood of Positano and Bomerano – about 8kms. You can start from either side depending on where you are staying or where you want to end. There are lots of online forums to help you with directions/bus information – take a look here. This came highly recommended and with a bit more time (and maybe a bit less wine the night before) we would have attempted the trip but with only a day left, we decided to spend the morning on the beach.
Swimming in Positano is quite something. Not just because of the crystal clear blue waters but for the views you get while swimming as you look back at the pale houses of Positano sitting on their steep perches – it really is quite dreamlike. After an hour of swimming and exploring caves we took the coastal promenade walk to the main town of Positano where we were due to catch the boat to Da Adolfo restaurant. The main beach of Positano can get rather full so it is recommended to visit one of the beaches close by such as Praiano, Arienzo and La Praia which are easily accessible via water taxi from the main port area. You normally have to pay a small fee when you arrive but this gives you access to a sun lounger and usually wifi.
Adolfo requires reservations so after Pips luckily managed to make a booking, we waited on the jetty for the boat as instructed. Ask your hotel in advance to make a reservation for you if possible. From the pier at Positano’s Spiaggia Grande beach, small boats depart every 30 minutes for Da Adolfo and you can recognise them by the red fish flag waving from the mast. The boat whisks you off to Adolfo where you are shown to your table after a quick dip on the private beach we were run through some delicious options that had all of us nodding in agreement. To drink we went with home made sangria with peaches and we shared 5 starters between the four of us so that we could sample as much as possible. From mozerella on lemon leaves (a local dish in this part of the world), tuna carpaccio, squid, mussels and melon and parma ham (a personal favourite) the spread was mouth-watering.
We couldn’t get enough of swimming so after lunch we decided to head back to Fornillo beach for some stand up paddle boarding and after many laughs we had all managed to stand. That night we decided to do sundowners from Pips and Stu’s B&B so after picking up some snacks and wine from Delicatessen, we spent magic hour watching the sky over Positano turn different shades of pinks and pastels until the sun went down on another wonderful day on the Amalfi. That night we’d decided on Chez Black. Chez Black is a Positano institution and has apparently been around since 1949 and with great views and a location right on the front this is a great option for dinner. Phil and I both had linguine with clams (another favourite) but with different sauces. At the end of our meal we noticed a crowd had gathered on the beach in front of a stage where a ballet dress-rehearsal was underway. Grabbing a few chairs we managed to catch the end of it and almost wished we were there for another night to grab the full show under the stars in magical Positano. Another dinner recommendation is Next 2.
Thanks Pips and Stu for sharing a special piece of your trip with us, time to start planning the next reunion…
For more inspiration read New York Times: 36 hours on the Amalfi Coast and Conde Naste Traveller here.
Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone – John Steinbeck