Traveling has always been one of my passions. I love the excitement of seeing new places and the thrill of experiencing different cultures.
Mention Italy’s Amalfi Coast and one’s thoughts immediately turn to the stunning scenic views that materialize around every bend along this heart-stopping, winding mountain road. Every new vista reveals a unique view of one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline found anywhere in the world. At the western-most end of the Amalfi Coast sits Positano, perhaps the most sought-after destination in a region of Italy known for idyllic destinations.
If you are coming to the Amalfi Coast from Naples or Sorrento, then undoubtedly Positano will be your first destination. Positano is the quintessential definition of a dramatic Italian cliffside village.
It clings precariously to the Lattari Mountains that form the backdrop of this picturesque community. Whether you are arriving via the road or by sea, it’s hard to ignore the seducing call of Positano.
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
What to See in Positano
You will find that your time in Positano does not need to be structured or spent visiting museums or other attractions. The main sites here are the incredible scenic and colorful views of this community hugging the mountains that plunge into the Mediterranean. To fully appreciate its beauty, Positano must be seen from the hills above as well as below along the shore.
Church of Santa Maria Assunta
As with most Italian communities, there is always an ancient church to visit and Positano is no different. While there are numerous churches here the one that will certainly catch your eye is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.
The green- and yellow-tiled dome and adjacent Bell Tower are clearly visible from almost anywhere in Positano. First constructed in the 10th-century and renovated centuries later, don’t miss a glimpse of its Byzantine Black Madonna and Child located above the main altar.
If you started your visit up along the Via G. Marconi, also known as the Amalfi Drive, then you have an easy route ahead of you all the way down to the Marina Grande Beach, Positano’s most happening beach. Spread out along 300 meters of pebble-strewn shore, this is the place to come to experience Positano’s liveliest beach scene and perhaps spot a celebrity or two.
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While down along the shore you might as well explore a little, as this will be your last level ground before you start the long hike back up the hill. There are other beaches down here, and if you’re looking for something a little quieter than the Marina Grande, you can follow the path to your right while facing the sea. After a few minutes following the path that hugs the jagged cliff, you will come to Fornillo Beach, which should provide a less crowded experience.
I love places that have an incredible history. I love the Italian way of life. I love the food. I love the people. I love the attitudes of Italians.
— Elton John
Take a Boat Tour or Day Trip to Capri
If you’d like to see the coast from the sea, this would be a great place to check out a boat tour. There are numerous party boats that leave from here, or if you took the bus from Sorrento, consider taking the ferry back for a different perspective.
If you’re spending a few days in Positano, it’s also a great place from which to take the ferry to Capri. A quick 40-minute ride on the hi-speed ferry ride will have you exploring the quaint cobblestone lanes of Capri, visiting amazing grottos, walking the villas of Italy’s ancient royalty, and soaring to the top of Mount Salerno for breathtaking scenery.
I don’t think anyone comes to Positano without doing some shopping. Leather goods abound, but you can certainly find just about anything your heart desires here, and chatting with the local store owners is a great way to immerse yourself into the soul of Positano. From jewelry and ceramics to shoes and clothing, you could easily fill your closest with enough apparel to keep you dreaming of Positano for ages.
If beaching and shopping are not your things, you could spend plenty of time simply exploring the narrow alleyways that snake their way all along the hillside. With an abundance of interesting shops and cafes, this is a wonderful place to just sit and chillax while taking in the splendid beauty of this remarkable place.
Try a Limoncello or a Fragoline. The lemons here are super-sized, which explains why the Limoncello is so popular. For a sweeter taste, try the Fragoline that is made from local strawberries.
Sample the Local Food
When it’s time to eat, find one of the small, out-of-the-way restaurants or cafés with a great view and try some of the local specialties. Whether its seafood, homemade pasta, pizza or just a tasty Italian pastry, everything tastes better when it’s washed down with a glass of local wine while taking in a great view.
It really doesn’t take much to make your day in Positano a memorable experience. It’s just one of those magical places that exudes positive vibes, and once you visit, you can’t get it out of your head. You will also leave wondering how in the world they managed to build this community into the side of this mountain. I know my wife and I think of our visit often, and dream of our next opportunity to return. The beauty of this very special region of Italy never gets old.
Given its somewhat secluded location along the coast, there are limited methods of getting yourself to Positano, and most of them will involve a combination of transportation methods. The closest airport is in Naples, but many visitors head to Positano from other areas of Italy.
If you do fly into Naples, you can take the train to Sorrento and then either drive, take a ferry, or take the SITA bus to Positano.
There is no direct ferry service from Naples to Positano, but you can take the ferry to Sorrento and then on to Positano. This service operates during the high season, so check the ferry schedule. The trip from Sorrento to Positano alone takes about 50 minutes.
There is no train service that goes to Positano, and the closest you can get via the train is Sorrento.
The bus is a popular way to get to Positano, and you can catch the SITA bus from either Sorrento or Salerno. From Sorrento, it takes approximately 45 minutes.
I dreamed of driving the Amalfi Coast but ultimately decided to take the bus. It was probably a good decision as the road was clogged with traffic and scooters darting in and out, and it would have been impossible to look at the beautiful scenery while driving.
A private driver is another option, but this is also going to be the most expensive way to get there. If money is of no concern, then perhaps this is the method for you.
© 2020 Bill De Giulio