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As summer inches closer many of us have had to cancel travel plans to Italy, myself included to the Amalfi Coast and Positano. As travel designers, we know how much time and care goes into planning every moment of a trip to Italy, so we understand that the disappointment cuts and it cuts deep.
I thought I would share a bit about one of my favorite summer destinations in Italy in the hope that it will keep your travel dreams company and inspire you to look ahead and plan for next summer. So, let us take a virtual visit to a place near and dear to my heart – the iconic fishing village of Positano on the Amalfi Coast.
When I was planning my honeymoon, so many years ago, my husband and I had to choose between staying in Positano or on the island of Capri. It is a predicament many travelers face – the desire to see it all and the reality that you only have so many days to travel. Ultimately, we chose Capri, and had an incredible trip; however, somehow, without ever seeing it, Positano had taken root in me. As John Steinbeck wrote, “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.”
Positano is rich with Ancient Roman history, stories and folklore about the sea, trade routes, and even pirates. But today it is a small fishing village with just 4,000-year-round inhabitants and a thriving tourism season which begins in April and ends in October.
There are two options to get to Positano, by land or sea, and both are awe-inspiring. Whether you travel along the famed Amalfi Drive with its jaw-dropping twists and turns and stunning sea views or via ferry from Naples, Salerno or other stops along the Amalfi Coast, the first sight of Positano will take your breath away. Built into the side of a mountain, it is a vertical village dotted with pastel and terracotta buildings that seem at one with the land.
Much of the charming village is pedestrian only and requires climbing up and down many steps and staircases dotted with eateries and unique shops where you can purchase beautiful linen clothing, a pair of sandals made especially for you or some of the many lemon products made along the Amalfi Coast like Limoncello, and other lemon-infused foods, perfumes and bath products. Stop for a gelato in Piazza dei Mulini, which is where the pedestrian only part of the village meets the one road that runs throughout Positano.
There are many hotels in Positano that Passion for Italy Travel loves depending on your budget and travel style. I personally enjoy staying high up beyond the pedestrian area because the views are incredible and the crowds thin out the higher up you go, especially at night. Recently I spoke to the owner of one of my favorite hotels high up along the main road known for its terrace with a pool and commanding views and its little buggy car which is often parked in front of the entrance. The hotel is owned by an Italian family, which we love, because we feel locally owned hotels offer the truest Italian experience. The owner told me she misses the priceless feeling of seeing a returning guest again, the late-night limoncellos at the bar talking to guests they have just met but make you feel as if you’ve known them forever, the smell of freshly baked cakes on the breakfast buffet, the chef’s gnocchi and so much more.
And there is so much more to do in Positano, or you can do nothing at all! One of my favorite ways to spend a day is to hire a boat to cruise the coast or head over to Capri. You will lounge on the deck of your own private boat while your captain explains the history of the area and points out the landmarks along the way. You will stop to swim in crystal clear waters and explore some of the lesser known grottoes which you may even have all to yourselves. You will dock at a beachside restaurant where you can enjoy a leisurely lunch of locally caught fish and wines made in the vineyards along the Amalfi Coast. You may opt to take a walk in Amalfi or browse the luxury shops on Capri where you can sit down to enjoy an Aperitivo and people watch. Before you head back to Positano, you will enjoy a sunset toast with a bottle of Prosecco. It really is a magical day and we repeatedly hear from our clients that hiring a boat was one of the best days of their lives!
If you prefer to stay on land, you can head to the beach. I recently spoke with my friend who owns my favorite beach club in Positano, which is a short boat ride away from the main dock. This beach club is known for its orange loungers, friendly staff and house made wine with peaches. Amalia Cinque told me, “My whole life is tied to Positano, a source of sustenance for my family for centuries. We live for tourism. Lockdown means a lot to my business because we welcome tourists from all over the world who come to discover the pearl of the Amalfi Coast.”
Beyond the beach and sea, visitors can hike along the famous Path of Gods or visit the MAR museum where you can tour the ancient Roman villa which recently opened after the villa was left covered in volcanic ash from the eruption of Vesuvius, which did not spare the Amalfi Coast. Positano is also well situated to do days trip to other villages along the Amalfi Coast as well as Naples, Sorrento or the ancient Greek temples in Paestum.
But no matter how you spend your day, you will notice a change at night in Positano after the last day trippers board the final ferries home. The twinkling lights, live music floating through the air, Aperitivo’s on terraces with endless views all culminating in a late al fresco dinner in the warm night air. And then you will wake up the next morning and do it al
l again! And by the way, mornings in Positano might be my favorite time of day. I awake early to the sounds of church bells ringing in the distance and the occasional scooter whizzing by. I grab my camera and snap 100 more shots from my terrace of the same view because I still cannot believe it is real. Tiny, colorful fishing boats dot the calm morning sea. I head to breakfast on the terrace where I enjoy Cappuccino, my favorite pastries, meats and cheeses and fresh figs. I enjoy a morning chat with the barista about his family and life in Positano because as I have learned through the years, the people of Positano are some of the kindest, most passionate people you will ever meet. They love their home and take such pride in sharing it with others, again and again.
I hope you have felt uplifted and inspired by this virtual visit to Positano. It may be a tiny spot nestled into the mighty region of Campania, but it is full of heart and I hope that wherever you are, you too can feel the passion and love from the people who live there and cannot wait to welcome you to their home. So, until we can all travel again, Andra Tutto Bene – all will be ok.