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Exploring Positano

One of the loveliest coastlines in the world lies south of the well-known Neapolitan holiday hub of Sorrento and contains the tiny, exclusive resort town of Positano, set south of the area’s main town of Amalfi. The Amalfi coastline is simply spectacular, formed of rearing cliffs and tiny harbours overlooking the azure Mediterranean, and has been a favourite with visitors since the 19th century. Famous author John Steinbeck described Positano as ‘an unreal dream place which bites deep’, and the many thousands of visitors who arrive every year can’t help but agree.

Springtime is the loveliest time to visit Positano, with the entire town in bloom ad the surrounding countryside rich with wildflowers and rich greenery. The entire Amalfi coastline is a UNESCO World Heritage site for its dramatic beauty and ancient fishing villages, although Positano has only two tiny beaches, with the cliffs rearing almost vertically from the sea. Fornillo Beach is the quieter, only accessible by stairs cut into the cliff, and Spiagga Grande Beach acts as the ferry terminal for trips to Capri, Ischia and Paestum as well as being an evening hub for sunset meals and friendly beach bars and home to the Hotel la Caravella.

Sights nearby

There is a lot to see in and around Positano and the offshore islands, especially the world famous Isle of Capri. Those who are active will love the wander the tiny steep streets and hang out at the harbour eating or watching the picturesque fishing boats.

Santa Maria Assunta Church
Positano’s lovely, white-painted church with its majestic dome soars over the little town and is it main landmark. Inside you’ll find the famous 13th century Greek Orthodox icon of the Black Madonna, legendarily stolen from Byzantium by pirates and rescued from a shipwreck.

The equally spectacular cliffside town of Amalfi is close by along the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Amalfi coastine. Expect picturesque whitewashed, stonebuilt houses clinging to the rock face, superb views across the sea to Capri and glorious sunsets.

The Isle of Capri is a short boat trip from Positano, and has been a holday island since Roman emperor Tiberius built a summer palace there. The tiny town is crowded with day-trippers in summer, but quieter during Capri’s glorious springtime. The Blue Grotto and the heights and even smaller village of Anacapri are highlights.

Positano Harbour
Positano’s pretty harbour holds fishing boats as well as tourist vessels running to Naples and Capri. Lined with tavernas perfect for a romantic sunset dinner a deux, it’s one of the town’s favourite spots.

Eating and drinking and shopping nearby

Positano is a great place to sample traditional Neapolitan dishes such as tripe in a herby cream sauce and baked tuna or shark steaks. Locals eat en famille and late, with many restaurants staying open until well after midnight. For a less chaotic dining experience, the California Hotel, set in an 18th-century villa, has a good restaurant and famous Le Sirenuse hotel is THE place to eat, although it’s only open in the summer season. Shopping for local craft souvenirs in Positano is a unique experience, as almost everything on offer is locally-made by expert craftspeople. There’s a great choice of beautifully hand-decorated ceramics, cool leather sandals and shoes with the iconic Italian design flair. Fine quality embroidery decorates bedware, homewares and fashions, and the region’s unique carved and inlaid wood boxes and décor items are famous.

Public transport

Positano’s cliffside setting is only accessible by ferry or road, with the ferry from Naples running across the bay and down the spectacular coastline past Sorrento, the island of Capri and Amalfi. Buses run from Sorrento and Salerno, dropping passengers atop the cliff, linked by taxi to the town’s hotels. Self-drive along the coast road is via the Naples Autostrada and Sorrento, but can be scary during busy periods due to the huge number of cars on the winding clifftop road. The trip by taxi from Naples is expensive, less so from Sorrento on the opposite side of the bay, and visitors should make sure the cab is official and metered. In town, it’s walk or stay where you are, as most vehicles are prohibited.

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