We didn’t get nearly as long as I would have liked in Positano on our recent trip to Italy, it was a short yet very sweet visit, but it does mean that this post isn’t going to have fountains of knowledge on the place. It’s going to be more of a rambling of sorts, as though we are sat together having a lemon spritz (how very Amalfi of us) and you’ve just asked me what I thought of Positano. So this is my answer.
It’s beautiful. As stunning as it looks on all those Instagram photos, it’s even more eye catching in reality. Sprawling up the cliff from the beach, the pastel coloured houses cascading over each other just paint the prettiest picture, and there is an atmosphere that feels like everyone there is just so happy to be walking the tiny streets or beautiful beach front.
I heard one couple refer to it as their bucket list holiday, and I certainly felt like it was exactly the sort of place you would feel like that. It’s quite surreal to witness after seeing so many photos of the place.
Maybe it was just the time of day we were there but it was also the hottest place on earth. With no breeze due to the shelter from the cliffs, the sun is relentless, so having a place to retreat from the glare is essential. This could be one of the rented sunshades and loungers on the busy beaches, if you get there early enough to get one, or one of the beach front restaurants that were just packed with people.
Spiaggia Grande is the main beach, and it can get pretty crowded particularly during June – August. A nearby beach that is slightly less accessible but is quieter is called Fornillo. You have the benefit of sun loungers and umbrellas here too, with less of a fight on your hands to get one.
Spiaggia Grande has a busy marina, with everything from tiny little fishing boats, to companies selling day trips to places like Capri or Sorrento. There are group and private options available at a range of costs for your budget. And of course there’s the incredible super yachts moored further out to sea.
I think I counted fifteen on the afternoon that we were there. Yacht owners and guests are even given their own secluded place to relax in the middle of the beach, fully decked out in white, and roped off from the public. Very ‘you can’t sit with us’.
When it comes to food and restaurant options, the choices are endless. I read so many blog posts on where to eat in Positano and found that people raved about pretty much every restaurant they tried. When you’re faced with all that choice, and good recommendations it can be really difficult to know which to try when you have one meal there. It needed to be good.
I did my final bit of research just we sailed in to Positano, and what stuck in my mind was one person (I can’t remember who, I must have read about 15 blogs) who said ‘there are two Positano beach front restaurants you have to eat at in your lifetime;. Again I’m totally useless but I can only remember one of them, and it’s the one we chose – Chez Black.
We only chose this one because having just jumped off our boat for a sea swim an hour previously, we didn’t want to go anywhere too fancy in beachwear with wet hair. One of the beach front, more casual restaurants seemed a perfect idea and Chez Black was right there in front of us as we walked up the beach.
I say it was casual, but it was probably a bit posher than that makes it sound. There were a mix of Italians lunching, as well as tourists and beach goers through the day. It definitely wasn’t a beach bar. With an open front there are plenty of tables outside on the terrace, which would have been lovely but as we had no reservation we were taken inside. To be honest, I’m glad as it was just so hot even in the shade.
I had the most delicious seafood risotto and rose to wash it down with. I loved this place, with its bright plates, charismatic waiters, and bustling atmosphere to it. It threw you into Positano culture straight away, service was great, and the food even better. I was expecting it to be really expensive, in line with the hotel prices (which honestly are bloody ridiculous), but it was reasonable and no more expensive than any other similar meal we had that holiday.
Although we only got to eat at the one place, there were plenty of restaurant names that kept cropping up across multiple sites, blogs and instagram accounts. These include Buca di Bacco, La Pergola, Da Vincenzo (very popular so booking is essential apparently, and you get free prosecco if your table isn’t quite ready) and Il Tridente. Our friend Stu actually ate here when he was there the week before, and I can promise you he has a very good track record of amazing restaurant recommendations so it must be good.
We came across the church of Positano, the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, just behind the main sea front. It’s right in the middle of Positano, but even from this central point you can see how narrow, winding, and elevated the little streets that run off behind it are. We wandered a few and found tiny boutiques, beautiful clothing and ceramic shops, as well as touristy souvenir shops that lined the narrow paths.
I very much got the impression that Positano is filled with a lot of shops like these, restaurants and bars, and stunning cliffside hotels. If you aren’t actually staying in Positano, which many won’t as it’s ridiculously expensive (the hotels I priced up were coming back at around £1500-£2000 per night) then I think a day trip or a day and night is enough to experience the place when you’re staying elsewhere in the region.
I actually think that Amalfi has more to offer as a town, it’s bigger and has a bit more of a historical past, so naturally there are more things to see and do. That said I think the food scene in Positano has a more renowned reputation, as well as the beautiful look of the place, but remember we only briefly experienced Positano, so there may be much more to it than we got to see.
The best comparison I can give is to Oia in Santorini, somewhere that’s absolutely stunning, but crowded and almost too popular. It’s not the easiest place to get to, and if you or someone you’re with has mobility issues it wouldn’t be ideal to get around. Built on a cliff there are steep narrow inclines and lots of steps. Just points to consider if you’re thinking of visiting.
Of course with so many fabulous restaurants and bars on hand, with a pastel coloured, cliffside, sea view as your backdrop it may be exactly the place you want to stay for longer, and if you can afford it then it would be an incredible stay. In an ideal world a few days will allow you to find out much more beneath the surface of the place. Hotels La Sirenuse, and Villa Treville would be top of my wishlist, but that’s just me living in a dream world. Maybe one day…
To get to Positano you could fly into Naples airport, and from there it’s about a 90 minute drive or taxi. If you’re driving yourself then be aware of the crazy Amalfi coast roads with winding turns, steep drops and very busy traffic in peak season. Parking is also expensive at about 6 euros an hour. Alternatively you could get the train to Sorrento or Salerno, and from either of these there are SITA buses, ferries or more affordable taxis.
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