To me, the word Amalfi sounds like a dangerously decadent yet fluffy dessert that I would eat only on special occasions. In truth, Amalfi is the place name for a town in the Campania Region of Italy, and so the moniker is used for the entire outlying coast. There is a small town on the Amalfi Coast that offers quintessential coastal Italian topography, charm, and hospitality. This town is Positano, a place you’ll gladly surrender to.
Over the years plenty of invading groups have expected the townsfolk to do just that: surrender. Because of this history, Positano still has fortified walls and watch towers that remind you of its enviable position on the Mediterranean. The good news is that today the only outside forces to contend with are the other tourists hankering to get a better view or to order a shot of espresso.
Positano is 75 minutes southeast of Naples and just 20 minutes from Sorrento. Use either of these larger towns as a base for easily planning your excursion to Positano. Once you reach this extraordinary fishing village, you can orient yourself by the omnipresent tiled dome of Santa Maria Assunta Church. Up and down steep steps, en route to dinner, after evening cocktails, you can always look to the dome.
Discover Positano’s beautiful natural treasures everywhere you turn. When you aren’t sitting under fragrant lemon trees or walking by bright fuchsia flowers, you are probably gazing out onto the sparkling blue water of the Mediterranean Sea from a romantic terrace.
Wander down to Spiaggia Grande, the largest beach on the Amalfi Coast, or sneak off to nearby Fornillo Beach for secluded relaxation. Then take a walking path inland to see the adjacent mountain districts. Nocelle, for example, is at the end of such a path and offers extensive views all the way to Capri.
It’s a wonderful thing to discover a new place on foot and really experience the sights, sounds, and smells up close. Once you have your bearings, it’s even better to see this same place from a different perspective. So embrace your inner mariner and hop on a boat! Take a ride out to a dive site or climb aboard a night cruise. Look back toward Positano as it sits on cliffs raised above the sea.
You might also consider chartering a yacht and visiting Capri, Ischia, and Li Galli (little islands just off Positano). Li Galli, a.k.a. Sirenuse, are the fabled homes of the Sirens who successfully enticed sailors with the sweet sound of their voices. Don’t get shipwrecked by their mysterious ways before you get a chance to go shopping on Capri!
Positano has taken a history of unsolicited warfare and economic hardships and become a vacationer’s dream. Positano retained a fishing village feel to make it instantly homey to visitors, but it added high class accommodations to let those same visitors feel special. Like the contrast of the yellow citrus against the purple flowers, Positano’s rough stones and steep coastline juxtapose elegantly against the sleek, shining sea. Let Positano take whatever is bothering you and turn it into sweet Italian limonata!
Check out this video of Rick Steves enjoying the Amalfi Coast.