Tuesday, March 20, 2012

travel guide: positano, italy

We spent our honeymoon in Italy. We began in Florence for 5 days, and then took the high-speed train to the Amalfi Coast. It was a magical 10 days, and I couldn't have imagined spending the first days of our marriage in a more amazing place. Plus, Mr. S planned each piece of the trip and didn't tell me where we were headed until the morning after our wedding - it was absolute perfection, and I am such a lucky girl. 

I've had several friends and family ask for guidance on traveling to Positano and the Amalfi Coast, so I thought perhaps I'd share them with you as well. I hope these recommendations are helpful, and if you have any questions or want more info, please reach out to me! I love sharing my favorite places to travel with my friends.

Getting to Positano from Naples: Not to start off on a scary foot here, but don't wear your flashy jewelry while you’re in Naples. Put it in your inside coat pocket if at all possible. While we were on the train down from Florence, a businessman sitting near us, who was from Naples, said that if you walk around with any jewelry on and toting your luggage, the pick-pocks will zero in on you. Just be careful.

Our travel agent arranged for us a car service who picked us up right at the door of our train in Naples, and drove us to Positano for 110 Euros each way (cash only). The company was Rainbow Limos, it's family owned, Nico and Giulia are married & were super nice and very responsive when we made some last minute changes to our departure. Giulia's from Positano & Nico from Sorrento, and both were fantastic tour guides as we drove along the Amalfi coast going to and leaving Positano. We really loved riding with them and getting a true local's lay of the land and people.

Pompeii: On the way from Naples to Positano do not miss stopping off to see this amazing sight. The car service will wait for you for 35 euro per hour. We were mesmerized and could have stayed for days because there is so much history to learn and things to see.It's relatively inexpensive for tickets to get in (20 euro each, if I recall correctly), and if you don't have a guide-book the walking tours are a great way to hear some interesting stories that you're not going to get from a guide book, although we did reference the Rick Steve's book for a few of his interesting facts & his walking-tour highlights. Make sure you pick up a map, the city is HUGE and can be confusing if you venture out on your own. We found several people without a map that had been wandering for quite some time!

Mr.  S and I under an aquaduct in Pompeii with Mt. Vesuvius in the background
Capri: Be sure to take a trip to Capri- there's not much to do besides shopping and celeb spotting, but it's a fun trip with yummy food and amazing shopping! There are several boat companies that take people to Capri for positano with stops at the famous Blue and Green Grottos to go swimming. We liked one boat company in particular, Gennaro e Salvatore. The girl who worked the booth by the water selling tickets set-up for Mr. S to go fishing one morning at dawn with her uncle on his personal fishing boat for no charge. Most boat companies offer options to rent a boat on your own depending on how adventurous you're feeling! ** Note: Anacapri is not worth the trip to the top of the island. We also heard amazing things about the day trips to Revello, one couple told us it was MUCH more interesting from a historical perspective than Capri, and that it was worth going and staying for a night if you could- we didn't have time to sadly.

on the way to capri


Walking Tour: Positano is pretty small and easy to get around, but there's so much history that you'd never know unless you had a guide. Our Rick Steves book recommended, Christine Ornelas. She's from Austrailian originally, but on vacation met a man from Positano, married him and now she's a resident. She gives awesome walking tours for 20 euros each, but mention Rick Steves' guidebook, and you can do two people for just 35 euro. Christine’s husband owns a butcher shop and is a sommelier, so she makes a stop on the tour there for wine, cheese and meats tastings. I recommend if you want to buy foods or wine to take home, he's the guy to go to + he’ll organize shipping for you. Additionally, there's a gelato tasting, and mixed drinks at a bar on the beach...not too shabby for 35 euro each, PLUS lots of fun facts about the town, insider suggestions on places to shop for clothing, jewelry, restaurants, etc. The tours leave at 10:30 AM from the Piazza dei Mulini, and usually last until around 1 PM or so. Simply email Christine: Christineornelas@gmail.com or visit her website, www.discoverpositano.it, and tell her the day you want to go, and she'll give you all the details on where to meet.

Getting Around Positano: Positano is SUPER easy to get around. There's one road, that is one way down and one way up the side of the clifffs. I recommend only walking  (great exercise after all the gelato and wine) even if there are TONS of stairs. If you find you need to get to the top from down where the beaches & shopping are in a hurry there is a city bus that comes around every few minutes that is 1 euro.

lots of stairs

Restaurants: There are TONS of amazing places. Lots down by the water, which tend to be a bit more crowded & touristy than those further up the slide of the cliff. If you venture further up the city road to the left of the beach, there's a lot of smaller family places to eat. Here are our favorite spots that we enjoyed while in Positano:

Trattoria La Tagliata: Our favorite place on our whole trip. Situated at the very top of Poistano, the view is absolutely unreal!! You can have your hotel make reservations or make one online, because the only way to get there is via the restaurant's shuttle that makes the rounds to pick up diners. It is 40 euro per person for six full courses and all the wine you can drink. The place is not fancy, but the food is incredible and the views unbeatbale. The menu changes daily as to what is fresh & in season, and you simply sit down and the food just starts coming and doesn't seem to stop for at least 2 hours. If we went back toPositano this is the only place I would go every night.

Saraceno D'Oro: We visited this restaurant on a whim walking around on our first night & went back once more. It's really reasonably priced, and it was full of families. They also serve wine that they grow on their family farm which was one of my favorites we had. More of a relaxed atmosphere, and would be type of place I'd recommend after a long day at the beach when you just want a relaxed meal. It's located a bit higher off the main road from the beach, but is an easy walk up the stairs.

Buca di Bacco: It is located right on the board-walk area in the heart of Positano. They had really heavy entrees, but it was a great meal. It is attached to a hotel, and the restaurant also offers cooking classes! We met a couple at the table next to us who had just taken one of the classes, and said it was amazing! (We did one in Florence and I wish we had done one in Positano too!)

pulling into positano

Music on the Rocks: We ended up going here the last night it was open for the season, and it was a HUGE party! The party didn't really get going until we were on our way out the door around 1 AM, but if for nothing else it's awesome to go into and see, grab a drink and take a spin on the dance floor- there's also a restaurant on the top of the club, which offers some amazing sights! It’s literally a cave inside the cliffs! 

Beach: Don't waste your time on the main beach that you see in all of the pictures of Positano. In the summers it is said to be packed, and not pleasant for relaxing. Christine took us on the walking tour to another beach that locals visit to avoid tourist on the main beach in the high season. If you follow a path that runs along the right side of the boardwalk at the main beach (if you're looking at the water), it will go for a bit winding down and around along the coast. I promise it will dead-end at a beach that is much more quite. We rented chairs for 10 euro for the day, plus use of the bathroom at the cabana there, and we found ourselves with just 2 other couples & a family around all day. Make sure to take flip-flops to wear on the beach...it's all smooth pebbles that are difficult to walk on without shoes.

shhh...this is the quietest spot around

Shopping: High-end stores have begun to move in like Missoni, but there are a large number of Mom & Pop type of shops to be found. Positano is known for it's linen designs, so be sure to grab a tunic or two! There is a chain type store that sells the tunics at a reasonable price down on the boardwalk which are great for gifts or if you're like me and live in tunics during the summer, but there are some more high quality shops near the Piazza dei Mulini which are beautiful. Be sure to purchase some of the famous hand-painted pottery - AMAZING!

In the words of our travel agent,”if you’re not eating gelato and drinking wine with every meal you’re missing the real joy of being in Italy.”

1 comment:

  1. My bf and I went on a little tour of Italy and Positano was our most favorite spot out of anywhere. We wished we had just stayed there the entire time!


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