Travel guide: Positano, Italy
Take a chic vacation in one of the Amalfi Coast’s prettiest towns, Positano.
by : Jennifer Weatherhead Harrington- Jun 4th, 2013
Italy’s Amalfi coast is home to quaint towns pitched along rugged cliffs, filled with ancient sites, chic hotels and some of the best food you could imagine. The most charming of them all? Positano – a picturesque town of just under 4,000 people, tucked into an enclave. The winding roads into the town take you along the craggy cliffs and around steep inclines into what used to be a poor fishing village (tourism really amped up here in the 1950s after John Steinbeck wrote about Positano in
Harper’s Bazaar saying "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.") Today, Positano is where the swish set jet to for a romantic and chic getaway (count Mick Jagger, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake as a few who vacation in the seaside escape), and is also the perfect Italian getaway after a few days beating the crowds in Rome, Milan and Florence. Here’s how to get the most out of Positano.
The exterior of Casa Angelina. Image courtesy of Casa Angelina
Where to stay:
There are plenty of small B&Bs, boutique hotels and spots to rent in the heart of the seaside town. But just outside the main part (in a neighbouring community called Praiano) is a luxe, secluded and romantic hideaway – perfect for watching Amalfi sunsets and waking up to the sounds of the crashing waves below.
Casa Angelina (part of the
Mr. & Mrs. Smith collection) is settled on the edge of a cliff (down a very twisted roadway) over looking the ocean with Capri in the distance. But be forewarned, with it’s impressive views, stellar meals in the restaurant (be sure to finish with a creamy cappuccino), modern art in nearly very corner and your impeccably all-white room – it may be hard to actually leave Casa Angelina and explore.
Inside Casa Angelina’s chic lounge area. Image courtesy of Casa Angelina
Casa Angelina literally grows out of the coastline and is decked in all white and pale wood finishes (an ultra modern finish to contrast the rugged beauty outside). Each sparse and clean room overlooks the ocean and comes with a balcony that is ideal for sipping morning lattes and reading your fave book before heading into town. While the views can’t be beat at anytime of the day and with any weather, the rooms are warm and cozy as the sunset drenches them in deep yellow hues. Or even better, book a table and dine al fresco at the hotel’s restaurant and nibble on penne topped with fresh tomato sauce during sunset.
Even though you’re slightly removed from Positano by being in Praiano, Casa Angelina offers free shuttle services to and from the town, so it’s easy to spend an evening sipping a chianti red and eating piping hot pizza, watch the sun set then head back to your hotel room.
What to do and where to eat in Positano on the next page …
What to do:
Spending time in Positano (or any part of the Amalfi Coast for that matter) is easy. Think chilled out walks along the winding streets, popping into cafes for a café latte and a fresh scoop of homemade gelato (if you can get your hands on lemon gelato it’s the best), stopping by tiny shops filled to the brim with limoncello and lemon based products (the Amalfi Coast is known for those sweet and tart lemons that limoncello is made with). Every corner is a photo opt, every restaurant worth a stop for some fresh fish, bowls of pasta or just-out-of-the-oven thin-crusted pizza. You can’t get lost (you have two main streets to work with) and if you get tired of walking there’s no shortage of places to rest and take in the view of the bay. But if you’re looking for specifics, here are the top places to eat:
Ask any local where the best food in Positano is and they’ll direct you here. Book yourself a table of this family-run restaurant (opened in 1958) on the small patio on the sidewalk (even though it’s not on the water, the passing by of locals with their dogs stopping to chat with the waiters and owners makes for great entertainment). Then order the gnocci, eggplant parm, bolegnaise and finish off with a swig of icy cool limoncello.
Ristorante Saraceno d’Oro
You’re in pizza country (and really close to the most famous pizza spot in the world, Naples), so you know that what ever thin-crust pie your order up will be piping hot and delicious. In Positano locals pick up take out pizza at Ristorante Saraceno d’Oro, or dine in sharing different options. Opt for classics like the margarita pizza or the Napoleon pizza and you can’t go wrong.
Day trips in Positano on the next page …
Positano is also incredibly close to many other spots for day trips. It may be hard to peel yourself away from your luxe digs at Casa Angelina, or to spend a day away from the streets and cafes of Positano, but a few day trips to the surrounding areas (which are equally as stunning, we might add) is always in order. Here are some quick and beautiful escapes to jet off to:
Dreaming of the island of Capri? Hop on a short ferry ride to this ‘50s and ‘60s hotspot (likely where your mother partied in her hey day) to spend an afternoon on this sun soaked island. Hint: Pack a bathing suit if the weather is right – those crystal blue and turquoise waters are worthy of a dip (or two).
Take the train to Pompeii
This ancient buried city is a marvel to wander around and explore – and is easily accessible from Positano via train. Rich with history, you’ll be in awe as you stroll through the stone streets, visit what was once the brothel, and peek into ancient baths that were at one point completely covered by ash from an eruption at nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Be warned though – it’s one busy, touristy spot. Expect crowds and bypass the food options on site or in the town, and save your hunger for traditional gnocci once you’re back in Positano.
Rent a car and drive to Amalfi
Amalfi, the city, is about an hour’s drive away along the coastline. It’s also a major tourist hub (beware of the busloads of people streaming in and out), but if you’re looking for some more lively action, people watching (you may spot a celeb or two – or at least people trying to be seen) this is a great change of scene and pace.
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