While planning our honeymoon, my husband and I were not unlike many newlyweds. We wavered between sun-drenched beach resorts and culturally edifying destinations that were more suited to our style of travel. Our decision to spend a week in Positano, Italy, on the Amalfi Coast proved to be an ideal combination of the two. Our post-wedding-weary bodies and minds were at once soothed by the sound of waves crashing, the scent of lemon trees and the sight of two beach chairs situated at the edge of a tiled portico facing the sea.
On the Amalfi Coast, travelers can be as relaxed or as busy as they want to be. The small seaside city of Positano is centrally located for day trips to Capri, Sorrento or Ravello, but is intriguing enough to make it a standalone destination on anyone’s Italy itinerary. The Positano Taxi Limousine Service transports travelers on a breezy 90-minute drive from the Naples airport to Positano hotels.
The striking scenery of Positano is its greatest asset. Pastel-colored shops, restaurants and hotels cling to the cliffs that rise steeply from the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Steep cobblestone steps connect the labyrinth of dining and shopping options above with the beachfront and marina below.
Italian charm and sophistication abound in art galleries, boutiques and antique shops; our favorite was Antiquare, home to exquisite French and Italian antiques dating from the early 13th century to the 1920s. The main sight is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which dates back to 1200 and houses a stunning Byzantine Black Madonna and Child.
Two lovely beaches — Spiaggia Grande and Spiaggia del Fornillo — invite visitors to soak up the Mediterranean sun. Fornillo draws younger travelers and offers more activities; kayak rentals and casual beachfront bars open late in the summer. Spiaggia Grande is larger, with easier access to the city center. At the end of Spiaggia Grande lies the port from which daily excursions to Capri and surrounding islands depart and return.
Most Positano boutique hotels reside along Via Cristoforo Colombo and almost all of them boast spectacular views of the sea during the day and the twinkling lights against the cliff side at nightfall. Travelers should ask for water-facing rooms, and if they so desire, one with a private Jacuzzi.
We chose the Hotel Marincanto, a charming four-star hotel, founded by Positano’s mayor himself. The private stone steps leading to the beachfront provided a faster connection to the city center.
The best-known hotel in Positano is Le Sirenuse, a five-star luxury hotel that, in addition to its superb location and amenities, offers boating and hiking excursions.
Travelers should be made aware that many Positano hotels close their doors in the winter, usually from December to February. Making reservations during this time can be difficult.
Most meals begin with a welcome greeting: “Compliments of the chef!” All of our meals were enjoyed in one of two idyllic settings — either on a cliffside terrace with a view of the water and city lights, or in a garden terrace, in a grove of olive and lemon trees. It’s hard to say which was more romantic.
The Ristorante al Palazzo provides a memorable dining experience. Located in the courtyard of the Hotel Palazzo Murat, the chef’s tasting menu changes monthly. Also spectacular is Max, a restaurant set in an art gallery, where works of art are also for sale. Dinner is best followed by limoncello, locally made lemon-flavored liquor served ice-cold.
While nightlife mostly consists of dreamy, several-coursed meals and slow strolling through the city’s cobblestoned streets, there are a few options for couples seeking a more energetic vibe. In the summer, the beachfront cafes along the Spiaggia del Fornillo are packed with young couples and traveling backpackers. Le Terraze, near the Spiaggia Grande, is a bar/disco built into the side of the cliff. The nightspot has a cave-like dance floor and an impressively long beach-inspired cocktail menu.
Relaxing, picturesque and, at the same time, enriching — that’s how I will remember Positano. We returned from our vacation rested and ready to begin la dolce vita.