Sadly our five week Italian holiday was getting to the pointy end and we had less than a week before we had to return home. Italy had been an absolute delight and we were looking forward to the final stage of our trip to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. So we grabbed the high-speed train from Florence to Naples to spend 5 perfect days in Positano.
On arrival at the extremely busy Naples train station, we fortunately had booked a driver to meet us to negotiate the 57km drive along the scenic Amalfi Coast road, that clings to the steep cliffs with many twists and turns. The road is impossibly narrow with tunnels dug through some of the mountains that touch the sea, but every now and again we caught glimpses of the breathtaking coastline. We eventually reached Positano and snaked our way uphill to our Airbnb accommodation, set high above the village of Positano in the hamlet of Montepertuso.
On arrival we were met by our host, Salvatore, who without flinching threw my large heavy suitcase up on one shoulder and set off down a hundred or more stairs, threading his way through narrow laneways. Five minutes later we were welcomed to our small B&B apartment by our hostess Nunzia and shown around. Both of us gaped with open mouths as we saw the amazing view afforded from our bedroom and small balcony. We could not only see the village of Positano but the panorama of the Amalfi Coast, the deep turquoise seas and offshore islands.
We found the village of Montepertuso was as if time stood still. It was small but charming and offered splendid views, along with some good restaurants (with panoramic terraces, perfect at sunset!) After spending five days here we started to feel like one of the locals and after scaling the hundred or so steps up to the roadside to catch the local bus, we said hello to many of the villagers sitting enjoying the morning sunshine.
Its name comes from the massive natural hole in the rock (Montepertuso means “pierced rock” literally).
If you are feeling up to a nice stair descent there are 1500 stairs to the bottom to Positano. However it is a scenic walk with plenty of places to rest and take in the breathtaking views on the walk down.
Even further uphill from Monteperuso is the sleepy ancient hamlet of Nocelle. Resting at 400 metres above sea level, it enjoys nice views amidst the terraced hillsides and is one of the places along the Amalfi Coastline where you can access The Path of The Gods walking track. More about that later……
After settling into our small apartment and enjoying a drink out on our balcony breathing in the spectacular views, we dined at one of the local restaurants. The next morning we arose early, ate a hearty breakfast and set off down the 1500 stairs to Positano. Along the way we stopped to take in the views and snap photos. After what seemed like forever, we came to the cobbled little streets lined with shops and market stalls, then to a church with a small square and continued down more stairs to Positano beach and harbour front.
Possibly one of the most photographed towns along the Amalfi Coast, perched on a steep mountainside with ‘gelato’ coloured buildings adorned with flower boxes and a stoney little beach, Positano is as pretty as a picture.
Basically everywhere you walk, there is a scenic vista, a quaint little villa or a blaze of colourful umbrellas or floral display.
There are a number of resort-style clothing boutiques, souvenir shops selling lemon products, ceramic shops and art galleries.
There are an abundance of restaurants, pizzerias and bars where you can perch yourself to people watch and observe the hundreds of boats and ferries buzzing in and out of this busy little harbour.
The beach is a little rocky and tough on your bare feet, but the water is crystal clear and nice for a dip. Otherwise you can head around the rocky headland to another quieter little beach for a swim and sunbake.
On our first full day in Positano we found it easy to jump on one of the many water ferries to the town of Amalfi, which was only a short 25 minute trip. Amalfi is the coast’s busiest town, as we could already ascertain by the amount of ferries and crowds emerging onto the large jetty.
We strolled along the promenade and eventually came to a beach area where there were already hundreds of tourists sunbaking.
We discovered the town had a small square with a fountain and a magnificent Arab-Norman cathedral, called the Cathedral of St. Andrew, which was built in the early 1200s.
There are also shops aplenty and restaurants lining the esplanade, where you can grab a bite to eat and watch the world go by.
After we had walked around Amalfi for a while we decided to get a local bus up the mountainside to the village of Ravello. With a magnificent setting on a mountain buttress overlooking the Bay of Salerno, the ravishing town of Ravello remains aloof from the madness of Amalfi 350 metres below.
Its shady gardens, exquisite villas, quiet lanes and sense of faded grandeur exudes a slower pace of life. The main Ravello tourist attractions are the two famous gardens, Villa Cimbrone and Villa Rufolo. Both of these panoramic gardens are open to the public, and you can wander through the exotic flora and enjoy fabulous views of the coastline. All I could think was what an amazing place this would make for a garden wedding.
The world renowned musical festival is held in Ravello every year, with classical music concerts taking place in gardens with breathtaking views, all through the summer months. Wagner was certainly inspired by the beauty of Ravello!
An absolute must-do when on the Amalfi Coast is a day trip over to the Island of Capri. Located in Italy’s Bay of Naples, it’s between a 20 to 60 minute ferry or boat ride from Positano, depending on the speed of the boat.
Capri is famed for its rugged landscape, upscale hotels and shopping, from designer fashions to handmade leather sandals. But also renowned for the Blue Grotto, a dark cavern where the sea glows electric blue, and attracts thousands of tourists by boat.
Once we disembarked from our ferry we caught the funicular to reach the Piazzetta, located in the historic centre of Capri, where there is a clock tower and narrow streets lined with shops and cafes.
After a quick look around we caught the local bus further up the hilltop to Anacapri located on a high plateau on the slopes of Mt Solaro.
We found Anacapri to be enchanting with its pretty whitewashed buildings, picturesque alleys and little, to no traffic.
There were a couple of streets overflowing with tourists and souvenir shops, but away from these places it was easy to find a tranquil, ‘villagey’ atmosphere.
We embarked on a sign-posted walking tour of the village where we saw Villa San Michele, a picturesque building, perched on the mountainside looking down over the lower half of Capri.
The church of Chiesa di San Michele, with a renowned eighteenth-century majolica (painted ceramic) floor.
The Casa Rossa or ‘Red House’ which was built for an American colonel from New Orleans who lived here at the end of the nineteenth century.
After we strolled around for a while we encountered these beautiful gardens which also had a viewing platform with the most majestic sea views.
Anacapri was simply stunning! After spending most part of the day here we made our way back down to Capri and enjoyed a swim at the white rocky beach.
On our second last day we decided to take on The Path of The Gods or the Sentiero degli Dei, high above Positano and the Amalfi Coast. We caught the local bus uphill to the village of Nocelle and eventually found the entry to the walking trail.
The Path of The Gods passes through the most fascinating gorges, cliffs and precipices of the Amalfi Coast. It runs from east to west between the hamlet of Nocelle, the highest neighbourhood of Positano, and Bomerano in the Agerola district. However we made the decision we would walk as far as Praiano, a distance of approximately 5.6 kms, that took us around 3 hours.
Once we set off along the walking trail the pure spectacle of the Amalfi coastline captivated us at every turn.
We hiked past towering limestone mountains, colourful wildflowers, and ancient abandoned stone houses, through forests and meadows of long grasses.
We discovered that farmers still grow vines on terraces carved into the hillside, using donkeys for transport along the narrow pathways.
Once we got to the top of the village of Praiano we decided to terminate the walk here and trudge down the 1700 stairs to this lovely little place. After what seemed like hours of calve-burning downhill stairs we eventually came to the narrow cobbled laneways of Praiano.
We found Praiano was a little different to the other villages on the Amalfi Coast. It was more scattered and wide-spread compared to the compact village of Positano. It had a few interesting buildings and a lovely little church, but the small and picturesque harbour, Marina di Praia, appears to be its biggest drawcard.
After getting thoroughly lost in the maze of streets of Praiano, we asked a local for directions and we eventually found stairs down to the sea and the Marina di Praia. On the winding path down to the small beach there were a few upmarket restaurants with terraces affording gorgeous views over the sea.
After a refreshing swim to wash the dirt, dust and sweat off us from the long walk, we jumped on a water taxi back to Positano.
We opted for an Airbnb apartment at B&B L’Uliveto which comprised of a spacious bedroom, bathroom, balcony and a shared living/dining room and kitchenette. It cost around $138 AUD per night (including breakfast), and although the location was a little removed from Positano, it was reasonably easy to catch the local bus up and down to the village.
We mainly got around by foot exploring the village’s laneways and narrow streets. I would not recommend driving a car as the roads are impossibly narrow and parking is non-existent in Positano. There are all forms of water transport available to explore the coastline with speedboats, ferries and hydrofoils. To get to our accommodation in Montepertuso we caught the local bus, driven by an imposing man we named “Mario Andretti”. He steered the small bus around the narrow streets and many switchbacks like a racing car driver! One of the highlights of our stay.
In Positano every centimetre of land is prized; buildings are stacked up one above the other on the steep slopes, and the village is throbbing with life and vitality. We relished our time in this old fishing town and at the end of our time here we felt very much “Italian”. They say that sometimes you have to wait a long time for the best things in life and this was one such treat that was worth waiting for.
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Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 4 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now 60. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Gold Coast in Queensland. She enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, movies, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.