How to get to Positano
If you're driving from the west, eastbound, Positano is the first town you'll come across on the Amalfi Coast.
The town is approximately a 75 minute drive away from Naples and twenty minutes away from Sorrento. You can also get to Positano by one of the buses run by the Sita coach company and, in the summer months, by boat.
For more detailed information: How to get to the Amalfi Coast
Positano, like the legendary Sirens of Li Galli, never fails to seduce.
Seen from the sea, Positano is set in a dramatic vertical panorama of colors; the green of the Monti Lattari, the white, pink and yellow of the Mediterranean houses, the silvery grey of its pebble beaches and the blue of the sea.
- Souvenir from Positano
You'll find everything you could possibly make with the Amalfi Coast's lemons in the "I Sapori di Positano" shop, in via Mulini 6. Purchase a pair of the most beautiful sandals in the world from Safari Sandali, in via della Tartana 2. Buy an authentic piece of Moda Positano in Maria Lampo's historic boutique, in via Pasitea 16.
The Ancient Romans built a number of sumptuous villas on the coast of Positano, the ruins of which can be seen in the vicinity of the Church dell'Assunta.
It is believed that the town, the original nucleus of which developed around a Benedictine abbey, was founded in the 9th century.
The town grew considerably following the arrival of inhabitants from Paestum, fleeing Saracen incursions.
After it was pillaged by Pisa in 1268, Positano increased its defenses, becoming similar to its powerful neighbor, Amalfi: with steep narrow roads, massive fortified walls, and a series of all-important watch towers.
The majolica tiled dome of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta can be seen from every corner of the town. A Byzantine inspired Icon of a black Madonna, dating back to the 18th century, is conserved inside the church.
The name Positano, is linked to a legend.
In ancient times, a Turkish boat became beached just off the shores of what has since come to be known as Positano.
Aboard the ship there was a painting of the Virgin Mary.
The captain heard the painting whisper "posa, posa" ('set me down, set me down') and, obediently, threw the image into the sea. Miraculously, the ship floated.
The locals built a Church on the spot where the painting washed ashore, interpreting the episode as a sign that the Virgin had chosen their town as resting place.
The fortunes of Positano, like its roads, have continually risen and fallen: in 1343 the town was destroyed by a terrible tsunami and in the 15th century it was the victim of continual attacks by Ottoman pirates.
In the 18th century, Positano enjoyed a period of prosperity as a major port and trading hub. Following the unification of Italy and the opening of a number of new commercial routes, the town's importance began to decline, so much so that, in just a few decades, it was reduced to little more than a humble fishing village, many of the inhabitants of which decided to emigrate to the United States.
Radical chic retreat
With the construction of the SS163 road, a much needed alternative to the mountain paths which had, until then, formed the only link between the Amalfi Coast and the rest of Italy, Positano once more began to flourish.
The new road united the town with Sorrento and Naples and allowed the first tourists to reach Positano.
These were no ordinary tourists, but rather an elite group of travelers, comprised of intellectuals, artists, and celebrities who, from the early 20th century onwards, elected Positano as their preferred holiday resort.
Escher, Steinbeck, Picasso, Klee, Zeffirelli and Liz Taylor: the list of artists who have fallen helplessly in love with the beauty of Positano's land and seascapes is endless.
"Willing prisoners of a legendary landscape" as they used to define themselves...
The beaches of Positano
Spiaggia Grande is the heart of sea edge Positano. 300 meters long, the beach is one of the largest on the Amalfi Coast, and one of the most glamorous too, attracting a fashionable crowd of artists, actors and celebrities.
Those looking for a more peaceful spot in which to bask in the Mediterranean sun will love Positano's Fornillo beach, which can be reached via a coastal path commencing on the Spiaggia Grande.
Swim in the sea, far from everything and everyone.
Based on the beach of Marina Grande, Positano's "sea taxi service" operates a fleet of small boats transporting visitors to the paradisiacal little bays, such as Remmese, Clavel and Cavone, which can only be accessed from the sea.
After a swim, holidaymakers who would like to enjoy some of the Amalfi Coast's delicious fish should ask to be taken to Laurito, and the water edge "Da Adolfo" restaurant.
The island of Sirens
Legend has it that the three islets of Li Galli, just off the shores of Positano and often referred to as the "Sirenuse", were inhabited by Sirens who attempted to seduce with their song all those who sailed nearby.
Among those to have been enchanted by the islets' mysterious beauty, the ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who spent the last years of his life here, is, perhaps, the most famous.
Exploring the area
If after a few hours lazing in the sun, shopping in Positano's colorful boutiques, and munching Delizia al Limone on the terrace of the Zagara restaurant, you fancy exploring further afield, then you should take one of the paths leading to the little mountain districts above Positano.
Such as the footpath which leads to the 'Oasis of Vallone Porto, rich in waterfalls, and species of rare plants and animals.
A seemingly endless flight of steps, or a carriageway which winds its way up the hill, unite Positano with Montepertuso, in the Monti Lattari.
Legend has it that the hole in the mountain was created by the Virgin's index finger.
On the 2nd of July, in the Church of the Madonna delle Grazie, one of the Amalfi Coast's most spectacular religious festivals is held.
Make sure you stop off at the Fontana Vecchia for a glass of wonderfully fresh drinking water.
The hamlet of Nocelle
Just beneath the summit of Montepertuso is the tiny hamlet of Nocelle, a fraction of Positano, which, until recently, could only be reached via a pathway winding its way around the mountain or a flight of 1500 steps starting on the beach of Arienzo.
Nocelle is at the end of the Sentiero degli Dei, the mountain path which traverses the Monti Lattari from Agerola.
One of the most beautiful views on the Amalfi Coast, extending as far as the island of Capri and the Faraglioni rocks, can be seen from the hamlet's main square.
Where to Eat in Positano
- For a light, healthy lunch: Casa e Bottega, a unique bistrot serving healthy salads, avocado toast, and fresh juices and smoothies. You can also purchase anything you see in the dining room, including the table settings!
- For a romantic dinner: Rada, a terrace on the coastal cliff overlooking the sea and the colorful houses in Positano.
- For dessert or a lemonade: Zagara, the most famous (and best) pastry shop in Positano. Try the "delizia al limone" and relax at the internal garden tables.