one-week guide: positano, italy

Our week in Positano was absolutely incredible, taking the cake as my new favorite travel destination. I really wasn’t ready to leave and I’m already daydreaming of my next trip back. It was the perfect combination of fun, culture, beach, history, food, wine, exploring, relaxing, and more wine. And I can’t forget to mention the importance of the people I got to experience it with. Having my whole family there was special, and we had a lot to celebrate – two weddings, a college graduation, and a 30-year anniversary!

Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 9.30.46 PM

I have left a piece of my heart in every European city I’ve been to. I love everything about them and find their way of life {and how it differs from ours} so intriguing. BUT all of the ones I’ve been lucky enough to visit have one thing missing – one thing that has the potential to make any destination go up like, a million points in my book: a beach. The Amalfi Coast is truly the best of both worlds and I’d recommend it to anyone – for a family trip, a couples trip, and especially a honeymoon. The Italian culture is so very present, the food and wine are out of this world, and it also happens to be nestled in the hills overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea. Heaven on earth.

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 12.13.24 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 4.00.05 AM

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 9.06.33 AM

First Things First…

This post is pretty long  – I have tons of recommendations and thought it would be helpful to be detailed for friends who have reached out saying their going soon or in the midst of planning their trips. That being said, I also know sometimes people just want to get to the main recommendations without having to skim through paragraphs of content.

So first I’ll give the high-level recap, sans detail. And then if you’d like to continue reading through the more detailed recap and see some photos, keep scrolling 🙂

High-Level Recap

{Travel, Accommodations, Food, Drink, Things to Do, Other Tips}

Travel: We flew into Rome, rented a car, and drove 3.5 hours to the Amalfi Coast. Flying into Naples is easier since it’s only a 1.5 hour ride, but harder to find direct flights from certain U.S. locations.

Accommodations: We stayed in a Villa that we found on HomeAway.com (similar to Airbnb, which also has some amazing options). We passed by & heard about some great hotels: Le Sirenuse Hotel, Hotel Palazzo Murat, Albergo Punta Regina, Covo Dei Saraceni

Food and Drink: Honestly, everything was amazing. The seafood and pasts were always unanimous favorites. Here are some top recommendations (more detail below). For lunchDa Vincenzo, Restaurant L’Incanto, Da Ferdinanado. For dinnerHotel Palazzo Murat, Resturaunt Mediterraneo, La Terra, Chez Black, La Sponda at Le Sirenuese Hotel. For drinks: Music on the Rocks,Franco’s BarFly Lounge Bar

Things to Do: Head to Capri for the day and make sure to go up to Anacapri, go to the Blue Grotto, take a day trip to Sorrento, take a private tour of the ancient city of Pompeii, take a cooking class at Positano Home Cooking (tons of info on this below), create your own custom handmade Italian sandals, roam through the hills of Positano until you get lost, rent a beach chair on the main beach and order a bottle of rose, check out Positano’s “local” beach.

Other Tips: When I saw there are tons of stairs, I mean like millions of stairs. Positano itself is literally a vertical city. You’ll be walking a lot of stairs, so bring comfy shoes. It’s not really a heel-friendly destination. Also, I know this sounds dorky, but consider bringing water shoes. We didn’t and I kind of wish we did. The beaches aren’t the white sand we’re used to. They’re pretty rocky, making it a little tough to walk (especially if you want to go in the water). Last but not least, call your cell provider before you leave and let them know you’ll be traveling to Italy. Verizon offers an international deal that’s only $10 a day to get 100% service no matter where you are in the world.

Detailed Recap

{Travel, Accommodations, Food, Drink, Things to Do}

Travel

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.17.03 PM.png

How We Traveled to Positano

  • We flew from Newark to Rome, which was 7.5 hours on the way there and 9 hours on the way back. From Rome, we rented a car to drive to Positano. The drive was 3.5 hours – thank goodness for my dad for being cool with doing that after a red-eye. I would have fallen asleep at the wheel.
  • Tip: You can’t really drive through most of Positano (or you shouldn’t because the streets are so narrow and there’s virtually no parking), so you’re supposed to park your car at the top of town in a garage and then wheel your luggage down (or get a Porter service to drive it down for you if it’s too taxing). Depending on where you’re staying, you might be able to drop your luggage off and then go park the car.

Other Options to Get to Positano

  • Flying into Naples is a much better option, but we couldn’t find a direct flight that worked for us. The drive from Naples to Positano is about an hour and a half – much better than 3.5 hours.

Accommodations

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.17.08 AM
Our Villa (found on HomeAway.com)
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.04.42 PM
Our Villa (found on HomeAway.com)
Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 12.12.24 PM.png
View from our room

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 12.12.17 PM

Where We Stayed

  • We used HomeAway.com (which is similar to Airbnb, but has more homes than apartments) to book an awesome 4-bedroom villa in the hills of Positano. It was perfect for us and I’d highly recommend it to other groups! We usually prefer to stay in a home/villa as opposed to a resort or hotel – you feel like you’re actually living there and the homes are typically so unique. This one was especially interesting, adorned with antiques (some quite odd), tons of old art and paintings covering the walls, and a stunning covered patio overlooking the sea.

Other Accommodation Options & Hotels

  • Airbnb or HomeAway are both great options when traveling abroad. Finding something that fits your price range/space needs is usually pretty easy as long as you don’t wait until last minute.
  • Hotels: While roaming around, we passed by plenty of hotels that looked really nice. I browsed Trip Advisor to try and find the names of them, and came across this list, all really great options. We were also able to get a “peek” inside some of them when we had dinner or drinks in their respective restaurants / bars, so can give recommendations solely based on that:
    • Le Sirenuse Hotel: A “Leading Hotel of the World.” Not quite sure how you get that stamp of approval, but this place had it. Good location up in the hills, walking distance to center of town, shopping, the beach, etc. The best view I had of Positano was from the lobby of this hotel. Pretty classy and likely expensive, but maybe worth the splurge. Didn’t see the rooms but I’d imagine they’re beautiful. Pretty sure there’s a pool here too, which is rare to find in Positano. Dinner here was unbelievable – I’ll go into that in the food section 🙂
    • Hotel Palazzo Murat: Kc and I ate dinner in the garden of this hotel and it was beautiful. I got a little peak inside, and it looked like a great place to stay. The location is prime. It’s backs up to the prettiest walking street I’ve ever seen, right next to all of the shopping, the beach, and pretty much everything else.
    • Covo Dei Saraceni: Kc and I stopped here for a drink after dinner one night and from what we could gather, it looked like a great hotel in a prime location. There’s also a pool, which is a plus. Our friends stayed here on their honeymoon and absolutely loved it.
    • Albergo Punta Regina: Charming hotel in the hills of Positano, great views and also had a pool!
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.17.27 AM
View from Le Sirenuse Hotel
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.17.38 AM
Walking Street Right Outside of Hotel Palazzo Murat

Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 9.06.01 AM.png

Food & Drink

The most important section 🙂 Below is a list of everywhere we ate (lunch, dinner, and drinks), rated using my made-up star system, including details on location, attire, atmosphere, price and service, and specific food recs! You’ll notice most of them are in the 4-5 star range because everything was truly that good.

Bad | *
Don’t go here| **
Good, but nothing special | ***
Great, go here | ****
GO HERE NOW | *****

Lunch

*****Da Vincenzo: We went for lunch, but it’s also a great option for dinner!

  • Location: A little bit of a ways up from the beach up tons of stairs, but for sure walking distance from most places in town.
  • Attire: Casual for lunch, a little dressier for dinner
  • Atmosphere: It’s on a street open to cars (many streets are only walking streets), so it’s a busy vibe with great people watching. There’s beautiful views across the street and they have indoor and outdoor seating.
  • Price and Service: Normal prices, really good service.
  • Food Recommendations: The spaghetti with clams was amazing. Any pasta looked fantastic. We also shared some apps and everything was so so good

***Restaurant L’Incanto:

  • Location: Right on the main beach
  • Attire: Super casual – bathing suits accepted.
  • Atmosphere: Beachy casual, great people watching with a glass of rose in hand 🙂
  • Price and Service: Kind of expensive for lunch, service wasn’t great but they were busy
  • Food Recommendations: The seafood salad was so refreshing. The pizza was also so good.

****Da Ferdinanado:

  • Location: Right on the local beach, around the point from the main beach in Positano. You can get there via a walkway by the main dock!
  • Attire: Super casual – bathing suits accepted.
  • Atmosphere: Great vibes, beachy casual, family owned. We were able to order our food from the restaurant and bring it down to our beach chairs, which was ideal.
  • Price and Service: Great prices and great service.
  • Food Recommendations: I got baked eggplant parm and ate it on the beach, one of my favorite moments of the trip. Everyone else got pizza and it was also really yummy.
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.03.36 PM
Da Ferdinanado Lunch
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.03.45 PM
Da Ferdinanado Lunch
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.20.27 PM.png
Restaurant L’Incanto for drinks

Dinner

****Hotel Palazzo Murat:

  • Location: Easily walkable from center of town/beach area. We walked from our villa on the other side of town, about a 20-minute walk and tons of steps.
  • Attire: This one was a little odd because some people were very dressed up (in sport coats and long dresses) and some people were dressed more casually (golf shirts and beachy sundresses). I guess somewhere in between is best?
  • Atmosphere: Romantic and beautiful – an intimate garden setting with the most intense floral scents.
  • Price and Service: It’s not cheap, but not super expensive considering it’s a Michelin rated restaurant. Surprisingly, the service wasn’t great – but not a deal-breaker.
  • Food Recommendations: We got the tuna tartar, lobster pasta, tomato lobster soup, and lamb and recommend it all.
Screen Shot 2017-05-30 at 11.14.28 AM
Dinner at Hotel Palazzo Murat
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.15.22 PM.png
Dinner at Hotel Palazzo Murat

***Resturaunt Mediterraneo: This spot was recommended to us by a local and although it wasn’t our favorite meal, we’re happy we took his advice.

  • Location: A bit of a walk from center of town/beach area. Since we were already up in the hills, we could walk – but might want to look into a taxi service if you’re staying down towards the beach.
  • Attire: Casual, by Positano standards. Which means most people are casually dressed, but it’s always acceptable to be a little more dressed up.
  • Atmosphere: Nothing special, but not a negative experience
  • Price and Service: Moderately priced. Again, not wonderful service (food took forever, even by Italian standards).
  • Food Recommendations: Zucchini flowers. Bruscetta. Seafood and pasta.
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.07.28 PM
Restaurant Mediterraneo
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.07.19 PM
Restaurant Mediterraneo

****La Terra:

  • Location: This place was a 20-minute drive from Positano, but well worth the drive for the food and the views. It’s nestled into the top of the hills, overlooking the entire town. They provide a car service, picking you up and dropping you of free of charge.
  • Attire: Again, casual by Positano standards.
  • Atmosphere: Welcoming inside, nothing fancy. Beautiful panoramic views, especially at sunset.
  • Price and Service: Moderately priced with great service.
  • Food Recommendations: Everything we ate was amazing.
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.04.23 PM
La Terra Restaurant

****Chez Black:

  • Location: Right on the main walkway on the main beach. Impossible to miss.
  • Attire: Same as many other places – some people were dressed casually, some dressier. Both seemed acceptable here.
  • Atmosphere: Lively and fun. Right on the beach, prime people watching.
  • Price and Service: Average prices, good service.
  • Food Recommendations: Pasta and seafood. Can you tell that’s becoming a trend?
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.52.58 AM
Dinner at Chez Black

*****La Sponda at Le Sirenuese Hotel:  This was the “fanciest” spot we went to, a Michelin Rated Resturaunt located in a “Leading Hotel of the World.” It was extraordinary and a meal we’ll never forget.

  • Location: Up in the hills, not a bad walk from main beach area. It’s on the first floor of the La Sirenuese Hotel (a big burgundy building you really can’t miss)
  • Attire: Fancy! We saved our nicest outfit for this dinner.
  • Atmosphere: Romantic and classy. The interior was stunning, as were the views.
  • Price and Service: Expensive, but also a Michelin Star. Service was fantastic.
  • Food Recommendations: All of it. Portions aren’t big, so make sure to do the full-course meal.
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.54.24 AM
La Sponda at Le Sirenuese Hotel
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.54.39 AM
La Sponda at Le Sirenuese Hotel

 

Drinks

The drinking culture in Italy is generally really laid-back – especially on the Amalfi Coast. Every single restaurant has great wine lists and cocktail menus – people drink throughout the day, taking the time to enjoy themselves and their food (as opposed to the American way of drinking to get drunk). We had our fair share of daytime drinks and wine-filled nights, but we also checked out a few places that came up under the nightlife suggestions on Trip Advisor.

To preface, we found that there’s not much when it comes to true nightlife in Positano – the few bar bars we found were pretty fun, but also so different than American bars. Not a bad thing, but worth noting the difference. They were all pretty expensive and almost had a “too cool for you” vibe. That being said, I still highly recommend checking at least one of them out because we had fun at each of them. An example that sometimes different is a good thing.

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 4.05.22 AM

Music on the Rocks: I think this is the towns only real “club”. We checked it out on a Tuesday after dinner and it was empty, so we made plans to go back later (after 10pm) at night on Thursday. It was really fun – great music, funny people watching, not too crowded. Drinks are expensive, but not surprising just looking at the vibe of the place.  If you’re into nightlife at all, definitely go here one night and plan to stay out pretty late 🙂

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 3.20.03 PM
Music on the Rocks (image via TripAdvisor)
Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 3.19.50 PM
Music on the Rocks (image via TripAdvisor)

Franco’s Bar: Part of the Le Sirenuese Hotel, this outdoor bar was super classy and absolutely stunning. The views were unreal and the cocktails were delicious. It’s a little “uptight” to be honest – resting bitch face was common, making people watching fun (for us at least). We had to stand around for a little, but luckily scored the best seat in the house to watch sunset before dinner. Highly recommend at least going here for one drinks (it’s open from 5:30pm-3am), but just know that it’ll be costly.

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 3.23.49 PM
Franco’s Bar (via TripAdvisor)
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.54.54 AM
Franco’s Bar
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.54.47 AM
View from Franco’s Bar
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.54.18 AM
Franco’s Bar

Fly Lounge Bar: Two floors above Music on the Rocks, Fly Lounge has a different vibe (but same owners). It’s more a classy cocktail lounge as opposed to a club, and is quiet compared to Music on the Rocks. It’s high above the main beach, providing amazing views. They take their cocktails seriously – I had one of the best cocktails I’ve ever had here after dinner one night. Can’t see spending a ton of time here, but a nice place to enjoy a cocktail (also not cheap).

Screen Shot 2017-06-10 at 4.04.17 AM

Things To Do

Positano Home Cooking

This was our favorite part of the trip, hands down. A family friend recommended it to us and we booked it for the first night of our trip. It was a perfect first night because it really helped us fight jet lag. Sitting around at a long dinner that night would have been really tough for us, having been up almost 20 hours straight. Participating in a cooking class forced us to get up and continue moving, keeping out momentum and energy to get through the evening.

Peter, a super experienced chef who was born in Positano, opened his home to us to walk us through a custom 6-course meal (which he does 5-nights each week), wine included. First of all, the location was ideal – his home and patio overlooking the main beach of Positano was too beautiful. He gave us a quick tour of his organic garden (all ingredients we ate were grown on premises) and told us how he sourced the other ingreditents we’d be working with. His grandfather and father were fisherman – a passion that his uncle acquired, providing Peter fresh fish every day.

I can go on and on about how fun this was, but first I’ll list the 6 mouth-watering courses {since when I talked about this, so many people were interested in what we actually made}

  1. appetizer #1: fresh arugula and parmesan shavings, wrapped in wild boar carpaccio
  2. appetizer #2: tomato an prosciutto bruschetta with balsamic vinegar
  3. main dish #1: fresh grilled tuna with olive oil
  4. main dish #2: spaghetti with prawms in a light tomato sauce
  5. main dish #3: a huge piece of meat – at this point i was too full to eat more, so i don’t really remember exactly what this was.
  6. dessert. creme brulee. strawberry cake. and chocolate mousse.

Everything was so delicious. The popular favorite was the pasta. Best past I’ve ever had. He taught us how to get the perfect al dente noodle and its something I’ll be practicing for sure. He was the best teacher and got us all involved in the process – stripping prawns, seasoning meat, prepping the stovetop… we really did it all. We also got to raid his wine cellar – aka unlimited wine. It was a night for the books.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.52.18 AM
View from Positano Home Cooking
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.52.29 AM
Positano Home Cooking
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.52.39 AM
Peter from Positano Home Cooking

Pompeii [and Naples] 

One afternoon, we ventured to Pompeii {about an hour from Positano} to explore the ancient city overcome by the volcanic ash of Mount Vesuvious . I considered sticking back because I wasn’t feeling great that morning (and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of historical stuff), but I decided to go and I’m so glad I did. If you’re staying in the area for a week or more, I recommend going for a half-day tour. If you’re only in Positano or the Amalfi Coast for a few days, it’s something you can skip.
Also I should note that Naples isn’t a “must-see” destination. Various people told us (tourists and locals alike) that it’s not really worth it… even considering the fact they’re known for being the creators of pizza. Apparently the pizza really is incredible, but the city itself isn’t in it’s best place – we heard there’s tons of pickpocketing and crime. You’ll find amazing pizza everywhere (seriously even the  rest stop and random food truck stand outside of Pompeii had amazing pizza)

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.53.51 AM
Pompeii
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.53.37 AM
Pompeii
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 11.53.28 AM
Pompeii

Capri:

Our day in Capri was another highlight of our trip. We drove from Postiano to Sorrento (about 30 minutes) and then took a water taxi/ferry from Sorrento to Capri (about 15 minutes). The island of Capri is broken up into two towns: Capri and Anacapri.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.27.10 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.28.57 PM

Anacapri

Anacapri is elevated on the slopes of Mount Solaro and you can get up there via trolly car or cab. We went up to Anacapri first – the shopping streets are pedestrian only, with tons of vendors selling everything from linen shirts, limoncello, to beautiful Italian ceramics.

We stopped to get custom sandals – something you should 100% do if you find yourself in Anacapri. There’s one “famous” shoe shop we heard about and we had so much fun choosing our style, fit, colors, etc. We watched an elderly Italian man handmade out custom creations, making them a really special souvenir.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.26.58 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.26.40 PM

The Blue Grotto

This was a really cool experience that I’d highly recommend. The tide and weather have to be right in order to get in, so fingers crossed it works out when you’re there! We got lucky and were able to get in, but the three days prior it was closed due to high tide. We took a boat from the marina in Capri and then got in smaller boats once we got to the area right outside the grotto.

Once you’re inside you feel like you’re in another world. Its unbelievable. They take you on a short spin through the cave, and it’s over before you know it. We didn’t have to wait since we went at the end of the day, but we’ve heard the wait to get into the grotto could be up to 2 hours. I’m honestly not sure I’d wait that long for such a short time in the actual grotto, but it really is stunning.

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.27.41 PM
The Blue Grotto
Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.27.34 PM
Waiting to get in our smaller boat outside the Blue Grotto

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 12.13.51 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.27.26 PM
In the Blue Grotto

Other Tips

  • When I say there are tons of stairs, I mean like millions of stairs. Positano itself is literally a vertical city. You’ll be walking a lot of stairs, so bring comfy shoes. It’s not really a heel-friendly destination.
  • Also, I know this sounds dorky, but consider bringing water shoes. We didn’t and I kind of wish we did. The beaches aren’t the white sand we’re used to. They’re pretty rocky, making it a little tough to walk (especially if you want to go in the water).
  • Call your cell provider before you leave and let them know you’ll be traveling to Italy. Verizon offers an international deal that’s only $10 a day to get 100% service no matter where you are in the world.
  • I also have to note that we got pretty good insight from locals that summertime on the Amalfi Coast is very, very crowded. Apparently Capri gets the worst of it and is a complete zoo from mid-June through August. That being said, if you’re going in the summer months, know that it’ll still be amazing – just consider planning ahead and expect a lot of people (that aren’t necessarily shy when it comes to throwing elbows to get through crowds).

 

Screen Shot 2017-06-11 at 12.14.45 PMScreen Shot 2017-06-10 at 4.04.46 AMScreen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.04.05 PM

Screen Shot 2017-06-06 at 12.04.13 PM

Save

Save

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s