Positano and the Amalfi Coast

As I have mentioned before, this wasn’t our first trip to this part of the world. We had a two week holiday in Sorrento back when we were in university, and did a lot of travelling about and sightseeing during that fortnight. So, during this short break, Maria and I were able to revisit our favourite places and a couple that we didn’t see last time, with the minimum of stress.

spray on the rocks

The one place that we had determined to visit, even before landing on Italian soil was Positano. On our last trip we visited Amalfi, and we passed Positano on our ferry trip back to Sorrento. Positano fascinated us; this small town clinging to cliffs, with the houses built virtually in terraces up the side of the mountain. I wanted to see the place at closer quarters, and Maria was happy to oblige. I had only one condition; the journey HAD to be made by sea both going and coming back. When we visited Amalfi in 2000, we travelled by bus all the way round the Sorrentine peninsula and down the Amalfi coast and it was horrific! Don’t get me wrong, the views were sublime but I’m not a good traveller at the best of times and I was feeling so incredibly sick by the time I fell thankfully from the bus and hung over the sea wall in Amalfi. So I determined that never again would I make that road trip!

Liquid lunchThis day trip was much kinder on my stomach though. We made our leisurely way down to the harbour after managing to get into breakfast just before the end of the sitting. As it turned out, the ferries weren’t quite so frequent as we had hoped, and so we had a wait of about an hour and a half before the next one was due to depart. But there are many worse places in the world to have to unexpectedly pass some time than Marina Piccola in Sorrento, so we settled ourselves on a bench and watched the world go by. A few ferries arrived and departed while we watched, and a man did some business from the back of his little van selling fruit and vegetables to the tourists. Ice cream, drinks and granite (like slush puppies) sellers did a brisk trade, and eventually we gave into temptation and headed for a quayside cafe for some early lunch.

Jennie by the ferriesIt was so incredibly relaxing, sitting there with our glasses of wine in the sunshine. Eventually though, the wine was gone (as was the food – it wasn’t a wholly liquid lunch!) and we headed back to the ferry stage. We found ourselves to be at the back of a very long queue, which meant that we had to sit inside for the journey to Positano – still glorious views, but not the opportunities for photography which I would have liked.

I think the boat ride took about an hour and a bit, although you’d have to ask Maria as she has a far superior memory to mine! I just remember a very relaxing time, watching the coast pass by as well as a number of smaller boats. I was surprised by the number of tiny villages we passed, nestled into little natural harbours which were barely more than little nooks and crannies in the cliff face.

PositanoWhen we arrived in Positano, the first impression it made was even more striking than the memory I had been carrying for the past nine years. We stood on the quayside for some time, taking pictures of the ferries, fishing boats and the glorious blue sea. After a little while we decided to explore. We only had a couple of hours to spend before the return ferry trip, but Maria’s guide book had assured her that this would be ample time to explore the vertical town. In the photo to the left, you can just see Maria in her red flowery dress standing in front of a display of pictures. Under the umbrella a man was working on a painting of Positano, and the other pictures were ones which he had painted previously and was offering for sale. They were lovely bright watercolours, typically Mediterranean in style and had I had any wall space left in my house I would have loved to have brought one home.

334 stepsWe hadn’t come to Positano for the shopping though (having already planned plenty of that sort of therapy for following days in Sorrento!) but to explore, so off we went. Of course, exploring in Positano seemed to indicate travel in only one direction – up! So we found a set of steps and started to climb.

Funnily enough (that was sarcasm there, my friends) we were largely alone on our climb up through Positano. We stopped every now and then to catch our breath and exclaim at snatches of blue sea visible over walls, and also at the number of houses only accessible by climbing these very steps. This is the place to go to improve your heart health! Although I dread to think how long it would take me to climb these steps if I were trying to bring my weekly shop and a pushchair along with me.

I was so eager to get to the top of the steps and out to see a proper panorama that I was able to put to the back of my mind the threat of coronary failure and I pushed on. Maria is much slimmer and fitter than me, and was leaping up the steps like a veritable gazelle, although I have to give proper credit where it is due – she climbed all the steps in heels! A wonderwoman! Anyway, eventually we arrived at a road a fair way up the cliff, and decided that some liquid might not be the worst idea in the world, as we had to be fairly dehydrated by this point. And then we turned around and saw this vista;

positano view

It was completely worth the climb. We bought drinks, and could have looked at the view for hours were it not for the fact that the ferry would be leaving in about forty minutes. So, reluctantly, we made our way back down to the harbour. Not having had the breath to do anything other than focus on staying alive on the way up, on the way down I decided to count the number of steps we had climbed. I was somewhat hampered by an Italian man gently pursuing us wanting to talk about the Prince of Wales and what we thought of him and the rest of the royal family! I think I was probably quite rude, as I was both counting and descending the stairs at too fast a pace to hold a conversation! We were amazed though, when we got to the bottom and realised that we had climbed 334 steps in a relatively short space of time.

After a short look at the shops we boarded the return ferry and left Positano. I just have a couple more pictures I’d like to share with you;where we stopped for a drink

This is a photo taken from the ferry as we were leaving Positano. Circled in blue you can see the cafe where we gratefully stopped for a couple of Sprites after our long climb. 334 steps and we hadn’t even got to the top of that particular cliff! Looking at this picture, I’m disappointed now that we didn’t have the time to carry on and climb all the way to the top. However, there’s always next time!

And finally, another picture of some of the steps we climbed;more positano steps

Imagine being presented with this, on a very hot day after already having climbed a couple of hundred steps. It really did seem a little never-ending at this point, but I’m so glad we persevered. You can also see in this picture a couple of entrances to houses on this flight of stairs. Just carrying shopping or children up these steps would wear me out, never mind the preceding hundreds! The reason that Italians have fewer heart attacks has nothing to do with olive oil and everything to do with towns and villages like this!


4 Responses

  1. Fabulous pictures!

    OMG, though. I’d be huffing and puffing for sure!

  2. I have to give proper credit where it is due – she climbed all the steps in heels!

    Well, she’s hardly be wearing flats, would she?!?!

    Beautifully written, my friend, and gorgeous photos 🙂

  3. All I can think is that I’d hate to break my leg (or any other vital to walking bone) if I lived there!

    Amazing job climbing so far.

  4. Thank you all very much – I must admit though, that the photo of me and the photo from the top of all those steps were taken by Maria, so praise her for those!

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