Magical Positano, arguably the most scenic holiday destination on the Amalfi coast has its origins in Greek mythology, with the three Le Galli islands just off the coast supposedly the abode of the bewitching Sirens who tried to lure Odysseus to his death off the rocks.
Its turbulent history of raids throughout the Middle Ages led to the construction of distinctive guard towers for defence, in strategic areas, three of which still stand on the coast here.
During the 16th and 17th century, Positano prospered as a port, and many of the sumptuous Baroque villas, in evidence today, were built, one of which is the wonderful Palazzo Santa Croce, situated high above the town with stunning views over the town, coast and sea from its rooms and terraces.
The owners have restored the interiors to all their former glory, retaining original features including the lacquered doors, painted ceilings and stucco works. Sleeping up to nine people in sumptuous accommodation, the villa also features a luxurious spa with heated pool.
It wasn’t until after the First World War that this idyllic fishing village started to attract various artists and writers who came here for the peace and quiet, and wonderful scenery, and then after the Second World War, that it became the popular, fashionable resort it is today.
Throughout the years, Positano has been an inspirational retreat for film directors, film stars, artists, and writers, including John Steinbeck, who famously published his essay summing up the eternal magic of Positano in Harper’s Bazaar in May, 1953: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
Spiaggia Grande is the main beach in Positano, and accessed via stairs and cobbled alleyways, down through the picturesque town centre. Lined with cafes and restaurants, it is one of the largest beaches on the Amalfi Coast.
A more peaceful option is Fornillo beach, which can be reached via a coastal path from the Spiaggia Grande. From the main pier, a sea taxi service of small boats can also take visitors to tranquil little bays, such as Remmese, Clavel and Cavone, which can only be accessed from the sea. It is also possible to visit the island of Capri by a regular ferry service or, for smaller groups, by gozzo.
Praiano, the charming village just 4 kms south of Positano is another great holiday destination for visitors looking for a quieter ambience than Positano. Originally an ancient fishing village, known as the summer retreat for the first-century Roman emperors, Praiano sits perched on rocky cliffs. It has access to some small beaches, the main one being Marina di Praia, a pebble beach, at the foot of the cliff on which the Torre a Mare, an ancient Saracen watch tower sits.
At the heart of the village is the 15th Century Church of St. Gennaro, with its beautiful hand-painted majolica tiles covering its dome and terracotta floors. The piazza next to the church is known for its Luminaria di San Domenico festival, in late July or early August, when it is lit up by thousands of candles in the evenings.
Our discovery of Ristorante Il Pirata, was made on an uncharacteristically wet windy day, in June 2014, when we made our way down the steep steps from the village of Praiano to the coastal path, leading around to the restaurant. It is a stunning location, set amongst the rocks right on the edge of the sea. As well as a warm and friendly ambience, the food is delicious. Needless to say, we have returned several times since!
When asked about the history of the restaurant, the charming owner, Rino, says that it was originally built by his grandfather in 1975, using dynamite to create a cave in the rocks, and construct a restaurant/ bar, kitchen, bathrooms, wine cellar and storage. There is also a wonderful and very atmospheric dining terrace right on the edge of the sea.
We also asked Rino that, apart from its unique location, what else makes Il Pirata special. He replied, they have retained the welcoming atmosphere of a small family restaurant, using traditional recipes and fresh local products — his personal favourites being spaghetti with clams, spaghetti with courgettes, tuna tartare, fried anchovies, grandmother's potato croquettes, and stir-fried local squid.
If you are planning a holiday on the Amalfi Coast, don’t miss a culinary experience at this unique seaside venue!
The latest updates on the COVID-19 situation are that the Italy’s national borders reopened on 3 June, without visitors from the EU having to quarantine. Regarding flights, the Italian government has relaxed the rules on how far apart passengers have to sit, but introduced new restrictions on cabin baggage, and a time limit on how long travellers can wear the same face mask (4 hours maximum).
Social distancing is required at archeological sites like Pompeii. Regarding public beaches, there are different regulations depending upon the location — at the moment, for social distancing purposes, beaches in Positano can only be accessed by renting a sun-bed and umbrella. Private beach clubs on the Amalfi Coast are open.
6 - 10 Guests | 3 - 4 Bedrooms
Dating back to the 16th century, this clifftop property features original character throughout, as well as fortifications and a small lookout tower which was once used to protect the property from invaders.⠀
Today, the pool, large terraces, private balconies, and daybed provide unbelievable views over the water, beaches, and traditional homes below.
10 Guests | 5 Bedrooms
Snuggled against the cliffside, directly above the main beach at Praiano, this scenic villa offers breathtaking sea views from its terraces and benefits from direct access to the beach, which offers an exclusive beach club, excellent restaurants, and boat rentals.
Positioned in a very desirable and private location, guests will be a short drive from Positano and the town of Amalfi, and should you wish to explore your surroundings — take a boat at Sorrento and tour the neighborhooding islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida.
16 - 24 Guests | 8 - 12 Bedrooms
A stunning residence built in 1741, this property has been completely restored throughout yet still retains its historic charm. The interiors — featuring sophisticated artworks, opulent chandeliers, and vintage furniture — will teleport you to the Renaissance period and the breathtaking views towards Positano and the sparkling blue Tyrrhenian Sea beyond can be enjoyed from your very infinity pool and terrace.
With its incredible views and abundance of space, the property is a sought-after destination wedding, but is also a perfect option to unwind with a large group of friends or family.
10 Guests | 5 Bedrooms
Lying between Amalfi and Positano, with views scenic views over the sea, our Villa Roma is full of atmosphere. Featuring direct access from the coast, the property is an ancient house restored to high standards to combine the charm and quality of the original house with modern design.
Situated just outside the village of Praiano, guests will be a mere five-minute walk to its vibrant shops and restaurants.
12 Guests | 7 Bedrooms
Overlooking the pebble beach of Gavitella, this beautiful property comes complete with a large garden, an infinity pool, and a spacious outdoor terrace, perfect for enjoying the region's dramatic sunsets. Featuring traditional interiors, this clifftop retreats is ideal for historic design lovers.
Should you feel like exploring the Amalfi Coast’s unique coastline, the iconic Conca dei Marini is just a couple of minutes up the road, famous for its Emerald Cave, la Grotta dello Smeraldo.