Rain & Trains in Positano

Alice has finally talked me into breaking my silence on the blog to write a bit about my recent trip to Italy. So I have taken a break from my usual busy schedule of improving the technology behind the dealchecker website to tell all our readers all about my latest trip, where I headed to the picturesque Amalfi coast with my girlfriend.

We were staying in a highly rated (by trip advisor, and now also by me) Pensione Marie Luisa in Positano. Getting there was interesting to say the least.

Fornillo beach
Secluded Fornillo beach, Positano

When I first started going on holidays around Europe, I was very much into the ease of package holidays – especially for places like Italy and Greece where I don’t really speak the language.  I used to be worried about getting around and nervous that transfers could be a nightmare. These days however I find it a lot more fun to turn up in places (having obviously, as an IT nerd, done copious amounts of research beforehand on the net) – then try and make my own way without any reps trying to sell me overpriced tours and “all you can drink for a tenner” nights.

This was certainly the case for this trip, where we flew on easyJet to Naples, then pitted ourselves against Italian public transport to make our way to Positano. Our veritable public transport oddessy included a bus from the airport to Naples station, a local circumvesuviana train to Sorrento and finally another bus to Positano.

We witnessed one of the most amazing displays of public transport insanity at Sorrento when, for some reason, all the Italians on the platform decided it would be a really good idea to clamber onto an already packed train without letting anyone off first. This would have been expected except Sorrento is the end of the line and everyone on the train had wanted to get off. You can probably imagine the chaos, one woman was lucky to keep hold of her pushchair and baby in the melee!

So we decided public transport was a false economy. At 14 Euro per person it was much cheaper than getting a taxi but we were still pleased when Carlo, the owner of our pensione, hooked us up with a ride back to Naples airport. For a one-hour simple car ride (vs the two and a half hours we spent messing about on public transport on the way out) 80 Euro (40 each) seemed a small price to pay.

Talking of transport I wouldn’t recommend driving yourself (and certainly not in high season). The coastal road that runs from Sorrento to Amalfi and is pretty precarious; clinging to the side of the mountains with some fairly interesting hairpin bends which sensible drivers would say aren’t wide enough for more than one vehicle at a time.

positano beach
Positano Beach

Positano itself is located on the Amalfi coast, which if you have never been is a sight  to behold, lots of stunning pastel coloured  villages caught between the cliffs and the sea. The houses are pretty much dug into the cliff side – meaning nearly all the accommodation in the area will offer a sea view.

Positano isn’t your typical white sand beach destination – although I imagine the two (shingle) beaches get pretty busy in nice weather (since it rained for three of the six days we were there I can’t confirm this).

Cheap, it ain’t! Positano is a fairly exclusive resort where Italy’s rich list mingles with Australian and American backpackers eager to enjoy the legendary scenery. It’s also the jumping off point for the boats out to the even more exclusive isle of Capri, a trip we had to miss out of on account of the less than ideal weather.

I can confirm that Positano’s selection of restaurants is amazing. As someone who is keen on a fine dining experience I was not disappointed to find our pensione was located on a road with no fewer than six places recommended in recent Michelin guides. Rest assured, I worked my way through as many of these as possible.

View of Vesuvius Volcano from Villa dei Misteri, Pompeii

Even in spite of the rain I would say that Positano is also a good central place to explore several areas of the Amalfi coast. You’ve got easy access to the ruins of Pompeii as well as Amalfi itself, Sorrento and Capri. I would highly recommend the trip to the ancient ruins, which gives you a chance to marvel at how amazing the Romans were (as well as giving a really interesting insight into their culture). I was stunned by the way it was preserved, we spent five hours wandering round and I could easily have stayed longer.

I think the whole area has a lot to offer for sun seekers, culture vultures, foodies and those people who like the whole vineyard experience, I would highly recommend it, if only you could guarantee the weather!

All images by Andy Barker