Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Breathtaking Vistas and Our Stay in the Amalfi Coast

I recently came across a post by Michele at Hello Lovely highlighting her stay at this beautiful apartment while in Paris.  After reminiscing with her, my mind kept wandering back to one of my favorite all time trips.

In 2007, two years after I was married to my husband, we were lucky enough to travel to Italy - a prerequisite of mine before there was any talk of children!  I, correctly, assumed that once our little ones were here, romantic trips to far away places would likely be a thing of my dreams.  Luckily, I had the chance to visit the Amalfi Coast, because it is literally the place that dreams are made of with its soaring cliffs, breathtaking views of the Mediterranean, and enchanting atmosphere. 

My favorite stop of the Italy trip - although I enjoyed it all - was in Positano, a seaside town situated amongst the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast.  The Amalfi Coast, a stretch of coastline and series of towns, is on the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Southern Italy. (Wikipedia, baby :))

Amalfi Coast
The photo above is the perfect characterization of Positano: cheerful, colorful, charismatic buildings built into the rugged and soaring cliffs of Amalfi. 
You can reach Positano in one of two ways:  by water on a Hydrofoil from Naples, or by car once you travel to Sorrento.  This is the view you see approaching the town by water:

Amalfi Coast

The waters were too rough for the hydrofoil the day of our planned arrival, so we took a boat from Naples to Sorrento and from there we hired a taxi to drive us to our hotel, Il Marincanto.  

Driving through the cliffs of Amalfi is heart racing: while the views are breathtaking, you realize quickly that you are flying high at potentially dangerous heights.  The fact that these roads exist are mind boggling (at least to me).  Here is an example of the roads you are required to travel to reach your destination.  It looks like a bridge built into rock:

Needless to say, I was highly anticipating our arrival to the hotel, not only out of excitement to see our accommodations, but simply to have my feet situated on solid ground!  When our car dropped us off outside, I wasn't quite sure what to think of our hotel.  The entrance was fairly insignificant.  In fact, upon seeing the entrance, I wasn't quite sure where the hotel was.  The entrance was right in front of me, but where were the rooms?

This was it, nothing but a room, about 10" x 12" in size, with stairs and an elevator.  (Although we arrived during the day, the only picture I have of the hotel entrance is in the evening).  We discovered that once you entered this room, the only place to go was down.  So we traveled down, four flights, to the hotel lobby:

Il Marincanto

Hotel Marincanto

When we arrived in the lobby, I was pleasantly surprised.  And it started to make sense...the street entrance to the hotel was at a higher elevation than the hotel lobby and rooms itself.  But honestly, when I looked out the doors of the lobby, I didn't care at all about the rooms because I saw this:

This area was right off the lobby and we often enjoyed breakfast or a quiet dinner here.

We actually stayed in two different hotels room for this leg of the trip.  To explain why, you need a little background information.  I'll try to be brief but sometimes that's really hard for me! 
I originally found this hotel at Expedia (or the like) however the Expedia website said it was booked for our dates.  So I looked at image after tacky image of other brightly colored, floral, and overly decorated hotels in Positano.  I wanted simple and sophisticated and the options - in my price range - were anything but.  So, I kept coming back to these images of Il Marincanto because of its simplicity.  Finally, one day, I decided to call the hotel to hear for myself that they were fully booked. 

When I gave the dates of our stay, I was told "yes, there is room."  I had a reservation!  To be honest, leading up to our arrival, I was a bit nervous.  In this Internet age, it seemed a bit strange to call Italy myself and book a hotel.  Would we have a room?  Thank goodness, we did.  The kicker was that when we checked in, we were told the next day they would have room to upgrade us to a suite.  Sweet! 
But then we entered our "temporary room" and saw this:
We didn't feel the need to go anywhere and had lunch delivered right to our terrace (anywhere else in the world, and I'd call this a balcony, but in Italy, it's a terrace).

..along with a little Santa Margarita Pinot Grigio...I still have the cork from this bottle of wine!

...did I mention the breathtaking views? This was the view from our terrace....
The actual room wasn't much to speak of: it was an entry level room.  We simply didn't care because we planned on exploring the town or staying on this terrace most of the time!  Due to this terrace and its proximity to the sea, we were reluctant to change rooms.  The next day, the bellhop took us to room after room, each a little bit larger and a little bit nicer than the next, until finally the concierge fessed up.  Given the fact that the room we were in had two rooms and two beds, they needed it for two couples that were arriving that day to share the room! 

Not wanting to be difficult Americans, we finally accepted the up-grade!  I still can't complain.  I'm pretty sure the reason the online booking site said this room was unavailable is because the entry level room was booked by these other two couples.  But the concierge at the hotel simply shifted us around to make accommodations. 

Moving on.....

This was the room, and views, we finally ended up with:

Not much, but fairly large by European standards.  I didn't take pictures of the whole room.  I was mostly focused on this:

Here are a few more shots of the extensive hotel grounds:

When staying at Il Marincanto you are allowed private access to a private beach below (one of the only hotels that is low enough to sea level to offer that option).  Did I mention there were a lot of steps in Positano?  Given that the town is built into cliffs with such a steep incline, most travel is done by foot...on steps.... Here is a picture of the steps leading up and down to the beach.  My husband counted and seems to remember that there were 365 in total:

These steps are the reason I actually lost weight on vacation...or so I say.....I never actually got on a scale, they have been banished in my household, but it would be nice to think that, no?  Especially considering the eating extravaganza that Italy is....

Here are a few (a lot) more shots from our time in my beloved Positano, hope you enjoy:

Hope you enjoyed my trip down memory lane.....


  1. i'm ready to pack my bags, dawn. i'm a beachy girl so this would be a dream!

    smiles to you.


  2. I've always wanted to go to Italy, and seeing these pictures makes me want to plan my trip NOW. What a gorgeous place! How long did you stay for and do you know Italian or did most of the people there speak some English? Thanks for sharing! Heidi

    1. We stayed for 11 days and made three stops. I know others that have packed more stops in that same amount of time, but we like to linger a little. Just a reason to go back and see more!

      Of all the places I've been to in Europe (only four contries) the Italians knew the least English....it made travel a little more difficult, but it was still manageable. I resorted to using what little Spanish I know (i.e. donde el bano) and that seemed to work a little better. People knew where to direct me... :)

  3. i want to go to there! really, positano has been on my list of must sees since i watched a travel show about it, and the host said it was his favorite place. your photos are truly amazing!

    1. thank you....positano is amazing...i think it would be hard to take a bad photo there!

      of all the places i've travelled i think it is my favorite...hawaii comes close, though. i love positano b/c you get a seaside vacation but a different cultural experience.....

  4. We were in positano in October. It is a beautiful city. We have nearly the same photo of the dome from the church. Across the street was a linen shop that my husband bought 5 shirts. Thanks for sharing! I am going to look at my pictures now. Lol. I can't wait until we can go back someday.

    1. We went in early October as well and it was the perfect time to go! Warm in the day, cool in the evening, and at the end of the travel season so not overy crowded. I love looking through my old pics too....I still think of going back there all the time.

  5. I've driven the coast, but never stayed. Now I'm dying to! Truly inspiring. Your photos are wonderful!

  6. What a beautiful trip! My husband and I are planning a trip to Europe next year and you've definitely convinced me we need to visit this region. So lovely! (Funny story about your room, but I guess it all worked out!)

  7. Gorgeous photos Dawn:)

    It's 40 degrees and raining today so this virtual tour was perfect!

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  9. Now I have Amalfi Coast envy!
    I've been to Milan, Genoa and
    Rome but never south. This is
    on my bucket list and your photos
    have just made it a must!
    Beautiful shots!

  10. I am green with envy over here! This is like something out of a story book. Probably the most beautiful place I've ever seen in photos. I bet it was so amazing in person. I'm happy for you two that you got to go!

  11. I just got my passport and now I need to plan it. Thanks for the insight. I cannot wait to go.

  12. Hi Dawn, I loved seeing your pictures of Positano. My husband and I were married in Venice and spent our honeymoon traveling through Italy. We stayed several days in Positano in a monastery that was converted into a hotel. This was one of my favorite places we visited. Thanks for sharing this at the Open House party.
    xx, Sherry

  13. Dawn, I forgot to tell you that I am a new follower.

  14. Now that was fun! Thanks for sharing~

  15. I'm totally in love with every aspect of this post...mostly the photo of the hubs wearing a t-shirt of my hero Harry!! Holy Cow! Awesome pics!

  16. Oh my gosh that's gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful pics!!! XO, Aimee

  17. I'm thoroughly wowed! I just discovered your blog today on Brenda's welcome wagon. Oh, take me away! I want to go to Europe one day and visit Italy, England and France! I'll probably have to create 3 trips. The photos are stunning!