Positano, Italy - Sponda and Mulini (Part 1)

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Lightbox (75) Tags: europe   italy   positano   scenic-place Posted: Jan. 6, 2009 by Myrka
Map of Naples, Sorrento Peninsula and Positano

Map of Naples,
Sorrento Peninsula
and Positano

Map of Positano

Map of Positano

John Steinbeck, an American writer, once wrote about Positano: "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." This small town located on one of the most beautiful stretches of coast of the whole Mediterranean, is a must see place offering a unique opportunity to meet the nature as well as the life, culture, and people of Positano.

This small annotated photo gallery offer a virtual excursion through the town - in real life such excursion could take 2 - 3 hours of slow walking or a bit more if you decide to get some food. Our excursion starts at area of the town known as Sponda located at the Eastern end of Positano. In practical terms, Sponda is a cross-road of the state route SS163 and via Cristoforo Colombo - one of two streets in the town used by cars. From that point we'll go down the hill towards Positano's historic center. After exploring it (including town's beaches), we'll finish our walk by climbing up to via Pasitea. Since via Pasitea at some point becomes via Colombo, we'll complete the circle and be able to return to our point of "partenza."

Our gallery contains slightly more than 70 photos to get some initial impression about Positano and its life. Obviously, even for a small town, the gallery of this size can hardly be sufficient to show the beauty of this vibrant place. But we hope that it will help awake your interest so that you decide to visit it yourself.

View on Positano from Hotel San Pietro

1. View on Positano from Hotel San Pietro. Positano is a small town on the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana), in Campania, Italy. The main part of the city sits in an enclave in the hills leading down to the coast. The population of the town is about 4,000 - it's amazing how they can cope with crowds of tourists invading this place from early spring to late fall. But there is no doubt that locals provide much better service and hospitality that you can find at popular tourist destinations in Italy like Venice and Como

Cross-road at Sponda, Positano

2. Cross-road at Sponda, Positano. This is the spot where our excursion starts. If you enlarge the picture, you will see road signs showing distance to Naples, 46 km, and Amalfi, 18 km. You can also see a young lady, vigile urbano (street police), who is readying for what I may call a "surgical procedure" to allow two coaches coming from opposite directions pass this intersection. I can attest to the fact that Amalfi coast roads are narrow and dangerous, and "procedures" like this come to manipulating often one or two inches of space between 30 feet vehicles. There is no way it can be done without someone's help and coordination. By the way, circulation of vehicles longer than 12 meters is prohibited on local roads.

Total  on via Cristoforo Colombo, one of the two gas stations in 
Positano

3. 'Total' on via Cristoforo Colombo, one of the two gas stations in Positano. That's what you see on your right when you start moving down the street. This street is the only one opened to cars in Positano (unless you count via Pasitea which is just a continuation of via Colombo). The street is relatively clean and taken care of. It's used extensively not only by cars but locals and tourists as well - everything in Positano is within walking distance and many places can be reached only on foot.

View from via Cristoforo Colombo onto marina

4. View from via Cristoforo Colombo onto marina. One nice thing about via Colombo (and Positano in general) is that while walking you can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the town, its marina and beaches as well as the see. I think that even after spending sometime here, you still be taken aback by the beauty of this place. On the left side, far in the sea, you can see Li Galli (The Galli) archipelago thought to be the home of sirens in Homer poems.

View on Western part of Positano

5. View on Western part of Positano - this photo is taken approximately from the same spot as the picture above but without zooming on to marina. As a result, this fairy tale layout of the town with smaller and bigger constructions covering surrounding hills. In the foreground of the photos is the port (il molo or, simply, pier) and the Spiaggia Grande (Big Beach) - the focal point of Positano. The water usually is very clean and not contaminated by the town waste. Also, the marine traffic at the port is not significant - small motorboats and bigger ships, usually hydrofoils, that connect Positano with Napels as well as Sorento, Amalfi, Saronno and other locations on the Amalfi coast.

View on Sponda from marina

6. View on Sponda from marina. This picture is taken from the pier you have just seen on the photo above in the opposite direction so that you can have an idea how Sponda looks from below. Spiaggia Grande is on the foreground as well as The Church of S.M. Assunta. The row of buildings at the top of the picture are along the road that goes to Monteperuso, another area in Positano. We are not going there during this tour, but if you have time and desire you should certainly visit it. Monteperuso offers excellent views, several nice restaurants and hotels or B&Bs with prices much lower than those closer to Positano center and the sea.

Restaurant Valle dei Mulini

7. Restaurant 'Valle dei Mulini' - this is just one of many restaurants located along via C. Colombo or in its proximity. We never visited this restaurant, but I heard that their specialty is "frutti di mare" (dishes made of sea products). We found that generally it's difficult to make a mistake while selecting a place to eat even if you never heard about this place before. The standard quality of service and food in Positano is high enough to assure a pleasant experience almost everywhere. You may not find any delights, but you will get usually quick service, good food and wine to remember.

Hotel Marincanto (via Cristoforo Colombo, 50)

8. Hotel Marincanto (via Cristoforo Colombo, 50). This is a four-star hotel with prices from €250 to &euro410 (prices 2009). The hotel is ranked relatively high in various reviews and looks OK on most official and not official pictures. One good thing about this hotel is that they have a small parking place (I guess located on the roof of the hotel) - it means that you can arrive to the hotel with a car (which is not the case with many other hotels and B&Bs in Positano). Also, since it's located on the sea side of via C. Colombo, it should be quiet and have good vistas.

Bus Interno Positano (Inside Positano)

9. Bus 'Interno Positano' (Inside Positano) - this is a public and main means of transportation in Positano if you need one. To tell you honestly, I would not use it unless it's absolutely necessary. Buses are overcrowded and chances are high that you cannot even get inside the bus. The "interno" bus makes a loop and shows up in about half an hour. The most useful means of transportation in the town are your feet, and that also presents a wonderful opportunity for exercise and improving your physical fitness. In addition to this only windy road in Positano, there are a lot of shortcuts using "scalinatelle's" steep passages with steps (we will see some of them later).

Was this balcony featured in Under the Tuscan Sun movie?

10. Was this balcony featured in 'Under the Tuscan Sun' movie? Do you know that one of the two towns featured in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun" was Positano? That guy, Marcello, lived in Positano and when Frances comes to see him she comes to a building that looks very similar to the one on the picture. I may be wrong but that balcony on the left side of the top floor looks like the one used in the movie. Anyway, it's not accidental that Positano was selected as one of the locations for the movie - in addition to its beauty this place has a special appeal for romance.

View of Spiaggia Grande (Big Beach)

11. View of 'Spiaggia Grande' (Big Beach). Do I need to say anything about this? The photo speaks for itself. I would like though to draw your attention to the swimming area roped off to keep boats away from the beach. Another thing to look at this picture are specimens of typical wild flora covering most of the rock surface of the Amalfi coast.

Deutsche Bank on Via C. Colombo

12. Deutsche Bank on Via C. Colombo. Surprisingly for a town of less than 4,000, Positano counts about 30 bank offices - mostly branches of many well known banks in Europe. Perhaps it's not that surprising taking into account number of people coming to this town. Anyway, as far as banking services are concerned, Positano is a modern city. There are plenty of ATM machines connected to most cash machine systems and networks. Credit and debit cards are accepted (with very few exceptions - so, check with your hotel first) everywhere.

Hotel Le Sirenuse (via Cristoforo Colombo)

13. Hotel Le Sirenuse (via Cristoforo Colombo). This is one of the best hotels in the world - yes, you've heard me - in the world. But the best does not come cheap: prepare to pay for this 63-room luxurious 5-star hotel from &euro460 to &euro3,200 (in prices 2008). The hotel (which is also a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World) offers an excellent detail-oriented service of a family-run property and some of the coast’s most luxurious accommodations. It enjoys excellent location in Positano, has its own restaurant and bar and consistently placed by many travel magazines and reviewers among all world top hotels.

Albergo (Hotel) Savoia

14. Albergo (Hotel) Savoia. This is a 3-start hotel that usually comes in the bottom part of most reviews. I do not think there is anything wrong with the hotel; it's just that there are other hotels nearby that seem to be better. Personally, I do not like the hill side location of this hotel on via C. Colombo. Hotel has 39 rooms with prices (2008) from €70 to €260.

Rent-a-car in Positano

15. Rent-a-car in Positano. This rent-a-car office seemed so cute that I could not but take its picture. This establishment offers cars (mostly small and very small). As far as I understand they also offer a variety of other services such as car and limousine transfers, VIP tours and excursions. I think if you need a boat, they will rent it as well with or without a skipper.  Positano Car Service is located on via C. Colombo, 2.

Shortcut from Via C. Colombo to Via Dei Mulini

16. Shortcut from Via C. Colombo to Via Dei Mulini. This is an example of a "scalinatella" - it allows you to avoid a U-turn and from via Colombo plunge right into via Mulini which is in and is a Positano historic center. This one is quite popular (especially to go down), clean and well maintained. But you may find some scalinatellas very unpleasant, smelly and looking very dangerous especially when it gets dark. We are not going to use this shortcut; otherwise we would miss several places worth looking at.

Shop Cose Antiche

17. Shop and art gallery 'Cose Antiche' (Via Cristoforo Colombo, 21). It seems that "Cose Antiche" specializes in old and contemporary oil paintings. This is one of many shops in Positano that sells art. You can find similar establishments in many Mediterranean towns-resorts; so, I cannot say that this is a pure Positano phenomenon. Some of these art pieces sold in Positano are actually very good and cost much less then often similar items in art galleries somewhere in Paris or St. Tropez.

Hotel Bougainville, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 25, Positano

18. Hotel Bougainville, Via Cristoforo Colombo, 25, Positano. This address means that the hotel is almost in the center of Positano, only minutes from the sea. Does this matter? Yes, but on the other hand, a lot of other hotels are located almost in the center. It's a family run establishment with contemporary furnishings. The interiors of the hotel is stylishly simple. A number of bedrooms have their own private balconies, from which you enjoy views of the sea. While deciding on this hotel, note that rooms with best views are looking into C. Colombo street.

Parking Russo in the Mulini area

19. Parking Russo in the Mulini area. Getting a parking place for car in Positano is maybe not impossible, but can be quite difficult. And even if you do not need a car in Positano itself, cars remain an important and, first of all, a convenient means of transportation in this region. Chances are that you may come to Positano with a rented car or you actually rent a car in Positano. Luckily, some hotels have their own parking lots (or, will take care of your car anyway); however, quite a few hotels do not even have even a road frontage - you get the picture.

La Tavolozza Residence

20. La Tavolozza Residence (Via Colombo 10) is an attractive eight-room hotel, run by Celeste her sisters, and daughter. Even if its facade is rather plain, the hotel is nicely restored with air-con rooms (each has a view, and a balcony). Rooms are quiet. The hotel closed at winter. Prices (2009) are about €100. Not bad actually, and as you can see even closer to the "historic" center.

Bar Mulino Verde (Via Cristoforo Colombo)

21. Bar Mulino Verde (Via Cristoforo Colombo, 5). There is nothing special about this bar other than it is located at the very beginning of via C. Colombo with its other side on Piazza dei Mulini. It can give you a pleasant refreshment under the thick foliage of vines on a terrace exposed to a pleasant breeze. So, stop for a refreshment if you want - the funniest part of this tour is about to begin when you take a U-turn and enter via Mulini.

Moda Positano: Antica Sartoria, Piazza Dei Mulini

22. Moda Positano: Antica Sartoria. We are now on Piazza Dei Mulini - that's where via Mulini starts and that's the point where you can come with a car; the rest of the street is opened to pedestrians. One of the landmarks of this piazza is the Antica Sartoria shop and company created in 2000 to design and market the line of clothing called "Moda Positano." I am not particularly impressed with what they sell, and I am not sure if "Moda Positano" is a trademark or just a generic label for made in Positano. So far, I have not been able to find the company's Web site. Nevertheless, I have to admit that the shop attracts many people.

Church S. Rosario (Chiesa del S. Rosario)

23. Church S. Rosario (Chiesa del S. Rosario). I counted seven churches in Positano - all of them look like functioning. There is one church for about 550 people living in Positano. This tells me that Christian traditions are still very strong in this region of Italy. As far as the church itself is concerned - I could not find anything in particular about this one other than it is the only church with the altar towards West and not East. There is a large display in front of the church with the following written in four languages:
"The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the Earth will bring their splendor into it. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it." (Revelation 21, 23-26)

Inside the Church of S. Rosario

24. Inside the Church of S. Rosario. The second part of the display inscription I mentioned above says:
I wish all of you coming all over the world, a pleasant stay, and when you leave this town may your life become richer and happier and may your renewed faith be witness: "That which was from the beginning, which you have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and our hands have handled, of the word of life." (John 1,1)

Via Dei Mulini

25. Via Dei Mulini. This pedestrian street is the most vibrant in Positano. It's full of cafes, small shops including art galleries, several banks, clothing stores, souvenirs as well as several good hotels - all this adds to this via an unforgettable atmosphere. If you are in a hurry, it may take only five minutes to rush through this street to Positano main beaches. And may be that's what you will start doing eventually. But if it's your first time, do not rush - look around, look at people, at things on your left and on your right, on flowers, on colors of the day and things surrounding you - memories of Positano, of this Mediterranean jewel, are sweet.

International Club - another art gallery in Positano

26. International Club - another art gallery in Positano. Many of them sell oil paintings depicting beaches and towns along the Amalfi coast, landscapes with characteristic mountain lines. Paintings with such themes are almost always in bright colors with palette consisting mainly of reds, yellows and blues. Some galleries claim to sell painting of some known old and contemporary artists. Perhaps, some art experts know those names, but I never managed to recognize any of them although I think I am well enough in the mainstream of art . One of the reasons I took this picture was the color of the walls - very, very deep terracotta.

Inside one of art galleries in Positano

27. Inside one of art galleries in Positano. Yet another gallery on via Mulini - I told you there are many of them there. This photo shows what you find inside an art gallery in Positano. Very often, people in charge (owners or salespersons) frown on the use of photo cameras to shoot store interiors. These one did not mind so that I decided to take advantage of their courtesy. Also, this store carried distinctively different type of art as far as its themes and prevailing styles.

For sale at an art gallery in Positano

28. For sale at an art gallery in Positano. This sculpture (not sure what it was - did not look like bronze, perhaps, some kind of resin) was in window display belonging to the art gallery described above. That's an example of the different style of art sold in this store. I did not find it as annoying as that eternal subject of Positano artists - Positano beach with a mushroom of houses on surrounding hills

Restaurant Max

29. Restaurant 'Max' conveniently located on Piazza dei Mulini, 22. If offers excellent cuisine and has an affiliated cooking school. One obvious problem with this restaurant is that it's not on the beach. However, it can be a nice alternative for an evening time and dinner when there is nothing to do on the beach. We also found its interior quite pleasant with walls covered with various paintings which create nice atmosphere and mood. This restaurant also has a good cellar.

Entrance to Hotel Palazzo Murat and its inner court

30. Entrance to Hotel Palazzo Murat and its inner court. This hotel fills what was once a grand Benedictine monastery. The building was completely restored and has a beautiful courtyard that creates a buffer zone between the hotel itself and via Mulini. Hotel's location is excellent - it's in the very historic center of the town, several minutes of walking to the Grande Spiaggia (Big Beach). Hotel has its own bar and restaurant, "Al Palazzo." This hotel is ranked consistently by its guests among the first twenty best hotels in Positano. It is also often selected as a wedding venue. Room prices range from €250 to €480 (prices 2009). If you plan to go to this hotel and want to use a car, I would recommend to inquire about parking arrangements. It does not look like this hotel can be reached with a car, and it does not look like it has its own parking lot.

Delikatessen store

31. 'Delikatessen' store. This is another landmark in Positano. You can find here all sorts of foods and beverages: traditional and local like limoncello, candles and soaps made from lemon and not so local. The store sells fresh fruit and vegetables, wine, soft drinks, chips, snacks and candy; there is a deli counter with bread, olives, calimari, sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, fresh anchovies, cheeses including buffalo mozzarella, prosciutto and salamis. What's more important, this can be an alternative to going to a bar or cafe to have a bite. The owner will be happy to fix a sandwich or more to go with pancetta or cheese or something else and they have even a few prepared dishes like lasagna. The price will be certainly less than in any other place. In fact, visiting this store can be a very good idea before you go to "Spiaggia Grande" - you will save money if you avoid buying your food supplies from bars and cafes located on the beach.

No lack of sweets in Positano

32. No lack of sweets in Positano. I do not remember where exactly I took this picture but that only exemplifies the fact that if you have a sweet tooth, you will have a lot of opportunities to satisfy your craving. Although Italy is known for its affection for dolci, Positano certainly adds its own twist to this by offering locally made ice-creams, pastries, tortas, cakes, cioccolatinos in never-ending variety of forms, shapes and tastes.

La Zagara Bar

33. La Zagara Bar Pasticceria. This bar is not just a place to have a drink or snack. It's a destination by itself acclaimed internationally. This is a pastry shop by day and a piano bar by night in a wonderful setting both, inside or outside on a tree-lined terrace on a wooden deck. It's almost a must see location in Positano equally suitable for a morning coffe, lunch, an apperitivo or romantic digestivo after dinner. Specialties include local delicacies such as Rhum Baba, soaked in rum cake with whipped cream, la Positanese Cioco made of melted chocolate and sponge cake as well as The Ugly but Good made of chocolate, merengue, almonds and cherries and many other sweets. In addition to all home made sweet delights, you can find an excellent selection of panini (sandwiches) also home made such as Panino Caprese (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) or for a change pizza Margherita and other specialties. Should I add that a vast selection of cocktails, long drinks is available as well?.

Marilù, an atelier

34. Marilù - yet another Positano fashion store. I have to say that the atelier presents itself a bit better than other local moda establishments. In fact, there are three Marilù stores in this town, and according to the company's Web site, there is one more in Milan. Is this presence in one of the world capitals of couture a sign of their success? Perhaps - all I can say is that items they sell conceptually fit the "Positano style" with colorful folk skirts and dresses made of "garza di cotone." So, if you are looking for a souvenir, think about something signed "Marilù" - could wearing it bring good memories of your Positano vacations?

Positano, Italy - Spiaggia Grande and Western Part (Part 2)

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