In Part 4 of this series I talked about Sorrento, the gateway to Italy’s Amalfi Coast. I’ve also written posts in this series on Ravello, Pompeii and Capri, some fantastic places I visited while in Italy last year. They are well worth seeing and easy to reach if you’re basing yourself in Sorrento.

On our most recent trip to Italy earlier this year my husband and I decided to spend more time discovering Sorrento itself.

As we had only a few days this time around we planned just the one day out. The place we chose – Positano. It’s a town I’d wanted to visit last year but we ran out of time. I consider Positano to epitomise the Amalfi Coast, by which I mean the town is how I always pictured the Coast in my mind when I used to dream of visiting there. It’s definitely not to be missed.

One of the easiest ways to travel to Positano from Sorrento is via ferry. There’s no need to book in advance. Simply make your way down to the port and buy a return ticket at the kiosk.

You can if you wish buy a ticket that will also take you on to Amalfi. But we thought that might be a bit rushed. Positano deserves no less than a full day. As for Amalfi – there’s always next time. It’s not a case of “if” I’ll return to the Amalfi Coast, but “when”.

Sorrento’s port is a busy place, full of colour and activity. Get there a little early to buy your tickets and then sit down and order a coffee. You can enjoy the smell of the sea and the lively atmosphere before you board the ferry.

As the ferry purrs out of the port you’ll get fantastic views of Sorrento perched atop the almost perfectly vertical cliff face.

And it’s the cliff face that holds your attention during the ferry trip. It’s dramatic and constantly changing. But for me the best part of travelling to Positano via ferry is the moment you get your first view of the town.

The colours of the Amalfi Coast never fail to make me smile – primrose yellow and terracotta; wrought iron balconies and colourful shutters; flowing flower pots and bougainvillea. The way the buildings and houses of the town ascend the hillside is spectacular. And the best way to see it is to arrive by ferry. So please, wherever else you might bus, car, train to, make sure you travel to Positano by ferry.

After disembarking take a stroll along the waterfront or have a walk along the beach. It’s lined with bars and cafés if you fancy a refreshment stop. Which of course we did. A quick tip – if you head towards the end of the waterfront it’s not quite so busy and you’ll easily get a table. A warning though, it’s easy to get comfortable. The outlook and atmosphere is so lovely. My husband and I could have sat there for hours.

Here’s another quick tip and a further reason to head towards the end of the waterfront. There are public toilets at the end past the cafes and I would have to say they are hands down the best public toilets I’ve ever used. You can laugh but don’t underestimate the joy of finding good toilets when you’re travelling.

Once you start exploring Positano there is some uphill walking involved but nothing too daunting. It’s made easier by the fact that there is plenty to stop and look at as you lose yourself in the narrow streets. The shops and markets are fabulous. There is everything from small pavement stalls to classy boutiques. I absolutely loved it and could have spent hours ducking in and out of the stores.

Once we’d walked high enough to pass the main shopping area we took some time to admire the views. Breathtaking. There’s no other word.

All that walking builds an appetite and there is plenty of choice when it comes to cafés and restaurants. If you’ve climbed high enough I recommend choosing a restaurant on the cliff edge. Go one step further and try to get a table at the edge. It’s an eating experience you definitely don’t want to miss.

The restaurant we chose ticked all the boxes. And I had the most divine tuna tartare. The food was delicious, the weather was perfect and the views were incredible. By that stage I’d decided that it was turning out to be my perfect day.

After lunch we spent more time exploring the town and admiring the views before thinking about heading back to Sorrento. We were nearly at the top of the town and decided to walk to the bus stop on the Coast road. You can of course return to the waterfront and the return ferry leaves late afternoon.

But catching the bus was a bit of an adventure. Here’s another tip – make sure you buy your ticket from a local shop before you head to the bus stop because you can’t buy them on the bus (we had to backtrack to the shops). The road from Positano to Sorrento is high and winding but you catch some great views. My husband and I thought back to the year before when we had driven the same road in a rental. Taking the bus was somewhat less stressful.

If you’re heading to the Amalfi Coast make sure Positano is on your list of places to see. Indeed it would be a lovely place to stay if you simply wanted to kick back and enjoy the Coast for a few days. I know many people would say it’s preferable to Sorrento – less busy and touristy. But I do love Sorrento and if you’re planning on seeing as much of this area of Italy as you can Sorrento can’t be beat as a place to base yourself and travel from.

Although I love every part of Italy I’ve travelled to I must confess I left a piece of my heart behind on the Amalfi Coast.

Published by Tracey O'Brien