- Positano, a colorful town on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, has become a trendy spot for budding social media influencers to visit.
- Its kaleidoscopic, terraced houses make for a great photo, but is the town itself actually worth going to?
- I traveled all the way to southern Italy to find out.
- Positano is not quite what it seems in the photos — you’ll have to deal with inflated prices and hordes of tourists if you want to see it for yourself.
- Typically, I bumped into some influencers —Christian LeBlanc andKaty Esquivel— while in the town, and they told me why it has such a big draw.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Positano is a lot like the “Kingsman” and “Rocketman” star Taron Egerton.
“Oh, that guy!”
They’re not household names (yet), but I’d wager pretty much anyone would recognize them in a photo. That’s because, over the last few years, Positano has become a trendy spot for budding social media influencers to visit. It has even welcomed celebrities like Bradley Cooper and Irina Shayk (all good things must come to an end).
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It makes sense, too: Positano is stunning to behold. Its kaleidoscopic buildings cascade down the hillside like someone has spilt a giant bag of Skittles. It’s the perfect spot to strike a pose, take a selfie, and get the all-important food shots all in one place.
#Positano has been in the captions of more than 1.5 million Instagram posts, and that’s without mentioning the times it has been tagged as a location.
The issue with Instagram is that you don’t get the full story — as long as something looks good, it is good, according to the platform.
But what is the town itself actually like?
I traveled all the way to southern Italy to find out whether Positano was just an Instagram thirst trap, or if it had a soul of its own.
Lo and behold, I bumped into influencer coupleChristian LeBlanc andKaty Esquivel— who have three million combined followers on Instagram and 7.5 million combined followers onYouTube— and spoke to them about why the town has such a big draw.
Getting to Positano isn’t easy. The nearest major city is Naples and from there you’ll either need to rent a car and drive for an hour and a half, take a coach, or do what I did, and take a train to nearby Sorrento and then a bus.
The best way to travel by train to Sorrento if you’re a tourist is by the Campania Express.
While a little pricier than the regular commuter train — though it still only costs €15 ( $17) for a return ticket — you’ll skip out plenty of suburban stations and just hit on tourist spots like Pompeii along the way.
The train really empties out after Pompeii station.
Instead of the graffiti which covers the regular trains, the Campania Express is adorned with images of some of Italy’s most influential historical figures.
There are also staff on hand who speak good English and announce all the train stations. They also kick off anyone who tries to get on without the proper ticket, despite all the empty seats.
Once you’ve reached Sorrento, it’s a cramped 50-minute bus ride to Positano. Timing is everything as a late arrival means you could be left standing for the entire journey. Though I was fortunate enough to bag a seat, I did have a large Irish lady named Siobhan basically using me as a backrest for the entire journey.
There are, at least, views like this out the window to keep you distracted.
Eventually, you start getting glimpses of Positano, which looks like someone has spilled a giant bag of Skittles down the hillside.
The bus finally drops you off at the very top of Positano, where you get your first proper view of the breathtaking town.
Apart from the stunning vistas and hotchpotch housing, Positano is known for its steps, of which there are many.
Seriously, there are a lot of steps.
It’s too much for some.
Some of the houses on the way to the town center have seriously impressive balconies.
After traversing a million winding staircases, Positano begins to reveal itself.
Under the shade of a thousand fragrant bougainvillaea flowers and with the sound of street vendors echoing through the walls, it’s hard not to find yourself falling for Positano.
However, you won’t get to enjoy Positano’s dreamy quaintness alone. These cobbled streets weren’t built for thousands of tourists, and some of them are so crowded that you have to shuffle forward at a snail’s pace.
The streets are lined with gift shops, pricey restaurants, hotels, and gelaterias. Throughout the entire day, I don’t think I heard a single Italian accent apart from those working in the town.
Oh, and those pictures you’ve seen on Instagram of the beach totally empty? Not quite accurate.
The Via Marina Grande, the main street adjacent to the beach, is so crowded that queues often form outside of restaurants.
It’s impossible to walk up Via Marina Grande without interrupting at least 5 photo-ops.
They’re all trying to get a photo of this: Positano’s kaleidoscopic facade. Well, they’re trying to get it in a background of a photo of themselves, at least.
While stopping for a much needed iced coffee at one of the sea-facing bars, I bumped into a pair of real-life influencers: Christian LeBlanc and Katy Esquivel, who have three million combined followers on Instagram and 7.5 million combined followers on YouTube.
The couple said they were visiting Positano for the same reason as me: to find out whether it was really worth the hype.
‘I honestly came here predisposed to dislike the place,’ LeBlanc said. ‘I thought it would be shallow; just a pretty face.’
‘However, after spending a day and a half here, I can say that I understand why it’s so popular,’ LeBlanc said. ‘This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen.’
‘Obviously, the tourism here is pretty incredibly high. But, for those that don’t mind spending a lot of money to have a day bed [€12.50/$14], to lie by the beautiful beach, I also understand it,’ LeBlanc added.
The pair agreed that Positano was not for the budget traveler. Esquival said: ‘If you want to do it on a budget, it’s so tiny, take a bus or a tour, do it in a day and go back.’
LeBlanc warned that if you weren’t willing to spend the extra money, you would end up experiencing mediocrity. ‘I think that to get that Instagram-worthy experience, you’re going to shell out a lot of money,’ he said.
This is Franco’s Bar at the luxury Le Sirenuse hotel, where prices go up to £5,000 ($6,300) a night. It’s one of the most Instagrammed spots in Positano, thanks to its aesthetically pleasing lemon tree and stunning views over the town. The cocktails here go up to €18 ($20), which is comparable to prices at the most high-end bars in New York and London.
I tried to get in to take a photo from the balcony, but the bartender told me I’d have to come back when they opened at 5.30 p.m., which I wasn’t going to do — I guess I’m not a committed to the ‘gram as some.
‘If you don’t mind being one of many people here, it’s got to be one of the most beautiful places on planet earth,’ LeBlanc said. ‘There’s definitely something unique about this place.’
As far as my verdict? The cost of tourism in Positano is high, but it’s a price worth paying.
Despite the innumerable limoncello shops, selfie-takers, and overpriced restaurants, there is no getting over the scale of Positano’s beauty.
From the superyachts, speedboats, and dinghies in the bay, to the black sandy beach, the terraced bars that implore you to decompress with an Aperol Spritz, and the views from Positano’s peak, which allow you to breathlessly drink it all in — it’s still a very fine place for a vacation indeed.
Tourism is, after all, what keeps this wonderful town breathing.
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