The trip from Matera to Salerno (my jumping off point to Positano) was more tricky than initially thought. The plan was to take a Miccolis bus leaving at 8.15 from Matera, changing into another bus from the same company somewhere at Salandra and continuing to Salerno for a trip lasting about 3h30. The fault in the plan was
not accounting for the fact that, after the week-end, the morning bus will be sold out. And it was. Next bus was leaving at 17.15 and arriving to Salerno in the evening which I wanted to avoid. A change of plan was required. After inquiring with the accommodation, I went for a cab + train ride plan B.
Cab ride from the hotel to Ferrandina train station (about 30 km) and then train to Salerno – both taking about 3h but double the price of the two bus plan A above. Once in Salerno, the train station is located at bout 500m from the pier with the ferries to Amalfi and Positano. I just followed the street starting in front of the train station and going direction lungomare (waterfront). The felly leaves about every hour in the morning starting with 8.30 and, in about 70 minutes, you can disembark on the Marina Grande of Positano.
And now, be prepared for some stair climbing. Positano is (or better was) a rather small and charming seaside village. Somewhere in the 50s however, tourism caught up with it. It is still charming and easy to walk around, particularly if you like going up and down (many) steps but the prices I experienced here are definitely on the higher side. If you consider Positano in one of your future travels, please also consider a bringing a backpack. I saw many tomato-colored tourists trying to carry up hundreds of steps a suitcase on wheels at about 30 degrees Celsius and it did not seem an experience you want to start your holiday with. Or at least enquire if the hotel can provide some assistance with the luggage. Positano is also called the ‘vertical city’ for a reason so do not forget your walking shoes.
The beaches have some charm. Most of it comes from the great view of the coast and the pleasant water and weather temperatures. But do not expect sand or translucent water. The heavy boat traffic has put its print on the bay. Positano itself is a good base to explore the island of Capri as well as the Pompei archaeologic site. The Capri bit I would skip, particularly in August, unless you like enjoy queuing a lot under a smoldering sun. I queued for the boat, for the funicular to Capri city (twice), for walking in Capri city, for buying ice cream and for everything in between.
Pompei is a fascinating find, particularly if you are a history buff. Also here be prepared for some queuing (limited though) and walking up and down on millennia old streets under an unforgiving sun so bring a hat, suncream and plenty of water. Count up to four hours if you want to take your time.
Beyond the hoards of tourists you will find a city frozen in time, with houses, shops and theaters still standing. Works are under way to discover and restore more of the frescoes and furniture found on site. The latest palazzo opened to the public was the Casa di Lucrezio Frontone (not yet in the audioguide when I visited). You will need a map to find your way around but your perseverance will be greatly rewarded. An audio guide is also indispensable. I definitely plan a return visit to this place that is unique in the world, maybe coupled with the Ercolano, a village at about 5 km that was also struck by the volcano as well as a trip on the Vesuvius itself. Vesuvius is accessible by car up to a point and then another 800 m to look into the crater. That would make for a great short holiday stating from Naples.