Updated May 2018. Positano and the Amalfi Coast had rain forecast but after four beautiful sunny days in Rome we were remaining positive. As it was the forecasters were right and it did rain, but the sun did shine a little also. The Amalfi Coast of Italy is gorgeous and Positano is quite possibly the most beautiful town of them all. This post is helpful whatever the weather but in particular it suggests things to do in Positano when it rains.
What You Will Find in This Post
Getting from Rome to the Amalfi Coast and Positano
In April 2010 we walked the coastal path that links the five villages of that other iconic Italian coast, the Cinque Terre. The temperature was perfect, skies clear, water blue and unruffled, and the track was challenging but beautiful. It could not have been better – except – later I regretted not seeing those cliff-hanging villages from the ocean. Now was my chance to not make the same mistake on the Amalfi Coast.
Trenitalia trains run from Rome to Salerno via Naples. You needn’t leave the train in Naples. Salerno, nicely placed for us to continue on to Sicily after the Amalfi Coast.
From Salerno we could get to Positano by boat!
Concordia dock, the Amalfi Coast terminal in Salerno, is a fast 10 minutes walk from the train station. Once on the dock there is a long straight walk to the ticket office and as we rushed toward it, the time of departure came and went – but the ticket office could see us coming and held the boat. How nice was that!
The views of the coast would have been better without the haze, but were still quite special. On a clear blue day they would have been magnifico.
Day 1 Positano – a smattering of blue and an ominous forecast for two days of rain.
Positano’s main beach – Marina Grande – looking in the direction of Amalfi Town.
Swimming in Positano is one of those fun things to do when it rains. I mean you’re going to get wet anyway!
Santa Maria Assunta Church Positano is Open Every day – Rain or Shine
The dome of the Santa Maria Assunta church can be seen from the beach and was the first thing I noticed as the boat arrived at the harbour. It is made of maiolica, a tin glazed ceramic tile first made between the 14th to 16th century in Italy. Tin glazing produces a brilliant white surface onto which “stories” are painted.
The church holds another wonder, namely the painting called the Black Madonna. The 13th Century stolen Byzantine painting was in the hold of a Saracen ship that was caught in a storm off the coast. The terrified sailors heard the words Posa Posa meaning lay it down being spoken. Thinking it was the Black Madonna speaking, they quickly landed and carried her into the village, whereby the storm ceased. From the word Posa Posa the village became known as Positano. Interestingly there is a Positano Hotel called Posa Posa.
These boys made use of some hard to find flat ground.
View from the scenic cliff path connecting Positano to Fornillo Beach. Continuing in this direction would eventually lead to the Sorrentine Peninsula, Isle of Capri and Sorrento. Boat trips are a great way of enjoying some Positano Attractions – like arriving at a restaurant from the sea and for photographing the vertiginous and colourful houses.
In Peak Season Fornillo Beach is sought by people looking for a quieter option to Marina Grande.
Our accommodation, B & B Venus Inn was positioned above this beach and could be reached by stairs on the far side of the beachfront Hotel Pupetto Ristorante (see below photograph) or by road from Positano Harbour. On this occasion we chose the stairs and it was a challenging climb.
Pot Plant cat in the astmospheric alley that led to B & B Venus Inn.
In Summer Fornillo beach is taken up with rows of sun lounges and umbrellas.
Strolling along the vine covered lane that climbs the hill from Positano harbour can be a romantic pursuit, but on occasion (like the day we arrived) the people were packed in like anchovies!
The road leading from Positano Harbour to Fornillo Grotto and Venus Inn.
We did not eat at Ristorante Il Capitano, but dining in such a romantic location is what Positano is all about.
Dine out when it rains in Positano.
Saraceno d’Oro has an indoor dining room
We devoured pizzas shortly after arrival on our first day and that night we returned for Frutti di Mare Risotto. Both meals were delicious. It is situated near Il Fornillo bus stop, the same stop for our accommodation.
Dine at Da Vincenzo Positano
Another great restaurant for any weather, but in particular it has an indoor cave like room, decorated with copper pots that is very atmospheric. Specialising in delicious Amalfi Coast pasta dishes.
Address: Viale Pasitea, 172/178, 84017 Positano
Positano Amalfi Coast Map showing restaurants, bars, ferry terminal, parking.
The further away from the beach the more peaceful Positano becomes.
Ride the Sita Bus to Amalfi Town and Ravello in the rain.
Our host, Gippy, offered one piece of advice – Visit Ravello – which in reality translated to Visit Amalfi Town and then Ravello.
It didn’t start raining heavily until we were in the bus on the way home, but both towns are doable in the rain. Whenever there was a shower we just popped under cover or into a shop.
The stretch of road between Positano and Amalfi town is the most entertaining bus ride on the coast. Grab the front seat for an adrenalin charged, memorable ride. Even in the rain it is exciting – maybe even more so!
Think narrow roads, sheer drop offs and amazing views. On numerous occasions drivers returned to move parked cars, lines of moving cars reversed and once our driver even left the bus and physically moved a parked scooter, to enable us to pass. I left the coast with a deep respect for the skills of the Sita bus drivers. It was a fun roller-coaster of a ride although in Summer the bus might get extremely crowded.
The Positano Interno bus drops passengers on the high road where the Sita Bus stops but we walked from Venus Inn.
It is worth remembering that Amalfi Town can be reached by boat from Positano but when it rains the boats are often cancelled. The Ravello bus departs close-by the Amalfi Town Marina.
Amalfi Town bus depot can be seen between the end of the spit and the town.
It is possible to purchase tickets on the bus but pre-purchasing is cheaper. Try a Bar or Tabacchi shop near any bus stop, or the tourist office at Amalfi Town (pictured below). Across the road, near the Amalfi bus depot, are the waterfront boat ticket offices.
There is a question I ask wherever we go – of an Airbnb host, a person in the street, or a tourist office – where can we find the best coffee?
It can be difficult to get an answer. Sometimes recommendations are not allowed, or favourites are closely guarded, but in Amalfi Town the answer came straight back at me like an arrow.
Drink Coffee at the bar of Andrea Pansa in Amalfi Town since 1830.
Andrea Pansa has a huge reputation. Even standing at the bar our coffees were expensive (by Italian standards), but they were good and take a look at the goodies in the window. Did I mention the pastries are divine?
Now you can get just as good coffee at other cafes it’s true, but Andrea Pansa is the real deal and situated right near the Duomo and opposite the fountain meeting place. When the weather is challenging being easy to find has it’s own appeal. Am I right?
Andrea Pansa opened the Cafe in 1830 and it is a recognised Historical Premises. The interior of the store is amazing, making it a great place to stand at the bar and appreciate the atmosphere. If the weather is fine, then people watching from the outside tables is even better.
Piazza Duomo 40, 84011, Amalfi
Amalfi Cathedral is a great place to visit when it rains in Positano
Nearby Andrea Pansa is Piazza del Duomo which contains the Cathedral dedicated to St. Andrew (987). But there is more than just the Cathedral. Next to it is an older basilica (prior to 833) that was built on the ruins of a previous temple and is today a museum. The bell tower (used as a defence during war time) was finished in 1276, while the 1206 crypt was built to house some of the remains of St. Andrew the Apostle. The Cloister of Paradise was added in 1266. The striped portico section was added in 1891 after the previous one collapsed. The front doors of the church (seen below) were the first medieval bronze doors in Italy.
The church was closed when we were there. Set aside an hour to view the whole complex including the Cloister of Paradise, Museum (in the old church), Duomo and Crypt (Entrance Fee applicable).
The Amalfi Coast is known for lemons, limoncello, and ceramics with a lemon flavour. Ravello is the place to look for hand-painted ceramics – I especially liked the red Saracen pieces. Shipping home can be arranged.
This means it has ceramic shops to linger in and all kinds of souvenir shops. When the rain stops, explore the Villas Cimbrone and Rufolo gardens.
But after lunch we were so entranced wandering the lanes with their unexpected views, gardens and garden restaurants that we didn’t visit the Villas.
We scampered back to the bus stop with it’s amazing ocean views – yes Ravello is a hilltop town – to wait for the bus back to Amalfi town. There are many beautiful restaurants in Ravello and a visit here is surely one of the best things to do on the Amalfi Coast.
And the Rain tumbled down in Positano on the Amalfi Coast
The threatened rain finally arrived.
Heavy clouds hung over the hills on our last full day on the Amalfi Coast. Gippy who had remained upbeat about weather prospects the day before, admitted it didn’t look like a good day for Positano. Positano is hilly with narrow lanes not conducive to sheltering beneath umbrellas and jostling for space in the rain.
Positano is Beautiful in the Rain
If you are lucky to have a view from your hotel you could do worse than to snuggle up with a coffee or a wine and enjoy the view.
If the temperature is not too cold, splashing in the water with other happy holiday makers, rain or not, has it’s charms.
Venus Inn B&B Positano Center. Gippy’s Place was our answer to where to stay on the Amalfi Coast on a Budget. Positano is one of the best and most popular places to stay on the coast so it is expensive, but at Venus Inn we had a nice room with our own shower which opened on the balcony and this view.
Balcony rainy day view from our Airbnb Amalfi Coast – Positano.
Catch the Bus to Sorrento when it rains on the Amalfi Coast
We decided on another bus trip, this time to Sorrento – in the rain.
Sorrento is positioned on the northern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula in the Bay of Naples, while Positano and the Amalfi Coast are on the southern side of the peninsula in the Bay of Salerno.
It is a is split-level town, with the shopping district in the upper town and the port, Marina Piccola tucked away at the bottom of the sea cliffs.
Shop till you drop in Sorrento in the Bay of Naples
Sorrento is a much bigger town than Positano, Amalfi town, Ravello or any of the Amalfi Coast towns.
It has busy streets and cute lanes overflowing with souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and speciality shops selling wine, gelato, chocolate and kitchen ware. Look for the shops selling Intarsia, the wood inlay work that Sorrento is famous for – you may see the craftsman at work – or visit the Intarsia Museum, Bottega della Tarsia Lignea.
With just one umbrella between two, it was quite easy (and fun) to run from awning to awning without getting too wet. The shops were interesting and not tacky and we collected quite a few souvenirs.
As far as things to do in Positano when it rains goes, catching a bus to Sorrento is a pretty good option.
View of the switchback port road taken from Piazza Tasso in the upper town.
A Sorrento restaurant takes delivery of the daily vegetables – washed by nature.
The cliffside park, Villa Communale boasts views over the Bay of Naples and elevator and walkway access to the lower town. Peering over the edge of the cliff revealed bathing platforms covered in gaily painted changing pavilions.
The Cliffs of Sorrento
Visit the Cloister of St. Francis, Sorrento in the rain
The Cloister of St. Francis is entered from Villa Communale and is used as an exhibition and performance venue. We were very impressed by the photographic exhibition titled “Memories in the Wind” by Raffaele Celentano. It is a beautiful place to shelter and the second floor has fantastic views of the Bay of Naples.
The Cloister of St. Francis. Piazza Francesco Saverio Gargiulo 8, 80067, Sorrento.
There is a permanent exhibition here.
Other things to do in Sorrento in rain or shine
Originally built 11th Century, redone in the 15th, the base of the bell tower is from the Roman period and the front doors are from 11th Century from Constantinople (Istanbul). I’d love to hear that story.
The Duomo has simple and elegant exterior, but inside there are frescoed ceilings, marble columns, timber inlaid wood-work and an intricate nativity scene (year round) behind glass. This is a well-known Neapolitan tradition.
Open 8.30 am to 12 noon and 4.30 pm to 8.30 pm.
Museottega Della Tarsialigne Museum
The wood-inlay Museum is situated in a beautiful plum coloured villa in the back streets (Via S. Nicola). Entrance Fee is 8 Euro but well worth it, especially if it’s pouring down outside. A lovely place to wander around and see the works of art made from this intricate method. If you are buying a piece in Sorrento be aware that the cheaper pieces are not made in the traditional manner here in Sorrento.
We ended our day in Sorrento sheltering beneath a shared umbrella, in the milling crowd that passed as a bus queue outside Sorrento Train Station.
Budget Lunch at Bar Rita in Sorrento
We loved eating in this down to earth Italian Cafe. The food is cheap and good. They also serve coffee and gelato and you can sit inside to eat.
Corso Italia 219, 80067, Sorrento.
Feeling Snug and Warm in the Bus on the way home to Positano in the rain
When we finally climbed onboard the bus I had that snug happy feeling that comes from being warm and dry instead of cold and wet. Sorrento was definitely a good choice for our rainy day.
Although we coped with one umbrella shared between two, it would be better to have one umbrella per person.
You can read about Heading South from Rome here.
This post is from the Ten Weeks in Europe 2015 series.
Budget Travel Talk FAQ’s
Is Amalfi Coast worth visiting – Yes 100% Yes.
Is it possible to see Amalfi Coast in a day? It is possible to see some of it definitely and some is better than none.
How long is the Amalfi Coast drive? Salerno to Sorrento is 56 km. I would not recommend driving along the Amalfi Coast as the traffic is shockingly busy and the road is tiny and very difficult to drive.
Amalfi Coast Weather – Weather on the Amalfi Coast forecasts for up to 90 days. April to June is the best time to go to the Amalfi Coast (wildflowers, mild temperatures and staff refreshed after a winter break). Expect showers in April. The second half of June would be nearly perfect. July and August would be too hot and crowded in my honest opinion.
Positano Interno Bus – is a bus that does a continuous loop around Positano.
Sita Bus Positano to Amalfi – purchase at any Positano “tabaccherie” or cigarette shops, newspaper stand or bar. There is a bar near the bus stop on Via G Marconi. Read more about the bus service here.
Bus from Amalfi to Ravello – (tickets can also be purchased at Amalfi Tourist Office)
Sita Bus Amalfi to Positano – (tickets can also be purchased at Amalfi Tourist Office)
Bar Rita in Sorrento – We enjoyed their great budget lunch options and friendly service.
This post is linked to Nancie’s Travel Photo Monday over at Budget Travelers Sandbox. Today I have joined Nancie as a Co-host for Travel Photo Thursday so add your link below and share in the fun.
I’ve also linked to Corinne at Reflections Enroute for Weekend Travel Inspiration.