The small seaside city of Positano on the Amalfi Coast is centrally located for day trips to Capri Island, Sorrento, Naples or Ravello, but it is intriguing enough to be a standalone destination on anyone's Italy itinerary.

Positano's striking scenery is its greatest asset. Pastel-colored shops, restaurants and hotels cling to cliffs that rise steeply from the turquoise waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Steep cobblestoned steps connect the labyrinth of dining and shopping options above with the beachfront and marina below. Visitors to Positano can be as relaxed or as busy as they want to be.

Italian charm and sophistication abound in art galleries and boutiques. The main sight in town is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, which dates from 1200 and houses a stunning Byzantine Black Madonna and Child painting.

The number of year-round residents is relatively small in Positano, and although this number may triple or quadruple in the height of the tourist season, the locals remain friendly, open and very helpful. After all, tourism is what provides for them.

Staying for a little longer than a couple of days, which is what most itineraries generally prescribe, will provide a window into a different side of Positano. The town has its own unique rhythms, particularly in the shoulder-season months of March, April, September and October. Positano is very quiet in the winter.

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