Positano: Land of a Thousand F*cking Stairs

Posted on
Jun 24, 2014

At some point, all of the cities on the Amalfi coast started to blur, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I resort to describing all of them as “lovely” and “charming” and “like a tower of colorful stone blocks precariously piled one atop the other.”

Positano. But it could be anywhere on the coast.


But, see, they all were.

Positano, though, stands out in my memory from the rest, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s a good thing. Because the part I remember most about Positano were those steps.

So. Many. Fucking. Steps.


Seriously, it’s like the entire town was built to prepare future generations for the Stairmaster. You climb and you climb, and you start to think that you must be nearing the top. That there is no way there can be any more steps, because there’s no place to go and there’s nothing left with which to build. THEY’VE CLEARLY USED UP ALL THE RAW MATERIALS FROM WHICH A STEP COULD CONCEIVABLY BE CONSTRUCTED.


But then you turn a corner and dear god, there they are. More steps.

Are you seeing this? The stairs on the right don’t even GO anywhere. It’s like someone said, “You know what this wall needs? STAIRS.” And they added them, because fuck it. Stairs.


I should have seen this coming. I know I always say that, but this time I really should have anticipated it, considering that we parked near the top of Positano, and walked down the steps in the first place. At some point, as we were gliding down those little stone platforms, I should have paused and turned to my husband and said, “This is a terrible, terrible idea.”



Because every single step that we raced down would come back to haunt us, three-fold. I know that it’s entirely impossible. That there’s no way we had to climb up more stairs than we ran down. And yet, I’m near certain that we ran down a flight or two at most, and we climbed at least 15 or 16 THOUSAND more flights on the way back.


It was like The Hunger Games when Katniss was trying to stay alive and doing a pretty good job of it but then Seneca Fucking Crane started adding trees and crazed mutant dogs to the arena WHICH WAS TOTALLY UNFAIR. My point is: I’m fairly certain that some gamesmaker was adding more and more stone steps around every corner. I kept looking to the sky hoping someone would send me a little  parachute package of cupcakes and lemonade BUT NO ONE DID.


At least the views were good. Bow-chicka-wow.


Of course, there is plenty to love about Positano, and I’m probably being horribly unfair. Look how delighted we were when we first got there, before I swore a lifelong vendetta against whatever ancient city planner decided to build everything VERTICALLY:


It is a beautiful little town, and the beach is charming. When we went it was basically empty, presumably because all of the others tourists died of an overdose of steps.



I didn’t see too many locals, either, for that matter. They were probably off somewhere watching hidden camera footage of us as we heaved up flight after flight. I’m fairly sure that after living there for generations, the population has evolved into a lean bunch of stair-climbing machines, with thighs that could crack walnuts.


I can’t say for sure. I know only this: I will remember Positano. Or at least, I’ll remember its steps. All fucking 3 million of them.


Leave a Comment

  • It’s all a matter of perspective. Those stairs look pretty f*cking good to this desk-bound worker about now!

    Been loving these posts on Amalfi. What an incredibly gorgeous area, steps and all!

  • I love it!

    It’s so beautiful and I love towns that are filled with steps and bricks and hills! Such a nice break from flattened streets in our east coast cities.

  • Dee

    New reader and commented here, and this post made me crack up. I know the feeling sista! We have a hill (not a mountain, which I think makes it all the more embarrassing) with a vertical climb I affectionately refer to as “the stairway to Hell”. Every time you THINK you’re at the top….there is another patch of asshole rocks to climb. Hill indeed.

  • I thought Positano was the prettiest of the coastal cities, but I do also remember those stairs being brutal 🙂 The shops were terrific, though – I got those two shirts there I love.

  • Michele

    The thing about Positano is that after a while you forget about the stairs and you decide to go back because you only remember the good things and in your head the stairs really were so charming… and you suffer all over again. I guess Positano is kind of like an ex-boyfriend. Except that this sweet little town is worth going back to in my opinion 🙂
    The last time I was there my friend asked if Positano was Italian for Stairmaster. I didn’t look it up, but I’m pretty sure it is.

  • Jan

    This had me laughing out loud! I never think about the steps when I think of the Amalfi coast – great to know if I ever have a chance to go there!

  • this is hilarious! The photos show such a beautiful picture of this place

  • Loved the post, Positano looks lovely, but I sympathize with the stairs. 🙂

  • We were just in Cinque Terre and the steps were brutal there too! And while we didn’t get lemonade parachutes, there were friendly locals who put out bottles of fresh squeezed juice or had stands selling limoncello for a euro to us tourists walking by in dire need of a break before collapsing!

  • Yep. I remember those stairs. And the motion sickness from getting around there on the bus from Atrani.

  • I laughed out loud! I’m actually going to Positano this summer and while I was trying to decide how many flip flops to bring, I might as well pack my running shoes. Good god, so many stairs. Just looking at them makes me tired. Thanks/no thanks for the tip! 😀 Now I’m terrified.

  • Kristina Cline

    I would love to go there. And I bet my quads would look amazing after.

  • I just love how much you swear in this post 🙂

  • Positano is my favorite in the Amalfi Coast although I agree with all those damn steps! It’s even worse when you see the local old ladies climbing past you without even breathing hard…

  • But it add character to the town 😉 Steps, hills and just walking is basically our Europe trip summarised. Apparently, mainland Europe loves steps and hills.

    You’re also hilarious. I love reading this 🙂

  • They really don’t go anywhere. Before I saw the steps to nowhere I was all like, “Oh come on. What were they supposed to do?” but after that I saw it went deeper – more of an evil plot to out-stair the stairiest place on earth with unnecessary stairs.

  • Kristen.

    Thanks for the Hunger Games references, much appreciated.

  • Amy

    Ha! The stairs that go nowhere made me laugh! I’m loving the Italy posts, and so damn glad that people like you and Rand exist! Carry on, good soldiers

  • Katie

    This post (like so many of your others) had me giggling in agreement. Many a stair climbing, backpack hauling meltdown has been avoided/alleviated by cupcakes and lemonade! In every country I go to I seem to develop a cake and lemonade of choice… just last month in the Philippines it was chiffon cake and sprite. Of course the biggest meltdown of the trip had to happen in the only place where the bakery didn’t sell chiffon cake by the slice… needless to say my boyfriend bought me the whole damn cake! Loving your musings from Italy!

  • Jody M.

    Those stairs that “go nowhere” actually do. Right around that first flight, “Private” is painted on the wall. There’s another flight that lead to a building. As much as I laughed at this story when I first read it, I realized that it was a bit of an exaggeration once I visited Positano. I was there for four days, and the only stairs I absolutely had to do were the ones leading to the hotel. There are buses and taxis all over Positano, and most of the walking that I did was on the road.

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