The pearl in the pack, Positano is the coast's most picturesque and photogenic town. With its steeply stacked houses banked up like spectators on a stadium terrace and its pretty peach, pink and terracotta colours, it presents a memorable fa├žade. No less colourful are its near-vertical streets (many of which are, in fact, staircases) lined with flamboyant shop displays, jewellery stalls, elegant hotels and smart restaurants.

Look closely though and you will find reassuring signs of everyday reality -crumbling stucco, streaked paintwork and even, on occasion, a faint whiff of drains. John Steinbeck visited Positano in 1953 and wrote in an article for Harper's Bazaar. 'Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.' There certainly is something special about the place and this is reflected, predictably, in the prices, which tend to be higher here than elsewhere on the coast.

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