Getting to Positano: Beware the Cab Driver

After sampling pizza paradise, we wandered back to the train station to arrange a ride to our next destination – Positano, a little town along the Amalfi coast. Our AirBnB host in Positano recommended that we book a private transfer from Naples, but after a few calls to the local options, we realized that this is something that must be done in advance! We pushed through the disappointment and, after a few Google searches to determine a fair price (and the correct way to say numbers in Italian), we wandered out to the cab drivers to arrange the next-best transportation option to the coast.


Car-pooling with the Pope, of course.

As someone who’s haggled with my fair share of vendors and drivers, I knew that the taxi drivers would quote an initial price far outside the bounds of reasonability. With a stern tone and a threat to walk over to the competition, we negotiated a slightly-inflated rate of 100 Euro (pronounced “chen-to”) for a ride to Positano (80 was the recommended rate by the interwebs). Although the driver somewhat-begrudgingly agreed to our rate, once we were in the car and on the way, he perked up; blasting his nightclub-worthy “oomf-oomf-oomf” tunes and peppering us with questions in broken English as he navigated the windy streets to our destination.


My attempt to capture the beauty of our journey – even at high speeds.

When we reached Sorrento, a town famous for its lemons and beautiful view of the coast, he offered to stop for a quick photo-and-limoncello-ice break, something we somewhat nervously agreed to, thinking of all the scammy stories we’d read about unscheduled taxi stops. Our driver was pleasant and kind – he even bought us the lemon ice! and hung out for a few minutes, chatting with the local vendor while I took a few photos of the beautiful scenery before hopping back in the car.


Overlooking the town of Sorrento.


A quick photo above Sorrento, taken by our cabbie.


We headed to Positano on a perfect sunny day.

When we got a little closer to Positano, we gave the driver specific instructions of where to stop (a little staircase along the main road), but it wasn’t enough. He ended up getting on the phone with the AirBnB host to get a proper Italian navigation. We made it! A sense of relief settled in as we hopped out and grabbed our bags, but then things took a turn. As I pulled out my wallet to pay the cab driver, suddenly the “cento” we had agreed on turned into a MUCH higher number. He started rambling about a toll road, loading our luggage into the car (which he insisted on), and even the limoncello as justification for the higher rate. He even had the audacity to pull a laminated flier out from the back seat pocket (which we hadn’t been shown up to this point) with a rate of 150 Euro quoted on it. Furious and struggling with the language barrier, we were saved by our knight in shining armour – a 5-foot-2 goddess named Elisa. Having noticed that we were taking longer than usual to descend the stairs to the AirBnB, she headed up to make sure everything was okay, and I’m SO glad she did.  After a brief explanation of what was happening, we had the pleasure of witnessing not only a tried-and-true passionate italian argument, but also a proper (almost motherly) scolding as Elisa shamed the cab driver for being the reason why Italy has a reputation of being scammier than virtually anywhere else in Europe. The cab driver sheepishly agreed to accept our money and drove away, Elisa muttering frustrated adages as we took the small staircase to her adorable hillside house. Fairly shell-shocked but also relieved, we thanked her endlessly for the rescue as she humbly went through a brief introduction to the house and Positano itself, assisted by a tidy collection of binders and pamphlets (very helpful for those of us that forget things). The house was adorable and perfectly situated for exploring the little town – and obviously I cannot recommend Elisa enough!

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