When Stephanie Steinman, the founder of Le Postcard, decided to take a summer holiday, Italy was the place her heart was set on, and Positano was at the top of the list. Here, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed globetrotter dishes to us about what she packed in her suitcase, the best spot for evening cocktails, and the hotel that just became her new favorite (and that’s saying a lot!).
Just back from:
Positano, Italy! Years ago I actually lived in Italy (for about 11 months), and I even speak Italian, but I had never been to Positano before…it was even dreamier than I imagined!
How did you get there:
I live in LA but have been spending time on the east coast this summer so we flew from Boston to Naples. From Naples we hired a car service to take us to Positano. We used a company called Garbo Limousine Service. They met us at the airport and whisked us around the Amalfi Coast to Positano (it’s about an hour drive). It seems like a big production but it all went smoothly and honestly it’s just sooo worth it!
Who did you go with:
I went with my boyfriend and a few friends. We’ve been planning this vacation for months—I was so excited I could barely sleep the week before we left!
How long did you go for:
We were in Positano for 4 nights before we headed on to Capri. It wasn’t long enough—I could have stayed for a month!
Place where you stayed:
We stayed at the most amazing hotel—Villa Tre Ville! Within seconds of arriving it literally skyrocketed to the top of my favorites list! It’s the former home of Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli, and it’s truly magical! We had a little outside villa with a charming terrace (complete with lounge chairs for enjoying the late afternoon sun, and a place we could dine ‘al fresco’ in the evenings—in fact, on our first night we arrived around 11pm and sat outside in the warm air and enjoyed an Italian feast, under the stars, with a big bottle of champagne). All the casitas have names—ours was aptly called ‘Romeo e Guilietta’ (hoping our story ends better than theirs). The hotel is set into the cliffs and is lush with trees and plants and covered pathways that lead to secret sitting areas. While the hotel and grounds are spacious, the number of rooms is quite small (only 15!)—it feels decadently private and secluded, and we rarely saw other guests (in fact, there was a very well-known movie starlet that was staying there at the same time and I only spotted her once).
The towels are white and fluffy and huge—seriously they were like the size of a bedsheet—so luxurious! The hotels provides great shampoo, conditioner and body wash, plus all of the amenities like a hairdryer, etc.
The hotel also grows a great deal of their food (you can see fresh herb and vegetable gardens places discreetly throughout the property. They also have their own chicken coop, so you know your breakfast is fresh and organic!
Places you ate:
Every morning we had breakfast at the hotel. It’s so incredible because they have this gorgeous table of food set up in the kitchen for all their guests to enjoy (cereals, fruits, pastries, yogurts) and then you can order anything you’d like—they don’t even have menus—they just ask what you’d like to eat and then bring it to you—pancakes, eggs, waffles—delicioius!
For lunch Da Adolfo is a fantastic little restaurant located right on the beach in Positano. Lo Scoglio and La Conca del Sogno are sort of the spots for lunch. They’re both located in Nerano, which is a short boat ride away (about 20-25 minutes). You can easily arrange for a water taxi to drop you off (and come back to get you!). Lo Scoglio is farm-to-table heaven with the freshest, most incredible vegetables, pasta and fish (we fell in love with Antonia, the owner). “La Conca” (as the cool kids call it) is equally impressive and I’m still dreaming about their zucchini pasta.
For dinner we loved Chez Black. It’s located right on the main beach in Positano—we had a lovely table outside and it made for some fun people-watching. Besides their delicious Aperol-Spritz, they also make heart-shaped pizzas! Dinner at Il San Pietro Hotel is also gorgeous—a total throwback to the chic 60’s era of the Amalfi Coast.
We also went one night to meet my friend Antonio, the owner of the famous hotel Le Sirenuse, at his new bar called Franco. It’s the most gorgeous spot in Positano for a cocktail before (or after) dinner. On a warm, summer night the glossy white floors and royal-blue decor are the coolest things on the Amalfi coast….and don’t even get me started on the view (it’s priceless!).
Local delicacy you feasted on:
Lots of fresh seafood, and of course plate after plate of pasta and pizza!
Cocktails you sipped:
During the day we drank a lot of rosé during our long lunches at the various beach clubs around Positano and Nerano. At night, it was all about having an Aperol Spritz or glass of prosecco—so refreshing!
Books you read:
I brought All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I read a little bit on the plane, but I’m a nervous flyer and couldn’t concentrate. I had intended to read on the boat, or the beach, or before bed, but was too busy living la dolce vita!
Games you played:
We played backgammon on the plane and sometimes before dinner (accompanied by an Aperol Spritz, of course!).
Music you listened to:
The hotel is incredibly lush with trees and plants so I listened to the sounds of birds each morning, and of course, the sound of the sea below.
My daily uniform there was:
A bikini, a cover-up, sandals, a Goyard tote (which did double-duty because I used as my carry-on bag for the plane and my beach bag), and a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.
Brand of luggage you traveled with:
I brought a large Tumi suitcase (the Alpha 2) as my checked luggage. I got it as a gift about a year ago and I swear it holds everything (just when I think something won’t fit, this bag proves me wrong and easily closes). It’s black, with royal-blue accents, and is monogrammed with my initials, which is great because it ensures that nobody else will walk off with my black bag at the airport. I also brought a little, mint-green case from Steamline Luggage which was great for holding all my toiletries and bathing suits.
And for your carry-on bag:
For my carry-on bag I used two large Goyard totes (in orange and green), which also doubled as beach bags during the day.
Over-pack or under-pack:
As much as I thought I had packed perfectly I definitely overpacked…sigh. That being said, there was nothing I ‘forgot’ back at home—I had plenty of options every day.
Items you packed in your suitcase:
For the Positano portion of the trip (we went on to Capri from there) I packed a Lisa Marie Fernandez gingham shirtdress (I wore this over my bathing suit one day, and then again at night when I went out for dinner—it’s such a great piece that works for so many occasions!), a white Zimmermann dress that I bought months ago and that I had been dying to wear (similar one here), a little, white, off-the-shoulder dress from Reformation, an Isabel Marant tunic-dress, a pair of Ulla Johnson floral pants that I paired with the matching top, and an Isabel Marant white dress (this was soooo cute and looks great with sun-kissed skin!). I don’t bring heels on these types of vacations—I think sandals at night look chicer and it’s just too hard walking on the cobblestone streets in heels (those girls look ridiculous wobbling around!). I packed the ‘bikini’ lace-up sandals from K.Jacques in black, natural, and brown leather. I also brought a pair of white sandals from Ancient Greek Sandals, as well as a pair in black. And just before I was leaving for the trip I spotted a cheap pair of white lace-up sandals at the Gap and threw them in my suitcase—they ended up being great—I wore them so much!
For swimwear I packed a few bandeau-style bikinis by Eres in basic black and white, as well as in a soft butter-yellow color. This year I hopped onboard with the latest trend and wore a few one-piece swimsuits (until recently I hadn’t owned a one-piece since I was 12!). I bought a gorgeous white one-piece from Eres just before I left for Italy—I’m madly in love with it! Oh, and I also wore a darling polka dot one-piece from J.Crew that looked so chic and retro on the Amalfi coast! For cover-ups I packed a great white, cotton dress from Loup Charmant, an Ulla Johnson embroidered dress, a striped, voile kaftan from Two, and an Ulla Johnson dress. I also brought a classic Panama hat from J.Crew, which I wore every day.
I kept my jewelry fairly simple and packed lots of small stud earrings from my friend Jennifer Meyer and my favorite gold bar necklace (which I always have with me and rarely take off)—I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on it.
I also like to pack a stack of J.Crew, cotton, white t-shirts to lounge around in after the shower or bath along with a pair of cashmere sweatpants (I love bringing these because it’s always so chilly with the air conditioning and the cashmere feels nice on my skin after so much sun) For sleeping I packed a willowy, baby-blue nightgown from Loup Charmant, as well as a short-sleeve PJ set from J.Crew (I always take this particular PJ set with me—it’s my favorite to travel with!).
Villa Tre Ville also has this incredible outdoor gym which overlooks the Mediterranean so I packed a pair of pink Nike running shoes. But if I’m being honest, they didn’t even see the light of day (hey, I’m on vacation!).
I wore a great denim jumpsuit by Ulla Johnson for the plane that was super comfy and easy for the long flight and the car ride.
Beauty-essentials you packed:
For makeup I packed Charlotte Tilbury mascara (it makes my lashes look thick and full), a Shu Uemura eyelash curler, Bobbi Brown Bronzer in Golden Light (I don’t wear foundation and this stuff is so great to give my skin a warm glow), Nars blush in Orgasm, Living Luminizer from RMS Beauty (I use it as a highlighter—I love the shimmery, dewy look it gives) and a Nars lip pencil in Sex Machine, which is a great neutral shade. My eyeliner is from a company called Kiko that I discovered last time I was in Italy (it’s kind of like MAC). Since I knew I’d be doing a lot of swimming in the Mediterranean, I also packed a waterproof ‘sport’ mascara from Eyeko that was great in the daytime (I also really love the cool packaging). I brought lots of lipgloss (I’m a huge lover of gloss—especially in the summer) but Easy Lover by Nars was the one I wore the most, along with Chanel’s Ocean Shimmer. My skin is super sensitive (even washing it with water causes it to freak out) so I always travel with a bottle of Bioderma—it’s truly the only thing I can use on my face. My tube of Homeoplasmine was great to use on my lips at night before bed (they get so dry from the sun and the sea). Sunscreens were a top priority and I brought several (Girl Scout rule: you can never be too careful) from Clarins SPF 50+, La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF45, La Roche-Posay SPF30, Avene SPF50 lotion-spray (I had never used Avene products before and really liked them), and a Collistar Stick Solare SPF50+ (this is an Italian drugstore brand that I adore and buy whenever I’m in Italy). I also like Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense Sunscreen 50+ for my face because it’s so light and doesn’t leave me feeling greasy and sticky. I packed Marvis toothpaste and a mint-green, striped toothbrush that I found in a drugstore in Switzerland. Biafine is another great product that I always bring with me on a ‘sunshine’ holiday as it’s great for soothing sunburns. My perfume is called A La Nuit by Serge Lutens (it smells like jasmine—heavenly!). It comes in a big, glass bottle so I put some in an atomizer when I travel. I also always have a jasmine oil that I discovered while I was in India (my friends are always telling me to bottle and sell it). Of course I made sure to bring plenty of Q-tips and cotton balls (even though the hotel provided them). I also brought a Mason Pearson pink hairbrush (it’s a ‘child’ size brush, but it’s perfect for travel!). I don’t travel with a hairdryer—I just use whatever is at the hotel. But I did bring a straightening iron, just in case my hair got a bit unruly in the humidity. I packed all of my makeup in a small Louis Vuitton cosmetic bag and my toiletries in a large Louis Vuitton toiletries pouch.
Secret only a local would know:
I actually learned this tip from interviewing jewelry designer, Aurelie Bidermann about her trip to Positano last summer…she recommended going to Li Galli island and swimming with all the colorful fish. We did this on our last day as we were heading to Capri and it was so beautiful.
Favorite place to shop and find local treasures:
There are tons of little shops in the town center, as well as along all the streets that lead up and away from the beach. I saw lots of gorgeous white, eyelet dresses and darling bikinis. I told myself I wouldn’t shop but came home with a cute, little dress that I found at a shop called Temptation (tacky name, but fun shop)!
In the day we:
Our days were pretty relaxed and easy. We woke up and had breakfast and then sauntered down to the lounge chairs that are set up near the sea. It’s so hot that we just had to jump in the Med the moment we were done with breakfast—so refreshing! The water was warm and perfectly clear! Then we’d read or nap for awhile before going back into the water for a swim. We had lunch around 2pm every day and then again would nap and swim. The Italians have a word for this: “fa niente” which means ‘to do nothing’.
And at night we:
At night we would go into town to watch the sunset and have a cocktail before dinner. After dinner we’d usually get a gelato and take a walk. Our hotel also had a bunch of different ‘lounge’ areas (and complimentary alcohol!) so after we came back from dinner we’d just hang out for awhile before bed—talking to each other or other guests.
Best part of the trip:
It was fun to be with all our friends but one day my boyfriend and I had lunch alone at Lo Scoglio. The restaurant sent us out various dishes to try, including their homemade gelato that they make fresh daily—ours was almond-flavored. We had a bottle of rosé and just enjoyed the afternoon together…it was kinda dreamy!
First time visitors must:
Positano really is like a postcard come to life, so make sure you catch a few sunsets, with a cocktail in your hand.
The #1 tip you’d give a friend that’s going:
Everything in Italy is relaxed and slow…people eat dinner at 9pm or 10pm…it’s truly la dolce vita!
Stephanie Steinman photographed in Positano, Italy