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. Its houses climb a hill so steep it would be a cliff except that stairs are cut in it. I believe that whereas most house foundations are vertical, in Positano they are horizontal. The small curving bay of unbelievably blue and green water lips gently on a beach of small pebbles. There is only one narrow street and it does not come down to the water. Everything else is stairs, some of them as steep as ladders. You do not walk to visit a friend, you either climb or slide. Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano, your impulse is to conceal it." (John Steinbeck, "Harper's Bazaar", May 1953)
A pearl of the Amalfi Coast, Positano presents itself as a cluster of pastel houses clinging to the steep ledges of the Lattari Mountains, which reflect themselves in the clear sea below, surrounded by an intense fragrance of lemon and bright and vivid colors of bougainvillea. A maze of alleys and steps with small shops displaying the typical products of local crafts, which, together with the undisputed beauty of the landscape, have contributed to make Positano and the Amalfi Coast famous world-wide. We refer to the fresh linen dresses in style "Positano fashion", the leather sandals, the colorful ceramics and the limoncello.
The panorama stretches between Punta Licosa and Capri, and in the middle, at just three miles from the coast, the three islands of "Li Galli" (Gallo Lungo, Rotonda and Castelluccio) emerge from the sea, once home of the sirens of Homer's Odysseus , and recently of the choreographer Leonide Massine and of the ballet star Nurejev.
There is no certain information about the first inhabitants of the area: some historians assume Positano was a primitive settlement of Osco or Piceno populations. However, as often happens, when the history is uncertain, the legend takes its place and, in this case, it tells the story of a love affaire between Neptune and the nymph Pasitea. Later the Roman nobility built here their luxury seaside villas: one on the island of Gallo Lungo (whose remains, however, are no longer visible, being covered by the modern house of Leonide Massine, who in the twenties bought all three Li Galli islands) and another recently rediscovered in town during the restoration of the crypt and the bell tower of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.
Positano followed the events of the Ancient Maritime Republic of Amalfi and suffered, like other coastal countries, the constant raids of pirates. After the First World War it was chosen by several Russian and German artists and writers as their home, as here they can enjoy an atmosphere of calm and serenity. Not damaged during the Second World War, Positano became a popular destination for VIPs, writers, artists, actors and film directors from all over the world, with the intent to enjoy the real pleasure of a simple life and genuine.
Among the major historical and architectural sites of interest, not to miss:
- the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, whose plant was originally built in the X century and remodeled in the XVIII century. It is flanked by a bell tower decorated at the base with motifs in low relief. The yellow and green tiled dome is splendid and majestic. Inside it preserves remains of a Byzantine floor, which are still visible in the apse; the miraculous wooden icon depicting the Black Madonna that, according to tradition, arrived here by sea, is of the same period; the shrine of St. Vitus, dating to the early XVI century, is valuable example of Neapolitan goldsmith's art.
- the New Church (or Church of Our Lady of Grace), dating from the XVIII century and built over an existing chapel dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. Built in Baroque style in an elliptical shape, and the interior, spacious and bright, is full of art treasures.
- the Chapel of St. John, which consists of a rectangular room covered with a barrel vault and a floor decorated with the wind rose;
- the Church of St. Matthew, decorated with stucco, pilasters in relief and water font in red porphyry;
- the Church of St. James, in the district of Liparlati, dating from the XII century;
- the Chapel of St. Catherine, built by local sailors;
- the small Church of Santa Margherita, situated along the road leading to the beach Fornillo, with a typical Neapolitan terracotta floor, partially tiled with floral images;
- the Church of the Holy Rosary, of ancient origins, in which a Roman sarcophagus is retained;
- the Chapel of St. Peter in the district of Laurito;
- the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in the district of Montepertuso;
- the Church of the Holy Cross, in the district of Nocelle;
- the fortified towers (the Tower of Fornillo, the Tower of Trasita, the Tower of Sponda and the Tower of Gallo), built to defend the area from the Saracen pirate attacks and formed part of the imposing defense system of the Amalfi Coast;
- Grotta La Porta, where traces of human settlements dating from the Paleolithic Ages have been found.
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