Say Positano say fashion. This is probably the longest standing capital of fashion, the years have gone by, trends changed, the climate changed, people changed, but what Positano says is trendy stays trendy forever. The ironic thing is that all these long lasting trends have very casual and effortless origins. That is with exception of bikinis which had to really to fight their way through local frowns and disapproval. Everything else was determined by tourists' eagerness to make the most of their holidays, easy solution to look glamorous and stay comfortable. For example, Positano-style large bobbin lace dresses were sold by local women who would saw together the left overs of hemp clothes used for other purposes. Surely these were the only comforting item of clothing that foreign tourist could were over their severe sun burns! Moreover Positano sandals owe their fame, to the fact that heels are absolutely impossible to wear on these pebbled streets, and if some elegant tourist had only packed fancy stiletto sandals, her only option were local hand made sandals. As many women probably made this mistake, the market grew, the snadals became a must have and skilfull local artisans seized the opportunity to score yet an other point in the fashion industry. Same thing for cropped trousers: until very recently Positano did not have a pier for boats, so to get to land, women and men alike had to lift up their trousers to the knee and get into the water.
Some sharp eyed tailor must have had the idea of designing the perfect Positano trouser, and fifty years later, everyone is still wearing them.
Obviously Positano is much more than clever fashion solutions but still this contributed to the fame and glory of this ever famous tourist resort. Even if the oldest locals say that these days Positano is not the same as fifty years ago, still for all those who were not around at the time of the Dolce VIta, Positano still seems to have maintained its original identity despite the continuous influence and presence of people from around the whole world. Positano only discloses its real magic to those willing to accept the town's basic rules, which include walking up and down hundreds of steps and hills without complaining, appreciating local traditions and not searching for strange fashionable things such as lounge bars or sushi, and when in summer trying to take up as little place as possible as the standard population of 3000 rises up 10000. If one accepts these basic rules then the best holiday ever is guaranteed, effortlessly like everything else around here.
Very many theories on the origins of the name Positano.
From the Greek sea god Poseidon. From the name of Poseids, Roman slave who lived here when emperor Tiberius built a number of luxury villas in the area. From Pasitea, literally meaning sloping land, the name of an ancient Greek settlement. From Paestum, an ancient city on the coast, whose inhabitants would have run away looking for refuge against invading aggressors. From the expression “posa, posa!” (put it down, put it down!) that the painting of the Virgin Mary would have whispered to the captain of a Turkish boat beached on these shores. When he dropped the painting into the sea, the boat miraculously floated away.
Positano was most probably visited by Greek and Phoenicians before the Roman chose it as a holiday resort and built a number of Villas along the coast and on the Islands of Li Galli. Also refugees from Paestum must have populated this land after the Saracens attacks that devastated their city. For a time Positanesi stayed under the rule of the IX century Benedictine Abbey of Saint Luca, but then they rebelled against the feud and started their development as a maritime town, competing with the nearby Amalfi. For centuries this land lived in prosperity and wealth, it was only with the unification of Italy that poverty started being an issue around here, and many locals migrated to New York, where the Positanesi population is larger than the local one. This together with the stories that World War II soldiers would tell about this place, generated the huge tourist industry that started in the 1950s and never ceased to grow.
What to see
Santa Maria dell'Assunta Church
The church built in 1200 is dedicated to Positano's Saint Patron Santa Maria dell'Assunta. Its colourful maiolica tiled dome is one of Positano's icons, on the inside the Church is bright and it displays marble altars together with fragments of decorations from the first original smaller church. The Byzantine portrait of Mary and the Child is the painting that was allegedly dropped into the sea by the captain of a beached boat who heard Mary whispering “Posa! Posa!” asking to “settle” in Positano. The steeple is decorated with a medieval bas-relief representing a sea monster, fish and a fox. Next to the church there are the ruins of an ancient Roman villa which was eventually rediscovered in the 1920s.
Chiesa del Rosario
This church was built in 1600 on the grounds of an old Benedictine Monastery. On the inside there is a Roman sarcophagus depicting the Myth of Bacchus .
The name of this villaage just above Positano, literally means mountain with a hole. Apparently the latter was created by the fury of the Devil who did not manage to conquer Positano as the Virgin Mary defended this town from his mischievous influence and he angrily left Positano braking a hole into the mountain. An other version says that the Virgin Mary herself actually threw the Devil so hard against the mountain that he made a hole through it. From the Positano-Amalfi road just after the first crossroad to Positano beach, at sun rise and on full moon nights, it is possible to see the sun and the moon crossing inside the pierced mountain!
Just outside Positano on the ss163 there is a belvedere with a beautiful view on Positano's valley and its numerous lemon orchards and palm trees.
What to do
Spiaggia Grande This 300 mts long beach is the most fashionable of the Amalfi Coast, very crowded where it is very easy to spot Italian and worldwide VIPs. The bathing establishments provide for an unforgettable beach experience. Fornillo Beach This is the “quieter” beach accessible from a walking path called “Sentiero degli Innamorati” (Lovebirds path) Sea Taxi From Marina Grande beach, there is a taxi service to take tourists to the beautiful bays along the coast and back.
Myth Festival This festival is a very articulated cultural event, which celebrates mythology and all arts related to it. It is an occasion for concerts, readings, lectures all in the beautiful frame of Positano's landscape.
Moda Mare Positano becomes a fairytale like catwalk hosting the most famous brands showing their spring/summer collections.
End of September
Festa del Pesce Like everywhere on the Amalfi Coast Positano celebrates its fish delicacies with a one day open-air fish festival, with food stalls in the Fornillo beach where tourist are shipped to from the meeting point in Piazza dei Mulini in Positano.
14th and 15th of August
Festa dell'Assunta Our Lady of the Assumption is the Saint Patron of Positano and on these two days locals evoke the legend of the Byzantine painting asking to be dropped into the sea in front of Positano. On the 14th evening there is the “Alzata del quadro”, when the painting is brought outside the church and shown publicly and then locals follow the painting in procession down to the harbour where lit-up boats receive the panting to carry on the procession to the “Madre e figlio” stacks by Fornillo and then taken back to the Spiaggia Grande. On the day after, which is national bank holiday, celebrations continue until late at night, culminating with firework shows.