Postcards from Positano, the pearl of the Amalfi Coast

Oje bella, viéneténne a Positano… addó’ ll’uocchie cu ‘e suonne ‘ncantáte se pònno guardá… Addó’ se vótta ‘o vverde ‘int”o tturchino e na casa se ‘ntóppa cu n’ata ca ‘ncòppa lle sta — Popular song

With its elegance, Positano is a favorite place with artists from all over the world. Amidst the lush gardens of orange, lemon and palm trees, white houses and delicate pastel colors, stands out the Arabic tiled dome of the church of Santa Maria Assunta. So lovely and harmonious, colorful and intriguing, Positano is the best starting point to discover and fully enjoy the wonders of the Amalfi Coast. Not for nothing Positano is considered the pearl of the beautiful Amalfi Coast. Nestled in the mountains and overlooking the turquoise sea, Positano is a very attractive tourist destination: it boasts a postcard view from the sea, it’s a place that seems specially designed to amaze and inspire emotion.  Positano is there, with its small houses and steps where getting lost is a delightful experience, the narrow streets leading to historic mansions, fashionable boutiques and breathtaking views.

Positano, from weaving to fashion

For centuries, weaving industry in Positano has been synonym with wedding dresses. Since the end of the XVI century, the town became an important centre for the work of clothes, like silk and hemp. In particular, the tailors of Positano have called the shots in fashion throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Positano, already renowned for the traditional cloth weaving in the XIX century, around the 1950s managed to prevail in the textile industry with bikinis. This was only the beginning, as besides bikinis, also the manufacturing of beach wear and evening dresses started off soon, both original and stylish in their patterns and fabrics. The use of lace and the variety of colors, give Positano a unique “quid” that makes it popular worldwide. Still today, very trendy items with tourists, are Positano’s leather shoes, crafted directly in local workshops. These are especially sandals for ladies, always very sophisticated and made with attention to detail, even custom made according to the taste of buyers.

Positano’s weaving tradition has found its legitimate space within an event that has yet become famously popular in the clothing industry: Moda-Mare a Positano. This is a fashion show set up for presenting the latest beachwear trends, an event that brings together top designers and local craftsmen, and has also become a very popular television show. The fashion shows take place on the steps leading to the beach, while the side streets serve as back stage.

Another interesting event in this cosmopolitan sea resort is Positano Prize for Dance, since 1969. The prize, which has an international reputation, is dedicated to Léonide Massine, American choreographer and dancer of Russian origin, who in 1917, after a holiday in Positano, bought the archipelago Li Galli and there he built a splendid villa. The subsequent owner of the archipelago was, for 26 years, Rudolf Nureyev, unmatched talent for dance.

Sea, churches and mountains

At the foot of the town stretches the beach Spiaggia Grande. During the summer, the sand disappears and turns into the color of the rows of chairs and umbrellas that pamper the tourists. In winter, the beach seems much more “grande” (“large”) as it appears as a entrance carpet to a beautiful home, a very sacred place, a crib perched on the mountain. The other beach in Positano is named Fornillo, it is smaller and without the country behind it, and is a magnificent haven where to rest the body and spirit after walking on the Path of the Gods or the ups and downs of Positano.

A not to be missed attraction is the spectacle of the sea caves accessible by boat, with trips organized also by local fishermen. The most famous caves of Positano include Grotta La Porta, Grotta del Generale, Grotta di Mezzogiorno and Grotta di Mirabella. In addition to the above mentioned Spiaggia Grande and Fornillo, which can be easily reached on foot, other beaches in Positano – reachable only by sea – are La Porta beach, Arienzo and San Pietro.

The Saracen towers that underpin all of the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento coastline are constructions dating back to the Middle Ages, and used by the inhabitants as lookouts on the sea. At the time, indeed, many Saracen ships sailed the waters to raid and plunder villages: the towers raised the alarm signal, which warned people to move towards the hinterland from where they could more easily defend themselves. Off the beaches of Positano, the islands of the archipelago Li Galli raise on the sea, so close on sunny days, and looking farther ahead in the days of haze. Gallo Lungo, Rotonda and Castelluccio, owned by a lucky few, are the abode of the Sirens, those of the Greek tradition, half woman and half bird, who with their singing have always beset sailors. Only Odysseus and Orpheus have been able to rescue ships and crews from their captivating appeal.

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta, featuring a beautiful Moorish tiled dome, treasures, on the altar, a Byzantine-style table dating back to the XIII century, depicting the Madonna. Legend has it that the sailors of a Saracen ship, carrying the stolen panel depicting the Madonna, were caught by a sudden storm and heard a mysterious voice inciting them “Pose, pose.” The sailors rushed to leave the Madonna on the first small beach they found and ever since that place was named “Positano.” In Piazzetta dei Mulini there is the Church of the Rosary, a former monastery dating back to the beginning of 1600. The church holds some tombstones and a Roman sarcophagus. Of particular value is the side door made of tufa and bearing several decorations in relief.

The steps towards the upper part of Positano, cross the Path of the Gods, a very beautiful and scenic route, perfect for those who love hiking and trekking, which links Nocelle, a small hamlet of Positano, to Agerola. This is a pleasant walk of about seven kilometers amid the Mediterranean scrub, with mountains on one side and the spectacular Gulf of Sorrento on the other. Who has walked it, knows what it is about: a flowered balcony opening onto a landscape that is really hard to describe in words.

Positano & Food

Positano has plenty of restaurants and eateries where you can enjoy the best specialties of the Amalfi Coast. The local cuisine, very rich and creative, is an interesting blend of seafood and farm foods. Many dishes based on fish and shellfish are of course an important part of the local cuisine, but there are also superb meat dishes, excellent cheeses and especially sweets and desserts. According to our very personal liking, a not to be missed specialty is fried mozzarella wrapped in lemon leaves. Lemon is virtually present in any course: lemon groves are an important economic resource and a cultural heritage to the Amalfi Coast. This is the homeland of Limoncello. Finally, you just cannot leave Positano without tasting the Babarese (or Bavarese): sheets of the legendary Baba with strawberries and cream. The best occasions to enjoy these specialties are the several traditional festivals which mainly take place during the summer season. The main one is definitely the Feast of Our Lady of the Assumption, held on August 14-15. Culinary events in Positano include the Fish Festival in October and the Zeppola Festival (typical dessert of southern Italy) in December.

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