The town of Positano is located in one of the most beautiful valleys of the Amalfi Coast, and the valley opens up to an equally magnificent stretch of coastline. The main part of the city sits in an enclave in the hills leading down to the coast. Legends says that Positano was founded by a group of inhabitants from Paestum who were escaping from the attack of some Saraceni pirates.
The first official information about the town’s existence comes from some ancient Roman documents, but some artifacts from the Palaeolithic Era have also been found. The Romans built near the ‘great’ beach a rich patrician villa, which has now been buried by gardens and by the church devoted to Our Lady of the Assumption. In medieval times it was a port of the Amalfi Republic, and prospered in the 16th and 17th centuries. But by the mid-19th century, the town had fallen on hard times. More than half the population emigrated, mostly to Australia and it was a relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the 20th century. It began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s, especially after John Steinbeck published his essay about Positano in Harper’s Bazaar in May, 1953: Positano bites deep, Steinbeck wrote. “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”.
Three miles away from the coast rise “Li Galli”, small archipelago consisting of three islands, always supposed legendary home of the sirens and recently become refuge for artists like Massine and Nureyev. On the island are the remains of a Roman abode of the first century AD and of an Angevin tower.
At the centre of Positano you can see the brightly coloured “maiolica” dome of Santa Maria Assunta, the main church of Positano. The church features a collection of intriguing works of art from the XIII, and XVI century that are well worth visiting with the splendid majolica dome and a Byzantine mosaic floor. Thanks to the innate sense of hospitality of its inhabitants Positano has became one of the most famous tourist places all over the world and it has been featured in many films. It is also internationally known for its clothing production: many little, but elegant boutiques, which are almost everywhere on both sides of streets and lanes, can satisfy all the requests of a cosmopolitan clientele.
During the summer a series of patronal feasts – among which we can remember that on the 2nd of July in Montepertuso and that on the 15th of August in Positano – and cultural events – like the International Award for the Art of Dancing to the memory of the great dancer-choreographer Leonide Massine – gladden the evenings, making the stay in this charming place, also called the “Gem of the divine coast”, more pleasant and suggestive.