Wednesday, 20 February 2008

First the background…

The Amalfi Coast road follows the whole of the Gulf of Amalfi and reaches from the peninsula of Sorrentine to Salerno. It is perhaps, the one part of the coast in the whole of Campania where the villages and towns perfectly harmonize with the beauty of the landscape: the range of the Monti Lattari (Lattari mountains) lies directly on the sea and forms an indented coast line with many outreaching cliffs and coves. In this part of the world the gardens of the villages cohabit with a natural and typical vegetation of the Mediterranean area, a huge part of which is still untouched.

The surrounding nature is dotted with luxury hotels, unique restaurants, bed and breakfasts of particular style, and private villas decorated with antiques and modern luxuries, and a pathway called the Path of the Gods.

According to legend, the God Neptune founded Positano when he fell in love with the nymph Pasitea.

The town is built in a charming fashion on terraces on the steep rocks of the Monte Comune, and around a small, well-protected bay. The hills look to be constructed of dwellings of various sizes and the soft sunset colors of Italy.

Positano has earned its worldwide reputation as a must place to visit, not only because of the beauty of its surroundings, but also because of the shops that produce made-to-measure clothing in the distinctive "Positano style".

It has been home to many well-known artists (Seminov, Zagarouiko, Essad Bey, Clavel, Kovaliska, Massine…) and is the setting for the "Premio Internazionale per l'Arte della Danza" (International award for dance arts) honoring the choreographer Leonide Massine and various fashion shows ("Modamare a Positano" – Swimsuit Fashions in Positano).

The church of Santa Maria Assunta features a dome made of majolica tiles as well as a 13th Byzantine century icon of a black Madonna. According to local legend, the icon had been stolen from Byzantium and was being transported by pirates across the Mediterranean. A terrible storm had blown up in the waters opposite Positano and the frightened sailors heard a voice on board saying "Posa, posa!" ("Put down! Put down!"). The precious icon was unloaded and carried to the fishing village and the storm abated.

Positano has been featured in several films, including Only You (1994), and Under the Tuscan Sun (2003).

Protected from the Northern winds by the Lattari Mountains, Positano has a mild and dry climate. The structure of the town is very original; its buildings cling, in tiers to the rock face. The small houses, all huddling on top of each other, so characteristic of Positano, form the subject of endless photos. The vibrant colors; the white of the buildings, forming a perfect canvas for the bright flowers which decorate the houses, and the small artisans', shops with their multihued cloths, present the visitor with a vista which is almost difficult to believe. Then there is the smell of the leather used for making sandals, and the restaurants specialized in fish dishes, and the bustle of every day life...

From white to floral patterned, the cloths and materials used by the local artisans are an essential part of ‘Moda Positano’, now a recognized label. This fashion phenomenon, exploded in the nineteen fifties as a symbol of freedom, transgression and madness against the rigid dress codes of the period. In addition to clothing, Positano is known for the production of accessories. The Positano sandals, flip flops, wooden and cork clogs, and cloth slippers with rope soles, are made by famous shoe makers, and by cobblers, who are able to create pairs of shoes, by hand, on request, while the customers wait outside.

Approaching from above the town, one is greeted by a vista of lemon and orange groves, flowers, trees, small allotments, olive groves and gardens which continues right down to the sea. Positano is completely pedestrianized and a porter service is available from the start of the pedestrian area to deliver baggage to the various hotels. Cars are left in the car parks of Piazza dei Mulini where porters can be found. The town ‘of stairways’ is truly enchanting, with thousands of unique and hidden corners. It’s like an beautiful Stairmaster with great wine at the end as a reward – now that’s my idea of a pleasure incentive based workout plan!

From a historical and archaeological point of view, the Villa Romana, the defence towers built in the XVI century, of which there are in total eight, three internal; Torre Sponda, Torre Trasita, and Torre del Fornillo, and five external; the cathedral of St Maria Assunta characterized by the imposing majolica dome, are visible from almost every panoramic point of the town.

Positano offers breathtaking views and beautiful beaches; the Marina and the Spiaggia Grande, which are at the foot of the town and the smaller Fornillo and Porta di Arienzo beaches on either side. Great for those before lunch and after dinner romantic strolls..

The Grotta la Porta cave in which prehistoric remains have been found is of interest. Traveling inland you will find Nocelle, a small town which can be accessed only on foot, and traveling upwards there are the Peaks of S.Angelo ai Tre Pizzi, Monte commune, S.Maria del Castello, Conocchia, Campo de "Li Galli" and Paipo. AS well as the Ponte dei Libri Bridge that crosses a beautiful valley.

To the South and East, one gazes out across the water to Punta Licosa and the island of Capri, in the distance, the small archipelago of Li Galli. The island group is made up of three islets: Gallo Lungo, Rotunda and Castelluccio. In ancient times the islets were thought to be the residence of the mythical Sirens; in more recent times they have become the hideaway of artists, such as the choreographer and ballet dancer Leonid Massine and Rudolph Nureyev, and are now under private ownership.

Positano was a prosperous port of the Amalfi Republic 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 the United States of America – explaining the upgrade of Italian food in America.

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." True words indeed.

Ciao lovely readers.


jmb said...

An area of Italy that I have never visited and that's saying something. Although I know it is supposedly very beautiful.
I do remember it from Under the Tuscan Sun.
A very good place for romance and Valentine's Day?

darth sardonic said...

so you are in italy right now then? god, i hate being offline, lol. sounds beautiful.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if you could pick up some spaghetti as I am entertaining next week and thought I would experiment...

leslie said...

I stayed for 5 nights in Positano in Oct/Nov 06 at the Hotel Ancora. My room had a stunning view of the bay below. I bought myself some leather loafers, a beautiful Italian knit wrap sweater in brown and matching pearl and Swarovzki crystal drop earrings. It was one of the most beautiful places we visited while in Italy. From our hotel, we did a day trip to Capri (how could anyone NOT?) and we drove to Ravello, Amalfi (where I bought 2 leather purses), and the little town of Atrani. I took many photos that I cherish and the whole area is one where I'd definitely return. Are you there now? If so, I'm green with envy. Have a wonderful time! By the way, we dined at some fantastic places there, too, one of which was right off the beach down at the bottom of all those stairs. It was definitely worth the climb back up. :D