Brief History of Positano

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Positano
Circa 1949
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Positano
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Positano? There is evidence that people have inhabited what is known as Positano, as far back as 6000 years BC, and local legend states that Poseidon, the Greek God of The Sea founded this small town in honor of Pasitea, a Greek Nymph that he was enamored with, and whom the main road of Positano is now named after, as the Via Pisitea. It is believed that Greek ships first began to call on this small town and other parts of the Amalfi Coast as far back as 500 B.C.
Due to its incredible beauty, the Romans built beautiful villas and began settling in Positano around 100 years B.C. In 79 A.D. nearby Mount Vesuvius erupted and destroyed all Roman Villas and other structures.
Sometime around 800 A.D. Benedictine Friars arrive, and a community with the construction of Abbey of Santa Maria and San Vito.
Positano became a wealthy market port during the 15th to 17th Centuries.  
As a port of the powerful Amalfi Republic, Positano was also prosperous during the 16th and 17th Centuries as well, but by the Mid 1800s, Positano had fallen on hard times, and more than half of its population immigrated to America, settling mostly in New York City.
For the first half of the 20th Century, Positano was relatively poor little fishing village. Artist began visiting Positano in the early 1950s. John Steinbeck began staying in Positano, and in 1953 he wrote an article for Harper’s Bazaar magazine titled “Positano Bites Deep.” And from that point on, the popularity Positano as a prime vacation destination increased in following decades of the 60s. 70s, and 80s, and mushroomed into what has become one of the world’s most sought after and prized vacations destinations in the world, so much so that the town has become so crowded in Summer months where most hotel rooms start at $350 per night, and range between $350 on the low end to many rooms costing 2 to 3 thousand dollars per night, and even more.
 
As of about the 2010, Positano has in the high-season become a bit overrun with so-called Social Media Influenceers who flock to the small town to make videos and take selfies and other pictures to post on Instagram. This is a bit unfortunate as during the months of of May, June, July, and August, this small town swells with large throngs of tourists, wannabe models, and social media types. Fortunately Positano’s beauty has not been ruined by it insane 21st Century popularity, the town is just as beautiful as it ever was, it’s just that it has become far over-priced (thought the thrifty can overcome), over-crowded, and though not losing an iota of beauty, it has lost some of its quaint charm, yet it’s still worth going to. And as far as going there, it is recommended not to go there in the high-season from mid May until the end of August. The reccommended times to go, would be anytime in April and the first two weeks of May, and later September and all of October to avoid the insane amount of people that can flood the town. 
 
Yes as of about the year 2005 this once quaint little town, as a result of so many millions of people hearing about it, as a result of the internet, as well as the seeing Positano in such major motion pictures as Only You, starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downy Jr., along with Under The Tuscan Sun starring Diane Lane. Positano has become one of the World’s most cherished and sought after locations as a so-called Dream Destination, and a favored local for the Ultimate Dream Wedding as well. Positano is as high-up on the ultimate bucket-lists vacations, and the equal in peoples minds to vacations in; Paris, Rome, Bali, or New York City. This is historically what Positano has become at the dawn of the 21st Century in time. 
 
 
 
The CHURCH of SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
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The church of Santa Maria Asunta is a center-piece of Positano. The churches dome is built of Majolica tiles. The church holds a famous Byzantine “Black Madonna” from the 13th Century. According to local legend the Black Madonna was stolen from Byzantium and was being transported by Saracen Pirates across the Mediterranean Sea. A fierce storm was blowing that was certain to sink the pirates ship. The frightened sailors heard a voice on coming from the icon, that uttered “Posa Posa” (meaning “Put Down Put Down”). The pirates were terrified and unloaded The Black Madonna, and took it to the small fishing village nearby. The storm immediately stopped. The locals of the small fishing village kept the icon and named the town Positano after the uttered words “Posa Posa,” and when their church was built in 13th century the Black Madonna was ensconced within, and has remained to this very day.
 
 
 
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The BLACK MADONNA
Of SANTA MARIA ASSUNTA
POSITANO
 
 
 
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POSITANO The AMALFI COAST
COOKBOOK / TRAVEL GUIDE
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FIND a HOTEL
POSITANO THe AMALFI COAST
ITALY
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Positano, easily the most scenic, chic, and romantic stop along the coast’s winding clifftop road.

A breathtaking sight from a distance, Positano is a pleasant gathering of cafés and expensive stores draped over an almost comically steep hillside. Terraced gardens and historic houses cascade downhill to a stately church and a broad, pebbly beach.

Many visitors come to Positano with only two aims: to shop the town’s airy boutiques, and to bask on the beach. I’ve enjoyed both — but the town also has an intriguing history to explore. Stroll Positano with an eye past the glam, and you get a richer sense of this fascinating corner of the world.

Until the late 1800s, the only access to the town was by sea or donkey path. Even now, only one street in Positano allows motorized traffic; the rest are narrow pedestrian lanes. Endless staircases are still a way of life for the hardy locals. While Positano has 4,000 residents, an average of 12,000 tourists visit daily between Easter and October. But because tour-bus access is so difficult, Positano has been spared the worst ravages of big-bus tourism.

“Downtown” Positano centers around a single pedestrian street that tumbles from the high road past tempting shops and restaurants down to the sparkling sea. A slow stroll down this route is a lovely way to acquaint yourself on a first visit. And I recommend starting off, at the top of the lane, with an icy granita from a family-run stand that’s been following the same secret lemon-slush recipe for generations.

The entire town center of today’s Positano, from the granita stand down to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, sits upon the site of a sprawling Roman villa, buried when Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79 (the same eruption that destroyed Pompeii). Only a small part of it has been dug up, but you can find some of its leftovers around town. At the top of the main lane, for example, the little yellow Church of the Rosary holds a delicately carved fragment of a Roman sarcophagus.

About halfway down to the beach is the ritzy Hotel Palazzo Murat, easily overlooked as yet another instance of Positano’s jet-set appeal. But it fills much of what had been a grand 12th-century Benedictine monastery — and then, after Napoleon closed many of the region’s monasteries in an effort to limit the power of the Church, a private palace. Today, tourists of any budget can enjoy the palazzo’s plush courtyard and views of the church’s colorfully tiled dome.

From here the lane leads further downhill under a fragrant wisteria trellis, past a gauntlet of more artisan shops and much-used ATM machines. Near the bottom you come to the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, once the Romanesque-style abbey of the Benedictine monastery.

Though known since antiquity for its hearty fleet, Positano was weakened by a 1343 tsunami, and in the mid-1400s the entire lower town — including the monastery — was abandoned to escape pirate raids. But in the 1700s, when the coast was clear of pirate rule, Positano flourished again as a favorite under the Bourbon royal family. Many of the town’s fine mansions were built then, and Santa Maria Assunta was thoroughly restored with an extreme Baroque makeover and its dome slathered in brightly glazed majolica tiles.

The church faces the Piazzetta, a tiny square lined with tourist restaurants that were once fishermen’s quarters (and before that, shipyards fueling Positano’s mighty naval power). Behind the church, an underground exhibit offers a peek at excavations of the extensive Roman ruins still sitting under today’s village. And near the steps down to beach level, you can see some original Roman columns scavenged from the buried villa.

Spiaggi Grande is the main beach of Positano. For most of the year, it’s atmospherically littered with colorful umbrellas amid a commotion of fishermen, recreational boats shuttling visitors in and out, and local Romeos practicing their craft. Grab a nice perch, and watch the scene as it unfolds. Or leave the tourists and hustlers for better swimming at Fornillo Beach, a 10-minute walk away.

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Positano
1955
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“POSITANO is COMING SOON”
POSITANO The AMLFI COAST
Travel Guide / Cookbook
COMING SPRING of 2020
“IT’S ACTUALLY ARRIVED” !!!
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POSITANO The SNEAKER
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by Bellino
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POSITANO HOTELS
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