Clinging precariously to the slopes of the Monti Lattari Positano has more tourists than locals for a reason: dramatic sea views, delicious seafood and beautiful architecture have turned this once backwater fishing village in one of the best place to visit in Italy.
In medieval times Positano was a prosperous mercantile city. It went through ups and downs throughout the centuries losing more than half of its population to emigration in the 1800s. The 20th century brought a steady trickle of artists and intellectuals attracted by Positano’s decadent beauty. Picasso, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, Klee vacationed here without being disturbed by hordes of tourists. However, the situation started changing when John Steinbeck published a beautiful article in 1953 immortalising the village: “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone”. Today it is the most photographed fishing village in the world, with luxury hotels, expensive boutiques and top of the range restaurants.
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta with its majolica-tiled dome and the Byzantine icon of a black Madonna is certainly the major attraction. Make sure you climb to the top of the village, which might be a challenge for many as there is only one real street in Positano, the rest are stairs, steep and steeper. However, it is worth the sweat as the vistas from the top are so breathtakingly beautiful that you will want to frame your snapshots when you get home. Shopping in Positano will satisfy even the most demanding clientele. The famous Positano fashion style is a mix of high glamour and beach nonchalance. There are many shops scattered through the town that offer a dizzying selection of clothes. For shoe addicts local artisans can make customised leather sandals on the spot. La Botteguccia (Via Regina Giovanna, 19) has a vast range of colors and reasonable enough prices.
To chill out head to Positano’s longest beach Spiaggia Grande. There are many bars and restaurants where you can find tasty local fare, sip on local lemon liquor called “limoncello” and swim in crystal-clear water.
Photos by: Mark Vuaran, Bill McIntyre, Will Houston.