Positano is a vertical town built on the face of a cliff, where the roads are replaced by steep flights of steps. It is one of Italy’s most luxurious and romantic vacation spots, which started out as a fishing village. This pedestrian town is a fashionable resort today, but it has retained its charm.
As you approach this unusual town by the ship or boat you will wonder how the sheer number of colorful houses stand on top of each other, spiraling down the steep cliffs. Beneath them the cobalt blue sea, above them the lush green Monti Lattari – the landscape as a whole is quite captivating.
A Little Bit Of History
This extraordinary town was founded in the 9th century and it developed around a Benedictine abbey. People from Paestum took refuge in this town to flee from the Saracens and with their arrival the population of the town grew considerably.
The posh resort Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy
In 1268 the town was pillaged by Pisa and in order to increase its defense fortified walls steep narrow roads and watch towers were built in the town. Romans built quite a few imposing villas along the Positano coast and their ruins can be seen all around Chiesa dell’Assunta.
In 1343 this tiny port was destroyed in a tsunami, and during the 15th century it was continuously attacked by Ottoman pirates. In the 18th century it prospered as a major port and trading hub, but the importance of this port began to decline after a few decades with the opening of a number of commercial routes and the unification of Italy.
It declined so much that it became a humble fishing town, and many of its inhabitants immigrated to the United States. The mountain paths were the only link between Positano and the Amalfi Coast, as well as the rest of Italy.
A street in Positano, Amalfi Coast
The port town began to flourish once again with the construction of new roads that connected the town with Sorrento and Naples.
The name of the town has a legendary story linked to it. In ancient times, a boat from Turkey was stranded in the waters close to where this unique destination is located today.
The captain kept a painting of the Virgin Mary aboard. Suddenly, he heard the whisper “Posa… posa…” (‘lay me down…’ in English). The painting was talking to him!
The captain, in awe and in desperation of the whole situation, followed the voice’s order and threw the painting into the Mediterranean Sea, right there.
To his astonishment, the ship was lifted and floated out into the sea.
Since then, the local people believe that the Virgin Mary had chosen this fascinating location as its final resting place and have built a church on the spot where the painting washed ashore. Since then the town was called Positano.
The Festival of Our Lady of the Assumption is celebrated to honor the town’s protector. The celebration begins with ‘The Lifting of the Painting’ and a procession of illuminated boats heads to the “Mamma e Figlio” rocks and returns to the Spiaggia Grande and then to the Cathedral.
Panorama of Positano, Amalfi Coast
The festival ends with a fireworks display over the sea.
This tiny port is popular for its made-to-measure sandals, which are perfect for climbing up the steps that are the trademark of this extraordinary destination.
Where is Positano?
- 9.9 miles/ 16 km from Amalfi, Italy
- 11.1 miles/ 18 km from Sorrento, Italy
- 167.7 miles/ 270 km from Rome, Italy
- 25.4 miles/ 41 km from Salerno, Italy
- 37.2 miles/ 60 km from Naples, Italy
- 22.9 miles/ 37 km from Pompeii, Italy
- 37.2 miles/ 60 km from Salerno Costa d’Amalfi Airport, Italy
- 40.3 miles/ 65 km from Naples International Airport, Italy
- 181.4 miles/ 292 km from Rome Fiumicino Airport, Italy
- 165.9 miles/ 267 km from Rome Ciampino Airport, Italy
Things to See
The cascading colorful houses of Positano, Amalfi Coast
- Santa Maria Assunta Church
- Walk along Via Cristoforo Colombo
- Hike along the coast
- Marina Grande
- Fornillo Beach
- Arienzo Beach
- The Islands of Sirens
- The Secret Hamlet of Nocelle
The unique town of Positano is a spell-binding mix of colors, art, culture and seascapes, which has fascinated famous artists like Picasso, Steinbeck, Bernstein, Klee and Toscanini.
If there’s one place to visit on the Amalfi Coast, then it’s this one!
We wish you a fantastic Mediterranean cruise!