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Laid at the southern feet of the Mounts Lattari, which protect it from the
Northwinds, Positano enjoys – thanks to its favourable position – all the advantages
of a mild, dry climate. It is surrounded by green mounts, which form a sort
of crown: Mount Comune, Mt. S. Maria del Castello, Mt. S. Angelo a Tre Pizzi
(1444 metres high), Mt. Conocchia, Mt. Campo dei Galli and Mt. Paipo; towards
south and east the gaze sweeps over the sea up to Punta Licosa and Capri. Three
miles away from the coast a little arcipelago rises from the sea – “Li Galli”
or “Sirenuse” – composed by three islands: “Gallo Lungo”, “Rotonda”, “Castelluccio”,
which was always supposed to be the abode of the bewitching Syrians.
The origins of Positano, like those of many other towns, are lost in the mists
of time, so that it is difficult to distinguish between history and legend.
As it often happen in the past, myths supplied for the lack of data: one of
these myths tells us that Positano was founded by Poseidon – the Latin Neptune,
the god of the sea – for the sake of the nymph Pasitea, whom he loved. It is
certain that Phoenicians and Greeks, travelling westwards, landed in Positano,
which at that time, was inhabited by Oschi and Piceni. 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. With the fall of the
Roman Empire Positano became a part of the Republic of Amalfi, the first maritime
republic, and went through flourishing period, owing to the commerce with the
other countries of the Mediterranean area.
Unfortunately this period was followed by gloomy ones, particularly during
the Angevin and Aragonese domination, when our village was more than once exposed
to the offence of the Saracen pirates, first, and, then of the Turkmen. A legend
referring to that period says that the Saracen pirates, during an incursion,
sacked the main Church and brought away, among other things, the Byzantine picture
of Black Virgin, which was kept in the church and is now to be found in the
apse over the high altar; they had just left the shore, when a voice was heard,
that said: “Posa, posa”. The pirates became aware of having committed a sacrilege,
repented came back ashore and restored all the ill-gotten goods. To defend themselves
from the very frequent raids of the pirates the inhabitants of Positano built
three guard-towers, which can still be seen today in the quarters called “Fornillo”,
“La Trasita”, “La Sponda” and some others in the inner part of the village.
In the same period the mountain villages of Montepertuso and Nocelle enlarged
to harbour the inhabitants of Positano and Laurito, who feared the pirates.
In 1700 there was a thriving period as it is shown by many villas in the late
Baroque style, built on the East coast. The Unification of Italy forced many
inhabitants of Positano, as it happened for so many other people of South Italy,
to migrate to America, where fortune smiled on some of them. After the First
World War – during which Positano also paid its great tribute of blood – this
village, which was already the refuge of some Italian artists, like Vincenzo
Caprile, harboured many Russian, German artists and men of letters, who chose
it for its peace and quiet. Among others we can remember: Semenov, Zagoruiko,
Essad Bey, Clavel, Escher, Massine, Kovaliska, Ghillausen, etc., who with their
works maid this flat of land known all over the world.
The tourism booming took place after the Second World War; but despite of an
intense expansion our village preserve its characteristic vertical structure
and its bright architecture with suggestive, panoramique corners. Thanks to
the innate sense of hospitality of its inhabitants Positano became one of the
most famous tourist places all over the world. Our village 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. Its favourable position put it in the
centre of a land rich of history and natural beauties. 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