is a small town on the Amalfi Coast
), in Campania
. The main part of the city sits in an enclave in the hills leading down to the coast.
Positano was a port of the Amalfi Republic
in medieval times, and prospered 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 Australia
Positano was 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."
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). It also hosts the annual Cartoons on the Bay Festival, at which Pulcinella awards
for excellence in animation
are presented. From July 1967 and through most of the 1970s, Positano was home of singer-songwriter Shawn Phillips
and was where most of his best known work was composed. Also, Mick Jagger
and Keith Richards
from The Rolling Stones
wrote the song "Midnight Rambler
" in the cafes of Positano while on vacation.
Today, tourism is the major industry in Positano. Two of its hotels, Il San Pietro and Le Sirenuse, are frequently cited as among the best in the world. In 2006, Travel + Leisure magazine published the results of its 11th annual poll asking readers to name the best travel hot-spots and placed Le Sirenuse in 30th position for best hotels in the world.