Thursday, October 20, 2011

2011 Amalfi Coast Adventures: Positano . . .

Positano bites deep. 
It is a dream place that isn't quite real
when you are there
and becomes beckongly real
after you have gone.

 by John Steinbeck
(Harper's Bazaar, Published article in May 1953)

Apparently Positano was a poor fishing village during the first half of the 20th century and it wasn't until a published article about Positano by John Steinbeck in Harper's Bazaar in May, 1953 did the town begin to attract large numbers of tourists.  I found a copy of his article HERE and loved it. 

I think John Steinbeck's article was interesting because it was written in the 1950's but he really writes in a way that a Slow Traveler of today would.  That being that he noticed things that only a Slow Traveler notices after they have spent enough time in one place to notice them.  Here's another excerpt from his famous article:

"In a few days we became aware of Positano's greatest commodity - characters. Maybe they aren't marketable, but Positano has them above every community I have ever seen. Yes, Positano flourishes with characters."

I think that the main attraction that I'll find in Positano will be the town of Positano itself. It captivated, Travel Channel Host, Samantha Brown, so much that all she could say when she first saw Positano was "you had me at Buon Giorno . . . you had me at Buon Giorno."

Positano is so beautiful that you can find her in several movies, my favorite of which is in the movie, Under the Tuscan Sun, with Diane Lane. In fact, I had to watch it on Netflix recently. 

Once a sleepy fishing village, Positano has become a favorite of the rich and famous with its' chic (and pricey) hotels and small boutiques.  There are limestone cliffs, draped with these pastel colored houses which seem to flow gently down the rugged cliffs to the pebbly gray sand beach of the Marina Grande and down onto the turquoise green Tyrrhenian sea.  Talk about your picture perfect postcard.

There are steep pedestrian only lanes, shaded with vines of bougainvillea and they say that even on the off season the village maintains its charm.  It is recommended that you wear comfortable shoes when venturing out to explore the steep and narrow streets here.  I love this next excerpt from John Steinbeck's famous article:

Again, Positano is never likely to attract the organdie-and-white linen tourist. It would be impossible to dress as a languid tourist-lady-crisp, cool white dress, sandals as white and light as little clouds, picture hat of arrogant nonsense, and one red rose held in a listless whitegloved pinky. I dare any dame to dress like this and climb the Positano stairs for a cocktail. She will arrive looking like a washcloth at a boys’ camp. There is no way for her to get anywhere except by climbing.

Once I am able to recover from that initial "wow" reaction that I'm sure I'll get from my first sight of Positano, I want to visit the town's main church, the Santa Maria Assunta with its distinctive majolica tiled dome.  This triple naved layout church took shape in the 18th century when it was built over the remains of a 13th century Benedictine abbey.  Inside, located above the high altar is the La Madonna Nera (Black Madonna), a Byzantine icon.  Legend has it that this came to Positano on the waves of the sea after a terrible storm. 

On the seaside, I'll also find two ancient defensive Towers, Torre Trasita and Torre Sponda.  They were used for defensive purposes against pirate assaults.

Yes, it seems that Positano does in fact bite deep . . . . next up the town of Amalfi. 


  1. I love this post! I know you'll be fully equipped with such great knowledge of Positano which will add to your visit. Enjoy every breathtaking moment.

  2. Hi Barb, thanks so much for your comments. I'm so glad that you enjoyed this post. These pre-trip posts are helping me so much to organize my thoughts so I will be prepared for what I will see and experience once I get there. I'm going to pray for some clear sunny days so I can have the opportunity to take lots of photos while I'm there.:)

    Have a great day today.

  3. That is so cool that they have a black Madonna! I remember the scenes in Under the Tuscan Sun - what a gorgeous place. I bet you are SO excited!

  4. Hi Annie, yes I just learned about the Black Madonna when writing this post so it is definitely on my must see list. I can't wait to see it in person and Positano.

    Thanks so much for your comments. Have a great Friday!

  5. Oh, loved that you wove in Steinbeck's comments. I hope you love Positano! It will remind you of his words for sure. Definitely not "linen and lace" - but if you visit Capri - now THERE's the 'organdie and white linen'.
    One of the Jesuits here returned there. If you're in the Catholic Church there - look for him - he's a wonderfully young gracious soul.

  6. Hi M, thanks so much for your comments. I'm so glad that you liked my post. I will make sure to look out for the organdie and white linen folks on Capri. :) I hope to do my Capri post soon so will look for the Catholic Church for sure.

    I am looking forward to Positano and Capri. Thanks again M. Have a wonderful weekend.

  7. Postiano sounds fascinating. And what a great piece of writing from Steinbeck. That's what travel writing should be!

  8. Hi Sandra, Positano does sound fascinating, characters and all. I really enjoyed John Steinbecks article a lot. Very entertaining and wonderful travel writing.

    Thanks so much for your comments. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Ciao


It's me Trekcapri (aka Kathy). Thanks so much for visiting and leaving a comment.