11 November, 2008

Positano--A Brief History

After visiting Positano, famed writer John Steinbeck wrote “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.”

According to legend, Positano was founded by Poseidon, the god of the sea, for a nymph he loved, Pasitea.

The Phoenicians and the Greeks are thought to have encountered Positano on their journeys to the West. Eventually, Roman conquerers took over the town. Emperor Tiberius, not trusting the products from the nearby Island of Capri (fears of conspiracies were rampant), stocked up on flour from Positano.When the roman empire fell, Positano entered the Repubblica Marinara of Amalfi and fell into a comfortable existence thanks to commerce with nearby Mediterranean towns.Unfortunately, misfortune also struck the town during this period. It was raged and pillaged by the Pisans, Sarancen and Turk pirates.

In order to prevent further invasions for the sea, the town modified its architecture. Using the mountains to advantage, houses were built, clinging to the coast line at a heigh difficult to reach, surrounded by protective walls, towers and curving lanes. Positano soon became an established hub for maritime traffic.In 1942, Positano fell victim to a feud between several rich Neapolitan families. Famine, plague and death followed. But just as a phoenix rises from the ashes, Positano rose to greatness once again.

During the XVI and XVII centuries, the ships of Positano traded with the Middle East, bringing home spices, silks, and precious woods. Going into the XVIII century, Positano was a prosperous town, rich in Baroque architecture. After the unification of Italy, many inhabitants of Positano left for America to seek their fortunes amongst streets paved in gold. Once there, they took up work as writers, or artists–spreading the word about Positano.After the second world war, Positano was “officially” discovered by the world–people from all over the world flocked to this small corner of paradise, restoring monastaries and houses, opening boutiques and cafes.

Today, Positano is a tourist haven. In the summer, travelers from all over the world flock to this small town, crowding the already narrow stairways. Yet somehow, Positano retains its charm, mystique and small town simplicity.

When faced with such beauty, one can hardly doubt that Positano is a gift from the gods.


Annika said...

Love that Steinbeck quote, it sums it up so well!

oh thanks for your email btw, i haven't gotten around to reply to it just yet... *hangs head in shame*

Scintilla said...

Thank you for this!
We have the original Steinbeck novel - it a delight.
Just a curiosity I wanted to add was that it's said that the Emperor wanted his bread made in Posito too and the area Fornillo (which means oven) is littered with the ovens used, some of which are the arches in our home.

Anait said...

Thanks for the comments you two!! It feels good to know at least two people other than myself are glancing at the blog :)

Scintilla, I wish I had known more about the history of Positano before visiting, I would have paid closer attention to the arches and architecture!! There's always next time :)

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

Interesting. Thanks for the history lesson!

My Melange said...

It is a dreamland. Never knew the history though- so thanks for schooling me up on Positano!