Positano Sings Its Siren Song

Photo by: monsieurlementhe

If Positano sings a siren song that attracts travellers the world over, it’s for good reason. The town faces the islets of Li Galli, once the home of the Sirens, who attempted to seduce with song any who sailed by. You would have to be as strong as Ulysses to resist their call. Ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev was entranced by it and spent his final years on the islets, in a dreamlike villa.

It would be good to have the legs of Nureyev if you visit Positano. The town nestled on the rugged Amalfi Coast of Italy is not for the foot weary. It is built vertically on the face of a cliff, with pastel houses cascading down the incline, set on narrow streets lined with fashion-forward boutiques and restaurants that no gourmands could refuse.

So climbing stairs – lots of them – is a way of life here, but one that is rewarded with sea views from almost all points. These views are never more spectacular than when you’ve mounted the steps to your own luxury Positano villa, where you can drink in the panorama on a terrace with your afternoon Campari and soda in hand.

Originally Positano was a fishing village. But its siren song attracted writers and artists in the 1950s, such as John Steinbeck, who wrote, “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” Where artists go, the moneyed follow. In the 1960s Positano cemented its reputation as a sexy destination, becoming the first town to import bikinis from France.

Of course, lounging on the beach – whether sand or pebble – by crystal waters is still a favourite pastime here. Spiaggia Grande is the main beach of Positano and a ferry port. At 300 meters long, it is one of the largest beaches on the Amalfi Coast, as well as one of the most glamorous, with its fashionable crowd of artists and celebrities. Along a coastal path leading from Spiaggia Grande you can reach the more-secluded Fornillo, with a few beach bars and no ferry traffic.


If, during your visit, you want to take a break from hedonism, walk up to one of Positano’s most famous attractions,  Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, an old church,with a majestic dome built in the 1920s and  home to the  13th-century Byzantine icon, the Madonna di Positano.

Then back to fun as usual. Stop for a ravishing seafood meal at any number of restaurants – either uphill, so you can work off your calories in advance of dining, or along the beachfront. Afterwards dance and drink the night away at one of town’s many nightclubs. If you are an early riser, you won’t know if the happy groups stumbling along at 6 a.m. are starting their day or finally ending it.

The more peppy among us can use Positano has a base to make further day trips along the Amalfi Coast, whose rocky coastline is broken with sandy coves and  small harbours with bobbing sailing boats. The island of Capri, for example, can be visited by ferry or tour boat. You can make an excursion to Pompeii, the city that was preserved in lava by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. In the town of Amalfi you can view its beautiful Duomo or take in an opera. You can trek further up the mountain to the breathtakingly beautiful town of Ravello and its summer festival of the music and arts.

But you many not want to leave Positano at all. All other attractions seem downhill from here.

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