Set on the Amalfi Coast south of Rome in the Campania Region of Italy, Positano is a small town with mythical ties and magical allure. Long known as a modest fishing area, Positano still bears evidence of its history and foreign occupancy but has managed to retain its unique heritage through the ages.
Evidence of the first human inhabitants can be traced to the La Porta caves in 6000 B.C. Legend says that the town was founded by Poseiden, the Greek God of the Sea, in honor of Pasitea, a nymph the god fancied. It is believed that Greek vessels began to visit the town around 500 B.C. and used the town and environs as a resting place between missions.
By 100 B.C. the Romans established a foothold in Positano. Several villas were built but in 79 A.D. when the volcano Vesuvius erupted all the villas and most of the existing buildings were destroyed.
In 800 A.D. the Benedictine Friars arrived and set about establishing an independent community marked by the construction of the Abbey Santa Maria e San Vito. In 1000 A.D. the Abbey was included in the Congregation of Cava de Tireni.
With the Norman invasions in 1131, the naval forces of Amalfi were destroyed. The significance of Positano’s naval presence expanded, but also attracted more attention than was desired. In 1137, the rebuilt naval forces of Amalfi and Positano were attacked and destroyed by the wartime force of Pisa.
In 1332, Robert of Anjou built the Positano Guard Towers. In 1341, the town’s naval force helped Robert during his siege of Millazzo. When Robert died in 1343, Positano was freed of servitude but the town was soon caught up in territorial fights between Joan I, Louis The Great and Louis of Anjou. Finally in 1414, Positano became part of the Kingdom of Joan II of Naples.
Between 1450 and 1698, feudal barons controlled the territory and economies along the Amalfi coast. After two centuries of squabbles and economic unrest, Positano purchased its independence from the ruling barons in 1699.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, the ships of Positano enjoyed profitable trade with the Middle East. With its independence, the 18th century was marked as a period of economic independence. During this period many of the Baroque houses with their spectacular terraces overlooking the sea were constructed. This era could well be considered the golden era for Positano and much of the construction still survives today.
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About the Author: Gabriella Sannino has held positions as a marketing consultant, web designer and copywriter throughout her career before opening Level 343, a SEO copywriting company. She lives in the US with her family but still holds an Italian citizenship. Her passions in brand building through social media, marketing techniques and writing strong copy that converts are all part of the strategy. She fancies herself as an Italian rocker, rebel and SEO geek. Her passions include everything Italian, especially Naples. The fact she loves singing old Neapolitan songs in the shower or while cooking are what keep her grounded. See all of Gabriella Sannino’s Articles on Napoli Unplugged.