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Positano: Introduction

56km (35 miles) SE of Naples, 16km (10 miles) E of Sorrento, 266km (165 miles) SE of Rome

A Moorish-style hillside village on the southern strip of the Amalfi Drive, Positano opens onto the Tyrrhenian Sea with its legendary (now privately owned) Sirenuse Islands, Homer's siren islands in the Odyssey, which form the miniarchipelago of Li Galli (The Cocks). Once, Positano was part of the powerful Republic of the Amalfis, a rival of Venice as a sea power in the 10th century. It's said that the town was "discovered" after World War II when Gen. Mark Clark stationed troops in nearby Salerno. Like many European resorts, it began as a sleepy fishing village that was visited by painters and writers (Paul Klee, Tennessee Williams) and then taken over by visitors in search of bohemia, until a full-scale tourism industry was born.

Today smart boutiques dot the village, and bikinis add vibrant colors to the gray beach, where you're likely to get pebbles in your sand castle. Prices have been rising sharply over the past few years. The 25€-a-night ($33/ţ17) rooms that were popular with sunset-painting artists have gone the way of your baby teeth. The village, you'll soon discover, is impossibly steep. Wear comfortable walking shoes -- no heels!

If you make reservations the day before with Alicost (tel. 089-811986), you can take a hydrofoil or a ferry to Capri from Positano. Hydrofoils cost 16€ ($21/ţ11) one-way, and a ferry ticket is 13€ ($17/ţ8.70) one-way.

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