The resort town of Positano on the Amalfi Coast has alternated between fishing village, trading hub and vacation destination for over two thousand years.
The Ancient Romans built a number of sumptuous villas on the coast of Positano, the ruins of which can be seen in the vicinity of the Church dell'Assunta.
Positano was one of the most important commercial centers in the Mediterannean, competing even with Venice for dominance as an international trade center that brought together wares from the near and Middle East and from western and Central Europe. However, By the 1850s the economy of the town was so far in decline that over half of the population immigrated (largely to the United States ).
Up until the 1950s, Positano's main income came from fishing until it began attracting tourists, including John Steinbeck, who wrote in Harper's that "it is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone." Articles like this greatly increased the popularity and renown of the island, bringing the future tourists that would become its major industry.
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