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Hotel Olimpico
South Coast of Salerno,
Lago Trasimeno street
84098 Pontecagnano
Salerno  - Italy
Ph. +39 089 203 004
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info@hotelolimpico.it

 

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Positano

 

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The first trance of human life in the Positano area can be found in a cave located in the “La Porta “ area , the lower strada date back to the Romallian culture of the Palaeolithic age while the upper strata date back to the Mesolithic age . It would appear that the cave was used between 13,000 and 8,000 years ago , although such an early appearance does not correspond to evidence of other settlements found in the area. Late Bronze age mythology
Was later to draw attention to the site through the famous episode of the Sirens recounted by Homer . this tale was passed down by ancient . Aegean sailor who associated the three Sirens , Ligea , Leucosia and Partenope, with the three islands –now know as Li Galli –which lie in front of modern –day Positano . These Sirens committed suicide because Odysseus (Ulysses) somehow managed to escape the enchantment of their songs . Apart from mythical transformations , this small archipelago effectively constituted and obligatory stop on the route taken by the Achaeans from the 15th century B.C.onwards as they headed to the islands of Ischia and Vivara . In the classical age . strabo the historian still referred to the three islands as Sirenuse . Only from the 1st century A.D. onwards were certain parts of the coast – including Positano –chosen by the Roman patriciate as sities for luxurious villas overlooking the sea. According to some scholars , one such villa at Positano belonged to Posides, a former slave who had been granted freedom by the Emperor Claudius , and the name Posidianium passed from his home to the entire town . Unfortunately, an impenetrable veil obscures
the history of the Coast during the Dark Ages, making it impossible to uncover information on the origins of the town and villagest . The first historically reliable references to Positano date from the 9th -10th centuries A.D. and describe the settlement of a community of Benedictine monks in the Abbey of St Mary and Vitus ( Abbazia di Santa Maria e San Vito ) .
Most of the history of the inhabitants of Positano is connected to the Abbey of St. Mary and Vitus , which wielded not only spiritual but also temporal power over the local community in a feudal type relationship . The people were subjected to vassalage through the payment of taxes and duties , which created great discontent . It appears that the death of King Robert of Anjou ( 1343) saw the end of the slavery endured by the Positano people at the hand of the monastery .
Once freed from vassalage , the inhabitants of Positano built up an efficient navy through which they became highly skilled in trading often in competition with Amalfi which in the aftermath of the Nornan conquest in 1131 , gradually fell into decline . By now the energy and zest of the Amalfi people , although still a force to be reckoned with , could not keep up with the competition brought about by the change in the political order of the peninsula as well as the presence of merchants from Pisa and Catalonia in the lower Tyrrhenian sea . During the twenty year war with the Sicilian Vespri (1282) , the Angevins who were the new lords of southern Italy .further weakened Amalfi by imposing a naval blockade and confiscating its fleet to be sent to Sicily . it was only in the context of such events that the Positano people enjoyed a certain degree of autonomy, however fleeting mainly due to Amalfi ‘s unexpected decline in power , and not to their own merit as such . And so the Positanese galleys began to set sail regularly to major ports in Liguria , Provence and Catalonia . These is actual documentary evidence that the largest number of ships and sailor in the kingdom came from Amalfi and Positano , the town which were believed to have the finest sea-faring and ship –building traditions .
When the Naples branch of the Angevin family died out , there followed a bitter series of battles for succession to the kingdom of Naples, characterised by the bloody years between 1348 and 1442 and concluded by the victor of the Aragones over the Angevins .The rigid feudal system , frequent pirate raids and pestilence caused by wartime misery and devastation produced not only a serious economic crisis but also the disappearance of the merchant bourgeoisie which had once created wealth in the area. Alfonsus of Aragon the new monarch of the Kingdom , found himself with major debts following the war of succession and was obliged to grant as fiefs the baronies of Angri, Gragnano, Lettere, Pimonte, Le Franche , Positano and the Li Galli islands, Thus Positano saw the beginning of a 250-year period of alternate subjection to barons and feudal lords which lasted until 1699 , when the local people managed to free themselves upon payment of large sums of money and were re-admitted to the royal household .
By now the spirit of the people of Positano was thoroughly worn down if not completely broken , and many of them had to leave town and seek work elsewhere . Trade and ship-building which were once particularly flourishing
business activities , continued to decline rapidly . As it lay hidden from sight at the westernmost tip of the Amalfi Coast and was linked to the other coastal towns only by sea or by means of an impervious mountain pass through the Lattari . Positano remained isolated right up the end of the 19th century when the “ancestor” of modern –day trunk road 163 was at the long last hewn out of the rock face . This event was to pave the way for the town’s vocation as a highly sought –after tourist resort which today is the mainstay of the local economy.

Topographical Details –The town is spread out over one of the slopes of Mount Comune , softening its craggy outline. A single road via Pasitea , winds its way from the Town Hall to the Piazzetta dei Mulini and the junction of the road to Amalfi , continuing uphill , it turns into via Cristoforo Colombo . Looking down at the town from above , the eye becomes enchanted by an intricate network of narrow picturesque steps , which create the impression of a Nativity crib . The piazzetta dei Mulini leads down to the small Piazza Flavio Gioia where the Church of Our Lady of Assumption . (Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta ) and its characteristic majolica –tiled dome stand . Inside there is a nave and two aisles separated by pillars and the right –hand side of the transept hang a painting By Fabrizio Santafedele entitled a Circumcision (1599) . The main altar is decorated with a 17th century Byzantine style panel painting depicting the Madonna and Child . there is a bell tower next to the church and a heavy marble slab mounted on its doorway depicts a sea monster . In medieval times this slab together with other marble and mosaic remains cemented on the other side of the building along the Rampa Teglia had been part of the church flooring . From there a small door leads to the Crypt, the oldest part of the entire building on top of which the basilica was built . Nearby the church , concealed by flood detritus and modern –day boutiques , lie the ruins of a roman villa dating from the 1st century A.D. which probably belonged to the famous freedman , Posides whogave his name to Posidanium which was later to become Positano .
To the west of the Marina Grande stretches Fornillo beach . To the east lie the smaller beaches of La Porta , Fiumicello and Arienzo . Lastly the villages of Montepertuso (350 m above sea level ) and Nocella (420m above sea level ) offer a delightful range of nature trails with breathtaking views over the entire coastline .
  Vettica Maggiore and Praiano

Trunk road 163 from Positano to Amalfi leads to the town of Vettica Maggiore a cluster of houses leading down to the sea between Capo Sottile and Marina di Paiano . The perish churh with its characteristic majolica –tiled dome , is dedicated to St Gennaro . Built between 1588 and 1602, it consist of a nave and two aisles separated by ten pillars . It houses several important art works including . The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew ( 16th C) , by Giovanni Bernardo Lama and The last Supper (18th C) by Francesco Saverio Carvelli . Next to the church stands the 18th century bell tower .
The towers at Grado and Assiola form the boundaries of the town along the coastline . The former , build around 1568 , sits on the headland of Capo Sottile . Barrel-vaulted and built of limestone , it initially consisted of a ground floor with the guardroom above , and was crowned by embrasures . Ithas since been completely refurbished , and all that remains of its original design is the exterior . The tower at Assiola , however , is on of the oldest and most charming in the entire area , Constructed in 1270 during the reign of Charles I of Anjou , it is a well –preserved example of mediaeval fortification . The circular design included two rooms , one above the other . The walled structure is made from limestone and is also barrel-valuted . The road which rises up along the slopes of Mount St Angelo leads to Praiano , which stands 240 meters above sea level . The origins of the town seem to date back to the period when high –ranking Amalfi families started to build houses in the parts of the countryside where they already owned estates . Indeed, , it would appear that the parish church of St Luke (San Luca ) was founded by two aristocratic families from Amalfi , the Alagnos and the Corsaros . Several paintings by Giovanni Bernardo Lama can be found here as well as the 16th century Madonna of the Rosary by Padovano da Montorio.

The coastline seen from the sea.

The first part of the coast just outside Salerno cannot be reached by sea, and is know as the Capo d’Orso . The most recent , enthusiastic and precise visitor to this stretch of land was Franco Patini who , through the pages of the July ’86 edition of ‘Acqua ‘ , gives us an incomparable “pilot’s book with which to discover the secrets of the coast “
He is our principal reference in this chapter . Capo d’Orso is characterised by Dololomite –like cliffs, and scattered with Holm-oaks , arbutus barriers , mastic trees , heather and myrtle . As far as Baia Verde , the sea cannot be reached from land . Obviously , the aforementioned place can be reached by sea in fishing boats and other boats of all sizes , but is important to inform oneself first about docking possibilities .
Let’s move on Vettica , which its natural arch and caverns used for mooring boats , and with houses and monasteries imbedded in the rock for centuries . At Conca Marina we discover another string of little houses a small beach , and a very steep staircase for those who prefer not to come by boat . Thus we arrive at most famous Grotto , know as “ dello Smeraldo ; there is an underwater passage 7 to 11 meters below the sea level , which give the cave its extraordinary green colour . The sea-bed of Vettica used to be especially rich in coral . Thirty years ago Neapolitan coral- divers still used to collect coral there at depths of up to 90 meters .
The underwater stalactite formations of the Smeraldo grotto are due successive rising and lowering of the sea level .
In our opinion the most fascinating point of the coastline , both from land and sea, is the Furore fjord perhaps because we think of it as the favourite spot of Greta Garbo and Stokowski . Its tiny town centre looks as if it was built by Tom Thumb on the Giant’s hand . Its enough to calm even the most restless soul . Mre houses , and ravines , set into the rock are now an indissoluble part there of Praiano , which its “ faraglioni “ , and terraced lemon orchards , cliff-like walls , and pine –trees caressing the sea.
The part of Sorrento coast that is most free of houses runs from Fiorillo to Punta Campanella . There are two curiosities worth mentioning here : the tiny island of Isca which for years belonged to Eduardo .
De Filippo and which is inaccessible except by boat , and the three small islands called the Galli , with their Mediterranean vegetation , they were used for centuries as places of Punishment by the doges of Amalfi .
From the sea to the hills , the first morphologic impact is with “ calcareous –dolomitic cliffs which loom over the sea and which are broken up by numerous faults which correspond to deep channels modelled by erosion .
The vegetation goes from thriving bushes of ” Thapsia graganica”, whose
yellow-green flowers decorate the area nearest to the sea in spring , to splashes of origanum and butcher’s broom , rosemary and arbutus berries, myrtle and honeysuckle , with wooded areas of Holm-oak and pine , and even oak trees higher up .

 

 Vettica Maggiore and Praiano

Trunk road 163 from Positano to Amalfi leads to the town of Vettica Maggiore a cluster of houses leading down to the sea between Capo Sottile and Marina di Paiano . The perish churh with its characteristic majolica –tiled dome , is dedicated to St Gennaro . Built between 1588 and 1602, it consist of a nave and two aisles separated by ten pillars . It houses several important art works including . The Martyrdom of St Bartholomew ( 16th C) , by Giovanni Bernardo Lama and The last Supper (18th C) by Francesco Saverio Carvelli . Next to the church stands the 18th century bell tower .
The towers at Grado and Assiola form the boundaries of the town along the coastline . The former , build around 1568 , sits on the headland of Capo Sottile . Barrel-vaulted and built of limestone , it initially consisted of a ground floor with the guardroom above , and was crowned by embrasures . Ithas since been completely refurbished , and all that remains of its original design is the exterior . The tower at Assiola , however , is on of the oldest and most charming in the entire area , Constructed in 1270 during the reign of Charles I of Anjou , it is a well –preserved example of mediaeval fortification . The circular design included two rooms , one above the other . The walled structure is made from limestone and is also barrel-valuted . The road which rises up along the slopes of Mount St Angelo leads to Praiano , which stands 240 meters above sea level . The origins of the town seem to date back to the period when high –ranking Amalfi families started to build houses in the parts of the countryside where they already owned estates . Indeed, , it would appear that the parish church of St Luke (San Luca ) was founded by two aristocratic families from Amalfi , the Alagnos and the Corsaros . Several paintings by Giovanni Bernardo Lama can be found here as well as the 16th century Madonna of the Rosary by Padovano da Montorio.