Positano’s photogenic cascade of pastel-hued houses is striking, but one of the most remarkable details is the colorful tiled dome of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta (Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta). Lovely from the outside, the church is also an architectural delight within, and home to a 12th-century Byzantine-style icon of a Black Madonna and Child.
Near the waterfront at the foot of town, the beautiful Church of Santa Maria Assunta is Positano’s most recognizable landmark. The church’s brightly painted majolica dome and soaring bell tower catch the eye for miles around, but it’s also worth a peek inside to see the grand archways, elaborate classical decoration, and the Byzantine icon from which Positano is said to have gotten its name. Beneath the church are the ruins of a Roman villa dating from the second century BC.
The church, one of the main attractions in Positano, is included in small-group Positano tours or Sorrento shore excursions to the Amalfi Coast. In addition to Positano, Amalfi Coast tours include stops in Amalfi and Ravello.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Church of Santa Maria Assunta is Positano’s parish church, and a popular spot for exchanging vows on weekends.
- Positano is set on a steep cliffside, so tours require a bit of walking. Opt for comfortable shoes, and don't forget to wear sun protection.
- Photography is not allowed in the church.
- The church is fully accessible to wheelchair users.
How to Get There
The Church of Santa Maria Assunta is located in the pedestrian-only center of Positano, along Italy's famed Amalfi Coast. You can reach the coast by ferry from Naples in the summer or by bus from Sorrento year-round. The more courageous can drive along the beautiful coastal highway.
When to Get There
The Amalfi Coast—especially its main towns of Positano, Amalfi, and Ravello—get incredibly crowded during the summer, so it’s best to explore the sights along this stretch of coastline in the spring and fall.
The Black Madonna and Child
According to legend, Positano’s Black Madonna and Child was on a ship skirting the Italian coast when sailors heard the figure of Mary depicted on the icon saying, “Posa!” (“Put me down!”). The icon has been in Positano ever since, and the town’s name can be traced back to that legend.