September 3, 2017

Sina-cism: An Italian coast steeped in history

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Photos courtesy Chris Sinacola

The Amalfi coast -- it just ain't what it used to be.

If the Amalfi Coast isn’t all that it used to be, blame John Steinbeck.

Chris Sinacola

Chris Sinacola

In May 1953, Steinbeck published his essay “Positano” in Harper’s Bazaar, bringing the picturesque fishing villages of the Italian coast south of Naples to the attention of an increasingly affluent American public.

“Nearly always when you find a place as beautiful as Positano,” Steinbeck wrote, “your impulse is to conceal it. You think, ‘If I tell, it will be crowded with tourists and they will ruin it, turn it into a honky-tonk and then the local people will get touristy and there’s your lovely place gone to hell.’ There isn’t the slightest chance of this in Positano.”

Steinbeck was mistaken. Never underestimate the lure of a beautiful seaside town, or the ingenuity of Italians when it comes to packing more motor scooters, cars, tour buses and visitors than you can imagine into a town that has literally no place to grow.

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