Sunday, September 16

Li Parlati

Quartieri aperti, literally translated means open quarters. During September certain zones, or quarters of Pos open their doors to the public, inviting them to explore the alleyways, taste the local cooking, learn some history about the area, meet some characters and listen to traditional music.

Last night we went to the open evening of one of the oldest areas of town. As we arrived, walking up the cobbled slope we were handed glasses of sangria , small fried pizzas and cubes of cured goats cheese. There were no charges for the evening, everything was free and you could leave a donation if you wished to.

Up a few steps and plates of tubetti e totani were pushed into our hands. Totani are local pink squid, traditionally cooked in a tomato based sauce, served with short pasta. We walked down an alleyway and came to another stall where we were handed bruschetta, crunchy toasted bread with chopped tomatoes and anchovies marinated in olive oil and garlic.

Further down the alley we came across a ghost sitting in a doorway. She wore a simple printed dress and a brown knitted cardigan and I could tell immediately that she was from the 1940's. A small crowd had gathered to listen to her story so she stood up and started to speak.

Her name was Mathilde Levy and she had come from Germany with her husband and son to live in Pos in 1933, and were registered as residents in 1936. Mathildes husband, Martin Wolff was an artist and also weaved tapestries. He was known as Il signore col panariello, the man with the basket, as he was often seen walking around with a basket in which he collected herbs and plants to make vegetable dyes for his tapestries.
In 1942, while visiting Amalfi for the day, the family were caught and taken to a concentration camp in Viterbo, near Rome. From there they were deported by the Germans to Auschwitz where they perished.

The ghost of Mathilde looked deep into our eyes while she told her story. Se begged us not to leave Pos, "my husband always said that leaving here would bring bad luck and he was right. Leaving this place brings bad brings bad luck..." She sat back down inth doorway, her arms wrapped tightly around herself, chanting quietly.

We walked on and were offered glasses of wine and plates of lentils and escarole. We were invited to walk through someones house, past the living room and out onto a huge terrace where people sat and talked, then through the kitchen and back out into the alley. Down some steps we came across a chanteuse, a lady dressed in flowing black skirts, a black lace shawl and fuchsia flowers and feathers entwined in her long black hair. She sang a bawdy neopolitan street song and sidled up to the men in the crowd before reclining provocatively on the steps.

Onwards, past girls in long white nightgowns, a couple of Roman soldiers and a centuries old church we were handed more plates, this time with lemon cake, home made donuts and madeira cake to try. Finally we arrived in a small square where a band played traditional music. Tambourines shook, the crowd danced and sang and slowly we had to dreep away, taking it in turns to carry our daughter who had fallen asleep listening to the music. Back at home we could still hear the music flowing across the lit up mountainside until midnight.


  1. My goodness, that must have been an amazing experience. I teared up reading the woman's story.

  2. Nice...really, really nice.

  3. How lovely that Positano does this! I love the history and tradition.

    And see...Mathilde's story proves what I thought to be true - it's bad to leave Positano!

  4. Thanks for such a great story. Reading something like that makes me miss being in Italy.

  5. Thanks you for taking us on your delicious walk.

  6. I KNEW it!!!! Bad luck to ever leave Positano....Wish I was there...Thanks for taking us there.

  7. Thank you, it felt like I was there.

  8. that was so lovely! it reminds me why i love italy so much.

  9. Mathilde's story is so sad. It good that she is telling her history and people are listening.

  10. 'Refugio Precario' tells the story of people like Mathilde and I believe there is a photo of her husband in it. My mother-in-law's life was saved as she lived in Positano during the war but her family in Poland perished.


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