Italy Journal – Music in Positano/Ravello

{Reposted from my original 2008 trip journal and reflections in 2009}

Looking back on the pictures and the trip as a whole, the Positano region, including the nearby town of Ravello, was the most musical of the trip.

Watch out, that's the accordion player!

Street band in Positano

Our first night in Positano, we saw a street band perform… quite literally in the street, precariously positioned on a windy corner typical in the town. While we missed a major music festival in Ravello, one highlight was playing for guests at Mama Agata’s after our cooking class.

Playing for Mama Agata and guests
Playing after making dinner with Mama.

Later, I played a few songs on the main square of Ravello, and some other tourists took my picture, perhaps thinking I was one of the locals. Shortly after, a wedding party came out with their own guitarist and mandolin player.

Wedding in Ravello

Later that same night we went to a club to see a tarantella show that we saw adtertised on some flyers around town in Positano. Note to self: Never pay 14 euro to get in to a club. While that cover may include your first drink, you are going to need to drink a lot more to offset the cheesy PC-backed opening group with pre-recorded dance music, and the mediocre gothic dancers. We left after 30 minutes, cutting our losses.

Can we go now?

During our next day in Positano, the only music was a piano player at a restaurant playing instrumental American stuff and jazzy interpretations. Despite the two previous rather disheartening experiences, our third and final night in Positano turned out to be the best. Eugenio Bennato’s performance at the Marina Grande was one of the top shows I’ve seen anywhere, ever. It was the highlight of the trip in terms of live performance.

Finally, some real music Eugenio Bennato’s Taranta Power!

Taranta Power included two female singers, one Arabic rapper (who also played oud), a percussionist using a foot pedal for bass trigger, guitarist, and a bassist. There was a guest female vocalist toward the end, but I was unable to determine her name. From her flamboyance and the crowd’s reaction, I suspect she was at least moderately famous. Guitarists traded mandolins and mandocellos. Some of the music seemed political from my limited understanding of the language. I was one of the 800-1000 people on the beach within arms reach of the band. Incredible.

Though it makes little difference, I still do not know just how popular Eugenio Bennato is in terms of nationally or internationally. For all I know he could be the Italian equivalent of Bob Dylan. Check him out at:


By jjdeprisco

Sonic explorer, sound artist, guitarist in Fricknadorable, software designer.