Who didn't see Amalfi, didn't see Italy - The English writer Osbert Sitwell's quotation is significant of the position and the importance that this city takes up in the national and international outline. Amalfi is considered by anyone the city of the everlasting spring, and with good reason, as the chromatic shades always changing hour after hour make this location peerless in beauty and the favourite place for the tourists coming from any part of the world.
In this place of undisputed fascination the myth and the history merge in indissoluble way. The legend tells the heathen God of the power, Hercules, had fallen in love with a nymph named Amalfi. But the idyll didn't last so long: the beautiful lady died soon and Hercules wanted to bury her in the most enchanting place in the world, calling the city founded by him with her name. The official history tells instead that the city was founded after Constantine's death, indeed the earliest documents go back to the 533 a.C., when Amalfi passes under the domination of the Byzantin Kingdom, being included in the Dukedom of Naples. Nevertheless, the fortune of Amalfi is due to the Constitution of the Maritime Republic, during the IX century, which rivaled Pisa, Venice and Genova for the supremacy in the Mediterranean Sea. Amalfi reached its biggest splendour in the XI century, to which a slow decadence followed, having a conclusion with the stormy sea in 1343, a storm described by the Italian Poet Petrarca in his letters. Only at the end of the XIX century tourism gave new strength to the small city that gives the whole Coast its name. Since 1997 Amalfi has been appointed by UNESCO as Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
St. Andrew's Cathedral
The Amalfi Cathedral is certainly one of the richest and most beautiful monuments in Italy. The church has been founded in the IX century, or better in the era of highest importance of the Maritime Republic, and it has undergone numerous readaptations, the latest of those at the end of the IX century, when even the majestic flight of steps has been restructured. The bronze door that adorns the polychromatic façade was fused in Constantinople during the XI century, while the square tower embellished by twin and triple lancet windows in Romanesque style goes back to the XII century. At the lower level you can find the crypt going back to the XIII century, which numbers, with tourists' astonishment, two statues of Pietro Bernini and the Naccherino's St'Andrew sculpture. Below the altar there's the dress of St. Andrew, patron saint of the city, moved from Constantinople in 1208.
Cloister of the Paradise
Beside the church you can find the marvellous cloister called "Cloister of the Paradise", with its Arabian style and going back to the 1266. Inside the monument, closed but a delicious porch in gothic and Arabian style, there are a lot of finds from the roman and medieval era.
In the internal area of Amalfi, actually close to the road that takes to the "Ironworks Valley", it's possible to visit one of the most interesting museums in the Coast, the Museum of the Paper. Among the earliest cities where the usage of the paper was discovered there were the Maritime Republics; we need only to think that Pisa, Amalfi, Venice and Genova used to have warehouses for the production of paper not only in Syria, but also in Palestina. Amalfi, the most ancient of the Maritime Republic, had warehouses in Italy too, exactly in Syracuse, Palermo and Messina, where the Amalfitan is still existing in the local toponomy. Inside the museum there's chance to admire all the old technologies for the production of the paper, as to be able to think back the path that led to the creation of the famous "bambagina paper" of Amalfi.
Amalfi is certainly famous in all over the world for its maritime tradition; but not many people know that in this place by the thousand fascinations you can find a treasure of great awesomeness, the wildlife reserve of the "Ironworks Valley". The name of this very peculiar place derives from the ruins of the ancient Ironwork that used to provide the Republic iron for the building of impressive ships. The valley is reachable by walking a marvellous path that runs along the "Rio Canneto", a small river. The route is smooth, not so tiring and winds itself along beautiful woods, sources, small falls and many rapids of the stream, once used as engine for the old paper mills.
The Path of the Gods
There's an aspect of the Amalfi Coast that a few people know, who can be rightly considered as the guardians of an unutterable beauty. The paths that enrich the mountains overlooking Amalfi, once used for the transport of materials and consumer goods, are still in good conditions. Among these cattle-tracks, the Path of the Gods is surely the most popular. It is located at an average of 500 meters above the sea and offers an unmatchable sight that sweeps from Praiano to Positano, till the island of Capri and the Cilento. A pair of tracking shoes, a camera and a consuming love for the open air walks are all you need for spending an unforgettable day.
Testiness of Amalfi
The Amalfi Coast strikes, moves and seduce the tourist not only for the breathtaking views and the sea of an intense blue, but even for its flavours and tastes that burst out from its kitchens. Without any doubt we could start from the tasting of the infinite varieties of fishes of he area; indeed Amalfi and the neighbouring cities can number more than a hundred ichthyic species: cod, moray eel, shells, rock fish, grey mullet. Even famous are the Cetara anchovies: don't miss the occasion to buy a small pot of anchovies' sifting, distillate obtained by the particular treatment of salting anchovies, used also on the Romans' tables (as Petronius shows in his proto-novel Satyricon). In the ancient Maritime Republic dominates the Amalfitan "sfusato", or better the typical lemon of the coast, from which it's produced a very tasty variety of limoncello, which leaves its mark in the typical cakes of the zone. Let yourself be seduced by the excellent small rinds, or better little pieces of citrus covered with chocolate, which find their admirable place in the "Santarosa", an ancestor of the more famous Neapolitan "sfogliatella" born in a Monastery in Conca dei Marini. The road of the wine in the Amalfi Coast winds along valleys of inimitable beauty, and it's here that the traditional vineyards are cultivated. Anyway, the primacy among the typical liqueurs is certainly up to the limoncello, a liqueur produced in small craftmade laboratories with alcohol, sugar, water and lemon fragrance, often got by grating the peel of the delicious citrus. Limoncello is usually served frozen as a digestive liqueur at the end of a meal, especially in small tiled grasses, frozen themselves.
It's absolutely amusing doing a walk through the small streets of the centre rich in shops, entering the firms and the picture-galleries and let that whirling of ideas and colours strike your imagination. Sometimes the choice becomes really embarrassing, because buying something means forgoing an item that struck our feelings. The ceramics of Vietri are surely one of the many peculiarities of the place. The yellow and the blue, colours of nature and sea, get mixed in vivacious decorations, which are often little masterpieces. Otherwise, if our interest is moved by local gastronomical products it gets very hard to make a choice that sacrifices one of the tastiness of the area. The pasta of Minori is one of he many, if you think that at the beginning of the XX century, thanks to its mills, the production of pasta wasn't secondary to the renowned location of Gragnano. Among the different varieties don't miss the "fusilli", which, made up of bran, wheat and water, are crumpled up with a slim iron thread. But here shopping means "Moda Mare Positano". In this small village, reachable in no more than a quarter of hour, by public and private transports, the maze of small streets is suffocated by dozens of shops that expose fanciful clothes famous in the whole world. Password: colour. From the bikini to the pareo, from the sea-clothes to the wedding dresses, the eye never gets tired.
If there's something you can always find in Amalfi, this is certainly the chance to lodge. If your goal is to book a vacation in Amalfi, be sure you're going to have an endless range of options to consider. First you can choose to stay in one of the numerous hotel accommodations, having daily excursions in the manifold interesting sites and choosing the accommodation itself according to your budget and your needs, from the bed and breakfast to the five stars hotel. Otherwise, if your passion is being as much as close to nature, you can choose one of the various farm holidays of the area, as to have the chance to find out the gastronomical richness of the peninsula. Then, whatever is your idea of holidays, you'll find in the Coast the destination of your dreams.
Amalfi and the neighbouring cities get frequently busy of many cultural happening ranging over different fields, from the eno-gastronomy to religious ceremonies, from the historical commemorations to the concerts. Among the religious ceremonies that impassion the believer and astonish the occasional visitor, in the day of St. Joseph, on March 19th, takes place a solemn procession that starts from the chapel of St. Joseph of Castriota and ends in the Doges' square, where it's made a bonfire. On June 13th it's the turn of St. Anthony, in which the statue of the Saint moves from the Monastery of San Francesco until the seaside of Atrani where it is hoisted on a boat and followed by the fishers of the place.
On June 27th it's commemorated the miracle of St. Andrew, performed in 1544. The bust of the patron saint is brought in procession by a group of people completely dressed in white. When it arrives on the sand, the fishers take it and bring it to the great steps of the Cathedral, offering fresh fish.
On November 30th, emulating the more famous San Gennaro, St. Andrew does his miracle too. During a solemn ceremony, an oily liquid called manna comes out from the sepulchre. If it didn't happen, as in the most classic traditions, it would mean that the Saint got angry with the community and something wrong like a disaster could happen.
During the month of September takes place the Lemon Festival, basic ingredient for cakes and limoncello.
But the mother of any happening in town is the Historical Regatta, which takes place every four years on the third Sunday in June. Any of the Maritime Republic evokes a meaningful moment of its history. Every boat has got, on its stem, a golden wood figurehead that represents the symbol of the Republic, then the winged horse for Amalfi, the winged dragon of St. George for Geneva, the imperial eagle for Pisa and the Lion of St. Marcus for Venice. Abaft there a castle endowed with a flag of the city. The match occurs on a 2000 metres path and, in the city of Amalfi, it takes place in the high seas.
Amalfi offers its visitors numberless opportunities of delight, both during the day and the night, like polished open space coffee bars, typical "trattoria", disco and outdoor places. After an aperitif in the central square, it's good to spend a romantic dinner in one of the many restaurants, accompanied by typical Neapolitan live music. And by night, young people can go wild in the poshiest discos in South Italy, while adults who don't love confusion can take a walk and do shopping in the typical shops open until late. The host's duty is guaranteed and the local people's liking will persuade you to come back as soon as possible.
How to get there
The nearest international airport is Napoli Capodichino.
To get to Amalfi, you can use a taxi, or better reach Naples Central Station by the public transport; from here you can catch a train to Salerno every hour, the SITA bus, or the ferries from the Molo Beverello, which you can reach by bus.
From the North: Highway A3 with exit in Vietri sul Mare, then you have to follow the 163 state road until the Km. 30,5.
(in case of traffic) Highway A3 with exit in Castellammare di Stabia, then continue on the state road number 366 heading Agerola; take the direction Amalfi and follow the 163 state road until Km 29,3.
Highway A30 with exit in Salerno, then 163 state road until Km 30,5.
From the South: Highway A3 with exit in Vietri sul Mare, then run the 163 state road until the Km. 30,5.
During the high season there can be some limitation to the traffic, like one way, alternate number plates. We suggest to get informed before leaving asking some tourist information office.
There's chance to moor by the roadstead, where you can find the only service station in the Coast.