Amalfi Travel GuideIntroduction
The town of Amalfi is located in Salerno, Campania in Italy, within the area of the same name. It is a popular tourist destination sitting at the Gulf of Salerno, and if you’re dropping by the Amalfi Coast for your vacation, then the coast’s namesake town is a must-see destination with its gorgeous coastal panoramas and dramatic cliffs. Thanks to its natural beauty, it is currently listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We first hear about Amalfi as early as the 6th century, and during the medieval era, this small town was actually an important commercial center that had trading relations with Sardinia, Egypt, and Syria, and was also the center of excellence for studies in law and mathematics. It was also the capital of the maritime power, the Duchy of Amalfi. Its influence began to decline after the 1200s, however, until in the 1920s, it saw a revival as the holiday destination of choice for wealthy British tourists and aristocrats.
These days, it is a major Italian tourist destination, especially in during the summer months when visitors flock here to enjoy its delicious Mediterranean climates and seaside panoramas. It is also famous for its local lemon cultivation, and of course, its resulting products such as its yummy limoncello. It is also the source of a type of handmade paper known as “bambagina” which is a favorite material among many artists today.
What to See
Being a prestigious location during the medieval era, many of the structures here are prime examples of wonderful architecture from that time. In particular, its religious buildings such as its churches and monasteries, are famous for the style that was adopted during the time of the Normans which blended local architecture with Byzantine.
The Amalfi Cathedral (Saint Andrew’s Cathedral) Located at an elevated perch in the heart of the town, Amalfi’s Duomo overlooks its main piazza, and offers a wonderful view of the surrounding areas. The Duomo’s interior itself is decorated in the Baroque style, while its exterior follows the Byzantine school of design, complete with paintings and frescoes of saints. The Cathedral’s ceiling is made with gold caisson, and features four large paintings which depict various events in the life of Saint Andrew. It also has a crypt where the saint’s remains are housed, as well as various statues and sculptures, some of which were made by the famous sculptor, Pietro Bernini. It is also the home of Saint Andrew’s relics which are contained in a golden reliquary inside the cathedral.
Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise)
Located right next to the Duomo, the cloister was constructed under the supervision of Filippo Augustariccio in the late 1200s. It is built in the Arabic style and was mainly used as the burial grounds for the prominent citizens and noble families of Amalfi. These famous burials are marked with elaborate sarcophagi that depict various religious and mythological scenes. There are also ancient mosaics, frescoes, and paintings that can be found here.
Gli Arsenali della Repubblica (Arsenal of the Maritime Republic)
Originally used for the storage, repair, and construction of warships and war-galleys, it now houses examples and models of ancient ships, and also serves as a venue for various exhibits and events.
Museo della Carta (Museum of Handmade Paper)
As mentioned previously, Amalfi is also known for its handmade paper that is used by many artists. This is the product of a long tradition of paper-making in this town which used to be one of the centers for the craft in Europe at one point. The museum building itself used to be an ancient paper mill that was owned by one of Amalfi’s noble families, the Milanos. The mill was then converted into a museum and opened its doors to the public in 1969 by the owner at that time, and visitors can now view the various equipment that were once used to produce the town’s famous paper products.
Tips and Advice
- Compared to other towns in the area, Amalfi is one of the larger towns, so if you plan to do your sightseeing on foot, be prepared to do quite a bit of walking.
- As for facilities, the town is fully equipped to receive tourists, and there are many information centers, restaurants, cafes, bars, and shops to visit.
- Be aware that the town and its beaches can be particularly crowded in the summer. It is a popular destination for both local and international tourists, so be prepared for the throngs of people. If you wish to avoid this, you may want to visit during the spring or autumn instead, which shouldn’t be a problem as the area retains its summer-y climates almost all year round.
- Nearby is the magical Emerald Grotto, or La Grotta dello Smeraldo, so don’t miss your chance to pay a visit to this enchanting place!
- Cycling and hiking tours are also available here, so if you’re interested in this type of activity, make sure to check with your travel agent or tour operator.