The origin of the city of Amalfi, according to the legend, dating back to Constantine the Great, came from the name of a nymph, Amalfi was loved by Ercole and was buried by the will of the gods. The seamanship of the Amalfi people (it is now established that it was they who were the first to invent the compass, an orientational magnetic marine instrument that spread throughout the Mediterranean in the first half of the 13th century) and the great diplomatic ability allowed them to navigate across the entire Mediterranean, establishing commercial relationships and peace with all the neighboring populations, including the Saracrens. Amalfi, the first among the coastal towns during all the Middle Ages had a large and powerful fleet whether it was militarily or as merchants. The military fleet was more often victorious, especially in the battles against the Arabs, in defense of Christianity. After the glorious Middle Ages in Amalfi, the history of the city and the other coastal towns were characterized by a demographic falling and the invasion of pirates. In 1643, a terrible and ruthless plague killed almost one third of the coastal population and brought about a growth in poverty. In the 1700, Amalfi was almost an uninhabited city and the noble families had moved to Naples. In June of 1807, Giuseppe Bonaparte, after visiting the reign, was so stunned by the beauty of the Amalfi Coast that he decided to build a coastal road that would make it easier to get from Naples to the coast. Started in 1816, and carried on by Murat, the road was inaugurated by Fernandino II in 1854. In 1879, passing through the narrow streets of the little coastal towns, Erik Ibsen was inspired to complete his work on the "Casa di Bambole". On the eve of the 20th century, Amalfi was rediscovered and researched as a touristic place. In the 60s, (those from the economic boom and those from the roman "Dolce Vita" lived between Capri and Amalfi during the summer) directors and artists of every genre and explorers came by the coast. From this splendid combination of art and nature, was born passionate and priceless works of art. Today, Amalfi is a peaceful touristic center. Do not miss the view from the Duomo of Sant'Andrea, from the cloister of Paradiso, the Ancient Arsenals from the Amalfitano Republic and the Emerald Grotto.
THINGS TO VISIT:
- La Valle delle Ferriere: the nature reserve "Valle delle ferriere" can be reached by a marvelous path along the Rio Canneto. The path is easy and not tiring, it goes through beautiful forests, springs, small waterfalls and different rapids of the Rio Canneto, that were at one time used to motor the old paper mills, for the production of the famous Amalfi paper, which is still highly in demand today. There are still ruins left today from these mills, that are visible and visitable. About half way along the path you will find the Antique iron mine, from which the valley was named, that supplied Antique iron to the Marine Republic of Amalfi. The easiness of the path doesn't require a lot of equipment from its visitors; it's only advised to wear long pants and a pair of comfortable athletic shoes. Be careful not to forget your camera, it would be an unforgivable error!
. Santuario dell'avvocta: it is the classic itinerary that puts together the sacred and the secular; as well as the breathtaking panorama of the Gulf of Salerno and the Amalfi Coast with the search for the divine, strongly favored by the long slope up on foot towards the Santuario Mariano and the wide open spaces over the sea that naturally push the visitor towards the contemplation of infinity. The Santuario dell'Avvocata erected on mount Falerzio, on the edge of a rocky wall, that can be reached using a mule track that comes from the Badia di Cava ( the path is longer but less difficult) or the many steps that come from Maiori.
. Il Sentiero degli Dei: the visit to the Amalfi coast cannot be considered complete without planning an excursion on "The Path of the Gods". The landscape is always of an indescribable beauty, the sea is an inseparable travel companion and often you can observe it from cliffs, but not recommended for those who suffer from dizziness. The view of the Sorrentine Peninsula and the island of Capri is spectacular. Once you pass the Vallone Grarelle you will reach the village of Nocelle (440 meters above sea level), a little known and a characteristic fraction of Positano, which until a not long ago it was isolated, but thanks to a staircase it is reachable. The adventurer can choose between going down the approximately 1500 stairs that separate Nocelle from Amalfi and enjoy a rejuvenating swim in the Positano beach or, if they still have energy, can keep going on until Monte Pertuso. It gets its name from a hole ("pertuso" is the local dialect) in the rocky part of the summit, caused by the natural phenomenon of erosion, leaving behind unusual stone statues. The path is slightly more difficult. It is a little less than 8km. The necessary time it takes to walk is about 2.5-3 hours.
. Il Duomo: the Amalfi Cathedral is an architectural complex made up of two churches side by side that interconnect with a crypt underneath, stairs at the entrance, a bell tower, and the Paradise Cloister. The Cathedral was built in a strategic location with a central point of view for urbanism and for emergency defense on a raised plateau of about 20 meters above sea level, made from particularly hard and compact volcanic pumus, that in our dialect is called "torece". Over the years, the structure has undergone various restorations and modifications. Last completed, at the end of 1891, the façade was restored with a medieval aspect and an embellished mosaic made with Byzantine imprints.
. Festival of San Giuseppe (Saint Joseph): with a procession that begins from the chapel of Saint Joseph of Castroita and ends at the "Piazzetta del Dogi", where they light a bonfire on March 19th.
. Festival of Sant'Antonio (Saint Anthony): the statue is brought in a procession from the Convent of San Franceso to the Atrani beach, where the statue is put into a boat and followed by fisherman boats. It is then brought to the Amalfi port from where it then returns to the church of Sant'Antonio. This is celebrated takes place on June 13th.
. June 27th commemorates the accomplished miracle of Sant'Andrea (Saint Andrew) in1544: The apostle's sculpture of a bust made of silver by the a Neapolitan Baroque called "o' viecchio" (the old man) is carried in a procession through the streets by men dressed in white. At the beach the fishermen take it and bring it up the path, on the long stairs of the Duomo, and they leave it there as an offering for fresh fish.
. Every 4 years (on the 3rd Sunday of June) the historic regatta takes place, taking turns with other maritime republics (Genova, Pisa and Venice). Each one of the four cities revokes an important moment of its history.
. In September there is the celebration of the Sacred Lemon of the coast which is characterized by the thick peel and is a basic ingredient for sweets and limoncello, a liquor that is produced from an old home-made recipe.
What Not to Miss!
. A visit to the endless artesian activities and products of Maioliche that are unique and famous through- out the world.