Amalfi, with its wonderful views, is a charming, peaceful resort town on the scenic Amalfi Coast.
It was once one of the four powerful Maritime Republics and has much historic interest. Narrow alleyways wind through the town up the slopes between the sea and mountains. Excellent examples of medieval architecture with Moorish influence, included its IX century cathedral, Duomo di Sant’Andrea, and the Cloister of Paradise.
Besides history and beauty, the town is noted for its good beaches and bathing establishments, historic resorts and hotels, lemons, and handmade paper. Amalfi’s beaches are some of the best on the coast, the water is crystal clear and great for swimming, scuba diving, or boating. Limoncello di Amalfi, a lemon liquor, is one of Amalfi’s top products and can be found in local stores. High quality handmade paper from Amalfi has been famous for centuries and is even used in the Vatican.
What to see in Amalfi:
At the top of a staircase, Saint Andrew’s Cathedral (Duomo) overlooks the Piazza Duomo, the heart of Amalfi. The cathedral dates back to the 11th century; its interior is adorned in the late Baroque style with a nave and two aisles divided by 20 columns. The façade of the cathedral is Byzantine in style and is adorned with various paintings of saints, including a large fresco of Saint Andrew.
The gold caisson ceiling has four large paintings by Andrea dell’Asta. They depict the flagellation of Saint Andrew, the miracle of Manna, the crucifixion of Saint Andrew and the Saint on the cross. From the left hand nave there is a flight of stairs which leads to the crypt. These stairs were built in 1203 for Cardinal Pietro Capuano, who, on 18 May 1208, brought Saint Andrew’s remains to the cathedral from Constantinople.
The bronze statue of Saint Andrew in the cathedral was sculpted by Michelangelo Naccherino, a pupil of Michelangelo; also present are Pietro Bernini marble sculptures of St. Stephen and St. Lawrence.
In 1206, Saint Andrew’s relics were brought to Amalfi from Constantinople by the Pietro Capuano following the Sack of Constantinople (an event of the 4th Crusade) after the completion of the town’s cathedral. The cathedral contains a tomb in its crypt that it maintains still holds a portion of the relics of the apostle. A golden reliquary which originally housed his skull and another one used for processions through Amalfi on holy days can also be seen.
Chiostro del Paradiso
The Chiostro del Paradiso (“Cloister of Paradise”) was built by Filippo Augustariccio between 1266 and 1268 and was used as a burial ground for noble families of Amalfi. The white columns and pointed arches reflect the clear influence that the Arab world had on Amalfi, similar to those found in the courts of the palaces of the Middle East. It is a true open-air museum, with Roman and medieval pillars, sarcophagi depicting the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the other the rape of Proserpina, a fourteenth-century sarcophagus and fragments of the façade of the Duomo.
Arsenal of the Maritime Republic (Gli Arsenali della Repubblica)
The structure of the arsenal consists of two large stone-built halls with vaulting supported by repeated pointed arches. The vaulting rests on ten piers, originally there were twenty two, the missing twelve and the structure they supported having been lost to centuries of coastal erosion. The main function of the arsenal was the building, repair and storage of warships. Amalfitan war-galleys were among the largest to be found in the Mediterranean during the Early Middle Ages. The building now contains architectural and sculptural remains, a row-barge used in the Historical Regatta, a number of models of ships and it also acts as a venue for visual art exhibitions. Starting from December 2010, the Ancient Arsenals of Amalfi host the Compass Museum on the premises of the two aisles of the building, which were spared by the Amalfi seaquake of 1343.
Museum of Handmade Paper (Museo della Carta)
The Museum of Handmade Paper, located in Mill Valley in the northern part of the modern town, celebrates the long-established paper making tradition in Amalfi. The town was one of the first centres of paper making in Europe, the skill having been acquired by the Amalfitans from the Arabs. The museum is housed in an ancient paper mill which was once owned by the Milano family, a family famous in Amalfi for its involvement in the production and manufacture of paper. In 1969 the building was converted into a museum as a result of the will of Nicholas Milano, the mill’s then owner. The museum contains the machinery and equipment (restored and fully functional) that was once used to manufacture paper by hand.