Amalfi is one of my favorite towns along the Amalfi Coast. It is definitely a lot more peaceful and less touristy than Sorrento, Positano or Capri. During our exploriation of Amalfi, I sensed that their community does not revolve around tourism which was a welcome change for me.
This once had a thriving fishing industry with a population of about 70,000 peoples, living on either side of the river which divides it. The following is what Pauline Frommer writes in her Italy guidebook:
“But considered a formidable power along this coast; some of the local people still allude to the ancient might of this tiniest of kingdoms with a strong degree of pride. The major trade route between Tunis, Constantinople, and Beirut went through the town, and much of the local architecture reflects these influences.”
The waterfront has well maintained sidewalks, beautiful and well manicured gardens, and play areas for the children. It is the perfect place to take children on a walk while eating a gelato.
After we exited the waterfront area by climbing upwards, we were soon confronted by the magnificent Duomo di Amalfi, a square with shops, cafés, statues, fountains, pretty apartments facing the architectural wonder of Cathedral of St. Andrew. This cathedral is highly unique and full of interesting features. Built in the 1200s, the cathedral was constructed with dramatic flair, atop a steep flight of stairs. Its exterior was obviously influenced by Arab influences. The relics of St. Andrew is in its crypt. Connected to the cathedral is a small museum.
The following information is from “The Sacred Destinatuions blog:
“What to See at Amalfi CathedralAmalfi Cathedral looms impressively over the small Piazza Duomo from atop 62 broad stairs. Its facade, an 1800s approximation of the original, is an Arab-Sicilian riot of stripes, arches and mosaics. The bell tower on the left has a highly elaborate top, comprised of a central cupola surrounded by four turrets at the corners, all decorated with green and yellow tiles.The cathedral’s central portal features a fine set of medieval bronze doors, the first to appear in Italy. Commisioned by a wealthy merchant of Amalfi, they were cast in Constantinople around 1060 by Simeon of Syria (he signed his work). Remains of silver inlays depicting Christ, Mary, and various saints can still be seen. “The bronze doors are framed by a Romanesque portal, carved with vines inhabited by mythical beasts.The interior of Amalfi Cathedral is sumptuously Baroque but the underlying architecture is Romanesque. The triumphal arch in the apse is supported by two ancient columns from Paestum. The paintings on the walls and ceilings (by Andrea D’Asta and Castellano in the 18th century) depict the life and miracles of St. Andrew.”
“The high altar is made from the sarcophagus of Archbishop Pietr Capuano (d.1359), which is decorated with fine bas-reliefs of the Twelve Apostles with St. Basil, St. Nicholas, Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Niches in the right aisle display a large reliquary bust of St. Andrew (16th century) and the Coffin of the Dead Christ, which is carried in solemn procession through Amalfi on Good Friday.”
“To the right of the altar area is the Chapel of the Relics (a.k.a. Chapel of the Reconciliation), in which are displayed dozens of reliquaries. Some contain relics brought to Amalfi at the same time as those of St. Andrew. Stairs off the right aisle lead down to the crypt, but it cannot normally be accessed this way – one must go around through the cloister.”
“The Cloister of Paradise, entered at the left side of the cathedral’s portico, is one of the highlights of Amalfi Cathedral. Built between 1266-68 to house the tombs of Amalfi’s wealthy merchants, it features slender double columns and Moorish-style arcades made of pure white marble. In the center is a Mediterranean garden; the surrounding walkways are full of notable historic art. The left walkway has some fine Cosmatesque fragments along with two 2nd-century AD sacrophagi depicting scenes from Greek myth (the Rape of Proserpine and the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis, respectively).”
” Niches in the right-hand walking have damaged frescoes from the 14th century, including a Crucifixion by Roberto d’Orderisio of the Giotto school.The cloister leads into the Basilica of the Crucifix, dating from the 9th century and containing more frescoes. The basilica now houses the cathedral’s museum and treasury. Stairs near the east end descend into the Crypt of St. Andrew, where the saint’s relics are kept in the central altar. The crypt is decorated with beautiful Baroque murals from 1660. The large bronze statue of St. Andrew (1604) was sculpted by Michelangelo Naccherino of Florence, a student of Michelangelo. The marble statues of St. Lawrence and St. Stephen (deacons of the Eastern and Western Church) were sculpted by Pietro Bernini, father of the more famous Gianlorenzo Bernini.”
MUSEO DELLA CARTA
For 100s of years, Amalfi has been a town known for premier high quality hand made paper used today for legal type documents due to its longer life usage resulting from their manufacturing processes. This is a museum dedicated to this industry, Museo della Carta and on the premises you can purchase sample products of this paper, still manufactured today.
The following history is from the website of Museo della Carta.
“Those Republics held intense trade relationships with the Orient and therefore they could have learned the art of papermaking without any problem from the Orientals. In the period of the Middle Ages it were the galilees which used to bring crusaders and merchandise to the Holly Ground. Therefore it cannot be excluded as well that on board these galilees “paper art” had been transported backwards. Already in the IX century the oldest Sea Republic, Amalfi had it’s own bases in Palermo, Messina and Syracuse. Even today the Amalfi influence is still present in these cities in the local toponymy. This leaves us with the old question on the primacy of paper in Italy and later on in Europe. For Italy there are mainly two cities to contest to be first; Amalfi and Fabriano.”
” Different authoritative historians have submitted to support the theory that Amalfi was the first city that introduced this way of producing hand made paper. One of them, Matteo Camera, writes in his volume “Istoria dell Citta` e Costiera di Amalfi”: It is undoubtable that the production of paper, as well as on parchment, traces back to the XIII century and it has been one of the main industries of Amalfi for a long time.”
Trattoria Il Mulino – Lonely Planet http://www.lonelyplanet.com › … › The Amalfi Coast › Amalfi A TV-in-the-corner, kids-running-between-the-tables sort of place, this is about as authentic an eatery as you’ll find in Amalfi…