This post is also available in: ItalianoEspañol
If UNESCO has decided to declare the Amalfi Coast as a “World Heritage Site”, there will be reasons. One for all? It’s unique!
• Unique for its vegetation, typical of the Mediterranean scrub, able to send all the senses into ecstasy and to inebriate the soul with its smells, colors, sounds and flavors;
• Unique for its landscape, imposing and majestic, almost touching the sky, and at the same time, sweet and sloping to blend harmoniously with the waters of the sea;
• Unique for the centuries of art, history and culture that it preserves in its churches, villas, convents and abbeys, but also in the streets, caves and beaches;
• Unique because its typical products have become a brand of recognisability all over the world, through a varied and original use of them. Think of the lemons of the coast: those who do not know the limoncello, liquor now exported everywhere, or hand-painted majolica representing this fruit, or, again, the various prints that represent them and that are used for clothing items of all kinds, both by small artisans and by important brands;
• Unique because in 50 km of coastline there is the highest concentration in the world of wonderful places: from Positano to Ravello, from Amalfi to Furore, from Praiano to Conca dei Marini, from Maiori to Minori, and others.
Are you ready to discover the Amalfi Coast with us?
We are in Campania, in the province of Salerno. Along the State Road 163, called NastroAzzurro, we can come across a row of “wonders of the world”.
In the shape of a mermaid lying on the coast, this beautiful town takes its name from an ancient legend according to which it was founded by Poseidon, God of the sea,for the sake of Positea nymph loved by him.
Positano has a magical position, set in the mountain and overlooking the blue sea, where there are a series of beaches including Marina Grande and Fornillo. To see it from the sea, it looks like a perched nativity full of colourful houses … a dreamlike atmosphere for the many, many tourists who come here to spend their holidays. Positano is more than this: Positano is also different: it is the beautiful Dome of the Church of Santa Maria Teresa of the Assumption, which with its majolica shines from the first light of dawn; it is the Saracen Towers, once used as watch towers, and today, transformed into hotels, houses, restaurants and even a disco. It is the fraction of Montepertuso, where the incredible hole in the mountain testifies to the presence of the Madonna. Legend has it that in the fight against the devil, the Madonna managed to defeat it by piercing the rock with a beam of light, and making it fall on the rocks below, where, according to the faithful, its gigantic footprint is visible. It ‘a tangle of vertical streets colored with majolica and full of craft shops.Those who come to Positanocan’t avoid making a pair of custom-made sandals: colored or in leather, high or low, simple “allafrancescana” of “gioiello” with precious inserts… it is for all tastes! It is a full-scale gastronomic journey: from homemade pasta to seafood specialties, from the Positano cake to the house liqueurs.
Defined as “Motherland of the Spirit”, Ravello is a magical place, where many artists have found their inspiration. Overlooking the Gulf of Salerno, it welcomes historic and prestigious villas such as Villa Cimbrone, Villa Eposcopio and Villa Rufolo, all with large manicured gardens and often home to international festivals dedicated to visual arts and music, such as the “Festival di Ravello” “. The tour of things to see in Ravello, cannot forget, in addition to the villas, the view of the Duomo, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and San Pantaleone. It is the result of two architectural styles: the Roman one, more austere, and the Baroque one, rich in decorations. The church was built in the eleventh century; it has three naves. Inside, the Chapel of San Pantaleone, contains the relics of the Saint, which as happens for San Gennaro in Naples, is liquefied every year. In the heart of the church you can admire two marble inlaid ambos and the bronze door of the late nineteenth century. Inside the cathedral, there are two museums to visit: one, in the crypt, containing sculptures, stone materials and ancient parts of the church; the other, in the left aisle, which houses a collection of paintings from other nearby churches. Interesting are also some buildings that, in the past, had the purpose of defending the village, like the ancient walls of walls built by Charles of Anjou, the remains of the Castle of Fratta dating back to 1200 and those of the Montalto Castle.
Ravello is also full of churches with different styles and eras, such as the Sanctuary of Saints Cosmas and Damian.
The legend says that Amalfi is a gift from Hercules, son of Jupiter, to his beloved who had the eyes of the sea; history, instead, traces the origins of Amalfi to the Romans, during the struggles with the barbarian populations.
The geographical position, strategic, the city and the ability of its inhabitants, have encouraged the development of maritime trade.
Amalfi was also the mother of a great invention: the compass, as an instrument of marine magnetic orientation to “dry” and the “Amalfi tables”, the first code of maritime law. Things to see in Amalfi will make the tour a magical experience.
The city has a triangular shape, the base is the South area that is located on the sea. In this area there is the Darsena, built after 1900 to shelter the ships, and the Arsenal, the shipyard of the ancient Republic, where the ships were built and repaired; it still retains its original early medieval structures, has two parallel naves, and one of these houses inside the Museum of the Bussola and the Duchy of Amalfi, and home to important cultural events. The eastern area is the one extending in the Atrani area and the west one towards Conca Dei Marini and Positano; on this stretch of coast you cannot miss an excursion to the Emerald Grotto, or give up a walk through the alleys of the historic center, where, between the alternation of steps and breathtaking views, overlooking the Cathedral of Amalfi. From its Portico it is possible to access the Cloister of Paradise and the Basilica of the Crucifix.
To be complete, the Amalfi tour must continue towards the Valle deiMulini and the Ferriere, a site surrounded by nature with waterfalls and waterways and a unique vegetation in the world for the rarity that it holds.
The beauties of Amalfi doesn’t end here!
Beside restaurants of all kinds, where you can taste dishes based on fresh fish, inebriate the scent of lemons and important confectioners of international prestige, where you can taste the sweet local specialties such as lemon delight, even the food and wine tour is a triumph of emotions!
VIETRI SUL MARE
Nicknamed the “first pearl” of the Amalfi Coast, Vietri is famous worldwide for its ancient tradition of ceramics that permeates all the streets of the old town: the many workshops of master potters, the walls of the houses, which are embedded fantastic colored tiles representing the symbols and decorations characteristic of the coast; from the ceramic museums of Villa Guariglia to Raito and that of Cargalero, to the beautiful Church of San Giovanni Battista which dominates the center with its majolica dome.
Every year tourists from all over the world choose as their holiday destination Vietri because abducted from his great beaches surrounded by large rocks overlooking the sea offering a breath-taking view.
MAIORI AND MINORI
There are two characteristic towns of the Amalfi Coast, chests of many treasures and unique wonders of the world.
From its uncertain origins (it is not known whether it was founded by the Greeks, Romans or Etruscans), Maiori appears from above as a fan that opens onto the sea with the largest beach of the Amalfi Coast and with millenary caves of mysterious charm as those of Sulfurea and Pandora.
The village is dominated by the fortress of St. Nicholas from Tharo-Plano, and includes works of art that are well worth visiting, such as the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria a Mare, where there is the miraculous statue of the Virgin who, according to legend, it has arrived in this place floating on the waters; the complex of Santa Maria Olearia, home to the crypts and catacombs of the first monks arrived in Maiori; the Park of Capo d’Orso and the Valley of the sunsets, mother of the term “tramontana”, to define the cold wind that seems to originate from the Lattari Mountains that form the valley.
Minori, since ancient times, it has always been the preferred holiday destination by the richest Romans. Its main attraction is the Roman Maritime Villa, dating back to the first century B.C.: facing the sea, still holds fabulous stuccos and frescoes. Continuing through the colourful and fragrant citrus streets of the village, there is the Basilica of Santa Trofimena which preserves the remains of the ancient patron. Worthy of note is the pastry of Salvatore De Riso, the father of the ricotta and pear pie.
Its anchovies are famous everywhere and used in many menus of important restaurants and starred chefs.
The village, which was born at the foot of Mount Falerio, is one of the most characteristic of the Coast: still unharmed by mass tourism, retains its atmosphere of seaside village.Its name derives from the Latin “Cetaria” (tonnara).In fact, even tuna, together with anchovies, are the protagonists of the local gastronomic tradition.The queen of all recipes is “colatura di alici”, served as a condiment for a succulent and delicious spaghetti dish.It is a liquid that is obtained by leaving the anchovies in salt, and is one of the main reasons why people go to Cetara.
CONA DEI MARINI
It is the fourth smallest municipality in Italy and has this name because it has the shape of a basin on the sea. It has been home to many national and international VIPs, and the beauties it holds make it a real gem. It is famous for the fabulous GrottadelloSmeraldo, an inlet that concentrates in itself the result of the deepest love between the sea and the sun: the emerald green colour in all its nuances that takes the water in meeting the rays gold. Inside the cave there are long stalactites, real limestone columns and, under water, you can admire a nativity scene of white ceramic figurines, where, at Christmas, the divers bring the flowers to baby Jesus.
Concadei Marini also preserves important architectural works, such as the Convent of Santa Rosa, within whose walls one of the delicacies of the Amalfi Coast was born: the “Santa Rosa”, the cream and black sfogliatella that bears the name of the saint; the Church of St. Anthony of Padua, characterized by a majolica bell tower of rare beauty, and the Tower of Silence, so called because it is the site of an ancient cemetery.
The village offers much more: hiking trails, shops with typical products (characteristic are the tomatoes of the “piennolo” which, due to the proximity of their crops to the sea, are even more fragrant), paradisiacal beaches where you can be kissed by the sun.
In short, of things to see, visit, do and eat on the Amalfi Coast, are so many and so unique, that all the words of the world would fail to do justice!
Read also: Italian Islands, the Campano archipelago