The City of Amelfi
Article & Photography by Michael Morcos
Set in a dramatic natural setting below steep cliffs on Italy’s southwest coast, the city of Amelfi, on the Amelfi peninsula (also known as the Amelfi coast), is a gem of a vacation spot. It has all the elements needed to have a great time, and is a tourist destination for foreign visitors and Italians themselves. It was, from 9th to 11th centuries, the seat of a powerful maritime republic, and there are relics and reminders throughout the area.
Things to do
If you are a fan of driving, this is the region for you! The drive to and through the city is world famous as one of the best road trips in Europe. It twists and turns along the coast, hugs the mountains and cliffs and barrels through tunnels. The journey there was as exciting as touring the beautiful town was pleasurable.
Throughout the year there are three traditional events in the town that attract world travellers to Amalfi. First up? The feast days of Saint Andrew (25–27 June, and 30 November), which celebrates the city’s patron saint with food and fun.
Byzantine New Year’s Eve on August 31 celebrates the beginning of the New Year according to the old civil calendar of the Byzantine Empire, and the third event is the Historical Regata (first Sunday in June), a traditional rowing competition, which is hosted by a different city every year, coming to Amalfi once every four years.
Things to see
History buffs will marvel at the many sights and stops. The 11th century, Baroque-styled Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, overlooking the Piazza Duomo, the heart of Amalfi is a sight to behold. The cathedral’s dramatic location up a steep flight of stairs features an Arab-influenced exterior and contains the relics of St. Andrew the Apostle in its crypt. An older basilica, now a small museum, is connected to the cathedral, and it is attached to the fascinating Cloister of Paradise. They both contain magnificent medieval murals!
The city also has the unique Museum of Handmade Paper, located in Mill Valley in the northern part of the town, which honors the time-honoured paper making tradition in Amalfi. This museum displays fully functional machinery and equipment that was used to manufacture paper by hand in the past.
The Museo Arsenale Amalfi is a medieval shipyard-turned-museum located steps away from the beach. This is where the Republic of Amalfi’s many ships were built in the Middle Ages, and it clearly demonstrates Amalfi’s vast sea power and the important maritime Republic that once competed with Venice, Pisa and Genoa for control of trade routes.
Amalfi has tourist attractions for all types of visitors!