Amalfi is a charming, peaceful resort town on the scenic Amalfi Coast of Italy. 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 include its ninth century cathedral, Duomo di Sant' Andrea and the Cloister of Paradise, Chiostro del Paradiso. Besides history and beauty, the town is noted for its good beaches and bathing establishments, historic resorts and hotels, lemons, and handmade paper.
Naples airport is the closest airport (see Italy airports map for information). There are 3 airport buses a day to Sorrento and from Sorrento there are bus connections to Amalfi. The closest train station is in Salerno and buses connect it to Amalfi. There are hydrofoils or ferries from Naples, Sorrento, Salerno, and Positano, although they are less frequent during winter months. Buses connect all the towns along the coast. For train and driving details see How to get from Rome to the Amalfi Coast.
The top guest rated hotels on Venere (book direct) in Amalfi are Hotel Floridiana and Hotel L'Antico Convitto. Both are 3-star hotels in the center of town. Here are more Amalfi Hotel choices on Venere.
Amalfi was one of the first Italian cities to emerge from the dark ages and by the ninth century was the most important port in southern Italy. It's the oldest of the four great Maritime Republics (including Genoa, Pisa, and Venice) that lasted through the twelfth century. Its military and trading power brought it great fame and influenced its architecture.
In those days the population was as high as 80,000 but several sackings by Pisa followed by the storm and earthquake of 1343, in which much of the old town slid into the sea, considerably diminished the population. Today it's only about 5,000.
Piazza Flavio Giola, on the sea, the port where there are buses, taxis, and boats. From there, one can walk along the sea on the Lungomare or to the beaches. Going up into town from the piazza, one gets to Piazza Duomo, the central square and heart of the town. From the piazza, a steep staircase leads up to the Duomo or going along Corso delle Repubbliche Marinare one gets to the tourist office, civic buildings and museum. Going up the hill from Piazza Duomo, one eventually reaches the Valley of the Mills with remains of water wheels used in paper making and the paper making museum.
What to See and Do:
- Beaches - Amalfi's beaches are some of the best on the coast and there are several top rate bathing establishments that rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and changing rooms. The water is crystal clear and great for swimming, scuba diving, or boating.
- Duomo di Sant' Andrea and Cloister of Paradise - The duomo is reached by an impressive staircase of 62 steep steps leading up from the main piazza. Mosaics decorate the exterior of the church. It has impressive bronze doors made in 1066. Inside, the ninth century basilica has romanesque columns and frescoes but the duomo itself is mainly an 18th century baroque restoration although you can still see a lot of Arab-Norman influence. The duomo houses the richly decorated Crypt of St. Andrew. There's also a diocesan museum. The Cloister of Paradise, Chiostro del Paradiso, built in 1266, is a treasure of medieval architecture.
- Palazzo Morelli - Inside the palazzo is the Civic Museum. The Tavola Amalfitana, a book of maritime lawas that was adopted around the Mediterranean, was written in Amalfi in the tenth century and is housed in the museum.
- Paper Museum - At the top of town is the Paper Museum highlighting the history of paper making.
- Valley of the Mills - near the Paper Museum, the valley is set along a stream bed between the cliffs. There are mills that brought water to the paper workshops and some are still in operation. Continuing beyond the town, walks in the steep wooded hills take in waterfalls, springs, and occassional sea views.
- Shopping - 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. Amatruda is the oldest paper manufacturer in Europe. Handmade paper can be found in shops here.
- Festivals - Every four years the Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics with historic vessels is held in Amalfi. The next time will be in June, 2012. Amalfi is also a good place for Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations.