The heart and soul of the coast is Amalfi. In the serene blue of the sky and sea, Amalfi, guarded by its port, seems held in the palm of a hand. Above, the scenic drapery of the mountains, hinged like a backdrop, dotted with houses; below, a picturesque weaving of alleys and steps, all the way to the Piazza, where the Cathedral dominates from the top of its majestic stairs.
A unique scene, where historic memory intertwines with unforgettable natural beauty. Suspended between the slopes of Lattari Mountains and the sea, the picturesque alleys of Amalfi today host a large number of tourists, but there was a time, when the powerful Marine Republic had its moment of maximum splendor between the 10th and 12th centuries, that they kept the outsiders (Longobards and Saracenes) at bay.
Rich and populated Amalfi enjoyed lively contact with the Orient. In memory of its ancient power every four years, in June, Amalfi holds the “Historic Regatta of the Marine Republics”. The town of Amalfi, clinging to the slopes of the coast, is characterised by the famous Duomo (9th century).
Its scenic position at the top of steep stairs, that open up among the houses gathered around the small square, give a particular flavour to Amalfi’s historic centre. The imposing polychromatic façade of the church, illuminated by gilded and enameled mosaics, is impressive. Traces of the middle ages are to be found in the elegant Cloister of Heaven, with its arabesque lines. From the cloister go to the Crucifiction Chapel, where the Diocesan Museum is hosted.
In this chapel is the entrance to the crypt, dating back to the 1200’s. The complex is one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture of the Amalfi coast. An exploration of Amalfi that desires the inclusion of the less known places should make a stop at the Antichi Arsenali, where famous galleys, with over one hundred oars, were constructed and destined to commerce with the Orient.
The Tabula Amalphitana is preserved in Palazzo Morelli, seat of the municipality and of the Civic Museum. It was the first code of naval law, established in the times of the Republic and valid for the entire Mediterranean Sea. The famous “drafts” of Domenico Morelli, one of the most famous painters of the 1800’s, from which the mosaics which adorn the church were created, can be admired. Amalfi is also famous as the home of handmade paper. The first workshops were opened along the Valley of the Mills, where the Paper Museum is.