Minori is particularly rich in monuments, primarily of a religious nature of course. The logical starting place is the Archconfraternity of SS. Sacramento, a building with a single hall which houses a wooden choir stall and an 18th-century marble altarpiece. The imposing basilica of Santa Trofimena contains the mortal remains of the patron saint of the city. This place of worship, of typically late 18th-century design, was rebuilt from its foundations on the remains of an old Romanesque church.
On the main altar, one can admire the Crucifixion attributed to Marco Pino of Siena, an important exponent of Italian Mannerism. There are a number of chapels off the two naves and in one of these is the painting of Madonna del Rosario, one of the earliest examples of Marian cult in the area. The crypt has one nave and three aisles and was restored in the 18th century. It has an altar with an alabaster urn from 1794 by the Neapolitan marble sculptor Ragozzino, which contains the relics of Santa Trofimena. The church of Santa Lucia dates back to the 10th century.
On the altar stands a 17thcentury wooden triptych, in the Spanish style, with the figures of Santa Lucia, Santa Appollonia and Santa Agata. The church of S. Gennaro of Villamena is probably the most ancient religious site: its origins date back to some time between the 8th and 11th centuries. Of particular note in the interior is the wooden throne which has a votive shrine with the statue of San Gennaro.
Recent excavations have revealed Romanesque pieces and capitals which had been covered by later Baroque decorations. Next door to San Gennaro is the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie which houses an interesting 18th-century painting. The church of San Michele has late 19thcentury frescoes by artists who were inspired by the pre-Raphaelites to create new interpretations of the Byzantine style. On the right-hand side is a 17th-century painting with San Pietro d’Alcantara and on the opposite side is an Immaculate Conception of the same period.
And finally, if we look up, we cannot fail to be struck by the beauty of the bell tower of the Annunziata which dates back to the 11th century. Surrounded by lemon trees and vines, the bell tower is characterised by its bichromatic stone inlay decoration of the Arab-Norman period.
But Minori is justly famous for an impressive site dating back to imperial times which attracts thousands of visitors each year. The remains of the Villa Marittima Romana, which dates back to the 1st century AD, are located at the far end of Minori’s seafront, towards Amalfi. It is not known who commissioned it but the choice of project and its decorative display suggest that it must have been a person of significant wealth, with an appreciation of culture and good taste.
Built at sea level, on the lower level the villa has a viridarium (a Roman pleasure garden), with a central pool on an axis with the great monumental opening towards the sea and with the most important part on this level, the great triclinium-nymphaeum from whose sides the whole ground floor is developed symmetrically. Suspensurae, demonstrative of a heated atmosphere, and fragments of floor mosaics also help to identify the rooms on the upper level which were totally destroyed by later modifications.
The villa has undergone several restorations and alterations. In the 3rd century, the triclinium was modified and stone benches and mosaics were added along with a partial renovation of the pictorial decoration. Several rooms are also believed to have been lost through partitioning. Minori can justly be described as the capital of the Rites of Holy Week on the Amalfi Coast. Each year, on Maundy Thursday and on Good Friday itself the battenti, or selfflagellators, follow a route which takes them to all the churches in the village and surrounding areas. On the evening of Good Friday, the Procession of the Dead Christ takes place, when the village is lit only by torches and night lights.
For several years now Minori, with the help of the Pompeo Troiano Centre for Culture and History, has held an international study day on the Rites of Holy Week. The municipality of Minori has initiated the request process which it hopes will lead to the battenti being recognised by UNESCO. Currently there are only three religious ceremonies on the UNESCO list, so Minori would make a fourth.
Before leaving Minori, treat yourself to a tour of its cake shops. Many famous sweet specialities have been created by local artisans. Lemon cakes and desserts are particularly special, such as torta delizia, profiteroles, limoncello babà and lemon tiramisù. All decorated with the leaves of this citrus fruit which is so characteristic of the region. For years now Minori has hosted one of the most respected jazz festivals of the peninsula. Held under the stars, at the height of the summer, ‘Jazz on the Coast’ brings together the best jazz bands of today and of course thousands of jazz lovers from all over Italy.
Images: Andrae, Miguel Hermoso Cuesta,ApicellaOslo, De Maio Agostino,Antonio 42 years old