The main town on the Amalfi Coast was once a major maritime power that today enjoys a reputation as a laidback coastal resort of outstanding architectural beauty
Nestled between the slopes of the Lattari Mountains and the Mediterranean Sea is the small coastal town of Amalfi. This cluster of white houses, churches, monuments and narrow winding streets is the main town of the Amalfi coast, after which the area is named.
Today it’s a charming resort but turn the clock back a thousand years and Amalfi was a major maritime center. The town had its own trading fleet, enjoyed commercial ties all across the Mediterranean, and minted its own coins. In 1343 a tsunami caused much devastation and the Amalfi’s influence went into rapid decline, leaving it a quiet harbor town.
Soak up the atmosphere with a walk through the streets and whitewashed alleyways and courtyards. Browse souvenir shops that are housed in the shipyard where oceangoing vessels were once built. Stroll along the promenade and gaze at the boats in the marina.
Evidence of Amalfi’s golden age is seen in the striking façade of the Cathedral of Saint Andrew. The cathedral dominates Piazza del Duomo, the town’s main square. Explore the building’s interior and exterior and observe the mix of architectural styles including moorish, gothic, byzantine and baroque. Visit the crypt where the bones of Saint Andrew are kept. He was one of Christ’s original apostles. Enjoy some quiet moments in the cathedral’s Cloister of Paradise. Under its moorish arches are stone sarcophagi, as this was the former burial place of the area’s nobles.
Join the locals who gather outside on the cathedral’s long stone staircase to chat, read, and watch the world go by, or sit in one of the cafes clustered around the square.
Take a guided tour of the Paper Mill Museum, housed in a 13th century paper mill. Amalfi was one of the first places in Europe to produce paper and the practice continues to this day.
Amalfi is situated 44 miles (71 kilometers) from Naples. The SITA bus company has regular services from Naples, Positano, Salerno and Sorrento. In peak summer periods the local authorities limit access to private cars along the coast road. Check Amalfi’s tourist office website before planning your journey.