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Underwater City

Thousands of people have flocked to the Amalfi coast because of its pristine beaches and breathtaking views, but few know of the beauty that waits beneath Amalfi’s waters.

It is a diver’s dream. Aside from the fascinating marine life, Amalfi’s coastline hides an underwater city, with ancient structures like a harbour, quay and dockyard — forgotten for centuries, but now waiting to be explored by those who dare to plunge into its waters.

It lies underneath one of Amalfi’s most famous tourist attractions, the Marina Grande. This is its biggest beach, and was once the site of a busy port town. Named Scario, commercial sailors used this area to build their ships and dock their boats. Explorers have identified one wall as a former bollard, which was used to anchor ships. It was probably active in the first 10 years of the twelfth century. Other structures include a platform, a finely constructed arch (now half-covered with sand), and pillars that once stood proud but are now encrusted with anemones and hide the schools of brightly coloured fish.

Geologists believe that in 1343, a sea storm (or some believe, a sea-quake) caused an unexpected undersea landslide. Some of the marina’s structures tumbled to the ocean, creating an underwater city now populated by Amalfi’s bustling marine life.

The Amalfi region is a good jumping off point (pun intended) for a number of diving explorations. Its history as a busy port means it was the centrepoint of many busy trade routes, particularly when it was a Maritime Republic. Ships from North Africa, the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire would travel to its harbors, bringing spices, precious stones, carpets and fabrics — and attracting pirates. The perils of sea storms, and the occasional battle between warships, mean that the sea hides several sea wrecks, waiting to be explored.

These wrecks are not, as many would think, a ghostly graveyard, but time capsules that capture the life and culture of a long forgotten era. Many divers enjoy taking these unique historical tours, where they can explore the treasures of old Amalfi.

You will need to hire a boat if you plan to take any diving excursions. This will also give you an opportunity to explore the dramatic landscapes of the Amalfi Coast, and soak in the view of an uninterrupted horizon, surrounded by nothing but miles of turquoise sea.

It is possible to charter a trip through Amalfi Boats, which arranges sea explorations and excursions from any point along the Amalfi Coast to anywhere on Capri, Ischia, and the Gulfs of Salerno and Naples. You can also arrange for private transfers. If you are interested in taking a historical diving tour, you can ask for a package that will bring you directly to any of the Amalfi region’s hidden sea wrecks and the secret underground city.

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