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The Amalfi Coast


A mere 700 meters from the famous town of Amalfi is the lovely fishing town of Atrani which, like Ravello, was once the preferred residence of the wealthy and most powerful families of Amalfi. With its main entrance located at the beach and traditional houses lined up along the steep mountain valley entwined with gardens and vibrant lemon terraces, Atrani has maintained the peace and quiet of its surroundings, making it a choice of travellers who are looking for a peaceful spot to spend their vacation.

The town of Praiano derives its name from Pelagium, which means "open sea," an allusion perhaps to the spectacular view of the sea it shares with its popular neighbour Positano. Situated along the coast between Amalfi and Positano, the town of Praiano is strewn with beautiful and brightly coloured villas nestled on its green rugged mountain cliffs. A must-see in this town is the Church of St. Luca Evangelista, which houses the remains of Saint Luca and the many paintings and works of 17th century artist Giovanni Bernardo Lama.

The oldest town in the Amalfi Coast, Scala is home to magnificent castles and splendid churches like the Cathedral and the Archbishop's Palace. Part of its attraction being its historical and cultural heritage, Scala was recently included among Europe's "Villaggi d'Europa" (European Villages), an initiative marked by the creation of a chain of tourist services in small rural and distinctive towns of countries within the European Union.

Sightseeing in the Amalfi Coast

In spite of the stunning beauty and splendid vistas offered by the individual towns along the Amalfi Coast, there are specific sites located within this region that merit closer attention.

The Cathedral of Amalfi

The cathedral of Amalfi or Saint Andrea Church is situated in the main square of the town. Although of ancient origin, it has been renovated several times throughout its lifetime. Its original structure dates back to the 9th century although it was rebuilt in 1203 in Arabo-Normanno style. The Church's façade is splendid with many golden mosaics. Domenico Morelli made the central mosaic. Its bronze doors were casted in Costantinopoli in 1066, at the time when the town of Amalfi enjoyed great power as a sea-republic. The Church's splendid crypt was built in 1253.

La Grotta dello Smeraldo

The Amalfi Coast has an abundance of caves but the Grotta dello Smeraldo, situated some 5 km from Amalfi, is the one that holds typical karst and marine cave elements. Located in one of the best bays in the coast, the cave is also called 'Emerald Cave" because the sunlight enters through a tunnel underwater giving it an emerald hue. The Grotta dello Smeraldo can be reached by boat.

The Villas of Ravello

On entering the town of Ravello, two distinctly beautiful villas greet the traveller — Villa Rufolo, built in the 12th century by the Rufolo family, and Villa Cimbrone, which was also built in the 12th century over the Roman villa ruins. Breathtakingly magnificent, these villas have caught the eye of many a famous artist like Wagner who used them as inspirations for his work. From the garden of Villa Cimbrone one gets a magnificent panoramic view of the Amalfi Coast.

The Little Isles "li Galli"

These are little isles located near Positano called Gallo Lungo, La Rotonda and La Castelluccia. Referred to and described in Homer's The Odyssey in the part where Ulysses meets the sirens, these isles served as home to ballet dancer Nureyev for many years. During the time of the Amalfi Republic a tiny castle was built on these islands to house exiled dukes. Today, travellers that are visiting Positano frequently visit these tiny isles.

The Church of Santa Maria Assunta in Positano

Built in the 13th century, this church houses a Byzantine icon of the Black Madonna with child. According to legend, the Black Madonna visited Positano on the wave of the sea.

The Old Arsenal in Amalfi

Located on the left side of the 'Porta della Marina,' this old arsenal provides tourists with a glimpse of the military might of the Amalfi republic with its ancient vaulted interior.

Santa Maria de Olearia in Maioiri

Located near the ancient city of Maiori in Salerno, the Abbey of Santa Maria de Olearia today only houses the crypt and the main chapel. Built in 950 and 1000 years AD by monks Pietro and his nephew Giovanni, this historical structure still holds the monastic remains and the frescoes dating back to the 10th and 11th centuries.

The Church of Saint Trofimena in Minori

Built in the 18th century in a style known as baroque, this church has three aisles and is decorated with paintings by various artists on the wall. A large panel above the altar displays the painting of Marco Pino da Siena showing the Crucifixion. The Church's crypt preserves the relics of Saint Trofimena.

Old Roman Villa in Minori

Coming from Amalfi, as one enters Minori, stands the remains of a first century Roman Villa complete with thermal baths, nymphaneum, the peristilio and the viridarium.

Museo della Ceramica in Vietri sul Mare

Built inside a little tower in Villa Guarglia's garden, this museum displays the vast ceramic production of Vietri sul Mare as well as examples of ceramics of the 15th and 17th centuries.

How to get to the Amalfi Coast

You can reach the Amalfi Coast in a variety of ways:

By Land - To reach the Amalfi Coast by land travel take the A1 from the north and switch to A30 exiting in Salerno or A3 exiting in Vietri sul Mare. You then enter the beginning of the Amalfi Coast. If you want to take the train, the nearest station is in Salerno. To go from town to town within Amalfi Coast, you can either walk or take the public bus service offered by "Sita” which is also known as the "Blue Sita Bus”.

By Air - To fly to the Amalfi Coast, the nearest airport is in Naples.

By Sea - You can reach Amalfi Coast by sea travel with ferries and hydrofoil going to and from Salerno, Capri, Sorrento or Naples. However, these services are available only in the summer months when throngs of excited tourists flock to the Amalfi Coast to take in its beautiful sites and have a glimpse of paradise.

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