Words and Photos by Veronica Lavenia
A FOODIE PARADISE
The Amalfi Coast and its stunning landscape are a sight to live for, a rare experience you will repeat much more than once. Known and appreciated since the time of the ancient Romans, it owes its name to the town of Amalfi, one of his many jewels. Positano, Sorrento, Ravello, Praiano, are just some of the small villages that evoke unforgettable images.
UNESCO world heritage, the Amalfi Coast offers many unspoiled corners to discover during a holiday. From the heights of Ravello you can enjoy a breathtaking view over the coast. From its tufa rock overlooking the sea, Sorrento is set preferred by directors of international renown.
The Grotta dello Smeraldo, near Amalfi, owes its name to the unique color and especially water. The beach at Positano offers suggestive corners. Praiano’s creeks are almost all reachable only by boat. The coast has always been a favourite attraction for actors and celebrities (among the most assiduous frequenters of the past stand out the names Churchill, Bogart, Greta Garbo, Maria Callas, JFK and his wife Jacqueline).
The coast is not far from Naples, with its magnificent Gulf, Mount Vesuvius and the archaeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. As if all this were not enough, near the Coast there are the magical islands of Capri and Ischia, renowned and appreciated by the international tourism and urban life for its picture postcard. In 1879, while walking through the narrow streets of the villages of Amalfi, Erik Ibsen found the inspiration to finish his work “Doll’s house”.
On the eve of the twentieth century, the Amalfi Coast was rediscovered as a popular tourist destination. In the ‘60s, those of the economic boom of the Dolce Vita (Sweet life) filmmakers, and artists of all kinds, went to the coast. From this splendid combination of art and nature enthusiasts are born loves and works of art. From the Amalfi coast, tourists will not ever dismiss with a farewell, but with a “see you soon”.
AMALFI, A CITY OF LEGEND
The legend tells that the foundation of Amalfi was an act of love that Hercules, son of Zeus, dedicated to his beloved. The nymph called Amalfi had eyes blue like the sea. After the untimely death of his beloved, Hercules buried her in a beautiful place by the blue sea. On the grave of his beloved, Hercules founded Amalfi, and her strength has always been a quality highlighted in the city’s history.
Skilled in maritime trade, the inhabitants of Amalfi were the first to invent the compass and to spread it in the Mediterranean. The commercial and diplomatic skills enabled the inhabitants to navigate through the entire Mediterranean, establishing trade relations and peace with all the neighbouring peoples. The merchants of Amalfi had colonies in the major cities of the Mediterranean. For this, the small town was able to keep up with the other three naval powers of the time, Pisa, Genoa and Venice.
After the glorious centuries, in 1600, Amalfi entered a period of crisis, partly because of a ruthless plague that killed almost a third of the coastal population. In the eighteenth century, Amalfi was a city almost deserted and the noble families had moved to Naples.
Amalfi returned to shine in the early nineteenth century, when Joseph Bonaparte, on a visit to the Kingdom, was struck by the beauty of the Amalfi Coast and decided to build a large coastal road that would facilitate access from Naples to Amalfi. Since that time, the Amalfi Coast has returned to shine with the beauty that possesses magical and timeless places.
WHAT TO SEE
The Arsenal of the Republic is the main witness of the glorious past as a seafaring town. Unique arsenal of medieval origin survived in all Southern Italy, it has come to our days surprisingly intact in its early medieval lines such as unique in its kind. Its architecture is impressive and stylish. The Museum of the Compass, set up inside the arsenal, housed documents and illustrates the amazing history of the ancient Maritime Republic of Amalfi.
The Amalfi Cathedral (Duomo) stands in the square of the town bell. Dating back to the ninth century AD, has undergone over the centuries a number of extension work. To visit especially the bell tower, which dates back to 1180. Its extraordinary staircase makes this even more majestic cathedral that dominates the city.
The Cathedral strikes the visitor already with the sole view of the exterior facade with its two-colored marbles that make it visible and noticeable. From the left side of the porch of the cathedral leads to the Cloister of Paradise (Il Chiostro del Paradiso), a true corner of the east in southern Italy. It was built between 1266 and 1268 as a cemetery for the illustrious citizens of Amalfi.
A must is a stop to “Paper mill Museum” (Museo della carta) where the visitor, among other things, have the excitement of creating their own paper. Amalfi and its age-old tradition of creating still hand-made paper come to life in this fascinating museum where the entire process of creation was sustainable because the paper was made from old rags of cloth.
Today, Amalfi is known worldwide for continuing this tradition and is one of the jewels of the city. Atrani, 500 meters from Amalfi, is a seaside village of rare beauty. Atrani is an ideal place to taste the specialties of the area. Recommended restaurant “Le Palme” where, among other things, you can eat a great pizza.
A FOODIE PARADISE
It is hard to believe that a small piece of land could embrace such a wealth of culinary delights. But it is so. Welcome to Southern Italy. The South of Italy (including the Amalfi Coast, one of the most popular attractions) is the capital of the Mediterranean Diet, which UNESCO has declared Intangible Heritage of mankind.
A healthy, colourful, tasty and simple cuisine that has remained intact over the centuries. A cuisine that promotes local products, fruits and vegetables of the season, cereals, pasta and fish. Those who visit the Amalfi Coast, choosing to continue the trip even in other areas of Southern Italy, runs through an important sensory experience. A feast starring sight, smell and taste.
This experience just landed at Naples, the home world of pizza and Espresso and continues in Amalfi, where you will never find two plates of the same flavor. The same ingredients assume different flavors, depending on the area in which they were grown. Each area of the Coast has its own dish, its own way of combining flavors, gastronomic and a culinary variety that characterize it.
Spaghetti with anchovies from Cetara are one of the specialties to try. Very request is the so-called Colatura di Alici (Pouring anchovy), a liquid, amber in colour, with a very intense taste, produced by macerating various layers of anchovies, alternating with other large fish cut into pieces, with salt and flavourings. One of the most famous Amalfi dishes is Scialatielli, typical handmade pasta, topped with a delicious sauce made with fresh clams.
In Capri, where it was born (and all Campania region), do not miss to try the real Caprese salad, with the best tomatoes of Southern Italy, the Genoese basil and buffalo mozzarella, the queen of the summer Southern Italy table. Cheese, ricotta and mozzarella, finished with a traditional treatment that has been passed down for centuries, marry perfectly with the main dishes of fish, shellfish and crustaceans, strictly fresh.