Amalfi Coast – Costiera Amalfitana – is one of those places where I?m happy to be back. Stunning scenery of high rocky mountains falling in Tyrrhenian Sea gives the place a special character.
Villages as if glued to rocks ? extend both into the rocks and upward reaching the peaks of the mountains. In the mosaic of buildings with incredible shapes forced by terrain fit vineyards, olive groves and lemon orchards – after all, the area is famous for its aromatic lemons ( and not less aromatic limoncello ) . A thin ribbon of a road meandering along the coast, below rocks, on arches of bridges connects Salerno and Sorrento in the east of with Sant’Agata in the west.
On one side the land – fitted everything but in a miniature form, carefully using every piece of land ? the compelling mosaic of colors, shapes , sounds . On the other, as a contrast, the horizon extends aligned, extensive tile sea: calm, steady noise, harmony, distant thoughts …
Amalfi – maritime power
The peninsula not only today attracts its charms: hardly anyone knows that Amalfi in the Middle Ages was one of the most powerful commercial and political centers of the Apennine peninsula . Great trade relations with Byzantium, overseas mercantile colony in Egypt and Constantinople, protection against Arab pirates – that’s why Amalfi was the main trading center supplying both principalities Peninsula and the papal court by all and every goods imported from the Middle East – spices , pearls, jewelry , fabrics…
An important contribution to the city-state culture was to establish a code of sailing the sea: so called Amalfi Tables (tavole amalfitane) were in force for many centuries even after the fall of the maritime republic of Amalfi.
Decline of glory comes with an invasion of the Normans on the Peninsula and, consequently, the loss of an autonomy of the city with its extensive commercial interests in the Mediterranean pool . With the loss of autonomy underwent another blow: the Byzantine emperor in exchange for protection against the Normans admitted Venetians numerous trade privileges, destroying a good relationship with the Southern partner. Since then designation of the maritime powers of the Peninsula (remember that in those days the Italian state did not yet exist) took Genoa, Venice and Pisa .
After the power of the region remain teeth nibbled castles and watchtowers time stretching along the coast and once guarded the merchants from Arab or Turkish pirates. Also the system of settlements, irregular houses close to each other, extending upwards buildings connected by a maze of alleys and stairs like a suk (eastern market ) bring to mind close contacts with eastern and oriental countries. This style is also visibile in other regions of southern Italy : including Sicily.
Due to the unique character of the region almost unchanged for centuries and a number of towns such as Amalfi and Ravello with architectural and artistic works of great significance UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided to enter the Amalfi Coast on its list .
Pearls of the coast
The picture is taken from a driveway Sant’Agata – nearly at the western end of the spit. At the front you can see Lattari hills stretching from the mountains Piccentini and plunging into the Tyrrhenian Sea . Mountainous landscape separates Gulf of Naples (on the left) and Gulf of Salerno (on the right) .
If you go to the left you’ll see the flowery, more spacious towns surrounding Sorrento and spreading out on the high cliffs. Although very commercial , they have their own charm.
We decide to travel south side – the Amalfi Coast .
Winding roads we are reaching Positano – a picturesque town pressed between two cliffs. Among colorfull cascade of ascending homes our attention attracts the Church of Santa Maria Assunta with a dome tiled with ceramic tiles (ceramic is famous for its area) and a Byzantine icon of the Black Madonna and Child. City is known for its luxury hotels, restaurants, and boutiques – city is one of the favorites among the rich and famous 😉 . To get to the village take a little street down and quickly start praying for even one tiny place where you could leave your car.
Amalfi is undoubtedly an another gem – here to pray for a parking space is not needed because above the village is a huge, multilevel car park carved into the rock. Leave the car
and enter a rock tunnel into town . Here sauntering through the narrow and winding passages (street this term to decide too boisterous) between irregular houses and climbing small, uneven steps you feel that in a while you?ll hear ” salam aleykum ” behind. Reaching the main square and looking at stairs going upwards mighty cathedral of St.Andrew, you confirm this belief – indeed, oriental style, the remains of St. Andrew brought from Constantinople ? there?s something to it. It?s worth to enter : the chapel on the lower level dazzles. From the cathedral you can climb up or go down the town to the promenade (unfortunately converted to a big parking for buses).
On the route it?s necessary to join to Ravello (and best to stay forever) ? the city located slightly higher, with marvelous views, a magic space, enveloped in the sounds of music and the scent of lemons and wine. Combining the beauty of the picturesque landscape, the city cultivates musical tradition by the opening season of festival each year. Initially the festival alluded its form to its Genius Loci – Richard Wagner. Gradually, expanded by various musical genres like jazz, chamber music and other genres of art: theater, film, photography, dance and exhibitions .
Undoubtedly the most famous and evocative is the August?s concert ?All’Alba ” – concert at sunrise. Musicians begin the day before the rehearsal which is in public. The proper concert starts at 4:45 .
Ravello offers concerts from March to October. If you are in the area it?s worth stopping for a moment – it really is a great privilege to commune with art in the presence of world-class musicians and artists, in the beautiful village in the mountains, with a view to the endless waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea .
Do no forget also about Cetara with beautiful views of Salerno and Vietri Sul Mare – the kingdom of pottery. Fancy tiled paintings can be seen on almost every home, colorful tile you can meet inside restaurant and shops as well. Although ceramic art is visible in the landscape of the entire coast , Vietri Sul Mare is where you will find the genuine Tiled Paradise.
Such route, with the start on the western side of the coast, I recommend for two reasons. Firstly, it is closer to the outer side of the road with beautiful views, secondly, on this side of the creek are the stops and park areas. Therefore you can stop with almost every “Oh , how beautiful ! ” Without combining how to cut a serpentine way.
Out of the high-season you should consider that high mountains block the sun relatively early afternoon so don?t waste the morning!
And in the high-season, well, it?s better to avoid this place …
Undoubtedly one of the best options is to admire the coast from a distance ? from BOATS that during a season run between Salerno , Capri , Ischia , Sorrento and Naples and the towns of the coast . From Salerno to Amalfi you sail half an hour. You choose a convenient time, you pay a few euros and … enjoy scenic view of one of the wonders of the world .