10 Fun Facts about Amalfi

POSTCARDS & PROSECCO

AMALFI, ITALY

EDITION 02   JUNE 2018
  1. The town of Amalfi lends its name to the impossibly steep and beautifully blue 30 mile area known the world over as the Amalfi Coast.

    Amalfi

    The city that gave its name to Italy’s most famous coast.

  2. Amalfi was the original Italian Naval superpower. During the 11th and 12th centuries, the Maritime Republic of Amalfi was rich and powerful, controlling the important sea-faring trade routes of the Mediterranean and North Africa. While the rest of the Italian peninsula was still bartering, Amalfi was minting its own gold coins and trading throughout the Mediterranean.
Cliff Hanging Amalfi

Views, vistas, and the sea

Watching the towers

The Watch Towers of Amalfi still stand today.

3.  Throughout the famous Amalfi Coast you’ll find a series of strategic watch towers. The tower system was designed to keep a watchful eye on the sea and help keep residents safe. Pirate like invaders plagued this area of Italy for centuries. Secret codes and a fire burning on top of the tower warned the community to seek shelter and flee into the mountains before the invaders arrived. Today the towers still stand, including some that are now private homes and rentals.

Amalfi.Tower.Wave

Strategic watchtowers like this one, still stand throughout the entire Amalfi Coast.

Amalfi.Tower.CU

Amalfi’s watchtower

 4.  Despite its close proximity to Naples and the Sorrentine Peninsula, Amalfi feels like another world–in part because of its successful trade throughout the Mediterranean. Trade helped make Amalfi rich and left an indelible mark on this coastal region of Italy. You can still see the influence today as you walk the streets lined with the pockets of Arab-Sicilian architecture. The domed white washed buildings, narrow passage ways, and covered walkways are all borrowed techniques compliments of Greece and North Africa.

Streets of Amalfi

Narrow passages designed to create shade run throughout Amalfi.

Amalfi Bell Tower

The bell tower of Amalfi features majolica tiles

5.  For many travelers, it is the highly recognizable Duomo of Sant’Andrea that defines Amalfi. Here too, you’ll see the influence of other cultures throughout the region. Standing as a glistening testament to Amalfi’s rich past, the Duomo of Sant’ Andrea dates back to the 9th century (with additions and changes throughout the centuries). The highly recognizable striped façade is the most recent addition to the cathedral and was completed in the 19th century.

AM.Amalfi.Wind

Blown away by Amalfi and the Duomo

Amalfi Cathedral

The “new” part of the Duomo was completed in the 19th century.

The Breezeway

At the top of the stairs before you enter the cathedral, this beautiful breezeway awaits.

6.  Climb the stairs and walk through the breeze way to entry the Chiostro del Paradiso. Here you’ll find interlaced Romanesque arches and 120 columns. Completed in 1268 the Chiostro del Paradiso was a final resting place for the cities elite. Considered one of the most interesting structures on the Amalfi Coast, the Chiostro del Paradiso features a four-sided portico with cross vaults, pointed arches, twin columns and woven arches rich with Moorish influence.

 

Cloister of Paradise

Majolica tiles grace Amalfi’s bell tower.

Chiostro del Paradiso

The Moorish style cloister in the corner of Duomo.

7.  There are many beautiful details throughout the cloister and sometimes the stories they tell are fascinating–like this one in the corner of the portico. Here you’ll find a painting completed by a student of Giotto. You may recognize similarities between the beautiful blues and those of the magnificent Chapelle Scrovegni in Padua. The painting is unsigned, and no one can say for certain who the artist is. However, there may be another reason why this painter remained anonymous. The artist, who clearly was not a fan of the French Anjou rulers of Naples, took artistic license with his work. Look closely and you’ll see the soldiers responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in this painting are not Roman, but French Anjou!

French Anjou Soldiers

Re-writing history and making a political statement.

 

8.  For centuries, Amalfi was powerful, wealthy, and important. The blue and white cross of Amalfi is one of the four nautical crests featured on today’s Italian maritime flag. In the end, it was not an invader or another empire that changed the course of Amalfi, but the same sea that elevated Amalfi to greatness violently caused its dramatic demise.

Italia.Maritime Flag

9.   In 1343, a large portion of the city fell into the water following a tsunami and earthquake.  Around the same time, the plague was sweeping through the region. The devastation was so significant the city that ruled the Mediterranean would never regain its prominence.

10.  If you think Amalfi is special, you are not alone. In 1997 the entire Amalfi Coast became part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

 

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