Ah the beauty of the Italian Coast line, the Amalfi coast to be exact. One of my favorite places in Italy, ok, ok I know, so far I haven’t found a place in Italy that I don’t call my favorite. Enough with naming a favorite city, I have claimed all of Italy to be my favorite destination, period (I reserve the right to change my mind at a later date). I have been to many beautiful coastal towns in my life, but there is something about the deep blue color of the Mediterranean sea the sunny skies, the quaint villages and tight roadways that snake along the cliffside of the Mountains overlooking the beautiful Mediterranean, with it’s aroma of Oceanic freshness. That wonderful waft of fresh, crisp Lemon Trees bursting with fruit when the wind kicks up.
One of my favorite memories of a recent trip along the Alamfi Coast is the peacefulness when sitting and staring at the Mediterranean, sipping a cool glass of Pinto Grigio, the gulls soaring overhead, the freshly washed clothes on the line, waving to the boats that go by as if they were a lover waving goodbye; never to see the love of their life again. Of all the memories I have of this trip, this one comes to the forefront of my mind almost daily. It is a wishful dream pulling me back. Don’t worry my friend, I will be back soon to witness your beauty.
|it’s me, contemplating something|
The Amalfi Coast begins from Sorrento to Salerno, with a number of towns in between. A great way to see the Amalfi Coast is to stay somewhere along the coast line, Sorrento, Positano, Praiano and the topic of today’s post, Alamfi. If your not able to stay, or are on a day visit, then the best way to visit is to utilize the Public Transportation system. The Bus system runs all day along the Amalfi Coast. However, word of warning, if you get queazy or nauseous prepare yourself.
The roads along the coastline are narrow and cut out of the mountains, it is very common to find yourself staring straight down the side of the bus, a 500 foot drop to the shiny, deep blue Mediterranean Ocean. Credit must be given to the Italian engineers that designed this path along the coast. I recall driving along on our way to Sorrento when we encountered another bus coming from the opposite direction. As we slowed and began to pass one another, it would have been very easy to reach out the window and shake hands with someone on the other bus, we literally had about 3-4 inches between us. If you rent a car, drive at your own risk. Better yet, do as the locals do, rent a scooter. It is quicker, cheaper and a whole lot of fun.
|A tight fit for sure|
The Town of Amalfi is located between Positano and Salerno. Amalfi has done it’s job in creating a tourist destination, and yes during the summer months the town’s visitor’s swell to more than the population. But don’t let this scare you away, there is much to see here. As is the case with most of the towns along the Coastline whether it is Sorrento, Positano, Praiano or Amalfi they are towns built for the tourist. Tremendous shopping, cafes, beaches, beautiful Hotels and Resorts cantilevered over the cliffs of the Mediterranean and wonderful architecture that must be experienced.
|Cattedrale di Sant’ Andrea|
It is not surprising that Amalfi is rich in monuments: it was one of the four powerful Maritime Republics which, in the Middle Ages (839-1135 A.D.), established productive relationships with other people and especially with the Orient. The Monumental complex of the Cathedral is testimony to Amalfi’s glorious past. It includes the “Cloister of Paradise”, the Basilica of the Crucifix, which houses the museum, the Crypt of St. Andrew and the Cathedral itself. The Amalfi Cathedral in Italian is called the Cattedrale di Sant’ Andrea/Duomo Di Amalfi.
The Cathedral is a 9th century Christian structure in the Piazza Del Duomo. It is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew. Predominantly of Arab-Norman Romanesque architectural style, it has been remodeled a few times. The remodels have brought a Romanesque, Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque style to the Cathedral. The Cathedral includes the adjoining 9th century Basilica of the Crucifix. Leading from the basilica are steps into the Crypt of St. Andrew. The newer cathedral was built next to the older Basilica that was built on the ruins of a previous temple. The remains of St. Andrew were reportedly brought to Amalfi from Constantinople in 1206, the crypt was completed and the relics were turned over to the church.
|Crypt of Saint Andrew|
The Crypt is the heart of Amalfi, because here are preserved the head and other bones of Saint Andrew, Jesus’ first Apostle, who had evangelized Greece, ranging as far as modern-day Russia, was crucified in Patras. From there Cardinal Pietro Capuano, Papal Envoy to the fourth Crusade, took his body first to Constantinople and later to Amalfi. The Bones of Saint Andrew reached Amalfi on the 8th of May, 1208 and were greeted by the joyful people and buried in the Crypt, built by the same Cardinal. Today the Occipital bone of the skull is kept behind the altar and is shown only on certain occasions. The other bones are hidden under the Altar, covered by a heavy slab of marble. A crystal phial is placed on top of the sepulchre, where on the eve of the Saint’s holiday or on other occasions, the “Manna” is collected. This is a dense liquid that has always appeared on the Apostle’s sepulchre, both in Patras and Constaninople. This event has occurred in Amalfi for 750 years.
Although the Cathedral is the main draw in the town of Amalfi, don’t let that be your only stop. There is great shopping and eating just waiting for you. I would suggest leaving the tourist heavy section, the Piazza Del Duomo and venture out around the streets or down to the marina. There are beautiful places to enjoy a great glass of wine or a full on lunch as you walk East along the coast. There is much to do here on the Amalfi Coast, and even in the small towns such as Amalfi, from Museums, Cathedral’s, fantastic food and wine, shopping and outstanding people watching. This should not be a fast paced vacation destination where you blow in and out. It is meant to be savored, tasted. Visiting Amalfi, is like sitting on the beach soaking up the sun, except here you’ll soak up the sights, smells and flavors of one of Italy’s most scenic destinations.
Amalfi, a set on Flickr.