The Amalfi Coast, or Costiera Amalfitana in Italian, is a stretch of coastline on the southern side of the Sorrentine Peninsula of Italy (Province of Salerno), extending from Positano in the west to Vietri sul Mare in the east. The main town close to the Amalfi Coast is Salerno, the municipalities belonging to its coast are Vietri sul Mare, Cetara, Maiori, Tramonti, Minori, Ravello, Scala, Atrani, Amalfi, Conca dei Marini, Furore, Praiano and Positano.
This scenic drive takes you along one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world. The numerable bends and constantly changing views capture the imagination, as do fairytale villages that seem to cling to the side of the cliffs. It is a coastline which has given inspiration to many artists, poets and writers in every decade.
The first town on the Amalfi Coast is Positano with it’s Moorish looking architecture, pastel-painted houses and famous fashion.
We then continue along the coastline enjoying the flora, fauna and lemon groves which explode with colour against the contrasting blue and emerald sea. In Amalfi there is the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, the patron Saint of Amalfi. The Cathedral(Duomo) dates back to the 11th Century and is one of Italy’s most fascinating architectural curiosities, with its basilica (now a small museum) and the unique Cloister of Paradise. Then finally, to the elegant town of Ravello, with its natural beauty, exotic plants, breathtaking views and relaxed atmosphere. Wagner was also struck by the beauty of Ravello, and it is claimed that it gave him the inspiration for some of his music.
Amalfi's origins date back to the first century A.C. when the Roman aristocracy built luxurious villas in this area. Soon Amalfi, and its surrounding towns, became refined and well developed communities. Amalfi prospered because of wealthy commercial opportunities that arose and became an important trading power around the Mediterranean. Amalfi went on to own a powerful fleet of ships, and became famous for its strong marine traditions, and laws (Tabula de Amalpha). Today, Amalfi still maintains its fishing traditions, and has a number of fully functional, traditional, fishing boats. Amalfitans are also very proud of one of their most famous mariners, Flavio Gioia, the inventor of the compass.
Legend says Hercules had been in love with a nymph and when she died he wanted to bury her in the most beautiful valley in the world and chose Amalfi. Historians, however disagree, saying that Romans, on their way to Costantinopoli were shipwrecked here, and seeing how beautiful the area was, decided to stay. The Romans were from a place called Melphi, so they named the town Amalfi.
Amalfi was one of the first European cities to produce paper. Hand made Amalfi writing paper. They discovered how to make this paper from cotton and using running water. People from all over the world use the famous Amalfi paper for wedding invitations and writing paper. The 13th Century saw the ancient town of Amalfi completely destroyed by an enormous sea storm. It was as if part of Amalfi had fallen into the sea. The Church, now part of the Cathedral was originally inland, but because of the sea storm, it now seems almost on the beach.