Best Amalfi Coast Towns to Explore
The stunning Amalfi coast, a popular destination for Italians and tourists alike, lies in the south of Italy on the Mediterranean Sea. Known for its picture-perfect towns, seemingly cut directly into the cliff faces, its flawless blue waters, and its limoncello, the Amalfi Coast is a must-see destination. Though there are actually 13 towns that make up the Unesco listed coast, you might find it difficult to visit every one, so we’ve narrowed it down to our favourites;
Amalfi, the coast’s namesake, is also the largest town in the area. It was an important Maritime power in the 6th century, trading with the East and the Mediterranean Basin. Amalfi traders, famous for their timber, traded for gold, spices, precious stones and textiles. Today, it trades in limoncello and a special type of handmade paper called bambagina, as well as boasting a gorgeous beach and charming streets.
The Cathedral of St. Andrew
A unique mix of architectural styles (Romanesque, Arab-Norman, Byzantine, Gothic, and Baroque), this stunning 13th-century cathedral is hard to miss, sitting tall above a sweeping staircase, its bronze and gold facade glistening bright under the sun. Inside the cathedral are the relics of Saint Andrew the Apostle, though, undoubtedly, the real highlight is the facade.
The Cloister of Paradise
If you weren’t convinced that Amalfi itself was paradise, adjacent to the cathedral lies a little piece of literal paradise. In the 13th century, this cloister was used as a burial ground for the noble Amalfi families. It’s a clear example of the influence the Arab world had on Amalfi in its architectural style, with beautiful white columns, pointed arches and magnificent frescoes.
Arsenal of the Maritime Republic
Just a few steps away from the beach, you’ll find the Arsenal where Amalfi’s trading ships were built in the middle ages. Discover more about the towns Maritime history in this unusual museum.
Museum of Handmade Paper
Showcasing another of Amalfi’s important trades and traditions, this museum is housed in an ancient paper mill. Amalfi was one of the first towns that made paper, having learned the skill from the Arabs.
This little-known gem which sits between Amalfi and Positano is also often referred to as the village that does not exist for its unusual layout; a group of houses just jutting out of the cliffs with no real town centre.
The open-air museum of murals
In recent years the residents became adamant to put their town on the map, so in collaboration with artists from around the world, the locals painted murals on their buildings and decorated their railings and lamp posts with bright colours. So, Furore became known as the painted village.
The fiord, one of the most dramatic and magnificent in Italy, is showcased by a tall rocky gorge with old fisherman’s houses clinging to the sides which form a natural harbour.
The Church of St. James the Apostle
This 6th-century church was built on the ruins of an antique rural church. It boasts a multi-storey bell tower, with a mosaic-covered spire. Recently a group of frescoes were uncovered inside which reproduce the life of Santa Margherita.
Often called the jewel of the Amalfi coast, it’s easy to see why Positano is the most popular and most visited villages in the area. With hundreds of pastel houses set into the steep cliff faces, the maze of winding laneways covered in the local flora and the scent of lemon in the air, it’s hard not to fall in love with this little village. Surprisingly, Positano only began to attract attention in the 1950s, prior to this it was a poor fishing village. Although, during medieval times it was an important trading port.
The church of Santa Maria Assunta
This 5th-century church features an exquisite yellow and green mosaic dome. Inside there are the remains of a Byzantine floor and a wooden 13th-century icon of a black Madonna. Legend says the icon was stolen from Byzantium (modern Istanbul) and was brought to Positano by pirates.
The fortified towers
The Tower of Fornillo, the Tower of Trasita, the Tower of Sponda and the Tower of Gallo were an important part of the defence system for the Amalfi Coast. They were built to defend the area from Saracen pirate attacks in the middle ages.
Maria Grande Beach
Once you descend from the top of the town and make your way through all the charming alleys, you will reach this beach that is encased on either side by cliffs. It’s worth the trek up and down just to look back and marvel at a panoramic view of Positano.
Sitting at 365 metres above sea level, Ravello offers a stunning view of the Gulf of Salerno. The town itself is equally as charming as the views and you won’t be surprised to learn that it has long served as inspiration and a popular destination for artists, musicians and writers. Some of its famous admirers include; Richard Wagner, Virginia Woolf, M.C Escher, Gore Vidal, Greta Garbo, Joan Miro, Truman Capote, and Tennessee Williams.
This enchanting villa dates back to 1290. It is claimed by many to be the most beautiful architectural complex in Ravello, consisting of the main building, two towers, the chapel, a courtyard and gardens. The gardens themselves inspired Richard Wagner’s stage design in his opera Parsifal.
Built on the cliff that shares its name in the 11th century, Villa Cimbrone boasts one of the most spectacular views of the coastline. Its most unique feature is its famous terrace, The Terrace of Infinity, which was once a meeting place for the intellectual elite. Now, however, the villa is a hotel so you won’t need to pass an IQ test to step foot onto the infamous terrace!
Villa La Rondinaia
The newest and the most unusual, this villa was built into the cliff face in the 1930s. It takes its name from its uncanny resemblance to a swallow’s nest. Its most famous tenant was writer, Gore Vidal, who bought the villa in 1972 and used it as his holiday house and writing quarters for over 30 years.
The oldest town on the Amalfi Coast, Scala was founded in the 4th century by a group of Romans who were trying to find their way to Constantinople (Modern Istanbul). Due to its location, 400 metres above sea level, in the middle ages Scala was an important fortification. Along with its long history, Scala offers beautiful monuments, as well as an interesting natural heritage of Chestnut trees. If you visit in november, you might catch the annual chestnut festival!
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo
This 4th century Romanesque style cathedral still has its original portal, and is complete with stuccoes and a gorgeous ceiling paintings depicting a saint’s life. The church also features a Gothic-style crypt containing the unusual stucco coloured Sarcophagus of Marinella Rufolo.
Valle delle Ferriere State Nature Reserve
Just out of Scala, in the real heart of the Amalfi coast lies this UNESCO listed nature reserve. Home to a mediterranean and tropical plant species, as well as a few rare species, it’s a treat for hikers and nature lovers alike.
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