Amalfi Introduction Walking Tour, Amalfi

Amalfi Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Amalfi

The Jewel of the Amalfi Coast", "A Mediterranean Gem", and "A Timeless Seaside Haven". All these laudatory epithets are addressed to a single place, the enchanting town of Amalfi on the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy.

Today, this town is often portrayed as a tranquil retreat, whose idyllic landscapes have a captivating appeal to travelers, so it is hard to imagine that during the Middle Ages Amalfi was a powerful maritime republic, akin to those of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa.

Although known since the 4th century AD, the origin of the name "Amalfi" is uncertain. Some theories suggest that it might be derived from the Greek word "Amalphein," which means "to display," reflecting the town's strategic location as a port. Others propose that it could be derived from "Melfi," the name of a Lombard castle that once stood nearby.

Amalfi prospered as a trading center and played a significant role in Mediterranean trade particularly between between 839 and around 1200. Its maritime code, known as the "Map of Amalfi (Tabula Amalphitana)," was influential in shaping maritime law throughout Europe. The former shipyard and warehouse, the Arsenal of the Maritime Republic (Arsenale della Repubblica), is a living tribute to Amalfi's glory days as a maritime power.

Over time, Amalfi's influence waned due to various factors, including the rise of other maritime forces and economic shifts. The town faced numerous challenges, including Saracen attacks, internal power struggles, and the devastating effects of natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis.

In the 1920s and 1930s, Amalfi became a popular holiday destination for the British upper class, praised as "A paradise for epicurean delights.” Still, apart from the warm sea, laid-back Mediterranean ambiance, and lavish food offerings, Amalfi attracts visitors also with its historical heritage.

Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo), in the heart of the city, is home to the magnificent Amalfi Cathedral (Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea). Adjacent to the cathedral is the Cloister of Paradise (Chiostro del Paradiso), a tranquil spot with elegant colonnades that offers a glimpse into Amalfi's religious and artistic history. The Museum of Paper (Museo della Carta) pays tribute to Amalfi's long tradition of papermaking.

Some say Amalfi is "where landscapes paint dreams," suggesting that its breathtaking vistas, picturesque coastal scenery, and colorful cliffside create an atmosphere of sheer beauty and inspiration. If you wish to delve into the atmosphere of Amalfi and attempt to uncover some of the layers of influences that have shaped its identity, take this self-guided walking tour.
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Amalfi Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Amalfi Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Italy » Amalfi (See other walking tours in Amalfi)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 0.9 Km or 0.6 Miles
Author: nataly
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)
  • Arsenal of the Maritime Republic
  • Duomo di Sant'Andrea (Amalfi Cathedral)
  • Diocesan Museum of Amalfi
  • Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise)
  • Via Lorenzo d'Amalfi (Lorenzo d'Amalfi Street)
  • Museo della Carta (Museum of Handmade Paper)
Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square)

1) Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) (must see)

Cathedral Square is a charming and significant square that draws both locals and tourists alike. Despite its small size, the square holds great importance in the coastal town of Amalfi, located in the picturesque region of Campania.

During the summer months, the Square bustles with activity as visitors flock to see the magnificent Amalfi Cathedral. The cathedral, accessed via a grand monumental staircase, stands as a remarkable architectural gem and a symbol of the town's rich history. Its presence adds a touch of grandeur to the square, captivating the attention of all who pass by.

At ground level, the square offers a delightful assortment of shops and restaurants, where visitors can explore local crafts, taste traditional cuisine, and immerse themselves in the vibrant atmosphere of Amalfi.

One notable feature of the square is the Sant'Andrea Fountain. This beautiful fountain, dating back to 1869, serves as a gathering point for both locals and tourists. Many come to enjoy the refreshing water it provides, quenching their thirst and taking a moment to appreciate the surroundings.
Arsenal of the Maritime Republic

2) Arsenal of the Maritime Republic

The Arsenal of the Maritime Republic is a remarkable structure composed of two large stone-built halls with vaulting supported by repeated pointed arches. These architectural features create a striking and impressive interior space. Originally, the arsenal had twenty-two piers supporting the vaulting, but over time, twelve of them, along with the structures they upheld, have been lost to coastal erosion.

The primary purpose of the arsenal was to serve as a center for the construction, repair, and storage of warships. During the Early Middle Ages, Amalfitan war-galleys gained prominence as some of the largest and most formidable vessels in the Mediterranean. The arsenal played a crucial role in maintaining and expanding the naval power of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi.

Today, the arsenal has been repurposed and transformed into a space that showcases architectural and sculptural remains, preserving the history and heritage of Amalfi. Visitors to the arsenal can view a variety of exhibits, including a row-barge used in the Historical Regatta, models of ships, and works of visual art. The building itself serves as a unique venue for hosting art exhibitions, creating a vibrant cultural hub.

Since December 2010, the Ancient Arsenals of Amalfi have also become home to the Compass Museum. The museum occupies the two remaining aisles of the building, which were fortunate enough to survive the devastating Amalfi seaquake of 1343. The Compass Museum offers visitors an opportunity to explore the history and significance of navigation tools, specifically compasses, within the context of Amalfi's maritime heritage.

The Arsenal of the Maritime Republic stands as a testament to the maritime prowess and historical significance of Amalfi. It is not only a physical reminder of the city's naval power but also a space that celebrates art, culture, and the enduring legacy of this vibrant coastal town. Visitors can immerse themselves in the rich history of Amalfi and gain insights into its seafaring traditions through the exhibits and events hosted within the arsenal's walls.
Duomo di Sant'Andrea (Amalfi Cathedral)

3) Duomo di Sant'Andrea (Amalfi Cathedral) (must see)

Amalfi Cathedral, also known as Saint Andrea Cathedral, is a remarkable medieval Roman Catholic cathedral. The cathedral is dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew, whose relics are preserved within its walls.

The construction of Amalfi Cathedral began in the 9th and 10th centuries, and over the years, it has undergone numerous additions, renovations, and stylistic transformations. The architectural elements of the cathedral display a captivating blend of Arab-Norman, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque styles, culminating in the creation of a new Norman-Arab-Byzantine facade in the 19th century.

Adjacent to the cathedral is the 9th-century Basilica of the Crucifix, and below it lies the Crypt of Staint Andrew, where the relics of the saint can be found. The original church, which now serves as the Diocesan Museum of Amalfi, was erected in the 9th century on the remains of an earlier temple. A second church was built to the south in the 10th century, eventually becoming the current cathedral.

The remains of Saint Andrew were said to have been brought to Amalfi from Constantinople in 1206 during the Fourth Crusade by Cardinal Peter of Capua. According to legend, manna, a sweet sap-like substance, miraculously emanated from the saint's bones.

The bell tower of Amalfi Cathedral was built between the 12th and 13th centuries in front of the original church. It features an elaborate crown adorned with marble and majolica, showcasing a distinctive Arab-Norman style Inside the cathedral, visitors can explore various chapels representing both Gothic and Renaissance influences, while the nave boasts Baroque decorations from the 18th century.

In 1861, a section of the cathedral's facade collapsed, causing damage to the atrium. Consequently, the entire front of the church was reconstructed according to a design by architect Errico Alvino. The new facade embraced a richly adorned style, drawing inspiration from Italian Gothic and Arab-Norman aesthetics.

Within the central nave, the high altar is crafted from the sarcophagus of Peter of Capua, who passed away in 1214. Above the altar hangs a painting by Andrea dell'Asta depicting "The Martyrdom of St. Andrew." The boxed ceiling, dating back to 1702, showcases artwork depicting the Flagellation, the Crucifixion of the Apostle, and the "Miracle of the Manna" by Dell'Asta from 1710. The triumphal arch is supported by two Egyptian granite columns.
Diocesan Museum of Amalfi

4) Diocesan Museum of Amalfi

The Diocesan Museum of Amalfi is an esteemed art museum situated within the Basilica of the Crucifix of Amalfi, a church dating back to the 9th century. The museum proudly showcases a collection of treasures belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Amalfi-Cava de' Tirreni.

The Basilica of the Crucifix, originally dedicated to the Assumption and later to Saints Cosmas and Damian, derives its name from the crucifix that was once housed on its altar. The construction of the basilica likely began in 987 during the rule of Duke Manso III (985-1004). Over time, the basilica underwent significant expansions and modifications. The current layout of the nave is the result of three notable interventions. The first occurred in the late 13th century when the Cloister of the Paradise was built, necessitating the demolition of the left aisle of the church.

The subsequent intervention was more extensive and took place during the Tridentine Reform, resulting in the demolition of the right aisle. The old colonnade, which can still be partially observed, connects the Basilica of the Crucifix with Saint Andrew's Cathedral and was incorporated into the new structure, which accommodated several noble chapels. The most recent restoration began in 1931, aiming to restore the basilica's original medieval architectural features by removing Baroque additions and highlighting the original walls.

In 1996, the museum was established to house a remarkable collection of silverware, vestments, crosses, shrines, sculptures, and paintings from various periods and origins that belong to the cathedral's treasure. The exhibits within the museum include capitals, bas-reliefs, inscriptions, and frescoes, which were once part of the ancient basilica's interior decoration.

The collection showcases the cultural and spiritual heritage of Amalfi and provides insight into the region's historical significance. From exquisite silverware and intricately designed vestments to captivating sculptures and paintings, the museum offers a fascinating journey through the artistic legacy of the archdiocese.
Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise)

5) Chiostro del Paradiso (Cloister of Paradise)

The Cloister of Paradise, located to the left of Amalfi's Cathedral porch is a captivating architectural masterpiece that exhibits a Moorish-style design. Constructed in 1266, these magnificent cloisters were originally intended to serve as the final resting place for Amalfi's esteemed citizens. Today, visitors can admire the remnants of 13th-century frescoes that adorn its walls while exploring the tranquil surroundings.

The Cloister of Paradise boasts an impressive array of features. A central garden is encircled by 120 marble columns, which support a series of tall and graceful Arabic arches. The interplay of light and shadow, combined with the elegant proportions of the arches, creates a visually captivating atmosphere.

Upon entering the cloisters, visitors can also access the Basilica of the Crucifix, which serves as a museum. Descending below the cloisters, visitors will find the crypt that houses the sacred relics of St. Andrew the Apostle. This underground space provides a deeply spiritual and reflective ambiance, allowing pilgrims and visitors to connect with the historical and religious significance of Amalfi.

The Cloister of Paradise offers a unique blend of architectural beauty, artistic treasures, and religious reverence. Its Moorish-inspired design, with its slender arches and delicate details, creates a sense of tranquility and contemplation. The frescoes, artifacts, and relics housed within the cloisters and the adjoining Basilica del Crocefisso provide a glimpse into the religious and cultural history of Amalfi.
Via Lorenzo d'Amalfi (Lorenzo d'Amalfi Street)

6) Via Lorenzo d'Amalfi (Lorenzo d'Amalfi Street)

Lorenzo d'Amalfi Street is Amalfi's main road that beckons visitors with its vibrant ambiance and array of attractions. Beginning from the main square of Amalfi, this street offers a delightful experience that captures the essence of Italian charm.

As you venture onto Lorenzo d'Amalfi Street, you'll find yourself immersed in the quintessential Italian setting. The street is lined with picturesque white buildings adorned with colorful shop windows, creating a vibrant and inviting atmosphere. It is no surprise that this bustling thoroughfare attracts numerous tourists who come to explore the offerings and immerse themselves in the local culture.

In terms of shopping, the main street boasts a variety of stores offering traditional goods that showcase the region's craftsmanship. You can peruse shops selling exquisite pottery, bags, and scarves adorned with the iconic lemon patterns of the Amalfi Coast. Additionally, for those seeking a unique and personalized souvenir, there are establishments where you can have made-to-measure sandals crafted just for you.

The street is a treasure trove of shopping opportunities, showcasing a wide range of handicrafts and locally produced liquors. This eclectic mix of products adds to the allure of the street, with something to cater to every taste and interest.

Taking a leisurely stroll along Lorenzo d'Amalfi Street provides a pleasant respite from the hustle and bustle of the main square and its immediate surroundings. As you wander further, you'll discover numerous eateries, particularly pizzerias, offering delicious and affordable meals. It's the perfect opportunity to indulge in authentic Italian cuisine while taking in the vibrant atmosphere.
Museo della Carta (Museum of Handmade Paper)

7) Museo della Carta (Museum of Handmade Paper) (must see)

The Museum of Handmade Paper in Amalfi is a fascinating tribute to the town's rich history and longstanding tradition of paper making. Located in Mill Valley, in the northern part of the modern town, the museum showcases the remarkable craftsmanship and techniques that have been passed down through generations.

Amalfi holds a significant place in the history of paper making in Europe, as it was one of the earliest centers to adopt this art form. The Amalfitans acquired their paper-making skills from the Arabs, and this heritage is beautifully celebrated at the museum. Visitors can explore the origins of paper making in Amalfi and witness the evolution of the craft over time.

The museum is housed in an ancient paper mill that once belonged to the Milano family, renowned in Amalfi for their involvement in paper production and manufacturing. The mill itself stands as a testament to the town's rich industrial heritage. In 1969, the mill was transformed into a museum thanks to the vision and generosity of Nicholas Milano, the mill's owner at the time.

Within the museum's walls, visitors can marvel at the original machinery and equipment that were once used to create paper by hand. These artifacts have been lovingly restored to their former glory and are fully functional, offering a unique glimpse into the traditional paper-making process. Visitors can observe the intricate techniques and skillful craftsmanship that were required to produce high-quality paper.

The Museum of Handmade Paper provides an immersive experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the artistry and dedication that went into every sheet of paper produced in Amalfi. It serves as a reminder of the town's cultural heritage and its contribution to the development of paper making in Europe.