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Amalfi is a town in Italy and a popular destination among tourists. Amalfi belongs to the province of Salerno in Campania region, Italy. The town is located in a picturesque place on the Mediterranean sea shore surrounded by the cliffs of the mountain Monte Cerreto standing high above the city reaching the altitude of 4314 feet (1,315 meters). There are legends and guesses why the city was called Amalfi. One very romantic legend has it that Hercules wanted to find the most enchanted place in the world to bury his deceased love, nymph Amalfi. When he came across such a place he called it after her - so Amalfi was born. But events described in Chronicon Amalphitanum (collection of various chronicled related to the history of the Kingdom of Naples) show that it was founded in 399 AD by a group of Romans as a small fishermen village which very soon became a sea trading place.
Amalfi or Duchy of Amalfi was officially a subject of the Byzantine Empire but in reality was self-governing by its own elected rulers. The town enjoyed military and trade strategic position and by 9th century Amalfi trade was booming and spread from Northern Africa to the Mediterranean Sea where their merchants took away the trade monopoly from Arabs. Amalfi was the first of the Maritime Republics (several city-states which flourished in Italy in the Middle Ages) to play a major role in the Mediterranean commerce. Amalfi merchants had established trade posts in Southern Italy and Middle East in the 10th century AD. The maritime laws created by the Amalfitan Republic (so-called Tavole Amalfitane) were followed and executed in the Mediterranean through all the Middle Ages long after it was conquered by the Pisans in 1135 - 1137 and eventually declined in importance.
Today, the city of Amalfi is a jewel of Amalfi Coast. It is a luxurious resort with medieval architecture blended into picturesque cliffs and terraced gardens with breathtaking views. Its narrow streets wind through the ancient town up the slopes between the sky and the sea. Its beautiful beaches under the bright and inviting sun attract crowds of tourists from all over the world.
We have published on our Web site a series of photo galleries dedicated to Amalfi. They include:
- Amalfi Town, Part I: from Piazza Flavio Gioia to Amalfi Cathedral, via Lorenzo d'Amalfi and via Pietro Capuano.
- Amalfi Town, Part II: from via Cardinal Marino Del Giudice back to piazza Duomo and piazza dei Dogi.
- Amalfi Town, Part III: Eastern Part of Amalfi - Marina Grande and Corso della Repubblica Marinara.
- Amalfi Town, Part IV: Western Part of Amalfi - Amalfi's Marina, Lungomare dei Cavalieri and Piazzale dei Protontini.
- Amalfi Cathedral (Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea) - Amalfi, Italy.
- The Museum of the Compass and Maritime Duchy of Amalfi (Amalfi, Italy).
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What Makes It Special
The whole Amalfi coast is a place of great beauty, natural diversity and exceptional historical and cultural values. The Greeks, Romans, Normans, Saracens, Arab-Sicilians and medieval Amalfitanes of Maritime Republic left their military, political and cultural imprint on the region. Their artistic vision of the sea, sky and mountain cliffs intertwined with terraced gardens, villas, cathedrals and churches makes this glorious place unique and special. In 1997 the Amalfi Coast (Costiera Amalfitana) was inscribed in the UNESCO World Heritage list for the reason that: "this quintessentially Mediterranean landscape blends centuries of artistic and architectural accomplishments with one of nature’s perfect panoramas." Amalfi and nearby Ravello are two beautiful towns with Amalfi being at the center of one of four main stretches of Amalfi coast.
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Directions To Destination
International travelers heading to Amalfi usually arrive to Italy through the Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) near Rome or Naples Airport (NAP) located in the Capodichino district of Naples.
Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (also know simply as Fiumicino Airport) is one of the busiest airports in Europe with annual traffic around 37 million passengers. It is located in Fiumicino, 16 miles (35 km) from Rome's historic city center. It is safe to say that all major and small aviation airlines have scheduled flights to and from Fiumicino Airport which makes it very convenient for travelers with final destinations in Italy.
However, since our destination is Amalfi which is much closer to Naples than to Rome, I would suggest considering Napoli-Capodichino Airport depending on where you will be coming from. Keep in mind that the Naples Airport is a rather busy international airport (around 6 million passengers annually) with scheduled connections to many international destinations including: Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Basel/Mulhouse, Berlin-Schönefeld, Birmingham, Bristol, Brussels, Bucharest-Băneasa, Cologne/Bonn, Copenhagen, Dublin, Düsseldorf, East Midlands, Frankfurt, Friedrichshafen, Geneva, Glasgow-International, Hamburg, Hanover, Heraklion, Ibiza, Istanbul-Atatürk, Kiev-Boryspil, Liverpool, London-Gatwick, London-Stansted, Luxembourg, Madrid, Malta, Manchester, Moscow-Domodedovo, Munich, New York-JFK, Newcastle, Nice, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Paris-Orly, Prague, Sharm el-Sheikh, Stuttgart, Tel Aviv, Tunis, Vienna (some of these services may be seasonal). For example, from the United States, it may be much more convenient to fly to a major European airport (for example, Paris CDG) and have a connected flight to the Naples Airport (NAP). Same logic applies to flying to Rome with a connecting flight to Naples - it all depends on your specific point of departure and itinerary. Keep in mind that there may be also seasonal non-stop flights (usually in months from June to September) to Naples Capodichino Airport (NAP) from various destinations; in particular, for such flights check Meridiana/Eurofly.
Amalfi is 168 miles (270 km) from Rome. To get to Amalfi town from Rome you can chose plane, train, hired or rented car (or a combination of the above). However, most likely, if you travel from Rome to Amalfi, your intermediate destination will be Naples. From Rome to Naples you can get by air or train.
Amalfi is 43.5 miles (70 km) from Naples (and 10 miles or 16 km from Salerno). To get to Amalfi town from Naples you can use hydrofoils or ferries, hired or rented car, bus, train. From our perspective, the most interesting and exciting way (but not the most convenient) to reach Amalfi from Naples is to use hydrofoils/ferries. The ferry season starts usually in April and continues till October. The trip from Napoli (Porto di Napoli - Molo Beverello) to Amalfi takes about two hours and costs about €20 (2011) one way per person. There are also private boat charters offered at the ticket booths on the Molo Pennello pier. For more details on hydrofoils or ferries you can check the Web site of Metro del Mare providing connections by sea between Naples and all popular destinations in the Amalfi Coast. Another useful name to keep in mind is Cooperativa Sant'Andrea providing sea services that cover the whole Amalfi area from Sorrento to Salerno. However, to the best of our knowledge there are no services to Naples.
Traveling by bus from Napels to Amalfi takes 2 hours and costs only €4/person. Bus service is offered by SITA, an Italian company providing bus transportation in many regions of the country including Campania (where Amalfi coast is located). While considering using a bus, keep in mind that during high season buses can be very crowded. Also, if you are prone to motion sickness, the winding roads you will be traveling may be a problem. For bus schedule and tickets please visit SITA S.p.A Web site and Unico Campania, a consortium that operates the integrated pricing of public transport in the Campania Region.
Perhaps the most convenient (and the most expensive) way of getting to Amalfi from Naples is to use a car. However, before you decide, you should know that driving in Amalfi coast area can be really challenging since most roads are very narrow and often cut through the cliffs. Another consideration is the cost of parking that can be rather high. In addition to convenience and more freedom, the biggest advantage of using/renting a car is an easier access to many small towns and spots in the area with unforgettable views and excellent food that otherwise would be practically off limits. There are three ways to travel by car from Naples to Amalfi; all start with Autostrada Napoli-Salerno (A3/E45 - toll road).
- To travel via Sorrento, take exit to SS145 and continue to Sorrento on "Sorrentina" (SS145). Do not miss the turn on SS163 (also called "Amalfitana") (before you actually enter Sorrento center). In a little while after getting through the mountains, you will end up driving along the Amalfi Coast until you reach Amalfi town. The driving distance is 48 miles (77 km) with estimated travel time about 1 h 40 min.
- To travel via Vietri sul Mare, continue on A3 until you rich Vietri Sul Mare and then turn on SS163 until you reach Amalfi town. The driving distance is 47 miles (75 km) with estimated travel time about 1 h 20 min. The advantage of this option is its simplicity in following the directions to Amalfi.
- To trave via mountains, take exit Angri and follow directions to SP2 that goes on top of the mountain ridge. Continue on SP2 until you hit the coast - turn on SS163 to Amalfi. The driving distance is 40 miles (65 km) with estimated travel time about 1 h 30 min. The advantage of this option is in visiting the mountain area in Campania that you would never visit otherwise. However, finding directions from exiting A3 to SP2 can be confusing.
Other transportation options between Naples and Amalfi include a train from Naples to Salerno where you can take a ferry, a SITA bus or a taxi to Amalfi. Trains to Salerno depart every 30 minutes; the trip takes from 30 to 40 minutes and costs between €11 and €35 (2011, transportation costs from Salerno to Amalfi not included). Check RailEurope Web site for schedule and booking.
Finally, I cannot but mention Salerno Costa d'Amalfi Airport (QSR) (known also as Salerno-Pontecagnano Airport) located about 15 miles (25 km) south from Salerno. It has scheduled flights from and to Rome and Milan and can be an interesting option for travelers coming to Amalfi from other Italian cities. For schedule visit the Salerno Airport Web site.
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Best Time To Go
The location of Amalfi on a steep southern shore of the Sorrentine Peninsula results in mild winters and hot summers softened by breezes from the Mediterranean sea. The average high temperature is 84.7 °F (29.3 °C) in July, 85.1 °F (29.5 °C) in August , 79.3 °F (26.3 °C ) in September. Average lows are 64.3 °F (18 °C) in July and August, 59.5 °F (15.3 °C ) in September. June, July and August are months with the lowest precipitation: 1.3" (33 mm), 1" (25.4 mm) and 1.6" (41 mm) respectively.
The coldest period in Amalfi is December though February with average highs of 56.5 °F (13.6 °C) in December, 54.5 °F (12.5 °C) in January , 55.8 °F (13.2 °C ) in February. Average lows are 41.2 °F (5.1 °C) in December, 38.8 °F (3.8 °C) in January , 39.7 °F (4.3 °C ) in February. The months with the highest precipitation are October (5.1" or 130 mm) and November (6.4" or 163 mm). In December, January and February precipitation is usually from 4" to 5" (101 mm - 127 mm).
As you can see from the above, there is nothing better than summer months in Amalfi - if you don't mind crowds you can combine sightseeing with sun bathing and swimming. If crowds are not what you are fond of, you can go to Amalfi any time of the year although during the cold time of the year you will certainly miss the sea - perhaps you should avoid November, December, January and February. If you prefer less people and more moderate temperatures, September is an excellent option.
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Where To Stay
There are many excellent hotels in and near Amalfi. One of the best hotels is Hotel Santa Caterina (S.S. Amalfitana, 9, 84011 Amalfi) an expensive five star hotel with excellent reputation and service. Its 2012 rates start from €550 to €2,800 per room/night and include daily breakfast buffet (10% taxies are not included). Located half a mile from central Amalfi, Hotel Santa Caterina has gardens and terraces leading from the top of the cliffs to the sea with private beach. There are 66 rooms in the hotel. Read our review of Hotel Santa Caterina.
More affordable option that we can recommend is Hotel Floridiana (Via Brancia 1, 84011 Amalfi), three star hotel, rates between €130 and €170 per room /night (high season, taxes and buffet breakfast included). Hotel Floridiana is located in the center of Amalfi, and has 13 rooms.
Research and book hotels in or near Amalfi, Italy
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Sightseeing, swimming, sunbathing, enjoying food and drink. Be creative in planning your trip - there is a lot to see in and around Amalfi - consider various excursions including boat ones where you can enjoy hidden coves reachable only by boats.
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Useful Visitor Information and Tips
Amalfi town is rather small - less than 6,000 people. The town is very picturesque; it is built in the valley on terraces within many alleys and stairways across the town. There is a lot to see in Amalfi:
- Cathedral of Sant'Andrea (also known as Amalfi Cathedral, Duomo di Amalfi, Duomo di Sant'Andre, St. Andrew's Cathedral). It is located in Piazza del Duomo and dedicated to the Apostle Saint Andrew. The cathedral is a real architectural masterpiece. The construction of the Cathedral and its crypt was completed in 1208 to be the resting place of the remains of St. Andrew brought from Constantinople by Pietro Capuano, the Amalfitan Cardinal and Papal legate. Duomo was built in Romanesque style with heavy influence of Arab and Norman elements. During several remodelling through the centuries acquired some elements of Byzantine, Gothic and Baroque architectural styles. The cathedral includes the adjoining Basilica of the Crucifix, a chapel dating from 596 AD serving now as the Cathedral treasury. Adjacent to the Duomo is the Cloister of Paradise (Chiostro del Paradiso) built in the 13th century as a burial ground. It is certainly not to be missed because of its architecture, old mosaics and paintings. Please visit our photo gallery illustrating various aspects and parts of the Cathedral.
- Amalfi's Civic Museum (Piazza Municipio entrance off Corso Roma) is located on the first floor of the Municipal Palace. The museum contain a number of historic artifacts related to the medieval Maritime Republic.
- Museo Arsenale Amalfi (Museum of the Compass and the Duchy of Amalfi or Museo della Bussola e del Ducato marinaro di Amalfi, Largo Cesareo Console, 3, 84011 Amalfi) - a new museum (opened at the very end of 2010) located in is the ancient Arsenal commemorating the times and amazing story of the ancient Maritime Republic of Amalfi. Entrance fee is €2. For more information, visit our page dedicated to this museum.
- Paper Mill Museum (Museo della Carta - via delle Cartiere, 23, 84011 Amalfi). The museum is located in the 14th century paper mill. Amalfi has long traditions in paper manufacturing. In particular, a hand-made paper called "bambagina" is made in Amalfi and well known all over the world and exported to the United States. This thick high quality paper used by artists and as a luxury stationery, invitations, visit cards.
- There are at least three events which worth seeing in Amalfi town:
- City patron Saint Andrew's feast days. They are celebrated two times a year in Amalfi - on the 25th through the 27th of June - (in memory of a miracle: pirate Barbarossa couldn't capture the town and this event is celebrated by taking the statue of Saint Andrew to the sea shore where festival begins) and on the 30th of November (St. Andrea's birthday).
- Celebration of Byzantine New Year Eve (including historic parade, costumed parades, medieval tournaments) takes place on August 31. The event reflects the beginning of the New Year according to the old civil calendar of the Byzantine Empire to which Amalfi republic once belonged.
- Amalfi town periodically receives the participants and guests of Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics (La Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare). The event takes place the first Sunday in June. Participants dressed in medieval costumes sail middle age sea vessels. In its past rivaled maritime republics Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice - nowadays compete in rowing tournament in the Bay of Salerno. The 57th Regatta is scheduled to take place in Amalfi in 2012. Usually, the place of the regatta is rotated regularly so that each of four former Republics hosts it once every four years. However, in 2009, the rotation was not be followed. The last three events took place in: 2009 - Pisa, 2010 - Genoa, 2011 - Venice.
- When in Amalfi, consider visiting Ravello, a small town (population about 2,500 people) located on a hill above Amalfi 1,198 feet (365 m) above sea level a couple of miles from Amalfi town. Ravello is one of the most fascinating places along the Amalfi Coast with a rich history. Ravello was founded in the 5th century and in 11th century had some 25,000 inhabitants. Today, the town is known for its beautiful palazzi, villas, churches, gardens and breathtaking views on Amalfi Coast. The town has been a destination for artists, musicians, and writers, including Richard Wagner, Giovanni Boccaccio, Virginia Woolf, Greta Garbo, Gore Vidal, Graham Greene, Leonard Bernstein and many others. It is also a popular tourist destination. Every year in the summer months, the town hosts Ravello Festival (also known as Wagner Festival).
- The Amalfi coast is well known for growing long, big size lemons and its production of Limoncello liquor made of this juicy fruit.
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