View of Salerno

Salerno's location at the meeting point of the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento Coast as well as its proximity to many renowned tourist attractions (Pompeii, Paestum, the Certosa di Padula and the Cilento National Park) make it an excellent stopover for Italian and international tourists alike.The heart of the city is the medieval quarter, whose main street is Via dei Mercanti.The narrow streets, now full of shops, retrace the steps of the medieval layout, preserving splendid period buildings and much of the city's religious architecture.The city's main attractions are without doubt its panoramas (the promenade, the old town, the Garden of Minerva, and Arechi Castle with its breathtaking views), and there are also many cultural and artistic sites that merit a visit (the cathedral with its Arab-Norman architecture, the Provincial Museum of Salerno, and Arechi Castle again).But visiting Salerno also means entertainment: the city has no shortage of bars and restaurants that bring the old town to life all night long, all year round.


Amalfi's coat of arms

Amalfi's name is said to have mythological origins: legend tells us that the place takes its name from the nymph Amalfi, beloved by Hercules, who was buried in the area by the gods.The historian Arrigo Bremmano traces the birth of the city to the 5th century AD. He postulates that Constantine I convinced some Roman noblemen to move to Constantinople.They sailed to Brindisi but were forced to find shelter in Dalmatia due to a storm.Upon returning to Apulia, they founded Melfi in Lucania, and later Amalfi.In all probability, the name Amalfi derives from "a Melphes", attested in this form in the sense of "(arrived) from Melfi".
L'Alessio, a researcher of place names, dates the origin of the name and therefore the existence of the city to a period pre-dating the Romans: he mentions navigators of Aegean origin who populated the coast around Salerno well before the foundation of Magna Graecia.Undoubtedly inhabited by the Romans, Amalfi begins to appear in historical documents around the seventh century, at the time of the first Lombard invasions, as a "castrum" (defensive fortress) belonging to the Duchy of Naples.

Amalfi's maritime vocation is confirmed by the attribution of the invention of the compass to a sailor from the city named Flavio Gioia.In the 9th century, Amalfi split from the Duchy of Naples and became an independent state.At its peak, Amalfi rivalled the other maritime cities: Pisa, Genoa and Venice.Its golden age ran from 966 to 1004; trade and maritime traffic flourished, and merchants from Amalfi had their own colonies in the Mediterranean's most important cities.Amalfi's decline began in 1039 when it was overthrown by Guaimar IV, prince of Salerno.

In 1135, the city was attacked and ravaged by Pisa, its oldest trade rival.Amalfi's reign as a maritime power was drawing to an end.
After its glorious medieval period, the history of the city begins to tell of a shrinking population, isolation from the hinterland and raids by pirates from the sea and bandits on land.
In the early 1900s, Amalfi began to gain a reputation as a sought-after tourist destination, and its economic fortunes started to pick up.Tourists - initially the elites, but eventually the masses too - gave rise to a system of small interconnected businesses, all within the wider context of the hospitality industry.Hotels and restaurants are now the cornerstone of Amalfi's economy, although fishing is still important.

Amalfi Coast

Seeing Amalfi today means immersing yourself in a city which is awash with white houses.Perched on a steep slope in the valley carved out by the River Chiarito (or Canneto) in an area devoid of plains and terraces, the town was forced to adapt to the harshness of the land.The port overlooks Piazza Flavio Gioia, with its monument dedicated to the supposed inventor of the compass, and from here the promenade begins. Nearby we find the start of the road leading to Positano, and the glass-covered arches of the ancient Arsenal of the Republic, with its spell-binding rooms and high double-vaulted ceilings. Formerly used to shelter Amalfi's ships and as a trade hub, the space now plays host to art shows and exhibitions.On the right of the entrance to the Arsenal there is a narrow passageway, the Porta della Marina, one of the medieval means of access to the city from the seafront.Behind it, in a triangular square with a Baroque fountain of St Andrew, the towering facade of the Duomo (rebuilt in the nineteenth century) looms over a stairway.


Amalfi Cathedral

The Duomo (cathedral) dates back to the 9th century. It was rebuilt in an Arab-Norman style in 1206 and reworked again in the 18th century.To the left of the main facade stands the bell tower (1180-1276), made up of turrets and intersecting arches.The main door has bronze knockers cast in Constantinople in 1066.The interior features Baroque forms from the 18th century and some older structures; in the presbytery there are two candlesticks and two mosaic pulpits from the 12th-13th centuries.
In the crypt, built at the turn of the 13th century on the orders of Cardinal Pietro Capuano, we find the preserved remains of Saint Andrew the Apostle, the city's protector.Inside, there is a bronze statue of the saint which stands two and a half metres tall and weighs 800 kilos. It is a work by Michelangelo Naccherino, donated to the city by Philip II of Spain.We can also admire two marble statues of Saint Stephen and Saint Lawrence by Pietro Bernini.


Amalfi church

The left side of the cathedral's atrium leads to the Cloister of Paradise, built in 1266-68 by Archbishop Filippo Augustariccio as a cemetery for illustrious citizens and joined to the Basilica dell'Assunta (Church of the Virgin Mary).Between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century, there were six chapels decorated with frescoes in this cemetery.It is connected to the archbishop's palace and is made up of a four-sided portico with groin vaults, sharp arches, twin columns and interwoven arches showing a Moorish influence (hence the name Paradise).It is square in shape with an Arab style. Today, it is a small flower garden surrounded by a four-sided portico whose sharp-pointed arches are supported by narrow Arab columns.The cemetery once housed the sarcophagi of Amalfi's most important families. Of the sarcophagi that have survived to this day, five are of particular interest:

  • the Roman sarcophagus from the 4th century AD, which bears the name of the decurion (cavalry officer) Publio Ottavio Rufo
  • the Roman sarcophagus with S-shaped grooves, the coat of arms of the Favaro family and the cross of Amalfi (now in the Arsenal)
  • the sarcophagus featuring a high-relief depiction of the Rape of Proserpina, an episode from Greek mythology
  • the sarcophagus depicting the "marriage of Peleo and Teti" on the long side and "Romulus and Remus suckling from the she-wolf" on one end, with the medieval inscription "Cesarius de Alaneo de Amalfia...MCCXL”
  • the sarcophagus of the archbishop Pietro Capuano, who died in 1359, which features sculpted images of the Virgin Mary, Christ, the Twelve Apostles, and the bishops Biagio and Basilio (now the cathedral's main altar)


In its days as a maritime republic, Amalfi boasted a very well-equipped navy and merchant navy.Its battle fleet was made up of "sagena", fast boats with two masts, two sails and a row of oars. The number of these boats varied from 108 to 120.It was this fleet that allowed Amalfi to make a decisive contribution to the Battle of Ostia against the Muslims in 849, helping the Romans to win.Anyone wishing to admire a fresco immortalising this episode can go to Rome and visit the Vatican Rooms.The work was carried out by Raphael at the request of Pope Leo X, who had previously been the Archbishop of Amalfi.

The ships were built on site: there was once an arsenal near Porta Marina where the hulls of battle galleys were constructed, with each having one hundred and twenty oars.The structure of the arsenal today reveals a series of restoration works carried out at different times.It is the only surviving medieval arsenal in the south of Italy. The arsenal has two aisles with groin vaults punctuated by ten pillars.

The merchant ships (known as "teridi", "buctio" and "cocca") were used to transport goods along the coast and were built on areas of the shore called " scaria" (a Byzantine term).The "scarium" of medieval Amalfi now lies under the sea just in front of the city, where medieval wharves and docks have recently been discovered.
The port and shipyard were submerged following a submarine landslide triggered by the Libeccio (south-westerly wind) which occurred on the night between 24th and 25th November 1343.

Paper Mill Museum

Opening hours: From 01/03 to 31/10, the museum is open from 10 am to 6.30 pm, including Sundays.
From 01/11 to 28/02, the museum is open from 10 am to 3:30 pm (closed on Mondays).

Valle dei Mulini

The Valle del Canneto (also known as the Valle dei Mulini, or "Valley of Mills"), just outside Amalfi, was home to the oldest paper mills in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards.The techniques were imported by the Arabs, considered a vital link for the transmission of knowledge in the medieval world.The old Milani paper mill now houses the Paper Mill Museum, where you can admire the equipment used to produce handmade paper, prints and antique engravings.


Ravello coastline

The Amalfi Coastwas first populated in the 6th century, when certain groups began to settle in the harsh lands to escape from the frequent Barbarian pillages of the time.Ravello sits on a flat spur dividing two valleys. Its location made it easier to develop residential settlements, and space was also available for crops, unlike Amalfi with its inhospitable land.

Many monuments have become symbolic of Ravello.The cathedral, begun in the 11th century and finished in the 12th, bears witness to the wealth generated by trade with the East and with Sicily.Its bare facade features a two-part window that dates back to the original building, while the bronze door by Barisano da Trani (1179) is divided into two frames depicting stories of the Passion and the Saints.

The bell tower was built in the 13th century, and its original form has survived to this day.In 1272, Nicola Rufolo donated an extraordinary pulpit to the cathedral. Opposite, we find an ambo from the 12th century, decorated with mosaics.These two works are linked by the bishop's pulpit, adorned with mosaics and spiral columns.In the Chapel of Saint Pantaleon, there is an ampoule containing the blood of the saint himself. Like the blood of San Gennaro in Naples, it liquefies every year on 27th July, the date on which Saint Pantaleon was martyred.

The church was built during the eleventh century at the request of Bishop Orso Pavico.The main doors are made of cast bronze, produced by Barisano da Trani in the 12th century. Inside, it houses a museum which preserves many historical traces of its past.It is worth mentioning the marble pulpit made by Niccolò di Bartolomeo da Foggia in the thirteenth century, as well as the 12th-century ambo with a mosaic decoration showing Jonah being swallowed by the pistrice, an imaginary beast.

The Church of San Giovanni del Toro, built at the end of the 10th century, has a 12th-century ambo and a wooden crucifix from the 15th century.Other monuments that are worth a visit are the Church of San Giovanni del Toro, Santa Maria a Gradillo and the Church of the Annunziata.

Villa Rufolo

Villa Rufolo is a must-see for anyone taking the "grand tour" to discover Italy's culture and natural beauty.It is a series of buildings surrounded by a garden with pines, cypresses and exotic plants.The buildings and the garden lie on a natural terrace overlooking the Gulf of Salerno: its panoramic location is one of the villa's main attractions.The style is Arab-Sicilian, like all the 13th-century buildings in the Duchy of Amalfi.The villa was built by the wealthy Rufolo family in the 12th century.It is referenced various times in different literary works. For example, Boccaccio visited Ravello and mentions Landolfo Rufolo in one of the novellas from his Decameron.
To access the villa you enter through the tower, whose vestibule is decorated with elegant interwoven arches.After walking down a pathway, you reach the three floors of the villa.The most picturesque part is the courtyard, with two Arab-Sicilian loggias featuring multi-coloured decorations.The following rooms are open to the public: the hall, divided into two aisles and used as a greenhouse, the waiting room, the bathroom, the chapel and the Torre Maggiore (Greater Tower).
When Wagner stayed at the villa in 1880, he was instantly taken by the park, so much so that he used it as a model for the magic garden of Klingsor in Parsifal.In honour of the great composer, concerts showcasing Wagnerian music are hosted every year.

Villa Cimbrone

We could call this villa the visionary creation of an English lord.Its history is controversial, but the result is undeniably fascinating.The site and name of Villa Cimbrone date back many hundreds of years: it was once a large estate owned by the noble Acconciagioco family, on which a large rustic farmstead was built.

In 1904, it came into the hands of Lord William Beckett. The lord, assisted in his work by Ravello native Nicola Mansi (who was neither an architect nor an engineer, but a tailor!) was able to create an incredibly beautiful building, mixing styles and epochs, ethnic and cultural aspects, antique artefacts and mementos of exotic journeys.

At the entrance to the villa, there is a small cloister with a square well curb: the space is designed to resemble the ancient cloister of the Church of San Francesco in Ravello.Likewise, many other parts of the complex are inspired by well-known buildings and monuments in Ravello and beyond, in an unpredictable but superbly successful mix.The villa's lush garden, featuring statues, temples, epigraphs, fountains, natural caves and man-made ravines, culminates in the spectacular "Belvedere of Infinity", where the view opens out to create a panorama that Gore Vidal called " the most beautiful in the world".


Positano coastline

Positano's origins date back to prehistoric times: in fact, a deer-based meal found in a cave in Sponda has been dated to 11,000 years ago, during the last ice age.The name Positano probably dates back to the period of Greek domination of the Mediterranean and brings to mind Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea.

During the Roman period, Positano became renowned because Emperor Tiberius, fleeing to Capri to escape the hatred of the Romans, sent his servants there to stock up on flour to make bread - he did not want to use the local flour as he feared being poisoned!The mill was located in Piazza dei Mulini and was still operational until a few years ago.
Positano was part of the Republic of Amalfi from the 9th to the 11th century.In particular, the town became renowned during the 10th century as a trading hub that was powerful enough to compete with the almighty Venice.The population was very hard-working and did not give up on trading despite lacking a port that could accommodate ships.

In the 15th century Positano became famous because Flavio Gioia, a citizen who studied mathematics and worked as a boatswain, invented the compass.The 16th century was a tragic time for the town due to the spread of the plague throughout the Amalfi Coast.The town was also raided many times by bandits who descended from the mountains and Saracen pirates who were ravaging the entire Mediterranean coast at the time.In the second half of the 16th century, Positano had watchtowers constructed on the orders of the viceroy, Pietro da Toledo.The most important towers were called Sponda, Trasita and Fornillo.Despite its newly-constructed defences, Positano could not escape from the fire set by the troops of Suleiman II, the Ottoman emperor.The town also suffered significantly due to poor governance by barons and ministers who sought to oppress the people by any means necessary.
1668 was a fundamental year in the history of Positano.It proclaimed itself a "royal city" after paying 12,943 ducats to free itself from the feudal system.From that year onwards, trade with Cyprus, Greece, Apulia and Calabria increased.The people of Positano reached all the ports of the Mediterranean using ships called feluccas, polaccas and galeottas.Many houses that have survived to this day were built during this period, characterised by their Baroque style with especially ornate decorations.

The advent of steam in the 19th century marked the beginning of Positano's decline.The citizens were not capable of building fast and technologically-advanced ships, and many began to emigrate to the Americas. The town had a shortage of labourers, and its street furniture began to deteriorate.

During the First World War, many citizens of Positano died for their country.Famed Russian and German artists and writers took refuge in the town, and their works raised its profile all around the world.After the end of the Second World War, many painters, filmmakers and writers came to Positano. Attracted by the climate, the landscape, the town's layout and the lifestyle of its fishermen, they renovated huts and convents and built sumptuous villas.
Nowadays, Positano is a world-renowned tourist destination with no equal.

Palazzo Murat

In the centre of Positano, just a short distance from Piazzetta dei Mulini, Palazzo Murat stands surrounded by the lush greenery of a botanical garden.
The building was built around 1750 on the remains of a Benedictine convent.Built in the Neapolitan Baroque style of the Vanvitellian school, it was used as a summer home by Gioacchino Murat, brother-in-law of Napoleon Bonaparte, who became King of Naples in 1808.
It is currently a hotel with period decor and furnishings.Many artists have stayed there over the years, such as the writers Steinbeck and Semenov, Giovanni Zagoruiko, Escher, Carla Fracci, and Rudolph Nuereiev.
It was the birthplace of the Positano Dance Prize, whose most distinguished guests have included:De Sica, Zeffirelli, De Filippo, and the writer Tennessee Williams.

Today, the palace is open during the summer and often hosts operatic music concerts, conferences and book presentations by famous authors.

Church of Santa Maria dell'Assunta

The parish church of Santa Maria dell'Assunta (the Virgin Mary), the town's patron saint, has a large yellow and green majolica dome. The colours indicate the yellow of the sun and the green of the vegetation.

It dates back to 1200, as the parchment noting the church's dedication reveals.Originally, the church had only one nave and an ancient Byzantine-style mosaic floor.Some pieces were later destroyed, while others were found in the apse area, one of which is on display covered with glass. The rest are still covered by the current floor surface, which dates back to 1889.In the sacristy there are many ex-votos on display, offered by local fishermen to receive protection. Some date from the 1700s and others from the 1800s.

The church is now divided into three aisles separated by pillars. In the transept, there is a Byzantine table of the Black Madonna and Child from the 13th century (2metres by 1.4metres).The bell tower stands apart from the church. Within it there is a medieval bas-relief depicting a sea monster, a fox and a fish which originates from Campania.The parish church is home to many works discovered and donated by local families, such as the "Circumcision", a painting produced by Fabrizio Santafede in 1599, and the bust/relic of San Vito, the city's patron (celebrated every year on 15th June), one of the most important Neapolitan gold artworks housed on the Amalfi Coast.

Saracen towers

One of the main dangers which threatened the lives of people living along the coast in the early modern era was posed by Saracen pirates.In the second half of the 16th century, Positano had watchtowers constructed on the orders of the viceroy, Pietro da Toledo.The most important towers were called Sponda, Trasita and Fornillo.These towers received a warning signal from the first tower at Punta Campanella.

When they received a warning, the people of Positano fled to the high ground to defend themselves against the imminent invasion; this is how the hamlets of Montepertuso and Nocelle were born.As you travel along the coast, you come across numerous towers, many of which are now used as hotels, houses and restaurants - one is even a disco!
The Torre di Fornillo was purchased by Gibert Clavel in the early 1900s. He reconstructed a five-sided building from the tower's original square shape, a restoration that owed a great deal to his philosophical vision.


What to buy and where?No need to worry - just stroll along the narrow streets that wind through the coastal towns and you're guaranteed to find the perfect memento to take back home.In the narrow streets of Amalfi and its neighbouring coastal towns, you can buy handmade local products: sandals/flip flops (known as "ragno" or "fratino"), wooden or cork clogs and comfortable canvas slippers with rope soles, letter-writing paper, limoncello, etc.
Another product that the Amalfi Coast does particular well is pottery.Vietri sul Mare and Positano boast a tradition going back to ancient times: their products were exported to Sicily, Calabria and all the Mediterranean countries.The locals have used the earth, rich in clay and volcanic material from the Amalfi Coast, for thousands of years.The local landscape has often been depicted in its pottery, garnering a great deal of appreciation from tourists.
Another typical "Positano" product renowned around the world is its clothing.Its style is unmistakable: vibrant colours, lightweight fabrics, delicate embroidery and lacework that make each garment unique and suitable to be worn at any time of day.The town's style stays fresh year on year thanks to new fabrics (from gauze to cotton through satin and taffeta) and models dreamed up by the imagination of Positano's newest designers.

Positano Fashion

Since the early 1960s, Positano's precious local craftsmanship has become increasingly popular, making a name for the town in Italy and worldwide.Today, it is one of the many reasons that lead tourists to Positano to admire, try on and buy these precious clothes and fabrics, which gain their value from the painstaking and arduous work of the town's tailors.
It was in the 1950s that the town's young women were first drawn to this new and skilled craft, learning to sew in order to create Positano's first garments.
In 1959, the first product to be made in Positano was the bikini, followed by large and simple white handkerchiefs and then beach dresses. Over the years, the latter have become increasingly elegant and are now costly and original dresses in white, orange, yellow and floral print... colours that take inspiration from the surrounding views and work as both afternoon and evening dresses.
This industry brings benefits not just for the inhabitants of the town itself, constituting as it does one of their main selling points, but also for the whole region, since it creates jobs for tailors and professional labourers from the surrounding towns.
Talamo (1816-1907), in his work "Monograph of the City of Positano", states that "the industry which truly marks out the city of Positano is textiles...This industry provides regular work for many looms, labourers and spinners".


Sandy beaches, clear blue seas, rocky coasts and elegant marinas have made the name of the wonderful town of Sorrento, but its attractions also include its splendid historical and cultural buildings and its traditional narrow streets.

Visit the main square, Piazza Tasso, formerly called Largo di Castello; the town's cathedral, originally built in a Romanesque style and subjected to many restoration works over the years; the Basilica of Sant'Antonino; Villa Comunale, which overlooks the sea with stunning views of the Bay of Naples; Sedil Dominova, a fine monument built in the 16th century where representatives of the local nobility gathered to discuss issues relating to the political and administrative running of the city; and the Cloister of San Francesco.

Also visit the Correale Museum, where you can admire a wide range of Neapolitan paintings and decorative artworks from the 16th to the 19th century as well as foreign art, an interesting collection of clocks, fans and glassware, and finally one of the world's most valuable collections of 18th-century porcelain.

Finally, down the hill you arrive at the port, Marina Grande, beyond which lies a traditional fishing village.From here you can also admire the Church of Sant'Anna, the patron saint of the village.


Three kilometres from Salerno, at the base of the Amalfi peninsula, Vietri sul Mare overlooks the small Bonea Valley at the start of the famous panoramic road.

The town's main monument is the Church of St John the Baptist, located in the city centre, with its majolica dome.The church was originally constructed at the end of the 10th century, but has undergone several restorations and reconstructions.It has a single nave and is shaped like a Latin cross.Inside, the altars are decorated with majolica and ceramics, with the exception of the largest which is made from inlaid marble.

In addition, Vietri is famous for its beautiful ceramics.Its historical origins date back to the 15th century.Today, the town's pottery is appreciated around the world.


Cetara is a picturesque and traditional town on the Amalfi Coast.The following are worth a visit: the Torre Vicereale (Viceroy's Tower), the Church of San Pietro Apostolo, the Church of San Francesco and the Church of the Madonna di Costantinopoli.

The Torre Vicereale was built during the Angevin period, then transformed and further fortified under Aragonese rule.The tower was equipped with three bronze cannons, similar to those used on ships, which were used to keep enemy boats away from the coast.The tower's architecture has undergone several changes over the centuries: the initial Angevin construction was cylindrical, with the raised "double height" section added during the Aragonese era.It then underwent other changes in the following centuries.

The Church of San Pietro Apostolo has a single nave and has undergone many changes over the centuries.The only original elements that have survived to this day can be found in the bell tower, which has a Romanesque base and an octagonal raised section with a pinnacle.The church has been enlarged over the centuries, with the addition of another section on top of the original one and the erection of a dome.Inside the church, it is worth taking a look at the old organ (which has recently been restored) and the bilingual plaque in Latin and Arabic.

The Church of San Francesco has a single nave and many frescoes; of particular note is the depiction of the Deposition by local painter Marco Benincasa, found in the apse, and a portrayal of Sister Orsola Benincasa in the nave, the venerable founder of the organisation called the Teatine Sisters of the Immaculate Conception.

The Church of Madonna di Costantinopoli was built from 1868 to 1870 on the town's high ground.The building was damaged by the tragic flood of 1910 and partially rebuilt in 1921.The bell tower was added at a later date.


At the archaeological site of Pompeii, the ancient city destroyed following the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD has been uncovered.The excavation work so far has uncovered around three-fifths of the city, which probably had about 30,000 inhabitants.The route around the dig is very extensive.

Out of the public buildings, don't miss the Forum, the city's political hub and shopping centre, the main temple called "Capitolium", the Sanctuary of Apollo, the Basilica and, past the Temple of Venus, the Macellum, the Temple of Vespasian and the Building of Eumachia with its beautiful marble frieze.Make sure you also visit the Stabian Baths, which was one of the most important places in the city during Pompeii's Golden Age.Nearby lie the Teatro Grande and the Odeion, the city's large and small theatre respectively. The latter was used as a music hall and for public assemblies.Also worth a visit are the House of Menander, a luxurious dwelling of 1,800 square metres, the House of Loreius Tiburtinus with its beautiful loggia and garden, the House of Venus, and the Villa di Giulia Felice with its private apartments.From here you can see the amphitheatre, capable of accommodating up to 20,000 spectators.But Pompeii owes its fame above all to the Villa of the Mysteries, which is wonderful for both its frescoes and the interior layout of its spaces.


In the city of Paestum, the Doric temples and the National Archaeological Museum are not to be missed.The Doric temples are the Basilica, the Temple of Neptune and the Temple of Ceres.

The Basilica, the oldest temple, rises majestically on the horizon, with all the columns of its portico still standing.The Greeks began to build it in the middle of the sixth century BC, and it took thirty years in total to complete it.The Temple of Neptune - the most imposing - is characterised by its golden hue. This is probably due to the material used to build it, the local travertine, which seems to absorb sunlight.Last but not least, the Temple of Ceres, which has a portico consisting of 34 columns.

The National Archaeological Museum of Paestum, opened in 1952, preserves and displays the items found in the ancient city's archaeological site: vases, jugs, salt cellars, flint and copper weapons, small statues and more.

Share by: