The charm of the Amalfi Coast, Italy

Amalfi was a flourishing Maritime Republic before Genoa, Pisa and even Venice. It owned its commercial basis in Constantinople, Cairo, in Acre and the Holy Land. It was the first to spread the fabrics of silk, spices and precious stones of the East to medieval Europe, and the first to introduce the manufacture and crafting of paper, learned from the Arabs, who in turn had learned it from the Chinese.  

What is left of all this today?  Firstly, the poetry of the landscape. A delicate fusion of natural beauty, historical memories and artistic heritage. The town is nestled at the base of a mountain, sheltered from attacks by land, with only one route of access to the sea, which is lost in the blue of the horizon. It was thanks to maritime commerce that it survived and the apogee of its power finds expression in its magnificent cathedral, built in an amphitheatric position. The domes of the bell tower are famous all over the world and send to our enchanted eyes intense hues of yellow majolica, green and blue.

Amalfi, Italy

Amalfi, Italy

However, the visual pleasure offered by the Amalfi Coast makes us forget that this beautiful corner of the Mediterranean, south of Naples, has not always been a paradise. Only thanks to the rigorous work of the people have the steep mountains that surround it been tamed to become productive and habitable.

I feel terror whenever I walk the steep hairpin bends hanging over the cliff, but at the same time the view that is seen below me fills me with fascination: the cultivation of vineyards, lemon trees laden with fruit, small churches with colorful domes and the cave houses with terraced gardens, lush with exotic plants of all colours.  

The Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi

The Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi

I see the same image glancing upwards, but the terror is not lessened as I am unused to seeing the work of men so high up on the fragile surfaces of the steep mountains.  Fortunately, in 1996, UNESCO declared the entire Amalfi Coast a World Heritage Site.

Barbara Athanassiadis