Amalfi — Comune — Comune di Amalfi
Coat of arms
Coordinates: Coordinates: Country Italy Region Campania Province Salerno Frazioni Lone, Pastena, Pogerola, Tovere, Vettica Government – Mayor Antonio De Luca (Democratic Party) Area – Total 6.11 km2 (2.4 sq mi) Elevation 6 m (20 ft) Population (1 May 2009) – Total 5,353 – Density 876.1/km2 (2,269.1/sq mi) Demonym Amalfitani Time zone CET (UTC+1) – Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2) Postal code 84011 Dialing code 089 Patron saint Saint Andrew Saint day November 30 Website Official website
Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, c. 35 km southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 meters, 4,314 feet), surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The town of Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
Amalfi is the main town of the coast on which it is located, named Costiera Amalfitana, and is today an important tourist destination together with other towns on the same coast, such as Positano, Ravello and others. Amalfi is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- See also Duchy of Amalfi
Amalfi is first mentioned in the 6th century, and soon acquired importance as a maritime power, trading grain of its neighbors, salt from Sardinia and slaves from the interior, and even timber, for the gold dinars minted in Egypt and Syria, in order to buy the Byzantine silks that it resold in the West. Grain-bearing Amalfi traders enjoyed privileged positions in the Islamic ports, Fernand Braudel notes. The Amalfi tables (Tavole Amalfitane) provided a maritime code that was widely used by the Christian port cities. Merchants of Amalfi were using gold coins to purchase land in the 9th century, while most of Italy worked in a barter economy. In the 8th and 9th century, when Mediterranean trade revived it shared with Gaeta the Italian trade with the East, while Venice was in its infancy, and in 848 its fleet went to the assistance of Pope Leo IV against the Saracens.
An independent republic from the 7th century until 1075, Amalfi extracted itself from Byzantine vassalage and first elected a duke in 958; it rivalled Pisa and Genoa in its domestic prosperity and maritime importance, before the rise of Venice. In spite of some devastating setbacks it had a population of some 70,000, reaching a peak about the turn of the millennium, during the reign of Duke Manso (966–1004). Under his line of dukes, Amalfi remained independent, except for a brief period of Salernitan dependency under Guaimar IV.
In 1073 it fell to the Norman countship of Apulia, but was granted many rights. A prey to the Normans who encamped in the south of Italy, it became one of their principal posts. However, in 1131, it was reduced by King Roger II of Sicily, who had been refused the keys to its citadel. The Holy Roman Emperor Lothair, fighting in favour of Pope Innocent II against Roger, who sided with the Antipope Anacletus, took him prisoner in 1133, assisted by forty-six Pisan ships. The city was sacked by the Pisans, commercial rivals of the Amalfitani; Lothair claimed as part of the booty a copy of the Pandects of Justinian which was found there.
In 1135 and 1137, it was taken by the Pisans and rapidly declined in importance, though its maritime code, known as the Tavole Amalfitane, was recognized in the Mediterranean until 1570. A tsunami in 1343 destroyed the port and lower town, and Amalfi never recovered more than local importance.
In medieval culture Amalfi was famous for its flourishing schools of law and mathematics. Flavio Gioia, who is traditionally considered the first to introduce the mariner's compass to Europe, is said to have been a native of Amalfi.
Amalfi has a long history of catering for visitors, with two former monasteries being converted to hotels at a relatively early date. Two of the most celebrated visitors to Amalfi were the composer Richard Wagner and playwright Henrik Ibsen, both of whom completed works whilst staying in Amalfi.
Amalfi occupied a high position in medieval architecture; its cathedral of Sant'Andrea (St. Andrew, 11th century), the campanile, the convent of the Cappuccini, founded by the Amalfitan Cardinal Pietro Capuano, richly represent the artistic movement prevailing in Southern Italy at the time of the Normans, with its tendency to blend the Byzantine style with the forms and sharp lines of the northern architecture.
At the top of a staircase, Saint Andrew's Cathedral (Duomo) overlooks the Piazza Duomo, the heart of Amalfi. The cathedral dates back to the 11th century; its interior is adorned in the late Baroque style with a nave and two aisles divided by 20 columns.
The gold caisson ceiling has four large paintings by Andrea d'Aste. They depict the flagellation of Saint Andrew, the miracle of Manna, the crucifixion of Saint Andrew and the Saint on the cross. From the left hand nave there is a flight of stairs which leads to the crypt. These stairs were built in 1203 for Cardinal Pietro Capuano, who, on 18 May 1208, brought Saint Andrew's remains to the cathedral from Constantinople.
In 1206, Saint Andrew's relics were brought to Amalfi from Constantinople by the Pietro Capuano following the Sack of Constantinople (an event of the 4th Crusade) after the completion of the town's cathedral. The cathedral contains a tomb in its crypt that it maintains still holds a portion of the relics of the apostle. A golden reliquary which originally housed his skull and another one used for processions through Amalfi on holy days can also be seen.
Chiostro del Paradiso
The Chiostro del Paradiso - 'Cloister of Paradise' was built by Filippo Augustariccio between 1266 and 1268 and was used as a burial ground for noble families of Amalfi. The white columns and pointed arches reflect the clear influence that the Arab world had on Amalfi, similar to those found in the courts of the palaces of the Middle East. It is a true open-air museum, with Roman and medieval pillars, sarcophagi depicting the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, the other the rape of Proserpina, a fourteenth-century sarcophagus and fragments of the façade of the Duomo.
The Arsenal of the Maritime Republic (Gli Arsenali della Repubblica)
The structure of the arsenal consists of two large stone-built halls with vaulting supported by repeated pointed arches. The vaulting rests on ten piers, originally there were twenty two, the missing twelve and the structure they supported having been lost to centuries of coastal erosion. The main function of the arsenal was the building, repair and storage of warships. Amalfitan war-galleys were among the largest to be found in the Mediterranean during the Early Middle Ages. The building now contains architectural and sculptural remains, a row-barge used in the Historical Regatta, a number of models of ships and it also acts as a venue for visual art exhibitions.
Museum of Handmade Paper (Museo della Carta)
The Museum of Handmade Paper celebrates the long-established paper manufacturing history of Amalfi. Amalfi was one of the first centres of paper making in Europe, the skill having been acquired by the Amalfitans from the Arabs. The museum is housed in an old paper mill once owned by the Milano family.
The Amalfi coast is famed for its production of Limoncello liqueur and the area is a known cultivator of lemons. The correct name is "sfusato amalfitano", and they are typically long and at least double the size of other lemons, with a thick and wrinkled skin and a sweet and juicy flesh without many pips. It is common to see lemons growing in the terraced gardens along the entire Amalfi coast between February and October. Amalfi is also a known maker of a hand-made thick paper which is called "bambagina". It is exported to many European countries and to America and has been used throughout Italy for wedding invitations, visiting cards and elegant writing paper. The paper has a high quality and has been used by artists such as Giuseppe Leone, who described it: "There is a whole world that the Amalfi paper evokes and an artist who is sensitive to the suggestion of these places is aware that it is unique and exciting".
Three traditional events draw numerous visitors to Amalfi. First are the feast days of Saint Andrew (25–27 June, and 30 November), celebrating the city's patron saint. Then there is "Byzantine New Year's Eve" (31 August) celebrating the beginning of the New Year according to the old civil calendar of the Byzantine Empire. The third event is the Historical Regata (first Sunday in June), a traditional rowing competition among the four main Italian historical maritime republics: Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice. This event is hosted at every year by a different city, so it comes to Amalfi once every four years.
- Salerno-Pontecagnano Airport (QSR) 45 km
- Napoli-Capodichino (NAP) 74 km
- ^ Historians' usual association of Amalfi's early maritime trade arising from its position, pressed between the harbor and an infertile and mountainous circumscribed hinterland, forcing it into trading on the sea, is downplayed by M. del Treppo and A. Leone, Amalfi medioevale, 1977.
- ^ Robert-Henri Bautier, "La marine d'Amalfi dans le traffic du méditerranéen du XIV siècle, à props du transport du sel de Sardaigne", Bulletin philologique et historique du Comité des Travaux historiques et scientifiques, noted in Fernand Braudel, The Perspective of the World, vol. III of Civilization and Capitalism (1984), sketching the economic history of Amalfi, pp 106-08.
- ^ Braudel p. 107
- ^ Buonaiuti, Ernesto (1907). "Amalfi". The Catholic Encyclopedia. I. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01379a.htm. Retrieved 2008-03-14
- ^ "Il Chiostro del Paradiso". ITC. http://www.itcamendola.it/sitoalunni/costiera_amalfitana/amalfi2.html. Retrieved October 27, 2009.
- ^ The Eastern Orthodox Church continues to celebrate the beginning of the liturgical year on September 1, a date chosen because of its proximity to the Jewish New Year.
Amalfi Coast and Sorrentine Peninsula Amalfi CoastAmalfi Cathedral · Grotta dello Smeraldo · San Giovanni Battista · San Giovanni del Toro · Villa Cimbrone · Villa Rufolo Sorrentine Peninsula Maritime republics
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