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The Amalfi Coast, Capri, and Naples Travel Guide

  • Photo: Mikadun/Shutterstock

Amalfi

At first glance, it's hard to imagine that this resort destination, set in a verdant valley of the Lattari Mountains, with its cream-color and pastel-hue buildings tightly packing a gorge on the Bay of Salerno, was in the 11th and 12th centuries the seat of the Amalfi Maritime Republic, one of the world's great naval powers, and a sturdy rival of Genoa and Pisa for control of the Mediterranean.

The harbor, which once launched the greatest fleet in Italy, now bobs with ferries and blue-and-white fishing boats. The main street, lined with leather shops and pasticcerie, has replaced a raging mountain torrent, and terraced hills where banditti (bandits) once roamed now flaunt the green and gold of lemon groves. Bearing testimony to its great trade with Tunis, Tripoli, and Algiers, Amalfi remains honeycombed with Arab-Sicilian cloisters and covered passages. In a way Amalfi has become great again, showing off its medieval glory days with sea pageants, convents-turned-hotels, ancient paper mills, covered streets, and its mosquelike cathedral.

A plaque under Amalfi's Porta Marina bears this inscription: "The judgment day, when Amalfitans go to Heaven, will be a day like any other." Visitors to this charming city, set in a verdant valley of the Lattari Mountains, will soon understand what it means. For sheer picturesqueness, it can't be beat. Drinking in the vista of the town against the sea from the balcony of the town's historic landmark Convento di Amalfi is like getting an advance on paradise.

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Fodor's The Amalfi Coast, Capri & Naples

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