This is a magical landscape of the lush green terraces, suspended over a sparkling sea, interspersed with villages that literally appear to have grown from the underlying rocks; here and there, where the mouth of a stream has created a natural harbor, a larger town has developed around this favorable nook - such is the case in the namesake town of Amalfi.
Getting around the Amalfi Coast is a real thrill! For brave souls one of the most exciting things to do on the Amalfi Coast is to enjoy seeing it by a private tour, at the same time avoiding the infuriating heavy summer traffic.
Well, if you are trying to plan your time on the "divine Coast of the Sirens", here are some recommendations about the heart and soul of the coast, Amalfi must-see sights and attractions and things to do in Amalfi in response to some of the major questions you may pose.
Once reached the heart of Amalfi, Piazza del Duomo, you will definitely be overwhelmed by the dominant Cathedral, which scenic position at the top of sixty-two wide and steep steps among the buildings gathered around the small square, giving a particular flavour to the historic centre of the town, is one of the most impressive Amalfi sights. Right here unforgettable natural beauties, made up by the picturesque drapery of the mountains, intertwines with historic memories, reminded by the imposing polychromatic front façade of the church. Immediately you will realise that it is worth climbing the staircase in order to get in front of the central medieval portal and the magnificent set of bronze doors, earliest representation in Italy of post-Roman manufacture, through which is possible to accede to the inside splendors of the church, during its opening times. Yet, do not panic if you cannot be there on time: the inner part of the Cathedral is also achievable, during the closing times, through the Cloister of Paradise and/or the Diocesan Museum which require the purchase of a three Euros ticket per person in order to be both visited. Just one step and you will stunningly be impressed by the sumptuousness of the Amalfi Cathedral interior: the high altar, the triumphal arch, the 13th-century wooden crucifix and the mother-of-pearl cross, the paintings and the Chapel of the Relics, which hosts the Relics of St. Andrew, the Preserver of Amalfi to whom the church is consecrated. That is why the Amalfi Cathedral is also well-known as St. Andrew"s Cathedral.
No worry if you are a photo-addicted tourist! You do not have to give up your camera during your visit! Just avoiding the use of the flash lamp while taking your photos you are allowed to bring home the statement of the uniqueness of this stunning Cathedral which art and the architecture can surely be regarded as one of the most marvelous Amalfi attractions. Effectively, the presence of the Cathedral together with the spring water-spewing statue of St. Andrew, definitely contribute to make Piazza del Duomo, in the heart of the town, one of the most important Amalfi sights. Here you will soon realise that one of the most pleasant things to do in Amalfi main square is to visit one of its many cafes to sip an aperitivo or enjoy a gelato.
address: Piazza Duomo, 84011 Amalfi, SA, Italy
tel.: +39 089 871059
opening times: Nov-Feb daily 10am-1pm and 2:30-4:30pm; Mar and Oct daily 9:30am-5:15pm;
Apr-June daily 9am-7pm; July-Sep daily 9am-9pm. Only for prayer 7:30am-10am and 5pm-7:30pm.
The elegant Cloister of Paradise with its arabesque lines, represent not only the alternative entrance to the adjacent Cathedral, but a real open-air museum, where white columns, arches and sculptures reminding of the Middle East architecture embrace the greens of the authentic Mediterranean garden. The Cloister is a Paradise in the true sense of the word! Once employed as graveyard for the noble families of Amalfi, nowadays it represents a peaceful place where you can rest relatively far away from the crowded alleys of the historic centre, enjoying one of the most impressive views of the Cathedral bell-tower.
The Cloister of Paradise is then the paradisiacal place if you wish to spend an out-of-doors summer night enjoying the piano and vocal concerts here hosted, July through September on Friday evenings. So, if you do not know what to do in Amalfi on one of the summer evening you here spend during your stay, bear in your mind that among the other musical events held throughout the Amalfi Coast, as summer entertainment time, the one that takes place in the breathtaking Cloister of Paradise, is definitely one of the most striking Amalfi attractions!
After taking benefit of the tranquility you will find in here, you will be ready to go on with a more exhaustive visit of the entire religious site. Sure enough the Cloister leads into the Basilica of the Crucifix, which constitute the most ancient core of the historical complex and so the primary church in Amalfi until the building of the current Cathedral. The staircase of the Basilica, that hosts the Diocesan Museum, allow the access to the Crypt of St. Andrew and then finally to the central nave of the Cathedral. Then, visiting this religious site is definitely one of the best things to do in Amalfi to gain a wider knowledge of its history, art and architecture.
Tel.: +39 089 871324
opening times: June-Oct daily 9:30am-7pm; Nov-May daily 9:30am-5:15pm
Leaving Piazza del Duomo, a 10-minute walk up Via Genova through to the inner side of Amalfi, where the souvenir shops give way to lemon groves, leads you to the Valley of Mills, which once was the core of the ancient paper industry. Yet, get prepared to postpone your arrival to this natural site! Surely on your way up, your eyes will be caught by one of the most captivating Amalfi sights: the huge, outdoor "presepe", nativity scene, on your left. Then, once reached the heart of the Valley of Mills, you will discover one of the most historically interesting Amalfi sights. Home of handmade paper, first European location where paper, as known today, was made, Amalfi now hosts what can be regarded as a must see hidden gem: the Museum of Handmade Paper, a perfect place to learn more about the history of the local paper industry.
For sure the process of the production of paper was exported to Amalfi through the close commercial relationship the Republic had with the Arab world which discovered it. Although Frederick II prohibited the notaries of the kingdom from using "bambagina", paper as it was then called, for the writing of Acts, considering it less durable than parchment, its spread could not be arrested, and the art of paper-making was diffused all over the Coast. Hence, during the following centuries the Amalfi paper gained such popularity that many foreign authors demanded to be published in Naples to be able to take benefit from the employ of the prized material. Even today, in a reduced manner, the paper-makers of Amalfi still hand make limited edition of the precious paper not only for artists, but also for the Vatican that uses it for its correspondence. The working Museum of Handmade Paper, thanks also to its cavernous structure, is without doubt one of the major Amalfi attractions which is able to thought-provoke all sorts of visitors: children, students and adults.
The admission ticket, which cost differ depending on the age and on the number of the member of the group, allow the guests of the Museum not only to visit the great collection of the still working original tools and the library with thousands text on the origin of the paper, but above all to take part into the process of the realization of a sheet of the renowned Amalfi paper. That is why visiting the Museum of Handmade Paper can be regarded as one of the most exclusive things to do in Amlfi. Moreover, the cost of the entrance ticket also includes the possibility to benefit from the presence of a multilingual guide collecting groups at the entrance, at no particular times, for a 25-minute tour. Yet, what makes this visit a unique experience is the frame in which the Museum of Handmade Paper is placed: the Valley of the Mills, crossed by the Canneto River, is a charming natural environment which, together with the nearby Valley of the Ferriere, constitute a Natural Biogenetic Reserve acknowledged as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
address: Palazzo Pagliara, Via delle Cartiere, 23, Amalfi, SA, Italy
tel.: +39 089 8304561
opening times: Mar-Oct daily 10am-6:30pm, Nov-Feb Tues-Sun 10am-3:30pm
The ascent from the Valley of the Mills to the Valley of the "Ferriere" constitute one of the most fascinating attractions for all those who wish to gain a naturalistic experience during their stay on the Amalfi Coast. A hike through the numerous trails that connect the main towns along the coast with villages on the hills is definitely one of the most exclusive things to do on the Amalfi Coast, especially if you are also looking for some exercise during your stay. So get a good map and venture out! Among the others, the ease of the trail that conjoint the Valley of the Mills to the Valley of the "Ferriere", makes it possible to be climbed not only by the most experienced sightseers, but also by the less skilled ones, to whom it worth recommending to wear long trousers, comfortable shoes and hat and to be provided with sunscreen and water. So, once you resolve to continue walking up you will find yourself pleasantly lost in the hidden secret charms of nature: leaving the remains of the mills that brought the water to the paper workshop, springs, waterfalls and glimpses of the sea between the lush Mediterranean scrub will be the supreme reward for your spirit of adventure.
Proceed near the ancient "ferriere", iron mills, from which the Valley takes its name, the steep hiking trail leads, as a final point, to the nature reserve managed by the World Wildlife Fund. Along this singular path, you can gain knowledge of the existence of a rare giant pre-glacial fern, Woodwardia Radicans, which is possible to find only here and on the island of Ischia. Yet, this hidden amazing Valley is inhabited not only by unique specimen of vegetation which intertwines with the characteristic Mediterranean growth, but also by minute animals among which it worth mentioning the Spectacled Salamander.
Climbing even further up to the amazing waterfalls is thinkable for all hikers who intend to enjoy the breathtaking panoramic view from an unspoilt idyllic place, which will leave their mouth open and their camera"s memory card completely full!
As well as the stunning scenery of the Amalfi Coast, characterized by its precipices over the sea, which you will enjoy from your first encounter with the town, the trading domain of the maritime Republic of Amalfi will occur in your mind as soon as you reach the central square of the queen of the Amalfi Coast where you will inevitably notice the colorful tile above the Porta della Marina gateway. Sure enough this handmade ceramic plaque, relating key moments in the history of Amalfi, evoke the glory days of the first independent and successful maritime Republic of the Italic Peninsula, rivaling the Genoa, Venice and Pisa.
Nowadays, the four historical enemies hold the Historic Regatta of the Maritime Republics, recalling their shared history as centers of medieval trade. Year after year this spectacular boat races, run with pomp, athleticism and great seriousness, are held on the first Sunday of June by one of the ancient maritime rivals. So, as last time Amalfi hosted this colorful event, accompanied by parades and musical performances in 2013, next time will be in 2017. Being present at the Historic Regatta is definitely one of the most exciting things to do in Amalfi if you are so lucky to find yourself in this ancient maritime Republic at the right time! However, the vessels thanks to which Amalfi managed to maintain its power over the Mediterranean in the Middle Ages were built at its own shipyard by citizens. At the present time what remain of this significant site of building of ships, is only half of the ancient structure as the other half, which reached into the sea, was destroyed by a series of storms between the 13th and the 14th century. The good-looking architecture of this building, such as its pointed arches and cross vaults resting over stone pillars, now host the small, underground Arsenal Museum which tells the history of the maritime grandeur of the town, representing one of the greatest Amalfi attractions. The collection, which is well-described in English, includes a raw-barge employed in the Historical Regatta, interesting specimen, historic artifacts from the days of independence and the section dedicated to the Compass Museum though which, the ancient Republic still try to claim the invention of the magnetic compass that opened up exploration of the New World. Nevertheless, the maritime Republic of Amalfi is still regarded as the undisputed ruler of the advancement of navigational skills and convention thanks to the minting of its own coins and the establishment of the rules of the sea during the Middle Ages. Therefore, the original maritime code written around the 11th century in order to regulate the maritime traffic in the Mediterranean, the Tabula Amalphitana, is the most important piece that all those visitors keen on history can still find in the Civic Museum of Amalfi.
address: Piazza Flavio Gioia, Amalfi, SA, Italy
tel.: +39 089 871170
opening times: Tues-Sun 10am-1:30pm and 3:30pm-7pm, shorter hour off-season
Located on the first floor of the Municipal Palace, is actually just a small attraction incorporated in one room, but really reach of interesting exhibits as some historical documents, gonfalons and relics. One of the most important preserved historical document that's possible to admire is the Tavole Amalfitane, a maritime code that were enforced until 1570, throughout the Mediterranean.
address: Piazza Municipio, Amalfi, SA, Italy
tel.: +39 089 8736211
opening times: Mon-Fri 8am-1pm
At your first step into Amalfi, you have the impression of finding yourself completely immersed into an open-air showroom: peculiar shops and workshops exhibiting the worldwide known products of the secular tradition of the Amalfi Coast, literally surround you during your walk up from the main seaside street right to the inner characteristic alleys of the ancient hamlet. Sure as well, one of the most pleasant things to do in Amalfi during your leisure time is to stroll about, to browse in the colorful shops of the centre that, thanks to their well-finished aspect can be regarded as one of the finest Amalfi attractions. Not only the elegant handmade paperlocal ceramics and the flavorful Limoncello are surely the perfect souvenirs to purchase in Amalfi. The ceramic masterpieces, decorated with the green, yellow and blue of the nature and the sea, let your imagination be caught up in the whirlwind of colors of this charming location. The tradition of the realization of the most various shapes of ceramics, dating back to Roman times, is however documented in the small but well laid-out Ceramics Museum located in the belvedere-tower of the Villa Guariglia in Raìto. Reaching this picturesque village of whitewashed houses and gardens can be one of the things to do on the Amalfi Coast. Nonetheless, most of the ceramics enterprises work in Vietri sul Mare, which reputation is more than ever related to the traditional craft industry that already led the booming business during the Middle Ages.
address: Via Nuova Raìto – Villa Guariglia, Vietri sul Mare, SA, Italy
tel.: +39 089211835
opening times: Tues-Sun 9am-1pm and 2-8pm
As well as the advantageous natural position of the town, taking advantage from the ample supply of water and the abundant presence of wood, played a leading role in the development of the factories, nature also provide Amalfi with the particular lemon employed for the production of Limoncello. Indeed, the original recipe for the lemon liqueur, passed on for centuries, require the utilize of the local lemon known as Sfusato di Amalfi, which has obtained the mark D.O.P. that is the stamp of controlled origin for produce. It is a large, long and light in color lemon, with a sweet and flavorful aroma and taste, almost no seeds and a very thick skin. Taking part into the production of this tasting lemon liqueur is definitely one of the most exclusive things to do in Amalfi! Then, if once tried it, you have the intention of buying a few bottles of Limoncello as a gift for someone at home, do not forget to give the recipient tips on how to drink it: served very cold, the drink can be sipped as a digestive after a meal.
Sure enough ceramic and Limoncello workshops together with the presence of exclusive bars, handcraft ice-cream parlor, fish and chip shops contribute to make the distinctiveness of the alleys of the hamlet. Not only the incomparable beauty of the Amalfi Coast and the wealth of art and architecture that will stuff your eyes with wonder, but also local food is one among the other reasons that will make you want to spend an extra day in this paradisiacal land. Effectively, one of the things to do in Amalfi is surely to taste at least something of the seasonal menu, you find quite everywhere, with both elaborate and simple dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients. What contribute to make the difference in the culinary art of Amalfi is the constant recourse to the so called "straining of anchovies". This precious liquid obtained by a special process of salting and pressing the anchovies caught in the Gulf of Salerno, seems to be the descendant of the "garum", the ancient fish sauce used by the Romans for flavouring their dishes. This way, thanks to this "distilled", even a simple dish made of spaghetti with the straining of anchovies can be regarded as the "piatto tipico", main dish of a typical meal on the Amalfi Coast. Yet, what to do in Amalfi to have the most excellent meal? It is up to you! Here some alternatives:
If you prefer to pay for the food and service rather than the location, La Caravella is the right restaurant for you! Here, the successful marriage between classic and modern culinary traditions has recently earned this temple of cuisine a Michelin star.
address: via Matteo Camera 12, Amalfi;
tel.: +39 089 871029;
opening times: Wed-Mon noon-2pm and 7:30-10:30pm (also Tues in Aug), closed mid-Nov-Dec 25, reservation required
If you do not want to miss the typical dish, "piatto tipico", of Amalfi, known as "ciambotta", a mix of sautéed potatoes, peppers and eggplant, you should try Trattoria Da Gemma, the venerable restaurant that, serving customers for over a century, has racked up sheaves of reviews attesting to its quality. Half portion of ciambotta are available for children!
address: via Frà Gerardo Sasso 9, Amalfi;
tel.: +39 089 871345;
opening times: Thurs-Tue 12:30-2:45pm and 7:45-10:30pm (also Wed in summer), closed mid-Jan to mid-Feb; reservation required
If you are looking for a great alternative to upscale dining, Trattoria San Giuseppe, hidden away in the medieval part of Amalfi, is the place where you can have not only the traditional pasta dishes, but also the best pizza in the town.
address: Salita Ruggiero II 4, Amalfi;
tel.: +39 089 872640;
opening times: Fri-Wed noon-2:30pm and 7:30-10:30pm; reservation recommended Sat-Sun; no credit cards
For desserts and other sweets, bear in your mind the historic Pasticceria Pansa. Piazza Duomo 40, +39 089 871065, closed Tues.
It is well-known that the Amalfi Coast is one of the most visited seaside destinations in the world, particularly during spring and summer, when each hamlet and village along it becomes the stage for art and cultural events, and the sweet evening air is pervaded by the scent of citrus flower. That is why in winter, everything is much quieter and, missing much of the spirit it shows when in full bloom, you may have the place all to yourself.
Moreover, if you are lucky you can also expect pleasant wheatear during this season, not having to give up not only on the things to do in Amalfi, but also on the things to do on the Amalfi Coast.
Yet, the question is: what to do in Amalfi when it rains? It will not be the rain to stop you from visiting the major Amalfi attractions, such as the Amalfi Cathedral, the Cloister of Paradise, the Museum of Handmade Paper and the Arsenal of the Maritime Republic.
So, if you would like to miss most of the sweat and stress of the tourist season, you can bear in your mind that also Christmas time on the Amalfi Coast is unique in its own way, when even if many places close down, the already picturesque villages and towns become truly magical with Christmas lights, decorations and presepi, that you can find besides the more traditional location inside churches, also placed in fountains and in grottos.