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   The Coast of Amalfi is one of the most appreciated touristic, cultural and environmental "mines" in Campania, included in the World Heritage List of UNESCO, together with Cilento, the Coast of Sorrento, the isles of Ischia and Capri, Pompei. It is one of the most famous areas in the world, destination of famous and not famous travelles coming from all over the world.
About the Coast of Amalfi much has been written and published, in books and guides which well describe its sceneries, its charming landscapes, its monuments, its history, so transmitting, each of them, new emotions and sensations and showing an intelligent capacity of renovation.
This cultural-touristic guide offers the reader the possibility of reviewing different fields: nature, artisanship, culture, cuisine, popular anecdotes, provided with very effective photos, so encouraging a personal approach to the journey.
Then, the expectations of the modern tourist, more and more careful and demanding are met. For the tourist who buys this guide a journey is not only amusement but an experience ti live, as well as a means of personal cultural enrichment.
The GAL (Group of Local Action) of the Coast of Amalfi and Lattari Mountains, continuing its policy of promotion and development of this territory, aiming at satisfy these new needs, has well conceived this work which result to be pleasant and easy to read. As representatives of the Region Campania Body we perfectly know that this extraordinary Heritage is a kind of "FIAT" for us, as i have so many times repeated, and we are strongly committed to enact a policy of protection and exploitation of this territory. To such an aim huge funds have been engaged, even if we know that it is not enough and that a series of structural interventions, some of them have been already started, are required: from the consolidation of the sea means of transport, to a regional underground, in order to improve the habitat and enable tourists and citizens of these places to enjoy the beauties of Campania, which are sometimes still remote.

Antonio Bassolino - President of the Region Campania

Trekking in Amalfi Coast along the "Sentiero degli Dei":

Turning the pages of this very new guide of the Coast of Amalfi published by the GAL of the Coast of Amalfi and Lattari Mountains we realize that, through the graphical and stylistic choices, the approach is characteristic: a careful and refined union between the text and the images, theme routes which, along towns, boroughs, hamlets, involve the reader and make him participate into the life and feelings of the people of the Coast within a scenery of inestimable beauty.
Beside the foreshortenings of a still untouched nature which take one's breath away we can learn about the rites linked to age-old devoctions, the evidences of old crafts, the rich economic and cultural heritage represented by agricolture, fishing, artisanship, cuisine. This guide wants above all to rediscover and exploit the history and traditions which, together with a landscape unique in the world, still today represent the fortune and richness of these lands. This publication perfectly falls within the policy carried out by the GAL which with its programs wanted to consider the Coast of Amalfi from a different point of view: that of its internal areas, of its villages, of its minor centres, of the young entrepreunership, of the no profit services for the public administration. Besides a variety of touristic accommodations, the exploitation of the architectural, historical and landscape beauties, the promotion of artisanship, of technologies and services, the interest in the employment question, the GAL gave a new impulse to the realization of new firms aiming at a high quality production and at the exploitatin of the products and activities typical of the coastal area: lemon cultivation, the production of the typical lemon liqueur, the so called "limoncello", the Controlled Origin wines, ceramic and fishing.
This guide is then meant to be a mirror reflecting the engagement of the GAL for reviving the rural areas and arousing the interest in all that, within a greatly varied territory, has no urban characteristics, so emphasizing its economic, monument, landscape and social-cultural aspects.

Achille Mughini - President of the GAL Coast of Amalfi and Lattari Mountains




They all came from the sea, from the sea facing the beach of Marina di Vietri: the invading vessels of the Saracens, against which around 1560 the sightting towers had been built, the tartans and the foreign fleets devoted to trade. These fleets found an easy landingat the port of Fuenti, the safest shelter in the Gulf of Salerno, wanted and equipped by the emperor Frederick II in the 13th century. The tartans were in the eighteenth century a button-hole flower of the dockyards devoted to the construction of boats used in Marina: cargo-ships with a light hull, an only lateen sail mast which challenged the Mediterranean while transporting wood, earthen ware, salt and cheeses.
From the sea again, from this stretch of coast famous today as a sea resort, echoes even farer in the past of the old Marcina, come. As we can read in Strabo, it was "founded by the Thyrrenians, occupied by the Samnites and situated along the sea stretch between the Sirenusae and Posidonia". It was probably a settlement consisting of a main nucleus and minor settlements by sea ports developed between the 7th and the 4th century b.C.
Greek-Italic amphorae, earthen ware, bucchero outfits in Vietri Sul Mare in via Colombo as well as the spas of Roman age dating back to a period ranging between the Ist century b.C. and the Ist century a.C., discovered in the locality Bagnara, on  the western shore of the river Bonea, on a stretch that once separated the beach from the coulisse of the group of buildings built in the ninenteenth century in the old part of Marina. The structure showed a circular room with a niche and was provided with a heated room (the laconicum) after transformed into a frigidarium with a basin for immersion baths. The remains of it are exhibited in two shops of Marina.
But the peculiarity of this place, when it was found, was that on the spa another buildind typology had been juxtaposed and it was linked to the history of Marina and Vietri: a ceramic factory, so called:"faenzera" becouse of the name of the faience. An intact ceramic furnace with piled up dishes and ware and a mountain of discarded pieces, which are now not distinguishable becouse of the passing of time and water infiltrations, has been found.
The old ceramic factories were facing the sandy shore and the tartans loaded directly on the beach the earthen ware which were important trade objects.
And just where the rooms of the ceramic factory at the Bagnara were found, we have had the biggest presence of production plants, fostered by the abundance of water, by the exposition which allowed a perfect drying of clay and by the depth of water.
Vietri and its Marina are inevitably linked to the history of ceramic. Already in the fifteenth century many shops were fully operating, even if the Etruscans are said to be the beginners of this art and the Amalfitans are said, in the glorious period of the Republic, to have melted styles and eastern influences with coastal suggestions. But we have to get to the fifteenth century to gather proofs and documents of a production essentially consisting of earthen ware and utensils.
In the seventeenth century a quality jump took place with the introduction of wall decoration and floor tiles and of aedicules representing above all images of St. Francis from Paola and St. Antonio Abate, respectively protector of mariners and fire, therefore "ceramists".
The "riggiola" prevails, a floor tile with geometric or leaf patterns, which were simple or baroque. The nineteenth century was the period of increase in the production of objects and furnitures and in their exportation to other regions, above all Sicily.
Leaving behind us the Two Brothers, the two cliffs symbol of Vietri, the beach of the Crestarella, of Marina D'Albori, l'Acqua del Fico which surround the shore-line of Marina, we cross the narrow roads of the town to reach the Church of the Madonna Santa Maria di Portosalvo dating back to the 17° century or the Madonna dell'Arco, with a majolica floor, situated on a narrow little road which links Marina to the highway of the coast road. To go up to Vietri again you can choose either via Cristoforo Colonbo with smooth windings which do not allow us to look away from the sea, where a series of vases, among which one for wine with a wild pig and two panthers, dating back to the 6° century were found, or you can descend to St. Anthony, so called for the sacred building devoted to the Saint, founded in 1607 on an old pagan temple.
Going along the steep little road which links Marina with Vietri, with an eye looking at the coast and the other at the Valle delle Naiadi with the river Bonea, we reach the Fortress, today Matteotti Square, a real balcony overlooking the sea and the coast. It goes back to 851 a.C., when Vietri, the old Veteri (place, old town); was built on the ashes of the old Marcina, destroyed in 455. The inhabitants scattered on the territory, came back to built on the old settlements, and gave shelter to the Amalfitans rebelling against the Prince Siconorfo.
The baroque coulisse of the Palazzo della Guardia, recently restored and used as a seat for exhibitions and meetings, catches the eye towards a series of eighteenth century buildings which lie around the square and along the Corso Umberto: the palaces of the De Simones, of the Del Platos, of the Punzis. Stuccoes, decorations and frames are clearly in contrast with the essential typology of the coastal buildings, but they owe their presence, in the neighbourhood of Vietri, to piperno, gravel and travertine pits.
That made it possible, more than in other centres of the coast, the expression of an architectural creativity.
The latter can also be found in in the seventeenth century flourishing activity of iron processing.
That is why the buildings of the historical centre show artistic fan-windows, that is semicircular gratings, which surmount the main doors of buildings with iron fan or peacock tail arranged lists.
But the presence of so many shops and ceramic workshops, with their many colored panels, full the eyes of whom crosses Corso Umberto I or stops at Matteotti Square.
Once within all the families in Vietri there was someone who worked in a ceramic factory: who worked at the potter's wheel, who worked as decorator, all of them were waiting before furnaces as high as houses and which could turn out tens of thousand pieces. The furnace was lighted on friday evening: the agreed upon signal was a candle for Saint Anthony, the master of fire.
The votive ceramic images, scattered among all the roads of Vietri, with the typical colours of Vietri ceramic, red, yellow, "ramina", blue, together with holy water stoups and the many colored tiles called "riggiole", represent the typical artistic heritage of the Vietri tradition.
It is by chasing the blue and yellow majolica roof-tiles of the dome of the Church of Saint John Baptist, and essential part of the landscape of Vietri, that we, throught lanes and courtyards, reach the Ciroppolo quarter, the heart of the historical centre: the circum oppidum, a circular place, a labyrinth of houses which was born with the coming back of fugitives from Marcina.
St. John Baptist which  saw, during centuries the juxtaposition of restorations of Romanesque, Renaissance and baroque styles, was built in the 10° century, destroyed by Saracens and then rebuilt.
Beside the sixteenth century façade the bell-tower with its octagonal steeple stands out, and inside, beside a coffered ceiling of the eighteenth century, a polyptych representing the Motherhood of the Virgin, dating back to the 16° century, is preserved. The adjoining Main confraternity of the Most Holy Annunciata and of the Rosary is enriched with a majolica floor. An essential part of the landscape of Vietri is also the ceramic factory planned and realized by the architect Paolo Soleri in 1954.
Situated against the rocky wall of the road leading to the Madonna of the Angels, with its wavy outline covered with wedges of coloured clay, it stands out on Matteotti square. The inside is helical shaped and allows to enclose all processing cyclers, as on an immense production stage.
The nearest hamlet to Vietri sul Mare, Molina, develops below the level of the Highway nr. 18 leading to Cava de' Tirreni and above it the one light bridge built in 1564 by Rainaldo del Lamberto on Ribeira's commission viceroy of Naples, rises. The hamlet was founded in 1080, but probably, in a foregoing time, it gave shelter to a nucleus of inhabitants from Marcina who took refuge inside. In the 13° century, thanks to the existence of precious mills which could avail themselves of the waters of the torrents which from the Mountain Finestra and Pietrasanta fed the river Bonea, it assumed the name of Casale Molinae.
The original aspect of the village was seriously compromised by the flood occurred in 1954, but the pillars of an aqueduct built in 1320 still remain.   

Claudia della Corte

The thread that links the hill to the sea

In the villa immersed into the green of the hills of Raito, once belonging to the Embassador Raffaele Guariglia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the Government of Badoglio, there are traces of an active participation into the historical events which characterized the history of our Republic: it was the seat of the Allied National Commission of National Control, the day after the Allies' landing and was chosen as his residence, by the king of Italy Vittorio Emanuele III°, from August 1944 to april 1945. Today the group of buildings, composed by the villa, the turret and the park, is a property of the Province of Salerno, thanks to the bequest of the Ambassador. Exhibitions and meetings are held there and it is also the seat of the Study Centre Raffaele Guariglia.

 villa was originally a rural house bought in the eighteenth century and then restored by the Guariglia family. By crossing the gate situated on the country road leading to Raito, we walk along a long terraced avenue which leads to the Belvedere facing the villa, used for the concerts held during the summer. The building consists of two floors and thirty-six rooms rich in works of art, porcelains and silver ware. The library contains over four thousand volumes. The white turret standing out in the park houses the Museum of Ceramic. The exhibition is divided into three sectors covering a period of time ranging betwen the eighteenth and the twentieth century. In the first sector many colored devotional terra cottas and holy water stoups are exhibited, in the second sector objects for domestic use such as jugs, tureens, trays, lining and floor tiles are preserved, in the third sector the works of the so called "German period" of the ceramic of Vietri ranging from the Twenties to the Fourties, are preserved. The rich artistic inventiveness that we find in these works is expressed by the scenes of daily life, the foreshortenings of villages, the cribs, the animals among which is to remember the famous little ass symbol of the ceramic of Vietri, made a precious work of art by famous ceramists like Dolker, Kowaliska, Thewalt Hannasch who innovated the style and the decoration of the artisanship from Vietri. A section of the Museum is devoted to Guido Gambone, an artist from Vietri who is now famous all over the world.
From the higher entrance of the Villa we can enter the quarter of San Vito, on the hill called Trocle, in the heart of Raito Vietri sul Mare, where the Chapel devoted to the Saint is built with an altar enriched with a ceramic frontal. An only long road divides the houses crowded together on the hill and it is cut by staircase flights, courtyards, lanes which juxtapose themselves, run through by winds and enlightened by the sun which makes the white of walls blinding. The origin of Raito dates back to the 5° - 6° century and its inhabitants are linked to the sea by their whole lives spent on vessels. A chapel dating back to 1727, within the Church of Saint Maria delle Grazie, enriched with frescoes of the school of Solimena is called Mountain of the Mariners. The Parish Church dates back to 1540. On its façade there are two ceramic panels representing Saint Peter and Saint Paul, while the inside with three aisles and dominated by a dome, melts the Romanesque and the baroque styles.
From the locality Turino we can start an itinerary indicated by the italian Alpine Club (CAI) which leads to the Mountain Avvocata and to the Sanctuary founded in the sixteenth century, of which some remains are still visible. A little far from it there is the cave in which, according to tradition, the Madonna appeared. She is celebrated on the fiftieth day after Easter. Then we go through the lane which crosses the New Chapel and then, at the end of a slope, we reach the Old Chapel. After a false plane we first encounter a slope leading to the Acqua Fredda stream and then, through the Pass of Sella Terminale, we reach the top of the mountain and the area where the Sanctuary lies. From the belvedere it is possible to take in the whole Coast.
Setting out the main road towards Raito again, we reach Albori, an intact village at the feet of the Mountain Falerio. We do not know if the main mast of the ships or if a water spring called Albola, originated the name of this hamlet which was probably founded by the fugitive of the sacked and destroyed Marcina.
Albori consists of the perimetre of the little square facing the Church of Saint Margherita from Antiochia, built in the sixteenth century with three aisles decorated with stuccoes and frescoes and a Congregation with ceramic linings. The tolls of its bell resound among the little lanes, the staircases, the walls of live stone, besides the domes. It is a place where you can stop and loose yourself, and then to face the climbing up the Falerio Mountain which overlooks the village. From the little Capodimuro square, along a route which grazes old rural houses and the remains of an old furnace used to cook lime, we reach the spring "Acqua del Cesare" surrounded by a wood and by a Mediterranean bush. After we have reached the pass underlying the Mountain, we can choose the lane winding up to the top of the Falerio Mountain from which we can overlook the Gulf of Salerno or that leading to the Old Chapel and inserting into the first stretch of the High Via of the Lattari Mountains which goes from the Old Chat to the Chiunzi Pass.
The valley of Albori is rich in a thick coppice and in rare botanic species such as the "pinguicola hictifolia", a carnivorus plant which links the hill to the sea looks like the long staircase which from Raito leads to Marina d'Albori (the sea-shore of Albori) and to the little inlets enclosed by the rocks, overlooked by the sighting tower. The vegetation and perfumes of the Mediterranean bush accompany the rhythm of the descent along old stairs, along the heart of the valley up the sea and to the crouching sandy shores.
The  last hilly hamlets which frame Vietri sul Mare are Benincasa and Dragonea, lying between trees and terraces. Benincasa is linked to the devotion for St. Francis from Paola who probably stayed on these hills and whose image is preserved in the Church of the Madonna Delle Grazie. There are many ceramic aedicules scattered along the roads of the village as an evidence of the strong link initing all the inhabitants of the hamlets of Vietri, that is the link of the enamel and the brick.
Dragonea probably owes its name to the fact that it is situated beyond the river Bonea. The hamlet is divided into the villages of Vallone, Iaconti and Padovani where there is the Church dating back to the II° century, devoted to Saint Vincent. In the annexed convent the canon Gaetano Foresio, scholar of botanic founded, in 1867, a school of agricolture and a silk-worm culture. Now the fruit of his work is preserved in the Badia of Cava de' Tirreni. The Church of Saint Peter Apostle was founded in Longobard times, but it was completely destroyed and with the reconstruction work the original plant got lost. From the hamlet Padovani we slope down along a lane, into the deep valley of the Bonea river and then we reach the caves of Saint Cesareo, where it is possible to see the remains of an ecclesiastical building built in front of the cave inhabited by the saint.
From Dragonea, the place where the Prince Romualdo Guarna II° in 1100 practiced pigeon hunting as a tower of the time witnesses, we can follow an old lane leading to Cappella Nuova and then to the spring of Capod'acqua. All lanes and mule-tracks linking the hilly hamlets to the High Road of the Lattari Mountains represented, in the past, when the carriageable coastal road did not yet exist, the only means of connection, and it was carefully preserved by man who created dry small walls and support sleepers to avoid landslides.

Claudia della Corte


Going to discover the gold of lemons

The procession on Saint Peter's day on june 29° in Cetara, is a particularly evocative rite which above all celebrates the vital relationship of this fishers' village, with the sea, either by birth or by vocation. A slow procession, nearly following a dance rhythm, leads the statue of the saint up to the beach where it meets every kind of typical local boats such as the tunny-fishing ones which crowd the sheet of water in front of the port, dominated by the sighting tower. Fireworks illuminate the water and the houses which climb up the flanks of a narrow deep valley.
It is the name of Cetara itself, coming from the Latin word "Cetaria", tunny-fishing boat, which marks the destiny of a village, home of the typical Mediterranean "blue" fish like anchovies and tunny. Fried, stewed, salted anchovied packed in traditional brick vases have created a real cookery legend represented by the drain liquid coming out from the wooden stave barrels, where salted anchovies are preserved. This liquid, after it is filtered, becomes an exceptional seasoning for pasta and vegetables. The sea has inexorably influenced the destiny of Cetara since its origins: it was the cause of its economic fortune but also of invasions and destructions. In 879 it was occupied by the Saracens who established themselves there, in order to avail themselves with an useful oupost for their raids in the Gulf of Salerno.
On the other hand the nearby Bay of Fuenti represented a precious landing and refuge place for the galleys. After it was annexed to the Republic of Amalfi, Cetara was the last eastern dominion able to perform a function of control and signalling of possible enemy raids.
As an evidence of the golden age of the Sea Republic, beside Saint Peter's Church, with its majolica dome, there is the bell-tower dating back to the 13° century, with mullioned windows and an octagonal bell culminating with a cone steeple. The village began to decay when it was assaulted by the Turkish army of Sinan Bassà, called by the Prince of Salerno, Ferdinando Sanseverino rebelling against Charles V.
The Turks exterminated all people who did not want to submit to the Sanseverinos and over three hundred inhabitants of Cetara were enslaved. Then, under the control of the Abbey of Cava de' Tirreni, Cetara was its port and trading outlet until 1833.
Going up again along the sea road we encounter Saint Francis' Church, dating back to the 17° century. Beside it there is an old Convent of Franciscan monks. The inside with an only aisle, preserved frescoes by Marco Benincasa. Among them, in the vault there is the image of Suor Orsola Benincasa, a nun from Cetara, lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth century. On the external façade, on the entrance door, the Immaculate Conception is represented.
Entering and going through Via Imbrice we go up towards the Plane of Viesco, a place from which we can enjoy a wide and charming landscape. A little further we encounter the spring "Reggiulella". Walking further we reach, following the lay-out of the High Via dei Lattari mountains, traced by the CAI (Italian Alpine Club), the lane which from the Amalfi highway, near Erchie, among woods of holm oaks and chestnut-trees, leads to the Sanctuary of the Avvocata. Going back to the coast road which divides Cetara in two parts, we found ourselves immersed in a convergence between two deep valleys: the Soverano valley and Saint Nicholas' valley. Here, overlooking the sea, Erchie is situated. The village owes its origin to the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Maria de Erchi founded in 980 and suppressed in 1451. Pergolas of vines and lemons soften a rocky and rough landscape. The tower rising from the sea divides the shore-line into two beaches, which are very much frequented seaside and touristic destinations.
Coming back to the coast we leave behind us the landscape of Salerno and of its shore-line until Licosa Point, to follow the curves outlined by the flanks of the Piano mountain. Once we have doubled the Point of Cape Tummolo we reach Capo D'Orso, a mountain range agitated by peaks and rocky projections which precipitates into the sea, so marking the boundary line between the valley of Cava de' Tirreni and that of Tramonti. If you go through the lane which leads to the lighthouse, your sight can range on one side until Point Campanella and the isle of Capri and on the other side towards Salerno and the Sele Valley. Here the rock and the Mediterranean bush took possession of the territory again. There are many dolomitic walls with aiguilles crowded with holm oaks and arbutuses. Along this coast stretch rich in inlets with little beaches of cobblestones and caves, on April 28° 1528 a bloody ship battle between the fleet of Filippo Doria and that of Charles V took place. It ended with the victory of the French-Genoeses.
In order to go away from the "noise" of the battle and rest our eyes and mind after a look without limits besides the precipice, we can take refuge in the Catacombs of Badia, clung to the rock, just under the spectacular range which from the Finestra Mountain slopes down to Capo d'Orso. We find ourselves in front of the remains of a Benedictine Abbey dating back to the eleventh century, transformed, on its external side, into a house built on a former rupestrial church which two hermit monks had devoted to Saint Maria de Oearia.
A magnificient bouganvillea hides three cult juxtaposed places, which during the centuries underwent continuous alteration and changes. Either the crypt or the main Chapel and that of Saint Nicholas are rich in frescoes, dating back to the 12° century which witness the existence of a cult perpetuated by monks whose tombstones are still preserved. Among the rocks rooms characterized by vaults and porticus appear: it is a total immersion in an austere and silent atmosphere, with the sun-light and blue of the sky which penetrate from the openings and enliven the faces of the sacred figures decorating the vaults and the walls.
After we have got over the Cape, where the remains of the Tower of Badia stand, a lane leads to the rocky dungeon called "The man riding a horse", characterized by three rocky peaks over 50 metres high. Going further along the lane towards east, we reach the Mountain Piano from which we can enjoy an enchanting landscape. As we approach the "Reginna Maior" we feel to be wrapped, curve, after curve, by terraces of lemon's trees, fruits of the old union between the sea and the sky. The intense perfume of the citrus fruits, the stretch of soft sand of the shore and behind it the Valley of Tramonti, recalls us the past, before the flood occurred in 54' which swept the heart of Maiori away and before the gone mad waters of the torrent flooded it.
This coastal town never had an easy life. Sacked in the 9° century by the duke of Benevento: Sicardo, after, even if it was under the government of the Republic of Amalfi, it was invaded by the Pisans. Contested for its strategic position, it was fortified with walls and towers, of which there are only remains (Castle of Saint Nicolò de Toro Piano, the walls of the rampart of Saint Sebastian, the Tower of the Saracens and the Tower of Milo al Casale). To the name of Maiori that of "Royal Town (Città Regia)" was added thanks to Philip IV. it was a feud of the Sanseverinos, of the Colonnas and of the Piccolominis who built the fifteenth century castle with cylinder towers so called of Saint Francis.
Its different historical fortunes are witnessed by the portals, the stems and the courtyards representing the oldest nucleus of the town all developing around the Church of Saint Maria a Mare rising on the Mountain Torina, which can be reached by going up along the course of the river.
The majolica dome of the church with its bright flashes makes the landscape of the town precious. Built in the 12° centur it underwent a series of changes between the seventeenth and the nineteenth century. On the central altar there is a many colored sculpture dating back to the 15° century representing a Madonna with Child, which according to tradition was taken from the sea. The three aisle church is enriched with a coffered ceiling dating back to the sixteenth century. Many works of art are preserved in the Museum of the Collegiate Church, set up in the crypt (18° century): an alabaster polyptyc dating back to the fifteenth century the Box of the Imbriachis dating back to the sixteenth century a collection of old illuminated codes and precious pontifical furnitures.
It is always the course of the river which leads us, after having crossed the quarter of Saint Peter, to the Sanctuary of Saint Maria delle Grazie, of Medieval origin. The façade and the bell-tower date back to the eighteenth century while the inside is frescoed with paintings dating back to the fourteenth - sixteenth century.
From Maiori, along the routes indicated by the Italian Alpine Club (CAI), it is possible to reach the Sanctuary of the Avvocata, either from via Casa Imperato Superiore through the locality of San Vito, or from another locality Vecita. Only a hill hides Minori from the eyesight, but before reaching it we have to get over Saint Francis' church which, devastated by the Turks in 1435, was rebuilt thanks to Bernardino from Siena.
In the annexed convent Rossellini took an episode of his film "Paisà". Just beside it there are the Cave of the Annunciata with a little lake of fresh water and the remains of a religious building devoted to the Virgin of the Soccorso dating back to the 14° century and frescoed.
Along the short and crouching arch of the Seafront of Minori, the lions of the fountain dating back to the 12° century guard the memories of one of the oldest sites of the coast.
At the outlet of the valley of the Reginuolo the town shared with Maiori its function as dockyard of Amalfi. In the 13° century it was given the title of Civitas, but already in 987 it was Bishop's seat becouse it preserved the relics of Saint Trofimena, protector of the Amalfitan people. According to tradition the founding of the Saint's mortal remains, occurred in the half of the 7° century on the beach, caused the moving of the inhabityants of the hilly area of Forcella towards the sea, where they founded a village around the church. It lost its original Romanesque structure after the restoration carried out in the eighteenth century. In the central aisle we can admire the big altar-piece of the Crucifixion by Marco Pino from Siena. But the heart of the Basilica is represented by the crypt dating back to the 19° century where in an alabaster urn, there are the relics of the Patron saint and a precious Crucifix. From the church the rites linked to the Holy Week start with a procession of the so called "men beating themselves" (for expiation) accompanied by chants and litanies. At the time of its submission to the Republic of Amalfi, during the medieval period, this town possessed a dockyard, it was landing place of many merchant ships. The cultivation of citrons and lemons, which still today represent the main resource of Minori economy was already flourishing since the 10° century and thanks to the abundance of water coming from the valley the establishment of mills and olive pressed was fostered. Besides flour the town became famous aroung the 16° century for the handmade pasta.
In the middle of the valley, a few steps from the sea, the remains of a splendid maritime Villa, the only evidence along the whole Amalfitan coast of the Imperial age, were discovered in 1932 and then buried again by the flood occurred in 1954. The Villa was built in the ist century a.C.: it probably extended itself up to the terraces lying along the flank of the slope, and stretched out to the right river-side of the Reginna Maior.
On the lower floor there is a viridarium and in the middle of it there is a basin surrounded by a triporch, the triclinium-nymphaeus, around which the whole ground-floor, enriched with a mosaic floor, develops. A hall with a barrel vault, a whole thermal system, stuccoes, mosaics and remains of frescoes represent one of the characterizing elements of that which can be considered one of the most important Roman monuments in the area of Salerno. In the Antiquarium, on the higher floor, precious remains are exhibited, included the ones found during the works of regimen setting of the river.

Claudia della Corte

In the heart of the Lattari Mountains: TRAMONTI

A carpet of narcyssusses, cyclamens and violets makes it pleasant to walk and milds the dark shadows of the chestnut trees. At the extreme end of the lane sweet smelling hawthorn and elder shrubs accompany the climbing to the mountain you can take in the whole plane of Sarno at a glance with the Vesuvius up to Naples and its gulf.
Here, beyond the mountais, there are scattered villages, each of them clinging at the bell-tower of the main church, the dungeon is on the pass against the invaders, orchards and gardens are in service of the farmhouses, terraces and terraces of lemons and vines climb up to the thick chestnut trees that are age-old. They are the same ones from which the first inhabitants, a group of Roman refugees having found shelter in the Lattari Mountains between 500 and 550 a.C., took the wood for their houses; they are the same chest-nut trees used by the Amalfitans to build their solid ships. As a homage to the allied Tramonti, the former Latin Triventum, always touched by the cold currents of the Chiunzi Pass, the mariners of the old Republic baptizen the northern wind of the compass-card, the "Tramontana" (north wind). The wood industry is still today one of the most important economic sources of this place, together with the artisanship of the "cufanari", that is of the basket masters of Corsano, Figlino and Cesarano, famous all over the world for their skill in interlacing the soft branches and the striped cut bark of the chest-nut trees. They produce various shaped baskets (so called "sporte", "spaselle") similar to those produced in the 12° century.
Potters are by now completely disappeared. Once they were able to create vases and dishes "more beautiful than those produced in Faenza", a so powerful community that it gave the name to the village of Figlino (from "figulini" = potters), where escaping the iconoclast anger, the basilian monks took refuge and then they built there a hospital and a church. Of the Byzantine Annunciata church the apse wall with frescoes and a Pantacreator Christ sitting on the throne are still visible, while of the fourteenth century Saint Peter only the walls remain. In the eighteenth century the sacred building acquired a baroque style, decorated with stuccoes of Vaccari's school and refined majolicas from Capodimonte. At Ferriera and Pucara two out of the eighteen paper factories which were situated between Maiori and Tramonti, before the flood occurred in 1954 and the propping of rivers and torrents, still survive. The historical fulling-mill of Pucara, skillfully restored, is visited by the most sensitive italian painters who only here find a duly hand made paper, fit for emphasizing temperas and water-colours. On the contrary there is to register a stop in the iron art tradition. Out of the "iron masters" who produced the famous "centrelle", that is the little iron nails fit for the mountaineers' shoes, only one is still living in Ferriera, the river locality which in december is the charming background of the poetic living crib. It is a habit, probably introduced by the humble disciples of the Poor Man from Assisi who, in Polvica, deep immersed into the luxurian vegetation of the Hill of Saint Mary, built a convent in 1474. Of the original nucleus with the church looking at east and devoted to the first martyr of the Christendom, St. Stephen, a few remains are visible. The present building group of Saint Francis with the annexed religious building and the mystical cloister date back, on the contrary, to 1710. It was a golden age for spiritual life in Tramonti. In this period the Conservatorio (convent-school) of Saint Joseph and Teresa, born in Pucara as school for young noble ladies according to the will of the nobleman Francesco Antonio Ricca (1662), plays a fundamental role, and not only from a religious point of view: marriages and vocations, mostly caused by political and family reasons, were stipulated within monastic walls which have laid down the law in these cases until the first years of the twentieth century. Even as regards cooking monasteries were famous, because the delicious Cucierto, the so called liquor with herbs and barley was invented by the pastry cook nuns of Saint Joseph and Teresa, as well as the "sweet aubergine", ancestor of the "aubergine with chocolate", and the pizza with rice and spelt, a varied version of the famous Neapolitan pastiera. Today the Conservatorio can be visited only in occasion of the Lemon Festival which takes place during the first week of the month of August. August is the month of the return to one's own country, of feasts and square meals. With the dog-days, because of the Feast of Pizza, there is the great return of the pizza cooks: an army of about three thousand people from Tramonti who, from the period just after the Second World War have been planting their little greedy flags all over the northern Italy. The real home of pizza, they say with pride, is Tramonti not Naples. The confirmation of this comes from the historian of the gastronomy of the Coast of Amalfi, Ezio Falcone, who, when he remembers the bread with seasoning (pane et condimentum) of the first inhabitants of the Lattari mountains (a kind of flat bread covered with salted lard, basil or rosemary and cheese, still consumed today on November 2°), quotes a certain Raffaele Esposito so called "Naso 'e cane" (Dog's nose), perhaps coming from Minori who, in 1889 used the mozzarella cheese from Tramonti instead of seasoned cheese to offer it to the queen Marghetita of Savoy. Kingly mozzarella, then, that made from the very precious milk of the mythical cows bread on the Lattari mountains; a rare breed, bound to exctinction like its sister from Agerola - for its survival politicians, breeders and environmentalist are fighting, because it represent the real economic richness of this town and the opportunity for it to be in the first positions as regards the dairy product sector.
The range of dairy products produced by the so many little and medium sized farms scattered among the thirteen hamlets is large: caciocavallo, fiordilatte, provola, scamorza, latticello in the rush, butter little ricotta (that is the main ingredient of that sweet masterpiece represented by the sfogliatella Santa Rosa of Conca), prepared with traditional methods and cares. They are millenary, since that they date back to the Romans who populated this country, (the Roman remains of a Roman Villa discovered in Polvica witness that) and guessed how unique were the aromas of the herbs growing in those rich pastures. They can still be found untouched in the delicate milk goat's cheese prepared by the shepherds of the 21° century with the same method used one thousand and five hundred years ago: the rennet poured into special wicker containers (so called "fascelle") in order to separate whey from rennet, the pieces placed on boards on which salt has been spread over in fresh and shaded places. They are boards still today preserved in farm-houses, typologically equal to those of old times, even if they are now provided with all comforts.
They are planned according to the medieval model with a stable on the ground floor, the pigsties for pigs in the orchards. Thirteen different quality of grapes exist, to which as many villages correspond: the white ones called Falanghina, Ginestrella, Bianca Zita, Bianca Tenera and Capranesca, the red ones called: Sciascinosa, Tintore, Strepparossa, Pellecchione, Olivella, Zaccarina, the 70 per cent is sold, the remaining part is processed to produce wine which is famous all over the world with the denomination of controlled origin "Coast of Amalfi", territory of Tramonti.

Campinola, Capitignano, Cesarano, Corsano, Figlino, Gete, Novella, Patierno, Sant'Arcangelo and Paterno, Sant'Elia, Pietre, Polvica, Ponte, Pucara:

Thirteen oases of peace among the "rhythms of Rimini" in Maiori and the cold worldly pleasure in Ravello at the two extremes of the territory of Tramonti. Thirteen isles linked to each other by a thin plot of lanes and "short cut" paths, of little roads and mule-tracks. Among the suggested walks from Pendolo di Gete leads to Novella. The starting points is where the torrent Caro flows into the omonymous deep valley, after the obliged stage at the Cave of the Angel og Gete with the charming rupestrian chapel dating back to the 12°-13° century. It is a full immersion in the history and then we are ready for our environment tour: luxurian vineyards and green citrus plantations, the gold of lemons in competition with that of the brooms, the eastern like style bell-tower of Saint Erasmus of Pucara and Maiori unusually clung to two hilly sides sloping down towards to the sea. Going up again there is Casa Vitagliano, wholly black with its Mediterranean roofs, Patierno S. Elia with its terraces, Patierno Sant'Arcangelo with the Romanesque church of the Ascension, symbol of Tramonti, and the tender aedicule of the Madonna of the Pietà, Capitignano and Polvica and, as the final goal, the nice little square of Sant'Antonio a Novella.
For whom wants to get lost again, it is possible to enter the network of mountain paths, perhaps he can also stop at an ice-cream shop to taste the not easily to be found "spumone", the receipt of which has been handed down from father to son: a "faction" wholly from Tramonti, founded by the master ice-cream makers of Capitigliano.
From this village the name of which evokes the saga of the Roman fugitives and, from the likewise Latin Cesarano, niche of the relics of Saint Trifone preserved in the very old church of the Assumption, start the paths along the Vena San Marco and Cerreto Mountain, clearly shown by the map of the Pro Loco (Local Tourist Board). For the courageous ones, at last, we suggest the eighteenth-nineteenth century journey along the Coast of Amalfi through the "road of the Cava". From the Chiancolella and Torina di Gete mule-tracks branch off: they, passing over the springs of the Fontanelle and of the Ricciarello reach Cava dei Tirreni, to the Finestra Mountain and to the Abbey of Cava (Badia).
At this point the green side of the Avvocata, protector against the traps of the brigands and patron of both the people from Cava and from the coast says good-bye to the Coast of Amalfi.

Erminia Pellecchia


The footsteps of the Doges

The origins of Amalfi are wrapped in legend. According to the Chronicon Amalfitanum dating back to the 13° century the birth of the Amalfitan population is due to the epical adventure of a group of Romans families which, at the times of the Emperor Constantine, being bound for Costantinopople, were surprised by a violent tempest and after various excursions they hided themselves in a well protected and rich in water place. To the places which gave them a providential shelter they gave the names of Amalfi and Atranum. But the year to which it is possible to date back the first historical events of that which was the richest Sea Republic among the other four ones (the others are Pisa, Genoa and Venice) is 839. On that date the Republic, after a sack against Salerno and the Longobard princes, was proclaimed independent. From then on a period of great splendour began, thanks to the trades which made Amalfi a cosmopolitan centre famous all over the Mediterranean. The evidences can still be seen among the old lanes and rich churches, through the stratifications of the population which dominated the political scene of the town.
Longobards, Normans and Saracens alternated until 1137, when Amalfi was sacked by its rivals, the Pisans, and then it did not come back anymore to the old splendour which it had lived during the three foregoing centuries. This rivalry is evey year revived by the four Sea Republics during the evocative "historical regatta".
An ideal itinerary cannot start but from the Dockyards, where the famous galleys were built with over one hundred oars and were destined to the rich trades with the East. Then bigger and ships, commissioned by rich English and French shipowners, were built.
A few steps far from the Dockyarfs there is the Cathedral devoted to Saint Andrew which dominates the square at the top of a steep staircase. Built in the II° century, it was enlarged in 987 and then it was restored in 1203 according to the Arab-Norman style. The Gothic atrium is decorated with white and black marble strips and is transversally divided into two aisles by columns.
In the nearbyn cloiser of the Paradise the Arabic like influences are emphasized, thanks to the little twin columns supporting ogive and interlaced arches which frame the little palm garden. But to fully understand the historical importance reached by Amalfi to the utmost of its splendour, we should visit the historical palace Morelli, that is today the seat of the town administration. Here the so called "Tabula Amalphitana" is exhibited, the first code of Navigation Law: a total of 66 laws. After we have got over the Town Hall we reach the Tower to admire the view of the sea. Presently it is part of the building group of the Hotel Luna (but is possible to visit it), where Ibsen in 1879 wrote "Dollies' House". Going on towards Salerno, we reach the characteristic village of Atrani, where once the doges of Amalfi were crowned and buried. It is a village of crib like houses, so that many people say that Escher's "metamorphoses" were born here. And perhaps it is true, since that the Dutch painter stayed there between the Twenties and the Thirties of the just elapsed century, so that this village became its obsession-inspiration. A visit deserves the Collegiate Church of Saint Maria della Maddalena, built in 1274 in a dominating position overlooking the gulf. With a baroque façade, inside it preserved precious paintings by Andrea da Salerno and Giovanni Angelo D'Amato.
If you want to visit the place where the Doges were crowned, you have to get to the chapel of Saint Salvatore di Bireto (from the name of the dogal cap) a little above the small and characteristic square Umberto I°.
But the most evocative and less known itinerary is that so called "of the villages".
Passed over Amalfi, directed to Sorrento, just after the first tunnel, on the right you have to turn into a little road leading up to the hamlet of Agerola. The tortuous route, from Medieval times and nearly until the beginning of the twentieth century represented the main connection thoroughfare between the town centre of Amalfi and the hamlets of Pastena, Lone, Vettica and Tovere.
Its historical importance, the landscape and the nice churches which, along the route stand out among the characteristic vault houses, make it a cultural heritage of very high level, even if is unknown to most of the people. The sight of Amalfi, while slowly we go on along the slope, is peerlessly beautiful.
The first church we encounter along the route is that of the Madonna del Carmine which, according to the popular tradiction still much believed in these places, was destroyed by a flood and then it was soon rebuilt becouse the statue of the Madonna was found intact in a miraculous way. For this reason this locality is called Pino (from the italian name pine). Soon after we reach the first village: Pastena. The name probably derives from "pastinato", a kind of contract which noblemen and the clergy imposed upon their colons. On the sides of the road a series of farm houses, which give the landscape a kind of temporal immobility can be admired; as it is like being plunged into the agrestial silence and peace of other times.
Stair after stair we get over the staircases and looking up we can see the church and the bell-tower of Saint Mary the Virgin and on the left the slope to Lone. Farm Houses which are gathered around a belvedere called "a' ponte 'e Lone", from which, as if we are suspended in the void, you can enjoy a splendid landscape of the sea and the coast. On the right as a fan the typical steep mountains of Agerola appear, only interrupted by lemon and vine terraces. Coming back to the highway we reach Conca dei Marini. The village runs along the coast for about tree kilometres and stretches itself up to 400 metres of hight above the sea-level. Conca is divided into two parts: the shore where until the last century the highest number of boats of the whole coast concentrated itself and the high part where presently the most of population lives. The old village consist of little houses grazing the sea which some years ago were touched by a landslide the signs of which are still visible today.
The atmosphere of Marina seems to carry us in the past, to the last century, which revives on August 5° every year when Saint Maria della Neve is celebrated in the little chapel on the beach devoted to her. Near the highway there is, in the votive offerings of the mariners escaped from tempests and once famous for their daring and courage, are preserved.
It is really a reason of pride for the people from Conca to belong to a stock which in old times was known all over the Mediterranean as an invincible one, notwithstanding the risks and dangers the fate scattered along the seven seas.
It is better to visit Conca in the west direction, by walking through the so called "walk of the five essences": vines, lemons, olive-trees, locust-trees and pomegranates. You have to start from the cathedral devoted to Saint Anthony up to the church of Saint Michael on the edge of ravines and precipices and our eyes get lost into the fiord of Furore.
To immerse oneself into the deep valley it is better to descend the 200 stairs which start from the highway nr. 163 or to arrive there in a boat. It is formed by a deep cut into the mountain which is behind Praiano, excavated during the centuries by the torrent which comes down precipitating from the plateau of Agerola. A few houses, repaired by the rock gorges, recently restored to their original charm, face a picturesque little beach.
It is a village which looks like a crib, a village become famous all over the world for having been elected as an ideal place by the famous cinematographic couple: Anna Magnani and Roberto Rossellini.
In the high part of Furore it is to visit the church of Saint Elia, dating back to the 13° century where a tryptic by the painter Angelo Antonello de Capua, representing, perhaps, one of the most precious pictorial works of the whole the Amalfi coast, is preserved.
But if you want to choose a different route to visit the high grounds which dominate Conca dei Marini, you can go through the lane "of the crow's nests" leading to Agerola, dominated by the remains of the castle Lauretano. Here there is the most charming belvedere in the whole province of Salerno. If you prefer, on the contrary, the comfortable highway to reach Agerola and Pogerola, you have to turn on the right, soon after Amalfi, in the direction og Positano. You reach Pogerola where the houses with their steep and slope roofs appear to be picturesque and singular. When you have arrived at the hamlet of Saint Lazzaro, where the only camping of the Amalfi Coast exists, after the little church, you go down to Punta and from a magnificient natural balcony you can see a landscape which ranges from the famous isolated crags in the sea of Capri called "faraglioni", to the mountains of Cilento.
But for the real champions (or for whom really feels himself like that) there is also an alternative: to go down by bycicle. The distance to cover is 13 kilometres long with 650 metres of descent. At the end there is a monument devoted to Fausto Coppi. When you have arrived there, you can really understand how tiring was was for the "champion of champions" to run through this stretch during differents tours of Italy.
Going back to the highway before reaching Praiano, you can visit the Emertald Cave by going down a long staircase or using a lift. The cavity in which the light acquires a green shade by filtering through the natural opening of the cave, was discovered in 1932 and has got a height of 24 metres. Stalactites and stalagmites give life to a mysterious and charming architecture. Praiano lies on the range which descends from the mountain Saint Angelo a Tre Pizzi until Sottile Cape.
In the middle of the built-up area there is the Parish Church of Saint Luca which preserved a big silver bust of the Saint. The inside with threes aisles is enriched with paintings by Giovanni Bernardo Lama and by many sacred furnitures. A fishers' village, Praiano, touristic resort, stretches itself on the sea through a deep valley with high and steep walls, to which little houses of the inlet of the Marina di Praia, which can be reached through a little road excavated in the rock, oppose themselves.
After having got over the Sottile Cape and short gallery on the highway, you have before your eyes the many colored majolica lined dome of the Church of Saint Gennaro, the symbol of Vettica Maggiore. From the wide square before it, you can look towards the coast until Campanella Point.

Adolfo Pappalardo


Gore Vidal arrived here in 1948 in a jeep driven by Tennessee Williams who drove "like a dog". It was love at first sight, he never went far from Ravello anymore. He used to live in Ravello six mounths a year, in the refuge of the Rondinaia, the golden prison of the unhappy Virginia Grimthorpe. The American writer is the last one of a long series of travellers "in love with beauty" and subjugated by the atmosphere of a village where the Mediterranean architectures match with the northern mists of an alpine landscape, sweetened by the perfumes and the colours of enchanted gardens.
"While contemplating from those Armida's orchards, among the roses and the hydrangeas, that magic sea in which the blue colour of a very limpid sky is reflected, the wish of being able to fly comes out", Ferdinand Gregorovius wrote, with reference to the Belvedere of the Cimbrone. Undiscussed protagonist of the Grand Tour, he was among the reckless ones who arrived, through the inacessible road of Castiglione, to Ravello. Visitors of all over Europe. Particularly English people, in the wake of the landscape painter William Turner, came here.
It is a very long list: Virginia and Leonard Woolf, Forster, Keynes, Strackey, Lawrence...the whole group of Bloomsbury, moved, with their paper and pen, to the radical artistic coterie of Villa Cimbrone, at the court of Ernes William Beckett. The eccentric Lord Grimthorpe, with the help of Nicola Mansi, tailor-barber-builder from Ravello, created the monument of "eclecticism"
Here everything is excess: from the seemingly wild nature of the gardens, which on the other hand are scanned in their linear geometries of an "ideal town" as a homage to the purest Renaissance, to the architectures. They are literally copied from the local ones-a prototype is the adjoining concent of Saint Francis, founded, perhaps, by the Poor Man from Assisi in person-or from models from their far land like a Cistercial Abbey in the Yorkshire.
Villa Rufolo is quite different, cold and haughty, conscious of its millenary origin. It is the multicoloured background of the musical festival, which every year in july welcomes, in the "magic garden of Klingsor", which so much impressed Wagner, orchestras and directors famous all over the world.
In the half of the ninenteenth century the Scottish botanic Francis Neville Reid reshaped the "wonderful" garden of Landolfo Ruffolo, celebrated by Boccaccio in his Decameron, with the well-chosen inclusion of exotic essences and the bent for gardening of Luigi Cicalese, who also was the first photographer and editor of cards of Ravello. The palace, emphasized by a square tower, is a mine of Moresque architecture: phantastic ornates, spiral little columns, arches, colonnades, Turkish baths, basins, rotundas, courtyards, cloisters, fruit of the inspiration of skilled Arabic workers, the same ones who worked in churches and noble residences of the medieval Ravello. The colour plays are extraordinary: indigo, red, yellow, colour spots which burst into the dark grey of the stone. The fresco recently found in the "waiting room" of Villa Rufolo, together with the graffiti applied on the mosaic walls of the Cathedral of the Assumption, memorial chapel of the relics of the Patron Pantaleone, witness that.
The Cathedral, deprived of its pronaos, after the restoration carried out in the eighteenth century, does not keep so much of the aspect it had when it was built in 1086 according to Orso Papirio's will, who was the first Bishop of the diocesi of Ravello, to which the Pope Vittore III° had given the independence. Its original magnifience is witnessed by the bronze door dating back to 1179, a work by Barisano from Trani, which has 54 carved panels representing stories of the Passion, saints and two masks, and the bell-tower with mullioned windows and tufa and brick decorations.
The surprise is the inside with three aisles and the two refined ambos with Christian symbologies mixed with figure patterns which seem to be inspired by the kufic letters of the Arab mosques. Mystically evocative is the chapel of Saint Pantaleon, which is casked of the blood shed by the martyr of Nicomedia, and which as a miracle melts, each year, on july 27°, on the anniversary of the Saint's beheading, so attracting crowds of incredulous people and believers. For the art lovers, the crypt is an obliged destination which houses the diocesan Museum where important works of art, such as sculptures, architectural fragments and goldsmith's works are preserved.
The Cathedral Square, with its comfortable bars and gay souvernir shops, invites to linger, to gossip, to quiet conversations. It is a pleasant temptation. It is to savour it, if you want to fully understand the heart of Ravello. We can now follow the example of Palmiro Togliatti, the historical father of the italian Left Party who during his rare holidays in the intimacy of the Hotel Rufolo, used to daily walk through the easy lane of Saint Barbara which from the convent of the Clarisse leads to the medieval village of the saints Cosma and Damiano running along the promontory of the Cimbrone. It is a "landscape for poor people", nearly stolen from the exclusive Rondinaia of the Grimthorpes: ruperstrial caves, olive-trees and age-old ferns, citrus trees...Abruptly a foreshortening of blue, immobile as a photogram in the viewer: the seashore of Atrani characterized with a magnificent sky-line effect by the towers of Civita and of the Ziro. Togliatti's walk is only one of the so many itineraries between nature and art, of the so many roads to be run through until getting oneself lost in an infinite dream.
But, as in each good labyrinth, we come inexorably back to the starting point: the square, a scenographic urban pretence of the Thirties, traced in order to give a heart to this fortress-town, which protrudes itself as a sentry overlooking the sea from the top of the rocky buttress which separates the deep valleys of the Dragone and the Reginna.
Of the warrior Ravello, hostile to Amalfi and docile to the flatteries of Ruggiero il Normanno (it is supposed that the name of Ravello derives from the word Rebello, rebel) an arch defended by two ramparts guarding the enemy Scala, remains. It is one of the surviving doors of the original town walls and it is called of the Lacco, like the facing sixteenth century little church of Saint Mary, in memory of the moat which occupied the space of the present square devoted to Andrea Mansi. The historical entrance introduces the truest Ravello, that of the tunnel like lanes suffocated between buildings and chapels. The Lacco is the boundary point between the popular quarters and the wordly pleasures of the "promenade des hotels": the alternative is to go on up the mountains Brusara and Sambuco or to go to the memorial Chapel of the Fallen, the old Saint Adiutore church of the barefooted Hermit Fathers of Saint Augustin who built a convent beside it. It is useless saying that it is now a hotel, as it is the case of the most part of the coenobia. Saint Francis and Saint Chiara are an excetion today, because they are still inhabited by piuous guests: the aristocratic and educated monks preserve a very interesting library, the nuns, enclosed in their cloister rigidly observe the rule. Only the church, where a precious Byzantine fresco of Christ Pantacreator and artistic reliquaries can be visited by secular people.
The mountain excursion both start from the little square Mansi. You can go to the mountain Brusara, with its "castrum" of Fratta, fortress against the Pisans, by climbing the steep staircases of the quarter of Saint Martin which derives its name from the Romanesque "Paris" church characterized by the peculiar steeple bell-tower.
The monastery of Saint Nicola a Sambuco on the contrary, can be reached through the roads Casa Rossa and of the Rotonda characterized by the omonymous Byzantine church.
For the laziest ones there is the classical promenade, that of the hotels. At Villa Episcopio Helen of Savoy spent her last days as a queen, while Jacqueline Kennedy tried to escape from photoreporters. Then it is possible to admire Palace Cortese, Palace Confalone with its atrium, a masterpiece of geometric symmetry, the courtyard Mansi which still preserves a Roman bath in good conditions, Palace Sasso, Palace D'Afflitto with the important entrance door decorated with the architectural remains of the church of Saint Eustachio from Scala, Palace Grisone in which we find part of the church of Saint Margherita and the ruins of the old door of the Toro.
The epicentrum is Saint Giovanni del Toro (1018), with its spectacular basilica plant with three aisles supported by eigh granite columns which frame the important ambo by Alfano from Termoli.
From St. Giovanni del Toro to Fontana Square, entering the romantic raod of Saint Margherita you can follow the footsteps of Escher, who just in Ravello meet his wife. Footsteps unfortunately made misted by the progress: the large Rimembranze avenue has taken the place of the historical route which led to the Madonna of the Hospital, which in the Middle Ages gave shelter to pilgrims, where the Dutch painter spent hours and hours while working at his "Metamorphoses".
A dive into the casbah of the bazars of via Roma in order that after we can reach Saint Maria a Gradillo, the religious building in which the Heads of the Town met; from some decennia it has been chosen as seat of art events. Not far from it there is Palace Della Marra, which with its remains with beautiful barrel vaults and the particular band decoration ornating floors and windows, functions as triumphal arch to the present Ravello, hardly hiding the magnifience of the square of the Cathedral. The calmness of Via Episcopio invites to a sentimental journey. To lead us in this journey there are two little cupolas of the Annunciata, the basilica given by the king Ladislao to the believers Fusco and today become a beautiful meeting room of the European University Centre for the Cultural Heritage. The flight of stairs leads to the Saint Maria delle Grazie-today still called by the common people with its original name of Saint Matthew-among walls speckled with herbs and torn by prospect foreshortenings on that Levant segment that Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, on August 15°, at night is enlightened by hundreds of gone mad fires. From the Annunciata, with a little deviation, we can reconstruct the incredible puzzle of sacred buildings which follow each other without interruption, neglected or desecrated, abandoned or revived to a new life. Some are original, like Saint Pietro della Costa, rebuilt at the half of the eighteenth century, probably on the ruins of a church fallen down in the 10° century, from which perhaps the granite columns supporting the atrium come. Some are secret, like Saint Giovanni alla Costa, adorned with the contemprary scratches by Mimmo Paladino and forbidden to the eyes of the curious people.

A labyrinth of old square: Scala and its squares. Vescovado, Minuta, Pontone, Campidoglio, Campoleone, Santa Caterina, six jewels of art set among the mountains of Gragnano, Agerola, Ravello, six visible nucleuses of an invisible town concentrated around the ideal forum represented by the cathedral of Saint Lawrence. Of the primitive Cama of Picean origin, of the Roman settlement dating back to the 4° century, of the medieval legendary town walls, ten kilometers of extension on nearly one thousand metres of difference in level between the Castle and the Pianello, of the invincible manor-houses of the big Scala and Scalella (the little one), of the strong houses-towers, of the monumental entrance doors, of the very rich religious buildings, today very few remains exist. Infinitesimal fragments, to be looked for among paths and fields, tool stores and dry walls, courtyards and cellars.
To go in search of remains is the favourite sport of the Danish, adoptive inhabitants of Scalea, from when in 1910 Carlo Wunstolt bought the ruins of Saint Cataldo, transforming it into a "house of the artists" for his countrymen. From the convent of Campoleone the benedictine itinerary starts from. The abbey of the Saints Benedict and Scolastica (the oldest one on the whole coast) at Tavernata, in the high valley of the Canneto, between Pontone and Pogerola, the coenobium of the Saints Giuliano and Marciano on the top the mountain Cerbelliano, a coup d'oeil sight on the gulfs of Salerno and Naples, which takes one's breath away, Saint Maria de Aquabona on the top of the cathedral near the very panoramic Lama di Priso, Saint Helen under the Mountain Aureo, in the neighbourhood of the Amalfitan quarter of Pianello, Saint Maria de Fontanella a Priegi in the valley of the Dragone: six monasteries which complete the pious image of the town with its one hundred and thirty churches, an autonomous diocese since 994.
Disappeared monasteries, their furnitures have been stolen or transferred, like the big statue of the Madonna of the Rosary, coming from Saint Cataldo and inherited by the Redemptorius nuns, a miraculous effigy like the Crucifix of Saint Helen, venerated in the luminous gothic crypy of Saint Lawrence. The deposition, which can be dated not so long after the second half of the 13° century, is among the most important wooden monuments in southern Italy. It is only one of the so many artistic treasures of the age-old cathedral. Among them all, it is to remember the extraordinary bishop's mitre weaved with pearls, gold and enamels, given, as it is narrated, by the king Charles I° D'Angiò, as a votive offering to the patron of Scala who had saved him from the furies of the sea and from those, more to be feared, of the Saracens. In the crypt again, it is to be admired the precious many colored stucco sepulchre, attributed to the school of Tino da Camaino and built by Antonio Coppola for his adored wife Marinella Rufolo. He was from Scala and she was from Ravello, they were both patricians and were forced to stipulate their marriage contract, in order to ratify the nth armistice between the two towns eternally enemies of each other. Their story is celebrated each May-Day with a historical procession, medieval games and a final banquet, perfectly reconstructed by the scenes of the "Legend of Saint Nicholas", the most famous cycle of frescoes of Saint Maria di Minuta.
The cathedral, scanned by three very high apses and flanked on one side by the bishop's palace and on the other side by the massive bell-tower has been, since its reconstruction probably made on a preexisting church, the spiritual and urban centre of Scala. The square of the squares. The church-square, with the austere size of the façade "of the gryphons", toned down by the frivolus windows of the subportico of the Capitol and by the gay phantasmagory of the pensile gardens of the Town Hall, is a natural stage. Boccascena, piazza del Campo, is the old bench of the noblemen, with the eighteenth century basin caressed by the trees; as a corridor, the long Tigli avenue leading to largo Monastero, the official entrance door to the town. From this door in the far 1725, a Neapolitan priest, ill in his body and spirit, set off, his destination was the monastery of Saint Maria dei Monti, in the heart of the Lattari Mountains, spiritual fortress of the silent village of Saint Catherine: a group of houses, a little apart there is the parish church devoted to the saint from Alexandria and fellow-patron of Scala, with its rustic church-square, its squat bell-tower with big glasses and mullioned windows, in the little right apse there is the icon of Saint Maria della Porta, a bit of Byzantium among the rude shepherds. From the Marian vision in the cave of the Revelations to the spiritual conversation with the as much visionary Sister Maria Celeste Crostarosa: so the Orders of the Redemptorist nuns and the Congregation of the Missionary Fathers, here founded in Scala by Saint Alfonso Maria de' Liguori, were born. Within the limited perimetre of via Torricella the itinerary linked to Saint Alfonso Maria de' Liguori develops. At largo Monastero there is the Protomonastery of the Most Holy Redemptor situated in the former convent-school of the Zitelle at palace Della Mura, first house of the Visitandine nuns and then of the Redemptorist nuns, the very loved "arlequin nuns" dressed with red and light blue dresses. In front of it there is the nice Convent of the Liguorini, built in 1932, also having the function of an oratory. In the chapel, after that the monastery had become a mountain refuge, there is the statue of Saint Maria dei Monti, before which the lawyer saint had prayed. Further, in the neighbourhood of the palace-shrine Mansi D'Amelio, with its eighteenth century façade, a balcony on the "card" of Ravello, has got a fourteenth century passage-way and courtyard, a staircase usually closed by a gate, descending to the church of Saint Alfonso, very original, because its background is the cave of the Marian apparitions. Adjacent to it is the hospitium of the Redemptorist nuns, the first house of the Liguorini monks who moved after to Casa Anastasio between Municipio square and the Capitol: a kind of five star hotel for clergymen, with the future prospect of also becoming guest-quarters for laymen. Speaking again about saints, Scala can boast itself for having been the birthplace of Brother Gerardo Sasso - recent studies confuted the thesis according to which the Blessed was from Provence. He founded the Order of the Knights Hospitallers of Saint John of Jerusalem. In the crypt of Saint Peter in Campoleone, patronate of the Traras, a family which competed with the Saxos for the town government, there is a painting representing a knight from Malta which witnesses what above said. The sacred building preserves important works of art of the fourteenth century, among which there are the statue of Saint Michael Archangel, a present og Paul de Saxo, the basrelief of Saint Catherine and the big tombstone with the effigy of 14 personages of the powerful family. The neighbouring domus of the Sassos and the Traras document the architectural typology of the houses-towers of Scala, fortresses provided with all comforts, very modern "bathrooms" included, which imitated the Arab ones, with pipes, basins, arches, little cupola flute and cross vaults, and showed off tarsias. It is one of the so many surprises of the medieval town. Another Arab bathroom still well preserved, is on the promontory of Pontone, in the "quarters of the noblemen", a town in the town, constitued by "palaces with marble ornaments and works, with columns and stones of different colours", the remains of which emerge in the nowadays houses of the quarter. The area is dominated by the imposing ruins of the Basilica of Saint Eustachio, temple of the aristocrats D'Afflitto, who dated back their origins to the Roman martyr and who, as a homage to him, had built, vertically on the Dragon, a church as majestic as the Cathedral of Monreale. It was surely more charming for the verticality of the walls suspended as the crow flies, between the sky and the sea and for the magnifience of the decorations with superb chromatic plays. Of the latter ones a light-but nonetheless moving glow remains in the apse walls, in the crypt, in the columns and in the mosaics which have survived, dump witnesses of the unexplicable decline of a monument considered by scholars among the most beautiful ones in southern Italy. It has been the fortune of many other religious buildings in the village-museum of Pontone, which has been for decennia prey of the raids of "antiquity researchers": for example Saint Matthew, more known as Saint Filippo Neri, from the 10° century patronage of the De Bonitos, its Byzantine like structures have been fallen down, still standing out is the independent bell-tower, which is the oldest of the coast, a prisma like tower bare with plasters which resounds that of San Gimignano; the Bishop's Palace, behind the apses of Saint Pilippo, an isolated mullioned window and some tarsias as a memory of the elegant portico, Saint Stefania documented since 1144 as the most flourishing church in the State of Amalfi. It is no wonder why. Paontone, commercial and artisan centre of the village, with its famous wool art workshops, was the most prosperous village of Scala and rich artisans of the "wool school" had wanted to embellish it in a spectacular way. Today this land is starting point for the excursions leading to the Ferriere, habitat of the Woodcardia radicans, a splendid example of preglacial flora, and to the romantic tower of the Ziro with the circular crenellated town walls vertically on the gulf. Little woods, thin olive-groves, golden lemon trees, grey dry walls from which vigorous vine shoots stretch out, old irrigation channels which lick the narrow lanes, stone steps and staircase, farm-houses scattered in the green, rupestrial churches like Saint Maria del Carmine with its little atrium, abrupt sea foreshortenings after the shadows of the subways sottoruas accompany our steps. And then the peace of the little square, which is solar, spontaneus, ingenuous. A slice of Paradice enclosed in an handkerchief of houses, the balcony on the valley of the Canneto and on the Castle, the white sunshades of the modest little bar moved by the breeze, the hospitable portico of the Romanesque Saint John with its stucco peacock shaped ornates, the bell-tower riding the little road to Saint Mary, the majolica "Italian style" clock, not far from it there is the palace of Filippo Spina, the brave leader who in order to expiate his sins wanted its tombstone placed at the entrance of the church, so that everyone had to tread upon it. 
The spontaneous charm of Pontone is opposed to the softness of Minuta, "the cultured square"., meant as it the case today, for art and show events. It is a necessary choise for the Belvedere of Scala with a privileged view on the promontory of the Cimbrone, the ruins of Saint Eustachio, the gorges of Atrani and Amalfi separated by the rocky side of the Mountain Aureo, the white little village of Pogerola, the kaleidoscope of the waters kissed by the sun, the romantic via Favara. Then the façade, a real jewel of the Most Holy Annunciata, the town parliament, the most superb evidence of the skill of the local artisan: austere, cosy, solemn, with a portico with three symmetric arcades, twelve granite columns, six for each section in which the inside is divided by them, the high bare central apse, nobilitated by two columns leaned to the piers of the triumphal arch, an only mullioned window creates the unique light and shade of the room, the embroidery of the frescoes of the high medieval crypt. Without façade is on the contrary the twin church of the Annunciata of Campidoglio, along the road leading to the chestnut tree woods, which represent the main economic source of Scala, and to Punta d'Aglio, going along the Acquacciola, a green telescope pointed towards the valleys of the Dragone and of the Mills with the oneiric vision of ruined paper factories, in the air the smell of saltness, the outlines of Paestum and Licosa Point clearly visible on shining days. Among the few artistic emergences of the hamlet, together with the franciscan church of Saint Giovanni Dell'Acqua, there is the "square of music". The concert of bells of the ochre bell-tower of Saint Mary in a melody which can be compared, as the experts say, to angels' singing.

Erminia Pellecchia


A museum of the journey en plein air

Trasgressor and Franciscan, fashionable and popular, hospitable and suspicious. The double face of Positano, with its thousand contradictions and ambiguities which won the restless artists of the first years of the 20° century. Travelling around the world in search of emotions, they at last found them on the coast of the Syrens, in the little fishers' village with its lime whitewashed houses clinging to the rock, its East sweet-smelling gardens, its shore illuminated by thousands of fire-flies. On the Big Beach the Church of the Assumption lies with its cupolas sparkling with its yellow and blue majolica chips and the Byzantine Black Madonna on the many colored altar. And then, lanes and little roads up to Fontanavecchia, Santa Maria del Castello, Monte Sant'Angelo with the oneiric villages of Montepertuso and Nocelle along the exceptional belvedere among the clouds which is the Gods' Path (Sentiero degli Dei), the extraordinary sunsets of Campanella Point consecrated to Athena.
The first ones to arrive here were the Russian, then the Dutch came, "a heterogeneous, free, eccentric and thoughtless group united by and wine", escaped from the ill-omened forerunners of the Nazism. "Voluntary prisoners of this mythologic scenary", Sigfried Kracauer wrote in Positano between 1923 and 1928 with the other creators of the School of Frankfurt, Walter Benjamin, Alfred Sohn-Rethel, Ernst Bloch, Theodor W. Adorno. Their meeting point was for all of them the Buca di Bacco on the Big Beach, a modest cellar on the sea-shore, bound to become, during the Fifties, the rendez-vous for the Roman and Neapolitan people loving the wordly pleasures. The album of the Buca di Bacco is a wonderful memory archive, the starting point for an itinerary of Positano based on the personages and the families which have contributed to create its myth. They have made this village a real "museum of the journey" on the Coast of Amalfi, an en plein air museum-redesigned today by the scholar and art critician Massimo Bignardi-trought the places and houses inhabited by the personages which represented the "imaginary of a century". Kurt Kraemer, the paralytic painter, replaced the name of the cellar of Salvatore Rispoli, Flavio Gioia Cafè, (the people from Positano sustain that the inventor of the compass was their towns-man) with that of Buca di Bacco (Bacchus' hole). Kraemer, arrived at Positano with his friend, the painter Karl Sohn Rethel, stayed in a flat in the house of the Savino brothers where presently there is the Hotel Covo dei Saraceni. Within their group, there were Bruno Marquardt, who painted only sea beds, those marvellous ones of the inlets of Positano, rich in black, violet and rose sea-urchins, and Stephan Andres, exile with all his family in "this hiding place on the margins of history". The antifashist writer decided to live in the last but one house before the cemetery, on a steep rock, near the "reflected town" with its white chapel accumulated each on the other and the narrow lanes steep like the Positano of the alive people. In the Historical cemetery his daughter Mechthild, dead from typhus when she was only nine years old, is buried. Foreign tombs there are beside those of the local people: Massine's father, Sèmenev, Ivan Zagoruiko, Essad Bey who was buried with his feet directed towards Mecca. But the myth of a healthy and wild land, far from the "noisy beauty" of Capri started from the end of the nineteenth century, when the Neapolitan painters Vincenzo Caprile and Francesco Mancini, called Lord, settled in Positano. Paul Klee got there on foot coming from Sorrento. It was 1902, as struck by lightning he fell in love with this town and stayed at the Inn Roma: "it is impossible to leave from here", he noted down in his diary. In the inn-hotel of Donna Celeste, consisting only of five rooms, simple but comfortable, the Swiss poet Gilbert Clavel stayed in 1909. He was impressed by a swim at the beach of Furnillo (Fornillo) and the sight of the remains of the sixteenth century square sighting tower. He bought it in order to built a monument to immortality, since he was affected with phtisis. He himself drew out the restoration plan, the futurist Fortunato Depero designed the furniture which was absolutely in the van. And at the inn Roma again, Gennaro Favai, arrived between 1923 and 1924. In his drawings and water colours he represented the quiet rhythms of the town, the harmony of the landscape broked up by towers and bell-towers, by churches built on the rocks: Saint Giacomo  a Liparlati, Saint Margherita a Furnillo, in the quarter where the bread for Roman patricians was cooked (some remains of an imperial villa can be seen on the little square), Saint Caterina a Punta Reginella, the New Church (Chiesa Nuova), on the top of the village Saint Maria delle Grazie a Montepertuso and the Cathedral. Mostly popular buildings, the Most Holy Assunta was part of a very powerful abbey already existing in the second century. There are churches and chapels built as votive offerrings against the menaces overhanging a people of peasants and fisher (the old basrelief of the "hunting fox" on the bell-tower of the Assumption Church symbolically represents the relation between the two crafts). A perennial struggle for survival. Natural calamities, Saracen raids, brigands, the only escape can be found in the Virgin, the Two Marys, that of the sea come from the East who baptized the locality with the cry:"posa posa" (that means:"put put"); the other, a mountain one winner over Lucipher, the enormous "pertuso" (taht means hole) in the rock was excavated by Her saint forefinger when She drove away the devil for ever.
They are pious legends beside which there are the secular ones: the bloody syrens with their bird shaped body, the spectre of the doge Mansone appearing from the high tower of the Big Cock, the apparitions, in the first hours of the morning, of the ghost of Giovanni Zagouriko at Reginella Poin. The quarter, very little and nice, became famous for the artist who stayed there. There, just after the war, Massimo Campigli rented a room. While the German Gunther Studemann-an important presence in the tale of Positano together with Richard Dölker and Lisel Oppel took refuge in Casa Albertina. Ceramist-painters went to and from Vietri sul Mare and Positano. It also won Irene Kowaliska, author of the Renaissance of the ceramic from Vietri, she moved to Villa Sette Venti with the writer Armin Teophil Wegner. Irene devoted herself to cloth painting and perhaps her so much coloured batiks caused the birth of that economic phenomenon represented by the Positano fashion, which exploded, headlong from the beginning of the Fifties. Musicians, of course, could not be indifferent to the charm of the siren of the coast of Amalfi. The first one was Igor Strawinsky who got over his tubercolosis in the sun of Positano and then he started to compose again; the last one is Roman Vlad. These silent places which invite to contemplation, and where it is easy to find inspiration, enchanted the German musician Wilhelm Kempf, who in 1954 had a villa at measure built at the Sponda, a tiny house, bare of furniture, occupied only by his loved piano. The tinsels were useless, because the major ornament was the view of the sea, that which impressed so much Oscar Kokoschka, who for her generous guest realized the "paper" "For the house of Orpheus in Positano". It was hidden from the world, sheltered by the mountain and the clean terraced garden as the japanese ones which Kempff adored. No excess, no concession to colour, as if he wanted to evoche the chromatic alternating keys of the piano. Now the garden is jealously preserved by his spiritual heir, Annette Von Bodecker, and it is open to the young who come here to specialize at the Orpheus Foundation. A few, very well selected guest are admitted to enter it. For strangers the only rare occasion to enter is the concert held at the end of june by the students of the musical foundation. In the capital of art dance could not fail. Djaghilev fell in love with Positano at the beginning of the 20° century. He was an ingenious concert-manager, director of the fabulous Russian Ballets. From Moskow the étoile Leonid Massine came here, after his friend Pablo Picasso. He was so fond of it that he decided to buy the isle of Li Galli to built there, on the remains of an old Roman villa, redesigned by Le Corbusier, his inviolable house-studio. The three islets of the archipelago of the Sirenuse were bought with a very few money, thanks to the intercession of another passional and very pratical Russian, adored by all fishers for his unrestrained drinks: Michail Sèmenov. Misha had bought the lands of the little valley of the Romam Mill, behind the beach of Arienzo, enjoyng himself in botanic, with the insertion in the Mediterranean bush, of exotic essences. If it is a legend or not, however he is said to have been the one who transplanted the palm, today a characteristic element of the landscape of Positano, among the rocks of this sea village. In the wake of Massine Antony Tudor, Margot Fonteyn, John Cranko, Carla Fracci and Beppe Menegatti arrived at Positano. Massine's dream was that of realizing a temple of dance by instituting summer courses and by using it as a scenery for his ballets. But for reasons of space he preferred to use the large terrace of Stella Romana, the villa of the Polish couple Szenwic where, among the distinguished guests, there was even the future Pope John Paul II. Massine did not succeed in completing his project: after his death, the villa was abandoned, until when Rudolf Nureyev gave it back to its original splendour. The dancer-choreographer came to know of the existence of the isles of the sirens in 1984 when he received the Award Positano "Leonide Massine" for the art of dance (this event has been repeated every year since 1969 without any interruption, on the first Saturday of each September on the Big Beach). Attracted by the unavoidable charm of that strange house with its enormous glass windows, like "a space-ship landed on an unknown planet", so Raffaele La Capria, another habitué of this place, comments, he decided to took possession of those cliffs. Today they are in the hands of a group of managers and are opened to the public only for special events. For the common people it is possible a rapid glance at it and the circumnavigation, with the complicity of nice "pirates" who ferry the tourists for the discovery of beaches, inlets and very nice little creeks.

Erminia Pellecchia

Saints and cooking in Amalfi Coast

Since dawn the whiffs of the ragout spread out along little staircases, lanes, orchards, terraces, from the high of Saint Maria del Bando down to the little square of Atrani. At six, the pestering sound of the bells has started the celebrations of Saint Maria Maddalena, inviting the housewifes to the inevitable horribly early rising due to the long preparation times of the so many "little cocuzza stuffed cylinders" to be distributed to relatives and friends. On july 22° there is no other better way than that of honouring the Saint patron at table, before the dainty "sarchiaspone", which perhaps is even empty like that of the Shepherds' Cantata from which it takes its name, but it is the ideal container for the rich stuffing of minced meat and cheeses, made even more precious by pouring on it a steaming sauce which constitutes its gluttonous heart.
Saints and cooking: a binomial which often occurs on the Coast of Amalfi where the faith is a pretext to devote at least one day a year to rest, better if with a cheerful company with which to share food and wine. Carnival Day for Furore is the feast for excellence, the rites of which, in a bizzarre mixture of sacred and profane, already from january 17° start. This day is the birthday of Saint Antonio Abate, saint patron of fire and swines. And just they, the pigs, will be sacrificed on the altar of gluttony as protagonist of the sumptuous banquet of good-bye to winter: black-pudding of buckwheat stuffed with "noglie" and "pezzente" (sausages made not with the best meat of the pork), pork's blood bucatini, sausages, cutlets, "sopressate" sausages, ham. The whole is washed with the Paradise nectar of the "good wine hills", those of Furore, Ravello and Tramonti which constitute the golden triangle of the Controlled Origin wine "Coast of Amalfi". As dessert there is a phantasy of scamorza cheese, smoked provola cheese, fiordilatte cheese, little ricotta cheese and goat's milk little cheese coming from the nearby Agerola, from Scala, and from Tramonti. Real niche products, the taste of which is emphasized by the good quality of a milk made fragrant by the herbs of the Lattari Mountains, the therapeutical virtues of which are known from old times.
It is a robust cuisine, that of Furore, the most resistant stomach-proof. But digestion is guaranteed. At the end of the meal the ideal remedy is a little glass of "nanassino", a strong elixir which skilful hands took from the pulpy prickly pears which dominate the rough landscape of this mountain village. Sweet, energetic liquor, created, it is said, in the magic alembics of the community of heretics who, in the Middle Ages took refuge in the woods of Furore. Or, more certainly, it is a cloister production, as its cousin the liquor "cuncierto", with a basis of barley and balsamic vegetables, distilled by the nuns of Pucara. Both appreciated by the most demanding palates, they have been, during the last years, emarginated by the rapidly increasing fashion of "limoncello", rosolio obtained from the yellow peels of the "sfusato" lemon of the coast Amalfi, which is the basical ingredient of a great part of the coast cuisine. The coast cuisine is not only linked to sweets. Cakes, babas, profiteroles and lemon "delights" surely deserve an honour mention, but an irresistible attraction for the gastronomes are surely the first and the second courses "seasoned" with the golden citrus fruit taken from the Arabs in order to convert the wild promontories vertical on the sea in flourishing Allah's gardens. Among the "sfusato" lemon specialities the first place is surely taken by the Conca style rabbit. Browned with white wine and cooked into the oven, cut and wrapped in lemon leaves, it is among the most successful inventions of the "cousine of the fishing fox", as it is metaphorically defined the encounter between the two souls of the Coast, the rural and the sea ones.
It is a union sealed, on june 13° by the unique saint patron who unites the shore of Conca to the rupestrial Tramonti: Saint Antony from Padova (Padua), invoked in his double authority of saving shipwrecked persons and harvests.
Lovers of the bed and table pleasures object of their cult, it is not merely a case, is Saint Pasquale Baylon, protector of women and cooks - the people from Furore have changed the austere Lent into a gastronomical feast, making the stock-fish, the humble fish of peasants, a kingly meal. The secret is all in the genial marriage between its tenderest parts with the brackish borage.
It is a marriage between "careniello and verraccia", blessed by the colour touch of the "sponzino", the rare specie of little tomato tasting sun and saltiness that here spontaneosly grows, diffusing itself along the hilly plots of ground as an enormous field of poppies. Preserved hanging from a thread all over the year, half-way through the spring, with its gaudy red which competes with the vermilion of the roofs, it is the luxuriant ornament of balconies and windows. The "sponzino", an orgy of the senses if it is tasted crashed on bread with a bit of oil and basil leave, or as in a salad, languidly wound itself to a soft mozzarella cheese from Tramonti, or a "caponata" with "freselle", aubergines in oil, capers and anchovies, it is fixed guest of all dishes of the Amalfi coast. Imported from beyond the ocean, it was soon adopted by the Amalfitans. Oriental spices and little tomatoes from the Americas therefore, in order to "let water go mad" and to deep into it for a few minutes, basses, "cocci" and "pezzogne" which on November 30° decorate the table od Saint Andrew, patron of Amalfi and fishers, and to render aphorodiasiac the very common chicken of the Lattari Mountains, an incredible metamorphosis, such as to let us think of a miracle of Saint Pantaleone. The latter is considered the guardian of Ravello to whom the most difficult Graces and the most different protectorates are attributed, even that of the spinsters who, with a big win in the lottery, want to provide themselves with a husband and a trousseau: a novena to the saint from Nicomedia before the miraculous melting of his blood, on july 27°, to win the tern which will allow the purchase of precious linens and silks, a farmyard winged animal to catch, with fork strokes, the most ricalcitrant bachelor.
The happiest union in the gastronomy of the Coast is that between tomato and maccheroni, a red party dress for the dish which is the pride of the place. Woe to whom speaks of China and Venice as regards that! Pasta, they say in Minori, was born under the shade of the Basilica of Saint Trofimena, with the so many variations invented by the fanciful pasta masters, one for each seasoning.
Intriguing names, sing-song singing like a nurse-rhyme: the so called "ndunderi" with ricotta cheese, celebrated together with the martyr from Minori on july 13°, "cavatielli" pasta with capers, sea-urchins poached in cheese and little balls of fat hen, paccheri with ragout, scialatielli with shell-fishes, cannelloni, respelle, laganelle with chick-peas, beans or mushrooms. They are called in Tramonti, laganelle of the dead, because they must be eaten on November 2° for the "dead celebration day", as heritage of the cult to the Lares of the Romans who were the first inhabitants of this windy land.
Maccheroni masters, the makers of pasta from Minori, Amalfi and Atrani, but even more of long cut pasta, diffused itself in the whole neighbourhood when, in the sixteenth century the quick mills in the valley of Mills were planted. Spaghetti, vermicelli, linguine are the most reliable partners of that precious liquid filtered from salted anchovies, which is called "colatura" and is the main course of the Supper on the Immaculate Conception Eve and on Christmas Eve.
The people from Cetara, as they affirm, are the only ones to have the secret of this piquant sauce which has got very noble origins, because it directly from the garum of the imperial Pompei. The legend tells of the occasional discovery, by the Cistercians of the convent of Saint Peter, of this infusion having a peculiar bouquet, which is inimitable. The typical Mediterranean "blue" fish, is necessarily the prevailing food of a poor menu in which the extras are represented only by vegetables and potatoes, some spices and a drop of oil. There is no Saint Peter's day, on june 29°, without the smell of mint and vinegar of the "scapece" of anchovies coming out from the boxes, no one excepted. Cocktail of mint and vinegar also for the course of the feast of the nearby Vietri Sul Mare which on june 21° celebrates Saint John the Baptist with the stuffed spleen, the favourite gluttony of Longobard and Norman Lords of Salerno. They loved, like their successors, the Swabians, Angevins and Aragoneses, to avail themselves with first class chefs and to eat delicious foods. If we only quote them they make our mouth water: chick-pea soup, yellow as golden, to be eaten on the New Year's Eve as omen of future richness, chestnut soup, to make vows to the big mother Cybeles, a stuffed vegetable soup to welcome the rerival of nature on Easter's Day and to celebraye, on August 10°, the tutor of the poor, Saint Lawrence, with the poors' gluttony. Endives, cabbages, "torzelle" and fennel, cultivated in the house orchards are boiled and "reinforced" on the day of the patron Saint, with cotechino, a salted pork bone, preserved in the cellar immediately after the pig has been slaughtered.
"Poverty sharpens wit", a famous proverb says and the inhabitants of the coast are champions in this. The masterpiece of their cooking skill is the "escaped fish" ('o pesc' fujut') which find two inimitable examples in the spaghetti with false clams where oil, garlic, parsley and sponzini tomatoes replace the lacking shell-fishes and in the squids with potatoes, which can vary according to the family's need and the quantity of fish caught. The happy wedding between shellfish and tuber has been consumed in Praiano where the "big American potato" has found its ideal habitat, so becoming the main ingredient of the limited menu. Potatoes all over the year, even on two celebration days, the first Sunday of july and on july 18°, Saint Luca's Day. Only the rich people could affort the luxury of candle cut potatoes with sausage ragout, sausages preserved in the lard, in order to be "sacrificed" in occasion of this religious solemnity. For the others, potatoes again, enriched, more or less, with squids. Calamaries still characterize the devotional cooking of the neighbouring Positano, modest fishers' village, before becoming a capital of wordly pleasures. The squids of the Assumption, browned by the fried mixture of eggs and flour, is the course with Positano celebrates the Madonna come from the sea who, after having long peregrinated, found shelter in this enchanted place, begging the mariners to put her on the beach by crying "Posa posa" (that mean "put put"). Here at midnight the women of the village start their competition to delight the most demanding palates with an irresistible temptation: soft sweet zeppolas to be eaten still hot while looking at the inevitable pyrotechnical show which is among the most suggestive ones of the whole coast.
Sweet offers to the Mother coming from afar to save the coastal villages from natural calamities and barbarian raids. Like Positano also Maiori, on August 15°, kneels down in front of the effigy of the Assumpted Madonna, mixing the scent of the incenses with the fragrance of chocolate which, in a tender hug with the delicate peels of citrus, lemon and orange, covers with voluptuous exotism the coarse aubergines. The candies, also tasted without anything else, are the jujube which makes the sweet pastry art of the Republic of Amalfi exclusive, that is that added value to sweets which have become the symbol of the gastronomy from Campania. The famous Neapolitan "pastiere" and "sfogliatelle" were born on the coast, thanks to housewives and nuns get used to prepare tasty pastries reriving the remnants with the addition of aromas and balms. On Easter, therefore, there is nothing better than sweetening the party table by recycling the "yeasterday's pasta" - because originally the pastiera was a black-pudding of maccheroni and seasoning it with a sweety ricotta cheese of the Lattari mountains, eggs, cinnamon, lard aromatized by a sprinkling of orange flower essence and candy fruit peels. King Ferdinand, a hearty eater like all Bourbons, had a weakness for it, but he was ready to go crazy for having a certified authentic "santarosa sfogliatella", because the overpaid pastry cookers from Vienna and Parigi were completely unable of reproducing the tasty stuffing prepared by the nuns of the convent of Saint Rosa at Conca Dei Marini in priest-cap shaped pieces, the only secret of which was perhaps the buttery ricotta cheese of Agerola. No privilege for the monarch, treated like the other benefactors. The authentic santarosas were given on August 30° in occasion of the celebration of the Virgin of Lima, the mystical patron of florists and gardeners. She is certainly the most representative saint of the Coast, a chromatic garden suspended between the sun and the sky.