We woke up to a dusting of snow this morning, but spring is almost upon us here in Toronto. It has been a tough winter with the constant greyness. Give me cold weather but as long as the sun is shining. I love winter the most when the sun is reflecting off crisp white snow – not the brown and ugly slush we get in the city. I do miss skiing. But, I am looking forward to saying goodbye to old man winter. Obviously, my thoughts have turned to warmer places we’ve visited and this time, I’d like to return to one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to – the Amalfi Coast and that little town called Amalfi.
The drive alone along the coast was both breathtaking and scary at times. I remembered to sit on the correct side of the bus to get the full effect of being scared shitless as I looked out of the window and down into the abyss of a sheer cliff drop! Haha! But, it was an experience I would gladly do again. So after the drive that snaked along the side of the mountains, passing charming towns like Positano and admiring the scenery, we came to Amalfi.
Amalfi is a coastal town about 47 kilometres or 29 miles southeast of Naples. It was a prosperous independent republic, playing an important role in the Mediterranean trade since the 7th century. The oldest maritime code, the Tavole Amalfitane originated in Amalfi. However, it started declining in importance after it was attacked by the King of Naples in the early 12th century. Today, it is a popular resort. The first photo below is a view of Amalfi from the water. Isn’t it charming? There’s an awesome panoramic view of Amalfi here. Let’s take a quick look around…
The Piazza Duomo is the centre of Amalfi. I took the photo below with my back to Saint Andrew’s Cathedral. In the centre of the piazza is the fountain of St. Andrew. I don’t know why I forgot to take a photo of it but here’s a photostream of the piazza on Flickr which will give you a good idea of what it’s like in this piazza. Don’t forget to get your bottle of Limoncello!
Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Amalfi. The Amalfi Cathedral, also known as Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, is located above the Piazza Duomo. You can reach it by a staircase which looks a little daunting at first, but there are only 62 steps. Right away, you’ll notice the striped marble and stone facade. The effect is quite striking.
The Crypt of St. Andrew
If memory serves me correctly, if you walk to the left once you reach the top of the stairs, it leads to the Cloister of Paradise and the Basilica of the Crucifix (which by the way display some wonderful treasures which you’ll see below), you will find a flight of stairs that leads to the crypt. It holds relics (the preserved head and other bones) of St. Andrew that were brought by Cardinal Pietro Capuano from Constantinople during the 4th crusade. I couldn’t help but compare this crypt to the one of St. Francis which I wrote about on an earlier post. The crypt is ornately decorated in the Baroque style and includes a bronze statue of St. Andrew, sculpted by the artist Michelangelo Naccherino (a pupil of the none other than Michelangelo Buonarroti himself).
Cloister of Paradise (Chiostro del Paradiso)
The cloister, built between 1266 and 1268, was used as a burial ground for the nobility of Amalfi. Can you see the Moorish influence in those columns? The architecture is not the only treasure here. You’ll find various sarcophagi and inlaid mosaics.
This view of the bell tower was from the middle of the northern side of the cloister. Stunning isn’t it? The bell tower, which dates back to 1180-1276, is decorated with multi-coloured tiles.
This next part of the Cloister is a chapel decorated with fresco by Roberto d’Oderisio, a student of Giotto. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the entire fresco so I have to defer to naviquan.com here. The fresco depicts Christ in the foreground, the suffering of Virgin Mary, John, Mary Magdalene, and the soldiers in Angevin armour.
The Basilica of the Crucifix
The Basilica of the Crucifix, which dates back to 596 AD, is now a museum. I’ve included some of the treasures you’ll find below.