It is amazing that just few kilometres far from the frenetic life of the offices and the traffic congested streets of the city centre of Salerno, separated from a cordon of bends and hairpin bends overlooking the sea, exists a world of old fishermen’s hamlets, of little coloured houses on the coast, of creeks and protected natural areas, but above all of places where the history of our country has been made.
The first Maritime Republic
Amalfi is the fist, the most important between the Maritime Republics and the most ancient one. Between the IX and the XI century Amalfi held the control of maritime traffics in the Mediterranean Sea, and exactly in Amalfi it has been written the most ancient Italian maritime statute “The Amalfi Tables”: the code that ruled the traffics and the trades in the sea, and that outlines the first basic document of rights and duties of the members of the crew.
Since 1955, every year the ancient rivalry between Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice repeats, thanks to the “Regatta of the ancient Maritime Republics”, a regatta in perfect medieval style followed by the parade of people wearing the traditional dresses. The boats are built following the models of the 12th century, rowing galleons painted respecting the traditional colours of the maritime cities: light blue for Amalfi, red for Pisa, white for Genoa and green for Venice.
In the past the Amalfi sailors had great quantities of “sfusato” lemon to face the lack of vitamin C during the long periods they spent in the sea, today we do the same having a lemon water ice in one of the typical small kiosks that we find in the corners of Amalfi alleys to go then to the Cathedral to discover its majestic beauty known all over the world.
Art, history, culture and tradition
Dedicated to Saint Andrea, saint patron of the city, the Amalfi Cathedral is actually a historical complex made of the Church of SS. Crocifisso, the Cathedral, the Bell Tower and the Paradise Courtyard, where we can find centuries of history and art, there is also the bronze gate forged in the 2nd century coming from Constantinople and the present façade built in the 19th century by the Neapolitan architect Errico Alvino.
In Amalfi you can breathe the medieval origins not only in the sea and in the monuments, but also in the heart of the city, from the Mills Valley where there were the paper mills where it was produced a particular and very precious kind of paper “the cotton wool paper”, with a technique learned from the Arab people and spread by the Amalfi merchants when they were back form their trips all around the Mediterranean seas.
It is not a simple paper, but it is the result of a mush of linen, cotton and hemp rags transformed into sheets thanks to particular loom made of bronze and brass strings. Unfortunately, the 1954 flood destroyed a great part of the paper mills sparing only three and today one of them has become the “Amalfi Museum of the Paper” where there is the exhibition of the ancient machines and the old texts about the techniques of this precious production by craftsmen.
After this beautiful trip in the history and art, between the sea breeze and the smell of lemons, we go back to Salerno even prouder of our wonderful region.
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