For more than 65 years Ravello has been the theater of one of the most important music festivals in Italy. People get together on the first week of July and the festival lasts until the end of the month, with a set of classical music concerts of absolute prestige organized in the buildings of the splendid Villa Rufolo mentioned earlier. The program, which takes place inside the magnificent Oscar Niemeyer Auditorium, is particularly dense and recently it started to include modern music, such as concerts of the best jazz players in the world, as well as selections of foreign folk music.
In 1073 Amalfi was conquered by the Normans, and in 1131 became part of the Kingdom of Sicily. The Middle Ages saw hard times hit the region–the population dwindled as Amalfi’s trade was limited to only parts of Southern Italy, and in an outbreak of plague in 1638 lost nearly a third of its population.
Founded by the Romans (its coat of arms bears the inscription Descendit ex patribus romanorum), Amalfi becomes a great city around the IX century, when it becomes one of the Maritime Republics. In competition with Genoa, Venice and Pisa, for the power over the Mediterranean Sea, it was perhaps the major of the Republics, the one that managed to circumvent the Arab supremacy in the shipping business, thanks to an intense trade with Byzantium and Egypt. This was the period of the Tables of Amalfi, the Maritime Code that remained in force until 1600, which contains the rules and regulations that should govern the traffic of goods and life on board ships.
Amalfi is nowaday the most popular resort of Amalfi Coast, the historical, cultural and tourist center of this beautiful paradise. Amalfi is the heart of transport services by sea and by land for the Amalfi Coast, towards the Gulf of Naples, the islands of Ischia and Capri, Salerno and the Cilento coast: from Piazza Flavio Gioia, buses and ferries depart to all destinations. Spectacular boats and yachts from all the oceans of the world, dock at the port of Amalfi. The restaurants and hotels in Amalfi are meeting places rather than accommodation available to tourists.
Amalfi lies at the end of the valley dug by the river Chiarito, and is a spectacular example of human adaptation to nature: houses, churches, monuments, public and private buildings are perched on the crest of a totally hilly land.
The main square of Amalfi is Piazza Flavio Gioia, which overlooks the harbor and is the starting point of the promenade. Amalfi is a historic city: most of the old houses and buildings were destroyed over the centuries, but some of them still exist and hold a great value. Starting from the Duomo: from the square with the Baroque fountain of St. Andrew at the centre, begins the stairway leading to the entrance of the main church of Amalfi. The Duomo, in Arab-Sicilian style, dates back to the IX century, but several changes have been made in the Middle Ages and Baroque period.
Inside the navy yards, located in the area of Porta Marina, ships of the Maritime Republic were once built: these were the warships known as Sagene and merchant vessels called Teridi or Buctio. Of particular historical interest are also the Paradiso Cloister and the Paper Museum. The former, dating back to 1266, housed within the Church of the Assumption, was the cemetery for illustrious citizens of Amalfi. The Cloister, connected to the archbishop’s palace, is now a beautiful garden that still treasures sarcophagi belonging to different families and people in the city.
The Paper Museum of Amalfi, in Via Delle Cartiere, is an important homage to the ancient papermaking activity in the city: around 1700, there were some 15 paper mills in Amalfi. The museum, built by entrepreneur Nicholas Milano, is a museum-laboratory where it is still possible to make sheets of paper and observe the ancient windmills pumped by the force of the river Chiarito. The Civic Museum of Amalfi, located on the Town Hall Square, showcases objects and documents of the town’s history, artifacts, relics and other sacred objects saved from looting. Among the most important documents preserved in the Museum, is one of the few original copies of the so called “Tabula Amalphitana” a maritime code created in 1400
Amalfi, Maritime Republic from 1st of September 839, was one of the most important centres of Mediterranean in the Middle Ages, representing the meeting point between East and West thanks to warehouses that was able to build in various seaports. These contacts made it so big to join around itself a territory, Amalfi dukedom, which swept from Vietri sul Mare as far as Capri isle, and it intervened to defend southern Italy and Papacy against saracenic attacks, excepting stipulating in a second moment diplomatic agreements with them to obtain trade facilities. With Maritime Republic decline the territory became feud of big families who carried on making both town and dukedom big from the architectonic point of view. At the end of the feudal period inhabitants decided to buy the whole dukedom and also in Amalfi rose the public University (the town hall).