We leave behind Capo d’Orso and its beautiful beaches to reaquaint ourselves with the curves before reaching the long beach of Maiori, the largest in this part of the Amalfi Coast. Today the city is very well equipped for the tourism industry, which has of course distorted the original beauty a bit, but there are still opportunities to take a step back in time to when, with the birth of the Amalfi Republic, the city was home to several arsenals and the Admiralty, as well as the Customs House and Salt deposit.
Click HERE to read the first part of our mini-guided tour to visiting the Amalfi Coast.
It seems among other things that it was in the arsenals themselves that the name ‘Tramontana’ was born, the word used in Italian to indicate the wind coming from the north, taking the name from the nearby town of Tramonti, from which the wind came funneled by the valley. And if you want to extend your visit, here is a proposal among many of a visit created especially for those wishing to explore the castles and fortifications of Maiori: HERE. Another curiosity about Maiori is linked to the film “Paisa” by Roberto Rossellini, which was shot mainly here, in spite of the fact that it is a film that traces the advance of the allies from Sicily to the north. In the Norman Tower the Sicilian scene was filmed and the street urchin from the Neopolitan scene was actually a boy from Maiori who happened to be wandering around the set in those days. It was Federico Fellini, then assistant director, who chose the local boy to star in this particular scene.
But it’s already time to leave again, and a few turns later, proceeding in the direction of Amalfi, you will see Minori, which once upon a time was just a small fishing village.
In the past it was an active center of production of handmade pasta, before everything was transferred to Gragnano, but the memories of the bounty of the land are still alive here today. From the famous lemons growing on the terraces, which were sculpted from the hillsides by the tenacity of the local farmers, to the sweet delicacies of the area, led by the well-known confectioner by the name of Sal De Riso (taste the eggplant with chocolate at least once before you die!) and the typical ndunderi, a sort of giant dumpling with ricotta cheese in the dough that still are one of the specialties of Minori today, you will not find it hard to understand why the city is the proud owner of the title of City of taste (Città del gusto). Do not miss a walk through the charming narrow streets, a visit to the Basilica of Santa Trofimena and the splendid Roman villa dating back to the 1st AD, a confirmation of how even the wealthy Romans knew how to appreciate the beauty of these places a couple of millennia ago.
By continuing for some kilometers, and turning right climbing your way up the mountain, you can enjoy some clear examples of the splendor of these places throughout history. Just take a trip to Ravello to breathe the history and culture, and enjoy both the stunning scenery and the architecture of its beautiful villas.
From the 11th century Cathedral to a tour of incredible palaces, like Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone, you can breathe the same air that has fascinated and inspired artists throughout history, and still makes Ravello a place which attracts celebrities of all kinds, as well as crowds of future husbands and wives who select it as the “beautiful setting” for their special day.
And if you are not lucky enough to dine at one of the two Michelin-starred restaurants located in Ravello – ‘Rossellinis’ and ‘Il Flauto di Pan’, who along with four other Michelin-starred restaurants in the area make these 40 kilometers of Amalfi a real oasis of gastronomic taste – you can console yourself with the many other proposals that this place has to offer. Here you’ll find every thing you need: the beauty of nature, the wonders of the architecture and works of art, so all you have to do is let yourself go, relax and enjoy.
Let’s go back to the coast, and head towards Amalfi. We will stop just before, Atrani, where you can find the house of the maternal family of Masaniello, and a cave that was apparently used by the hero of the Neapolitan revolt of 1647 to hide from soldiers of the viceroy of Naples. Here you can see very tangible signs of the fishing village that it was in the past, with the town square that still has direct access to the beach, well protected from storm surges, which was used to keep the fishing boats safe.
Atrani is an ideal place to stop before diving in the uber-tourist hotspots of Amalfi and Positano. Just a short visit will conjure up images of the past when the inhabitants of these places mainly supported themselves by fishing and crafts: Atrani was particularly known for its precious fabrics. Today it is a village well worth preserving: a little gem, and it’s a real pleasure to stroll through its narrow streets, between the houses resting one top of each other.
Originally published in Italian
Translation and adaptation for English by Ciarán Durkan