The Amalfi Coast in Italy is renowned as one of the most beautiful regions the country has to offer, with endless sea views, dramatic coastlines and a plethora of picturesque towns and villages. A trip to the Amalfi Coast provides everything you could ever want from a quintessentially Italian holiday and then some, including sun, sea and sand. However, did you know the famous coast was also a historical haven, home to some of the most interesting and significant pieces of Italian history? We’ve put together a guide to some of the best historical attractions for culture lovers to see and do during a stay in our luxury holiday villas on the Amalfi Coast, so you can enjoy an authentic Italian experience on your next escape to this beautiful part of the world.
Salerno Cathedral and Museum
A pretty port city with a story, Salerno was the seat of the Facist government during World War II. The bombing that followed in 1943 left just the cathedral, a few arches of a Roman aqueduct and the Castello di Arechi on the hill, which was already in ruins. Walking through the streets of Salerno, you will notice the lasting effects the war had on the town, but that doesn’t take away from its rich history. The Cathedral of San Matteo is home to the remains of one of Italy’s most important relics, Evangelist Matthew. Points of interest include the impressive bronze doors which were made in Constantinople in 1099, the two 12th-century pulpits with intricate mosaic décor and the chapel to the right of the high altar which is the tomb of Pope Gregory VII who died in 1085. Once you’ve finished at the cathedral, head straight to the Museo Archeologicio which holds some more fascinating artefacts.
Chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta, Positano
Positano is a pretty, sleepy town on the Amalfi Coast and is home to one of the most iconic churches in southern Italy. You may recognise the exterior as the church is one of the most popular places to tie the knot in this region, and chances are if you’re there for a few days you’ll see a wedding party yourself. The church is well-known for a 13th-century Byzantine Black Madonna and Child above the main alter – an icon that was supposedly stolen by pirates from Constantinople and smuggled to the west. The church includes a crypt underneath that not only provides a cool, refreshing break from the sun, but features some fascinating exhibits all year round. Anyone staying or visiting Positano can also take the pleasant, easy-going walk to the Dukedom of Amalfi and the Torre dello Ziro, one of several towers dotted along the coastline which was once used to identify the approach of Saracen ships.
For slightly more modern history, make your way past the churches of San Francesco and Santa Chiara, both worth visiting if you have time, before arriving at Villa Cimbrone. Here, not only will you find unparalleled views of the Amalfi Coast and gorgeous flower gardens bursting in colour, but also an array of fountains, columns, statues, temples and other architectural elements from ruins in this area and beyond. The collection actually belonged to an English Lord who brought the villa in 1904, and incorporated artefacts of historical significance with beautiful gardens for a fantastic place all visitors will enjoy.
Duomo di Sant’Andrea
Atop a sweeping 62-step staircase sits Amalfi’s impressive cathedral, which was originally built to house the relics of St Andrew the Apostle. The interior consists of baroque-style architecture and there are notable statues along the altar as well as some fascinating mosaics from the 12th and 13th-century. The cathedral was first constructed next to an older cathedral and the Basilica del Crocefisso remains in operation today as a museum, which is well worth exploring during your visit.
Villa Rufolo, Ravello
The beautiful gardens here are the inspiration of Wagner’s magic garden of Klingsor in Parsifal, and within moments of stepping inside it won’t be difficult to see why. The villa itself was built in the 13th century and grew larger and larger with each generation until it was thought to have more than 300 rooms. Most of the building now lies in ruins but has been made into impressive garden features with the restored portions usually used for art exhibits. The oldest part of the villa that remains is the 30m watch tower and the unique nature of the grounds is now used for concerts, including a large music festival in the summer. Idle away your afternoon exploring the ruins and imagining what life was once like for the generations that lived here whilst enjoying expansive views of the coast.
That concludes our list of five historic points to visit during your next holiday to the Amalfi Coast. For those looking forward to a holiday to this beautiful part of the world, check out our other recent blogs, 6 Unique Things to Do on the Amalfi Coast and 7 Days on the Amalfi Coast. If you have any questions at all, or would like to discuss your requirements for a villa, please don’t hesitate to contact the team here at Quality Villas today.
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