Authentic Amalfi Coast

Here is the garden that I always seek in vain, like a perfect place from childhood. A memory that occurs tangibly above the depths of the sea, suspended on the leaves of the sumptuous orange and cedar trees in the hanging gardens of the convents.

This is how Salvatore Quasimodo described Amalfi in his “Elogio”

Amalfi Coast in short:

The Costiera Amalfitana, stretches along the eastern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula in Salerno province and can rightly be defined as a landscape of outstanding cultural value, thanks to the astonishing work of both nature and man. Its dramatic topography and historical evolution, has produced exceptional cultural and natural scenic values, Nature is both unspoiled and harmoniously fused with the results of man’s activity. The landscape is marked by rocky areas, wood and maquis, but also by citrus groves and vineyards, grown wherever human beings could find a suitable spot [Italian Ministry of Tourism]


Very ancient origins

The Amalfi Coast includes an area that extends for 11,231 hectares distributed among 14 municipalities, agricultural areas and three nature reserves.

The area has been populated since prehistoric times as evidenced by the remains dating back to the Paleolithic and Mesolithic found in Positano. Having become a Roman colony in the 4th century, the region has been intensely inhabited since the beginning of the Middle Ages.
Its natural border is the southern slope of the peninsula formed by the Lattari Mountains which, from the peaks of the Picentini Mountains to the Tyrrhenian Sea, separates the Gulf of Naples from that of Salerno.
It consists of four main coastal areas (Amalfi, Atrani, Reginna Maior, Reginna Minor) and some secondary areas (Positano, Praiano, Cetara, Erchie), with the characteristic villages of Scala, Tramonti and Ravello, and the municipalities of Conca and Furore.
Many of these historic centres, which flourished during the period of great power exercised by the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, host remarkable artistic and architectural masterpieces, some of which were born from the fusion of eastern and western elements, known as the “Arab-Norman” style.
The agricultural areas testify to the adaptability of its inhabitants, who have known how to make the most of the different types of land, cultivating the vineyards and orchards “on terraces” in the lower areas and practicing sheep farming at the top [source: Ministry of Tourism]
Long peasant traditions

The terraces are the distinctive and unique element of the landscape of the Amalfi Coast.

Over the centuries, it has been the hand of man that has made the profile of the mountain docile: the creation of dry stone walls, a true art handed down from father to son, has made tongues of lands blessed by the sun and mild climate cultivable.
A dense framework of pergolas supports the most popular crops grown in the area: that of lemons (the Amalfi sfusato, recognized in 2001 with the Protected Geographical Indication). And in the harvesting season, ships loaded with these delicious fruits left from the landings (a famous market was distant California).
65 percent of the total workforce was engaged in agriculture. An old adage gives the image of this economy: “One foot in the vineyard and one on the boat“, that is, farmers and fishermen at the same time.
The state of efficiency of the terraces is of fundamental importance for the conservation of the delicate hydrogeological balance of the slopes. This landscape structure of the Amalfi Coast was already praised by Boccaccio who in the 16th century described “The Amalfi Coast full of small towns, gardens and fountains“.
The organization of the terracing system allowed the use by gravity of the water which was intercepted on high ground and directed through the ladders and collection tanks towards the successive levels. Each terrace was connected through an intricate system of irrigation channels fed by streams, springs and rain collection tanks. And it is on this system that the urban centers are organized with the houses that have the terraces as a base.
Today unfortunately more and more abandoned with shrubs, disconnected macere, ancient paths swallowed up by spontaneous vegetation. But the terraces are the most ingenious invention that has ever been made. They stabilize the slope, avoiding landslides and ensure that the thickness of the soil retains humidity even if it does not rain for a long time.
Terracing is not only the supporting masonry, the land it contains, the crops, the water works, but a complex traditional technique which is the result of construction, hydraulic and agricultural knowledge applied in perfect understanding of the hydrogeological and climatic characteristics, capable of using appropriately the environmental resources and prevent their risks by creating a self-regulating system, endowed with aesthetic quality and integration with the landscape.

The steep orography of the Amalfi Coast makes the terrace the true protagonist of the whole organization of space: roof garden, design of the wooded buttresses, plot of the inhabited centers themselves.

These characteristics proclaimed by travelers and writers have given the area inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997, also the name of Divina Costiera [source]
Traditions and legends

The popular culture of the Amalfi Coast is full of legends that have been handed down over time.

Some of them are lost and live in the memories of wise elders who learned from their parents. Among these are the stories of the janare, the female witches who in the past lived in Conca dei Marini. There are no written documents about it, but their existence is part of a long oral transmission that today has become a narrative heritage in the possession of a few people.
Medieval figure, the name “Janara” (witch) is closely linked to Diana, the goddess of hunting, protector of nature. The janara, in fact, was capable of channeling the power of the goddess. However, there are many stories circulating about the mystery of these characters, sometimes mythical, but they all have a common denominator: they weren’t bad or malignant, but just mischievous.
Behind their every action, in fact, there was a matter of love. Conca dei Marini has always been a fishing village where men set off with their boats on long journeys, reaching even distant places. It is said that women, left alone, in pain of love, flew at night to reach their spouses [excerpt from the story of Authentic Amalfi Coast Bewitched by love. The legend of the Janare of Conca dei Marini]
The kitchen is extraordinary

Created in 1681 by a cloistered nun residing in the Santa Rosa Monastery, a former Dominican convent, today a luxury hotel, over the centuries it has become a Made in Italy culinary heritage: the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella of the Amalfi Coast.

Soft, crunchy and sometimes creamy. The sfogliatella is one of the sweet symbols of Neapolitan culture. It is the first treat that tourists from all over the world enjoy as soon as they arrive in Campania, and it is the souvenir they take home, to tastefully recall the culinary delights of the area.
From the United States to Japan, the fame of the curly has crossed the most distant borders, satisfying even the most demanding palates. Although the contemporary evolution of this specialty is clear, its original version seems to come from the Amalfi Coast, exactly from Conca dei Marini [excerpt from the story of Authentic Amalfi Coast The secret recipe of the Santa Rosa Sfogliatella from the Amalfi Coast]

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