Amalfi is a charming, peaceful resort town on Italy's scenic Amalfi Coast. In the centuries before Papal dominance of the Italian peninsula, Amalfi was one of the four powerful Maritime Republics and as a result, has a lot of historic sites. It's also incredibly scenic, with narrow alleyways that through the town up the slopes between the sea and mountains. Besides history and beauty, the town is noted for its good beaches and bathing establishments, historic resorts and hotels, lemon cultivation, and handmade paper.
The town of Amalfi is the heart of the Amalfi Coast southeast of Naples, as you can see on this Amalfi Coast Map. It's between the town of Salerno, a transportation hub, and the resort village of Positano.
Amalfi was one of the first Italian cities to emerge from the so-called "dark ages" after the fall of the Roman Empire. By the 9th century, it was the most important port in southern Italy. It's the oldest of the four great Maritime Republics (including Genoa, Pisa, and Venice), which lasted through the 12th century. Its military and trading power brought it great fame and influenced its architecture.
At its peak, the population of Amalfi was as high as 80,000 but several sackings by Pisa followed by the storm and earthquake of 1343, in which much of the old town slid into the sea, considerably diminished the population. Today it's home to only about 5,000 full-time residents, but its population soars in the summertime, when Italian and international travelers flock here for its beautiful sea and beaches, resort-like feel and picturesque setting.
Naples airport is the closest airport (see Italy airports map). There are 3 airport buses a day to Sorrento and from Sorrento, there are bus connections to Amalfi. The closest train station is in Salerno and buses connect it to Amalfi. There are hydrofoils or ferries from Naples, Sorrento, Salerno, and Positano, although they are less frequent during winter months. Buses connect all the towns along the coast.
If your first stop is Naples' Napoli Centrale station, there are a number of options for getting to Amalfi by train, bus, hydrofoil ferry or private transfer. For train and driving details see How to get from Rome to the Amalfi Coast.
Piazza Flavio Giola, on the sea, the port where there are buses, taxis, and boats. From there, one can walk along the sea on the Lungomare or to the beaches. Going up into town from the piazza, one gets to Piazza Duomo, the central square and heart of the town. From the piazza, a steep staircase leads up to the Duomo or going along Corso delle Repubbliche Marinare one gets to the tourist office, civic buildings and museum. Going up the hill from Piazza Duomo, one eventually reaches the Valley of the Mills with remains of water wheels used in papermaking and the papermaking museum.
What to See and Do
See our Amalfi Picture Gallery for photos of the duomo and town.
- Beaches. Amalfi's beaches are some of the best on the coast and there are several top-rate bathing establishments that rent beach chairs, umbrellas, and changing rooms. The water is crystal clear and great for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, or boating.
- Duomo di Sant' Andrea and Cloister of Paradise. These are excellent examples of medieval architecture with Moorish influence. The duomo is reached by an impressive staircase of 62 steep steps leading up from the main piazza. Mosaics decorate the exterior of the church. It's impressive bronze doors were made in 1066. Inside, the 9th-century basilica has Romanesque columns and frescoes. The Duomo itself is mainly an 18th-century baroque restoration, although you can still see a lot of Arab-Norman influence. The Duomo houses the richly decorated Crypt of St. Andrew. There's also a diocesan museum. The Cloister of Paradise, Chiostro del Paradiso, built in 1266, is a treasure of medieval architecture.
- Museo Civico. Inside the town hall is the Civic Museum. The Tavola Amalfitana, a book of maritime laws that was adopted around the Mediterranean, was written in Amalfi in the tenth century and is housed in the museum, as are a number of other historic relics.
- Museo della Carta. At the top of the town is the Paper Museum, highlighting the history of papermaking in the region.
- Valley of the Mills. Near the Paper Museum, the valley is set along a stream bed between the cliffs. There are mills that brought water to the paper workshops and some are still in operation. Continuing beyond the town, walks in the steep wooded hills take in waterfalls, springs, and occasional sea views.
- Shopping. Limoncello di Amalfi, a lemon liquor, is one of Amalfi's top products and can be found in local stores. High-quality handmade paper from Amalfi has been famous for centuries and is even used in the Vatican – you'll find it sold all over town. Amatruda is the oldest paper manufacturer in Europe and is open to visitors.
- Festivals. The Regatta of the Ancient Maritime Republics, a race with historic vessels, is held in Amalfi every four years. It's Amalfi's turn in 2020 and again in 2024. Amalfi is also a good place for Christmas and New Year's Eve celebrations.
Where to Stay and Eat
Hotels in Amalfi tend toward the four- and five-star categories, with a few solid three-star choices available. Two well-rated 3-star hotels in the center of town are Hotel Floridiana and L'Antico Convitto. Hotel La Bussola is an airy 4-star near the beach. If you want to posh out in Amalfi, Hotel Santa Caterina is a dramatically situated 5-star property on a cliff overlooking the sea, with an elevator connecting guests to a seaside pool and beach club.
Dining in Amalfi can range from home-cooking-style fare in a rustic, woodsy setting like that of Agricola Fore Porta, set above the town, 1 km from the nearest paved road, or high-end waterfront dining at modern Sensi, part of the Hotel Residence. Another popular choice for seafood and other local specialties is L'Abside, set on a quaint piazza in the old town.
Article updated by Elizabeth Heath.