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Amalfi, on the Surrentine peninsula, is an ancient town with a glorious history. It was, with Venice, Genoa and Pisa, one of Italy's four Repubbliche Marinare, Medieval naval republics whose power rivalled each other over the control of the Mediterranean. Amalfi became chronologically the first Repubblica Marinara, in the 9th century.
Amalfi's Maritime Code (Codice Marittimo, but better knows as Tavole amalfitane), was of great influence till as late as the 17th century.
Amalfi's splendour peaked in the 11th century, after which it went into a rapid decline: conquered by the Normans in 1131, it was sacked twice in 1135 and 1137 by the Pisans, and in 1343 it was hit by a storm and resulting seaquake which destroyed much of the town.
The tradition of the great Repubbliche Marinare is kept alive today during the Regata delle Antiche Repubbliche Marinare, a regatta held four times annually on the days of the patron saints of the naval republics - Amalfi, Pisa, Genoa and Venice - in which they compete as in ancient times, albeit only in rowing.
Today Amalfi, with 5,000 inhabitants, is the size of a village in the province of Salerno, in the region Campania, Southern Italy.
A special village, though, adorned by a grand Cathedral, Amalfi's most famous landmark, the Duomo in Arab-Sicilian style dedicated to the town's patron saint the apostle St Andrew. His body was brought in the 4th century from Constantinople and is now entombed in the Duomo.
The Cathedral is a great complex, and the current building is the result of several layers and additions of churches from different ages. Particularly remarkable are the bronze doors, made in Constantinople in 1066, with four silver tiles portraying Christ, the Virgin Mary, St Andrew and St Peter, and the panelled ceiling coated with pure gold.
On the Amalfi Coast, half an hour's drive from Amalfi along the coast is Positano, and half an hour from Amalfi driving inland is Ravello, both little towns of great beauty.
The Amalfi peninsula, coated in vineyards, citrus and olive groves, almond trees and bougainvillea, is a place of stunning beauty.
Costiera amalfitana, or Amalfi Coast, in 1997 has been declared by Unesco, the United Nations cultural organization, World Heritage of Humanity site.
Getting to Amalfi by air
The nearest airport to Amalfi is Naples International Airport Napoli Capodichino. From Naples Airport, you can take the train or the Alibus to central Naples and then from Naples Porto Immacolatella take the SITA coach service that goes directly to Amalfi. Or in the summer, once in central Naples Piazza Municipio, take the Metro del Mare hydrofoil from Molo Beverello to Amalfi and Positano, but it is more expensive. There is also the more comfortable and more pricey option of hiring a taxi or the more convenient option of hiring a car.
The simplest solution is to hire a car for your stay. It is better to rent your car in Naples rather than Sorrento, so that once you have arrived in Salerno, on the way back you can skip the whole trip back along the coast and drive directly from Salerno to Naples Airport in an hour on the autostrada (motorway). It is possible to collect a vehicle in Sorrento and return it in Naples, but not always.
If you travel by air, you have a choice of booking with an airline or a flight consolidator.
From the UK, the only direct non-stop flights to Naples are from London. The exception is Thomson Airways which flies non-stop to Naples Airport from London Gatwick, Birmingham, East Midlands, Newcastle, Manchester, Glasgow, and Bristol. The prices are reasonably low, with some return tickets under £100, and there are special offers.
From Ireland, there are direct flights with Aer Lingus at reasonable prices.
Travel and flight consolidators have information on many companies and operators and search the best flight for you. It is much cheaper to book flight and hotel, and possibly car hire, together with consolidators rather than reserving them separately.
From America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, an excellent consolidator with low airfares whose tagline is "Specializing in Cheap Flights From the US and Canada" is Flight Network .
From Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, the Aussie flight consolidator ZUJI Australia has the widest choice, best availability and cheapest fares.
From the USA, one of the best known and most popular consolidators is Expedia (USA) .
Getting to Amalfi by train, car & coach
BY TRAIN. The main railway station closest to Amalfi is the Stazione Centrale of Salerno, which has direct Eurostar and other fast train connections to Naples, Rome and northern Italian cities like Milan. From Salerno there are regular and frequent SITA coach services to Amalfi almost every hour.
Check Italian Rail for USA residents .
BY CAR. Coming from the north by car: from Rome take the motorway Al (also called "autostrada del sole", the most important Italian motorway, which connects the north to the south going through all the length of Italy), with direction south (Napoli) and, after leaving Napoli, take the motorway A3 Napoli - Salerno and follow the sign for route S.S. 163 Amalfitana, Cetara-Maiori-Minori-Amalfi.
Coming from the south by car: on the A3 motorway, take the exit of Vietri sul Mare, and follow the sign for route S.S. 163 Amalfitana, Cetara-Maiori-Minori-Amalfi. Or take the exit of Salerno Centro on the A30 Motorway.
BY COACH. There are direct daily bus services from Rome Stazione Tiburtina to Amalfi.
Find a hotel in Amalfi
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