The Amalfi Coast is famous all throughout Italy as being one of the absolute best vacation destinations. Located in the Campania region just an hour south of Naples, this beautiful coastline is home to an abundance of unmissable and unforgettable experiences. Before most tourists visit this lovely place, they first want to know some interesting facts about the Amalfi Coast.
Not only is there so much to see and do on the coast, but many of the coastline’s greatest features and attractions also have interesting facts and stories behind them. With this in mind, the following list details some of the most interesting facts worth knowing about what is commonly referred to as the “Divine Coast.”
The Mythology of Amalfi
Believe it or not, the origin of the Amalfi Coast can be traced all the way back to Homer’s Odyssey and even earlier to the Jason and the Argonauts myth. In these stories, the coast was the home of the “Sirens,” who lured sailors to their doom with an irresistible song. Actually, Sorrento comes from the Greek word Siren.
The town of Positano is also said to have been created by Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. As far as real history goes, not much remains from before the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The town of Minori is said to be the oldest on the coast, with the Villa Romana being dated to the 1st century AD.
A host of historic sights
Speaking of ancient sights, the Amalfi Coast has no shortage of spectacular historical architecture and artifacts worth checking out. There are 13 towns on the Amalfi Coast, any one of which will provide you with something interesting to see and do.
From ancient sites like the aforementioned Villa Romana Antiquarium in Minori to the Villa Rufolo in Ravello to unbeatable views from landmarks such as the Torre Dello Ziro and the Villa Cimbrone Gardens, to name just a few, both the natural and historical sites along the Amalfi Coast are sure to take your breath away and give you a deeper appreciation of life.
Worldwide known honeymoon destination
Amalfi Coast is one of the most famous honeymoon destinations in Italy. Not only do hundreds of thousands of couples pick this beautiful coastline as their love cave, but it is also one of the top go-to honeymoon spots for Hollywood celebrities. Jamie Oliver, Reese Witherspoon, Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, Lauren Conrad, and Kim Kardashian are notable names who have spent romantic evenings in this picturesque location.
Pirates were a big problem
From the 9th to 17th century, the coast was under constant attacks by pirates who came and killed everyone in the towns, stealing everything they could get their hands on. Even today, you can see the remains of ancient watchtowers sprinkled along the coast.
There are actually 30 towers that were used to defend against the Saracen pirates from North Africa. They were there to warn the locals that the pirates were coming by lighting a fire on top of the towers to gauge attention from other villages. This helped locals to take their valuables and run inland.
The road along the coast
The Strada Statale 163 Amalfitana (SS 163), also known as Amalfi Drive, is a road that runs along the coast between the towns of Sorrento and Amalfi. The ancient Romans originally built it, and it was restored in the 1830s. Even though the road is around 40 kilometers long, the Romans spent 150 years making this picturesque road.
The art of architecture
Italy is known worldwide for its incredible artistry and architecture, and there is no better example of this than on the Amalfi Coast. The layout of the towns themselves is a sight to behold as they cling picturesquely to the cliffside.
This is particularly true at nighttime when the cliffs light up and shimmer throughout the hills while sparkling brightly in the reflection of the sea. The bridges, archways, and tunnels sculpted throughout the landscape also must be seen to be believed, with the charming village of Atrani arguably being the best example of this.
Many beautiful churches
Perhaps the most interesting architecture found in Amalfi, though, comes in the form of its many churches and cathedrals. In a country that boasts of having some of the most beautiful churches in the world, the Amalfi Coast greatly contributes to the validity of this reputation.
Take the cathedral in Amalfi, for example. Built in the 9th and 10th centuries, it is one of the only cathedrals to feature Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Arab influences in its architecture. It is spectacular both inside and out and includes the artifacts of Saint Andrew, the Apostle of Jesus.
Local families and churches
Campania region is a very highly religious area. While driving around, you can see many little sanctuaries dedicated to different saints. However, Duomo di Amalfi is the most popular public church on the coast. Still, in the past, some locals built their own churches as a sign of showing dominance and wealth. Nowadays, those churches don’t exist anymore, but they are turned into shops and hotels.
Buildings filled with sand
Positano is full of charming houses with white domes that are filled with sand. Sand is a better insulator than soil with a high clay content. Furthermore, it is also very affordable and a great material to keep those houses warm in winter and cool in summer.
Tuna from the Amalfi Coast
Did you know that tuna fish caught in the sea around the coast are sold to Japan for sushi? Well, you read it right. Even though Japan is known for its seafood cuisine and sushi dishes, they don’t always have top-quality fish in their waters.
Therefore, they get some more quality tuna fish from the Amalfi Coast to make different and more exclusive types of sushi. Besides tuna, anchovies from Cetara are very recognizable and popular and, therefore, delivered all around the world.
Limoncello and lemons
The lemons that grow everywhere on the coast are called Sfusato d’Amalfi or Limone Costa d’Amalfi. This huge, aromatic citrus fruit has a long history behind it, which began in the 11th century. In fact, it was essential for sailors during long sea trips to prevent seasickness.
Nowadays, the lemon is one of the symbols of this region, and it is used in various local dishes and sweets. There is also a popular alcoholic drink called Limoncello that is made from lemons. It is one of the most popular liquors in Italy and the most recognizable souvenir from the Amalfi Coast.
The combination of earth, fire, and handcraft skills is what makes the art of ceramics possible. And the Amalfi Coast is one of the most famous destinations in Italy for manufacturing ceramics. This is mostly because of the cliffs that are rich in red European clay and volcanic materials. While walking along the streets in coastal towns and villages, you will see many shops that sell ceramics. You can always buy some pieces to remind you of the times spent on the Amalfi Coast.
The Path Of The Gods
You can’t talk about the Amalfi Coast and not mention the Path Of The Gods hiking trail. According to the myth, the Greek gods forged this path to save Ulysses from the sirens. Today, it is the most popular hike on the Amalfi Coast, thanks to the awe-inspiring view from its viewpoints.
There are over 70 hiking trails throughout the Amalfi Coast and the surrounding Lattari Mountains. Many of them are easily walkable, have cafes and restaurants en route, and contain ancient ruins to explore.
The Island of Capri
Although Capri is technically not actually located on the Amalfi Coast, nevertheless, it is still by far one of the most interesting locations in the nearby area. Every year, thousands of tourists flock to the gorgeous island, which happens to be completely made from limestone, believe it or not. Known for its lemon scent and dating its origin as a holiday destination back as far as the ancient Greek era, the island of Capri is a place of many wonders.
From signature Caprese cuisine to incredible landmarks such as the Blue Grotto and the Monte Solaro, Capri has plenty to discover along the way. Not to mention, the island is also easily reachable by boat from many of the towns along the Amalfi Coast, so there really is no good reason not to visit Capri.
Inventors of maritime law
Unwritten maritime law was practiced for centuries, but it was in Amalfi that one of the first written codes of maritime law was introduced. Known as the Amalfitani Tables, it regulated laws between shipowners and shipmates, sailors and merchants.
Due to its location, the Amalfi Coast has a longstanding history of sailing and trading with ancient cultures such as Arab, African, and Sicilian nations. Due to this success on the seas, the Amalfi region is also credited with perfecting the navigation compass.
Amalfi town was an independent republic
After Rome fell, the town of Amalfi emerged as an independent Republic. It claimed its independence from the Byzantine Empire and competed with Genoa and Venice in a trading fleet that controlled the region. As we mentioned above, Amalfi town invented maritime law, and it even had its own coins!
However, in 1343, Amalfi was devastated by a tsunami which destroyed its maritime power. Shortly after the tsunami, the town was hit with a tragic plague and, to this day, never gets back its power and independence.
Inventors of pizza
Even though the city of Naples is credited as being the inventor of pizza, its origins can actually be traced back to the town of Tramonti. It was here where sailors of the Amalfi Coast were provided with a special type of dehydrated bread seasoned with spices that could be stored for months on ships without spoiling.
Over the years, the recipe was exported to other Italian regions, where ingredients such as tomatoes and mozzarella were added. With most Italian families having an oven, garden, and cows available, pizza quickly became one of the country’s most popular dishes.
Inventors of cappuccino
Again, the invention of the cappuccino has been credited elsewhere, but its origins can be traced to the hills of Amalfi. It was here when a Capuchin monk named Marco D’Aviano was said to be the very first to add hot milk to coffee, creating the drink that centuries later would take over the world.
Luxurious and unique accommodation
If you are looking for a luxury type of vacation, this region is the perfect fit. There are many 5-star hotels that offer unique and memorable service along with breathtaking views. Besides, there are numerous villas that are the best for a more private vacation. But Amalfi Coast also has unique accommodations for those who want something new.
One of those is the Capuchin Convent, a hotel that was once used as a monastery for the monks living on the Amalfi cliffs. The monastery was built in 1214 and was later given to the Capuchin monks in 1583, who stayed in the monastery for more than 200 years and restored the old building. Since 1885, you can sleep in this beautiful convent built into the cliffside and have one of the most unique experiences on the coast.
Popular filming location
Because of its beauty, mild climate, and wonderful architecture, Italy is one of the most popular filming locations in the world. While most movies in Italy are shot in popular cities like Rome, Venice, and Florence, the Amalfi Coast become a more popular filming location in recent years. Ever watched the well-liked Wonder Woman movie? If so, do you remember the gorgeous Amazon island of Themyscira, which was shot on the Amalfi Coast?
No train zone
If you love traveling by train, you will be a bit disappointed with this fact. Even though the coast attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists every year, it doesn’t have trains, so the bus is your only public transportation option, along with ferries. If you travel by train from Rome or Naples, keep in mind that the last stop is in Sorrento.
The oldest village on the Amalfi Coast
Scala, a small village near Ravello, is believed to be the oldest village on the Amalfi Coast. The legend says that it was founded in the 4th century by some Roman shipwrecks headed for Constantinople. Nowadays, you can discover the remains of medieval walls that protected the village during the Middle Ages and explore tiny picturesque streets.
The smallest town in Italy
Atrani is a small authentic town next to Amalfi town, has a surface area of only 0.12 kilometers, making it the smallest in the whole of Italy! This lovely village also holds the record for the smallest municipality in the area. However, it isn’t recognizable by mass tourism, so the village is perfect for those who want to experience authentic Italian life or get away from crowds. Besides, Atrani has wonderful medieval architecture and a lovely beach that is also worth checking out.
Twin of Sorrento
Some say Sorrento is part of the Amalfi Coast, but actually, this popular town is located in the Bay of Naples. However, many tourists visit this town while exploring the coast, so it is often mentioned in the same context as the Amalfi Coast. Did you know that there is another Sorrento in Australia? Well it is also a seaside resort that overlooks Port Phillip Bay and is a very popular vacation destination in the summer months. Still, Australian Sorrento is kind of a different town characterized by large sandy beaches and modern homes.
A UNESCO Heritage Site
The Amalfi Coast became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. UNESCO is a specialized organization that aims to protect and preserve both natural and cultural sites around the world. With its abundance of historic attractions and stunning natural landscapes, it is easy to see why the Amalfi Coast was added to the list.
Bonus Amalfi Coast facts
If you want some more fun facts about the Amalfi Coast, here are two of them. Firstly, did you know that Amalfi was one of the first producers of paper? Well, it is widely known for the local hand-crafted thick paper that has been produced since the Middle Ages. There is even a small but unique and well-preserved museum dedicated to the art of paper-making, which is worth visiting.
Secondly, if you want to try unique and cool new staff, try Colatura di Alici in Cetara. It is a liquid produced from salted anchovies and used by the Ancient Romans as a dressing for all their food. It is traditional there to have a Christmas fish supper complete with this peculiar sauce.
Check out more of our articles about the Amalfi Coast:
- Best Towns on Amalfi Coast
- Best Beaches on Amalfi Coast
- Best pizza in Amalfi Coast
- Best Airbnb in Amalfi Coast
- Best Amalfi Coast beach clubs
- Best Amalfi Coast wineries
- Best Amalfi Coast cooking classes
- Best Amalfi Coast camping sites
- Best Amalfi Coast wedding venues
- Things to do on Amalfi Coast at night
- Where to park on Amalfi Coast?
- How safe is the Amalfi Coast?
- Is the Amalfi Coast expensive?
- What is the closest airport to Amalfi Coast?