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Top Six Wonders Of Campania Which Must Be Seen: Amalfi & Cappuccini Convento

Updated on October 24, 2009

Amalfi

 

Situated in a narrow but extremely evocative point at the outlet of the Valle dei Mulini, Amalfi, once one of the most ancient Maritime Republics in Italy, is today a renowned holiday resort and one of the great delights of Southern Italy. Encircled by craggy mountains and magnificent sheer precipices which descend steeply towards the sea, the town is embroidered by pastel-washed houses, and tiled cupolas weaving through picturesque alleys.

The most important and famous monuments of the town; the Tower, the splendid villas, the ancient convents and the polychrome dome of the Duomo, emerge here and there, crowned by a lush landscape, like flowers in one of its many splendid gardens.

The name of the town originates from "Melphe", a settlement founded around the fourth century A.D. near Palinuro according to tradition, by shipwrecked Romans during a journey to Constantinople. They later moved to the Gulf of Salerno and originated a new town, which being founded by those who came from Melphe, took the name of A-Melphes, which is the Amalfi of today.

Amalfi was dominated by the Byzantines from 553 to 838. In the seventh century Amalfi was governed, like Venice, by its own set of Doges. It was recognized at that time as the first naval power in the world. At the dawn of the eleventh century, Amalfi reached the peak of its power. Throughout the Mediterranean, maritime trade was governed by the famous Amalfi Tables, laws which were drawn up by the wise men of the town and which are currently kept in the civic museum.

Around 1070 Amalfi began to decline. In 1101 the town came into the hands of Roger the Norman who guaranteed it a certain degree of independence. Ironically, the sea also contributed to the fall of Amalfi. In 1343 the fury of its waters washed away almost half of the town. Amalfi, this time, did not manage to recover, and in 1461 the King of Naples, Ferdinand I, came into power which shifted the base of influence to the city to its north.

Amalfi's Cathedral, dedicated to St. Andrew, and approached by a lofty flight of steps, is one of the most beautiful religious monuments in Southern Italy. To the left of the Duomo is the delicate Chiostro del Paradiso (Paradise Cloisters) built in 1266 as a cemetery for the more illustrious citizens of Amalfi. The interlacing arches of geometrically designed white marble are a delight to behold.

   

Hotel Cappuccini Convento

 

Overlooking the marvellous bay of Amalfi, the Hotel Cappuccini Convento prides itself for its extremely ancient origins. During the fifth century, when the Republic of Amalfi, as well as Genova, Venice and Pisa, were competing fiercely to gain the rule over the Mediterranean Sea, below Mount Falconcello there existed a Chapel dedicated to San Pietro a Tuczolo.

In 1212 Cardinal Pietro Capuano patronized the restoration of the Chapel and the construction of the Monastery as well as the cloister with the magnificent Arab-Norman peristyle. It then remained under the care of the Cistercensian Monks at first and of the Capucines later, symbolizing a stronghold of faith until 1536, when it was abandoned.

At the end of the 17th century Gregorio Vozzi began the restoration of the entire complex, and in 1921 converted it into a Hotel, which was inherited in 1937 by his great-grandson Giuseppe Aielli, Count of Vallefiorita. The same family is still running the Hotel, considered to be one of the jewel members of the Italian Associations of Historical Houses.

The terrace of the monastery is famous for its breathtaking view and is, undoubtedly, one of the most frequently portrayed views in the world of arts. If during your evening dinner, you should happen to witness the rise of the moon, incomparably red, you might experience the feeling of Stendhal's syndrome, and understand why Richard Wagner preferred to spend the night on the terrace, instead of joining his wife in the room. The Hotel features 48 rooms and six suites. The rooms, were once the friars' cells, are now provided with the utmost comforts and are located in a beautiful park, surrounded by a lemon orchard.

The Cloister carefully restored, has become the center of all Conventional activities, and certainly is the most unique convention room in the world. The "Cappuccini Golden Book" proudly contains the inscriptions of many famous writers, artists, members of Royal families and many other persons of great historical importance, all of whom loved to spend their holidays in this enchanting corner of the Amalfi Coast, including Samuel F. Morse, Theodore Roosevelt, Ibsen, Wagner, Longfellow, D'Annunzio, the Princess Victoria, The Duke of York, and Salvatore Quasimodo. After a two month's stay at the Cappuccini Sitwell wrote before leaving: "He who has not seen the Cappuccini has not seen Amalfi; he who has not seen Amalfi has not seen Italy".

Continued In: Top Six Wonders Of Campania Which Must Be Seen: Ravello & Naples

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