The heart of the coast and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997, Amalfi dates back to the 4th century AD, when Roman refugees settled here. It reached its apex in 839 AD, when it declared its independence from the Byzantine Duchy of Naples, and became the first Maritime Republic in Italy. For centuries it was the only link between Europe and the whole of the Byzantine Levant. The first code of maritime laws, the Amalfian Laws, were compiled here, and remained in force until the 16th century. Amalfi also pioneered the use of the compass and circulated its own currency, the “tarì”.
Amalfi’s unique charm has always attracted artists, writers, painters, directors, and even one of the twelve apostles, Saint Andrew; the Cathedral, built in the 10th century, is dedicated to him, and his relics are kept in the Crypt.
Amalfi is enclosed in a natural amphitheater where the Canneto river runs through the lush Valle dei Mulini: here, water-powered paper mills transformed rags into precious paper. A 13th century paper mill now houses a fascinating paper museum.