Salerno & Amalfi Coast-Campania
|Amalfi is a town and commune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno, 24 miles southeast of Naples. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 meters, 4,314 feet), surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The town of Amalfi was the capital of The Maritime Republic of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
See also Duchy of Amalfi and Archdiocese of Amalfi for the ecclesiastical history.
Amalfi is first mentioned in the 6th century, and soon acquired importance as a maritime power, trading its grain, salt and slaves from the interior, and even timber, for the gold dinars minted in Egypt and Syria, in order to buy the silks of the Byzantine empire that it resold in the West. Merchants of Amalfi were using gold coins to purchase land in the 9th century, while most of Italy worked in a barter economy. In the 8th and 9th century, when Mediterranean trade revived it shared with Gaeta the Italian trade with the East, while Venice was in its infancy, and in 848 its fleet went to the assistance of Pope Leo IV against the Saracens.
In 1073 it fell to the Norman countship of Apulia, but was granted many rights. A prey to the Normans who encamped in the south of Italy, it became one of their principal posts. However, in 1131, it was reduced by King Roger II of Sicily, who had been refused the keys to its citadel. The Holy Roman Emperor Lothair, fighting in favour of Pope Innocent II against King Roger of Sicily, who sided with the Antipope Anacletus, took him prisoner in 1133, assisted by forty-six Pisan ships. The city was sacked and Lothair claimed as part of the booty a copy of the Pandects of Justinian which was found there.
Amalfi was a populous city between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In 1135 and 1137, it was taken by the Pisans and rapidly declined in importance, though its maritime code, known as the Tavole Amalfitane, was recognized in the Mediterranean until 1570.
In medieval culture Amalfi was famous for its flourishing schools of law and mathematics. Flavio Gioia, who is traditionally considered the first to introduce the mariner's compass to Europe, is said to be a native of Amalfi.
In 1343 a large part of the lower town was destroyed by a tsunami, and its harbor is now of little importance.
The Amalfi coast is famed for its production of Limoncello liqueur and home-made paper used throughout Italy for wedding invitations.
|Salerno is a town that is the capital of the province of Salerno in Campania, south-western Italy,. Salerno is located on the gulf of the same name on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
The main town of the "Costiera Amalfitana" the part of the "Amalfi Coast on the Tyrrhenian, which includes famous towns of Amalfi, Positano, and others it is mostly known in recent history for having hosted the king of Italy, who escaped from Rome in 1943 after Italy negotiated a peace with the Allies in World War II. A brief so-called "government of the South" was then established in the town. Some of the Allied landings during Operation Avalanche (the invasion of Italy) occurred near Salerno.
The Roman city
Archaeological remains, although fragmentary, suggest the idea of a flourishing and lively city. Under Diocletianus, in the late third century AD, Salernum became the administrative centre of the Bruttia and Lucania province.
In the fifth century Salerno remained an important center under the Ostrogoth domination of Italy.
In the following century, during the Gothic Wars, the Goths were defeated by the Byzantines, whose domination however later lasted only fifteen years (from 553 to 568), before the Lombards invaded almost the whole peninsula. Like many coastal cities of southern city (Gaeta, Sorrento, Amalfi), Salerno initially remained untouched by the newcomers, falling only in 646. It subsequently became part of the Duchy of Benevento.
The Lombard city
In 774 Arechi II transferred the seat of the Duchy of Benevento to Salerno, in order to elude Charlemagne's offensive and to secure for himself the control of a strategic area, the centre of coastal and internal communications in Campania.
With Arechi II, Salerno grew to great splendour, becoming a centre of studies with its famous Medical School. The Lombard prince ordered the city to be fortified; the Castle on the Bonadies mountain had already been built with walls and towers. In 839 Salerno declared independent from Benevento, becoming the capital of a flourishing principality stretching out to Capua, northern Calabria and Puglia up to Taranto.
Around the year 1000 prince Guaimar IV annexed Amalfi, Sorrento, Gaeta and the whole duchy of Puglia and Calabria, starting to conceive a future unification of the whole southern Italy under Salerno's arms. The coins minted in the city circulated in all the Mediterranean, with the Opulenta Salernum wording to certify its richness.
However, the stability of the principate was continually shaken by the Saracen attacks and, most of all, by internal struggles. In 1056, one of the numerous plots led to the fall of Guaimar. His weaker son Gisulf II succeeded him, but the begin of the decline for the principality had begun.
Salerno under Normans, Hohenstaufen, and Anjou
Salerno played a conspicuous part in the fall of the Norman kingdom. After the Emperor Henry VI's invasion on behalf of his wife, Constance, the heiress to the kingdom, in 1191, Salerno surrendered and promised loyalty on the mere news of an incoming army. This so disgusted the archbishop, Nicholas of Ajello, that he abandoned the city and fled to Naples, which held out in a siege. In 1194, the situation reversed itself: Naples capitulated, along with most other cities of the Mezzogiorno, and only Salerno resisted. It was sacked and pillaged, much reducing its importance and prosperity. Henry had his reasons, though. He had entrusted Constance to the citizens and they had betrayed him and handed her over to King Tancred. Her combined treachery and stubbornness cost Salerno much after the Hohenstaufen conquest. Henry's son, Frederick II, moreover, issued a series of edicts that reduced Salerno's role in favour of Naples (in particular, the foundation of the University of Naples in that city).
Following the advice of Giovanni da Procida (a famous citizen of that time), King Manfred of Sicily, Frederick II's son, ordered a dock that still now has his name, to be built.
Moreover Manfred founded Saint Matthew's Fair, which was the most important in the south of Italy. After the Angevin conquest the city was particularly beautified by the work of the famous sculptor, Boboccio da Piperno, admired by Queen Consort Margherita of Durazzo who took up her abode in Salerno and was buried in the monumental tomb, which is today in the cathedral.
Salerno and the revival of medical learning in Western Europe
Around 1060 a Benedictine monk and native of Carthage, Constantine the African, arrived at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, 100 miles to the north of Salerno. With his knowledge of Arabic and Greek as well as Latin, he began to translate many of the medical texts from ancient Greece and Rome from the surviving Arabic translations into Latin. Constantine translated around twenty major works himself, such as Galen's Ars Parva, Hippocratic work including the Aphorisms and the Prognostics and the great encyclopedic work known as the patengi. However, his most significant translation was probably the Isogoge of Joanittius, which would serve as an introduction to medical theory and practise for centuries.
In the first decades of the sixteenth century the last descendent of the Sanseverino princes was in conflict with the Aragonese viceroy, causing the ruin of the whole family and the beginning of a long period of decadence for the city. The years 1656, 1688 and 1694 represent sorrowful dates for Salerno: the plague and the earthquake which caused many victims.
A slow renewal of the city occurred in the eighteenth century with the end of the Spanish dominion and the construction of many refined houses and churches characterising the main streets of the historical centre.
In 1799 Salerno was incorporated into the Parthenopean Republic. During the Napoleonic era, first Joseph Bonaparte and then Joachim Murat ascended the Neapolitan throne. The latter decreed the closing of the Salerno Medical School, that had been declining for decades to the level of a theoretical school. In the same period even the religious Orders were suppressed and numerous ecclesiastical properties were confiscated.
The city expanded beyond the ancient walls and sea connections were potentiated as they represented an important road network that crossed the town connecting the eastern plain with the area leading to Vietri and Naples.
After the unification of Italy a slow urban development continued, many suburban areas were enlarged and large public and private buildings were created. The city went on developing till the Second World War.
World War II and after
The post-war period was difficult for all the Italian cities, but Salerno managed to improve little by little and to aim at becoming a modern European city. In recent years the town administration has taken great strides giving a great impulse to the revaluation of the whole urban territory.