Mark Read


It is hard to grasp that pretty little Amalfi, with its sun-filled piazzas and small beach, was once a maritime superpower with a population of more than 70,000. For one thing, it’s not a big place – you can easily walk from one end to the other in about 20 minutes. For another, there are very few historical buildings of note. The explanation is chilling: most of the old city, and its inhabitants, simply slid into the sea during an earthquake in 1343.

Despite this, the town exudes history and culture, most notably in its over-sized Byzantine-influenced cathedral and diminutive Paper Museum. And while the permanent population is now a fairly modest 5000 or so, the numbers swell significantly during summer.

Just around the headland, neighbouring Atrani is a dense tangle of whitewashed alleys and arches centred on an agreeably lived-in piazza and small scimitar of beach; don’t miss it.

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