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Amalfi, Italy, September 2018 | by Sofia AtmatzidouEulgem
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Amalfi, Italy, September 2018

Amalfi is a town and comune in the province of Salerno, in the region of Campania, Italy, on the Gulf of Salerno. It lies at the mouth of a deep ravine, at the foot of Monte Cerreto (1,315 metres, 4,314 feet), surrounded by dramatic cliffs and coastal scenery. The town of Amalfi was the capital of the maritime republic known as the Duchy of Amalfi, an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.

Amalfi was one of the four powerful Maritime Republics of Italy trading grain from its neighbours, salt from Sardinia and slaves from the interior, and even timber, in exchange for the gold dinars minted in Egypt and Syria, in order to buy the Byzantine silks that it resold in the West. Grain-bearing Amalfi traders enjoyed privileged positions in the Islamic ports, Fernand Braudel notes. The Amalfi tables (Tavole amalfitane) provided a maritime code that was widely used by the Christian port cities. 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.

An independent republic from the 7th century until 1075, Amalfi extracted itself from Byzantine vassalage in 839 and first elected a duke in 958.

In spite of some devastating setbacks it had a population of some 70,000 to 80,000 reaching a peak about the turn of the millennium, during the reign of Duke Manso (966–1004).

In 1073 the republic 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.

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. A tsunami in 1343 destroyed the port and lower town, and Amalfi never recovered to anything more than local importance.

Amalfi is the main town of the coast on which it is located, named Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast), and is today an important tourist destination together with other towns on the same coast, such as Positano, Ravello and others. Amalfi is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

A patron saint of Amalfi is Saint Andrew, the Apostle, whose relics are kept here at Amalfi Cathedral (Cattedrale di Sant'Andrea/Duomo di Amalfi).

The Amalfi coast is famed for its production of Limoncello liqueur and the area is a known cultivator of lemons. The correct name is "sfusato amalfitano", and they are typically long and at least double the size of other lemons, with a thick and wrinkled skin and a sweet and juicy flesh without many pips. It is common to see lemons growing in the terraced gardens along the entire Amalfi coast between February and October. Amalfi is also a known maker of a hand-made thick paper which is called "bambagina". It is exported to many European countries and to America and has been used throughout Italy for wedding invitations,

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Taken on September 18, 2018