The classic Mediterranean coastline in Amalfi is unlike any other. Homes lining the cliffside seem to defy gravity as they overlook the blue waters and rise upward like a giant sand sculpture on the shores of this Italian city. Blending natural beauty with fascinating culture, Italy's Amalfi Coast is a wondrous place for Mediterranean cruise passengers to hop off shore to gaze at the sea and sample fresh olives while learning about Greek and Roman history.
Amalfi is a picturesque tourist destination today, and this coastal city once had the greatest naval fleet in the Mediterranean during the 11th and 12th centuries. The Arsenale, located directly on the shore, is a medieval shipyard recalling a glorious maritime history. A hotspot for trade with North Africa, Amalfi's architecture still boasts influences from Arab cultures. With the combination of Greek, Roman, Norman, Saracens and Arab-Sicilian traditions, Amalfi is a Mediterranean destination that stands on its own - complete with fine cuisine and lovely warm beaches.
The gentle climate allows trees and flowers to grow along the rolling hillsides surrounding Amalfi for most of the year, which has attracted and inspired famous painters for centuries. Communities cluster along the cliffs throughout the city, allowing those going on Europe cruisetours to have an unparalleled view from sea level as they disembark on a fantastic journey through the city.
The Amalfi Cathedral is a fascinating structure that features a perfect example of Arab-Sicilian architecture. With a stark mixture of stripes, grand archways and mosaics, the cathedral hosts guests for church services every day. Visitors on Europe shore excursions are kindly asked to dress conservatively while paying their respects in this deeply traditional building. The bell tower and cupola that stretch around the main sanctuary are covered with yellow and green tiles while the interior is elaborately decorated with beautifully preserved frescoes.
For those who may want to extend their stay in this beautiful city, local chef Rodolfo Lecce hosts weekly Italian cooking lessons. Visitors from Amalfi Coast cruises can learn how to make traditional zeppole di San Giuseppe con crema al limone (fritters of Saint Joseph with lemon cream) while donning tall chef hats and smelling the wonderful aroma of traditional cooking. Tomato sauce and pasta taste best in Amalfi, where simple and fresh ingredients combine to make light dishes that taste full-bodied and complex. A quick meal after touring the cathedral is a perfect way to end this short and sweet visit to Italy's Mediterranean coast.