This is the blog of Steve Burkett of Italy, Our Italy

Amalfi Stairs

If you want to shop, this is not the path for you! But, if you want to get home quickly and without being run down, this way is perfect.

This week, it's back to Amalfi. We've been there before in One Fine Day! and Staying in a Convent Retreat. But today, I want to tell you about the stairs and passages of Amalfi. 

Amalfi is situated in a ravine that comes down from the mountains to the harbor of Amalfi. The buildings of Amalfi are situated up the slopes of the ravine. At the very bottom of the ravine, there is a small road -- and this road is the main thoroughfare through the town, as you can see in the photo below.

[click a photo for a larger view]

As the buildings were constructed centuries ago before automobiles and trucks were envisioned, the roadway is very narrow. Here is a photo of this main street through the heart of Amalfi -- yes, that is THE street.

The roadway is so narrow that there is a traffic light that queues traffic wanting to travel one direction, whilst the traffic going the opposite direction works its way through the crowds. As you can tell from the photo, this is really a pedestrian-mall-roadway combination.


Here is another photo with vehicles making their way through the masses.

When the buildings were constructed many years ago, a number of alleyways were set aside within the structures. Some of the alleyways parallel the path of the roadway, while some work their way up through the buildings that cascade down the sides of the ravine. 

Here is one of the alleyways that traverse the same path as the roadway, but under the protection of the surrounding buildings.

If you want to shop, this is not the path for you! But, if you want to get home quickly and without being run down, this way is perfect. You just have to know the hidden-away location of these passages.


These hidden-away passages are the subject of today's article, and I will be focusing on the stairways that travel up the ravine-situated buildings. And, at the same time, I am giving you a two-for-one article, as you also get one of my photo transformation articles rolled in. 

Stairway #1

Here is a snapshot of one of those stairways. It's a long way up there.

By now, you know that I have a bit of an OCD issue with modern bits and pieces in my dream-world of an Italy of another time. To satisfy my compulsion, I just have to remove these items. 

Here is the photo with modern matters resolved. 

And, to get that age-old look that I am after, I've added a sepia tone and worn-frame look. Here is the final version of this very long stairway.

And, what might lie waaaaaay up there at the end of this stairway? The photo below tells us that to the right is a pizzeria and to the left is the Patrizia (Patricia's) Esthetician Center, of course. Only a local with well-formed calves would know.

Stairway #2

In the passage below, you can see that there was just a bit of wrought iron and stair railing with which to deal. It's zapped away in the second photo and the final sepia version is at the right.

[click on a thumbnail for a larger view of the photo series]

Stairway #3

In this series, you can see that there was a panel to the left, a person entering the door at the top of the stairs, and a plethora of electrical wiring in the arched alcove. In the second photo, all is gone and the sepia version ages this passage a bit.

Stairway #4

This stairway was the most challenging. In the archway to the left is a sign for another pizzeria and a scooter -- maybe for pizza delivery? On the right are a number of panels and several electrical conduits. Working up the stairs are other detriti that I felt compelled to remove. In photo two all is cleaned up, except the ages-old grime that has worked its way down the stairway. 


To bring home the compactness of Amalfi and the forced interaction of pedestrian and vehicle that stems from the old working its way into the new, here is one more photo. This one shows my wife, Ellen, as she walks the 'sidewalk' along the main Amalfi Coast highway on the way to a Michelin-starred La Caravella restaurant (which will be the subject of a future article).


I hope you have enjoyed seeing some of these hidden, secret passages of Amalfi. When you go, how about wandering around up there a bit -- we may run into each other!


Ciao for now,