The Amalfi Coast is the region of Italy's coastline located just south of Naples. The Amalfi Coast contains the famous coastal resort towns of Amalfi, Positano and Ravello.
Amalfi was originally a Roman colony, which gained more and more importance over the centuries, and after the fall of the empire it became a diocese (596 AD).
Later, the whole coastline, along with Amalfi, became property of the Duchy of Naples, until 839, when the city declared its independence and became an autonomous republic. The Maritime Republic of Amalfi was soon to become an important maritime commercial center, trading with the whole of the Italian peninsula, North Africa, the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire. The Republic bought spices, precious stones, carpets and fabrics from the Arabs, and sold them throughout Italy.
Soon, Amalfi's wealth not only attracted the attention of pirates, who were promptly driven back by the city's army, it also became the target of neighboring states. In 1131, after a long succession of attacks, Amalfi was annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily, although still retaining a certain degree of autonomy in the management of maritime commercial affairs. Gradually, commercial relations with the East began to dwindle, checked by the policies of the Normans and Pisans, who landed on the coast in 1135, to plunder and destroy whatever they found there.
The opulence of the Maritime Republic was by now but a memory, and maritime trade was limited to rare contacts with Southern Italy. A brief scientific and cultural revival occurred around the 1200s, the century in which Giovanni Gioia of Amalfi invented the compass.
Over the following centuries, Amalfi's population dropped considerably, mainly due to the continuing attacks on the zone by pirates. But the greatest disaster hit the region in 1643, when the plague took the lives of a third of the coastal population. One of the results of this tragedy was the progressive impoverishment of the area, aggravated by the interruption in maritime trade. The economy began to converge on the cultivation of olives, vines, and citrus fruits and on the crafts industry.
Around the second half of the 19th century the Amalfi coast began its revival thanks to tourism, and artists such as Ibsen and Wagner drew inspiration from the region for some of their famous works, further fanning the curiosity of travelers to the coast.