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Sunday, June 2 – Saturday, June 8, 2019
We will greet you at the Naples airport or Naples rail station and transport you by air conditioned van to your Villa home for the week. After settling in you will enjoy a gourmet meal prepared by Le Cordon Bleu Paris Alum-Chef Walter and the AGA staff.
After a leisurely breakfast at the villa, we will visit Ravello. Ravello was founded in the 5th century as a shelter place against the barbarian invasions which marked the end of the Western Roman Empire. In the 9th century Ravello was an important town of the maritime republic of Amalfi, a producer of wool from its surrounding country that was dyed in the town and an important trading power in the Mediterranean between 839 and around 1200.
In 1086. at the request of the Norman count Roger Borsa, who wished to create a counterweight to powerful Amalfi, Pope Victor III made Ravello the seat of a diocese immediately subject to the Holy See, with territory split off from that of the archdiocese of Amalfi. Early on, the bishops of Ravello all came from patrician families of the city, showing the church’s municipal character.
In the 12th century, Ravello had some 25,000 inhabitants, and it retains a disproportionate number of palazzi of the mercantile nobility, the Rufolo, d’Aflitto, Confalone and Della Marra. In 1137, after a first failed attack two years before, it was destroyed by the Republic of Pisa. After this, a demographic and economic decline set in, and much of its population moved to Naples and its surroundings.
Here we will meet our professional tour guide. We will visit the Duomo di Ravello (Cathedral) of Ravello, Villa Rufolo (1270), built by Nicola Rufolo, one of the richest Patricians of Ravello. The villa was where Richard Wagner in 1880 was inspired for the stage design of his opera Parsifal. Villa Cimbrone, known for its “Terrace of the Infinite” The church of San Giovanni del Toro dating to before the year 1000. The church contains the Bove pulpit, dateable to 1200–1230, incorporated as mosaic fragments Raqqa bacini. We will eat lunch* in a local restaurant and then visit the Ceramic Shop of the owners of our Villa, click here Ceramiche d’Arte. Time to wander and then back to the Villa to relax, have a swim and anticipate the gourmet dinner served by Le Cordon Bleu Paris Alum Chef Walter and the AGA staff.
After wonderful breakfast on the terrace we will head out to the amazing seaside town of Amalfi. First mentioned in the 6th century, Amalfi soon afterwards acquired importance as a maritime power, trading grain from its neighbors, 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; it rivalled Pisa and Genoa in its domestic prosperity and maritime importance before the rise of Venice. 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). Under his line of dukes, Amalfi remained independent, except for a brief period of Salernitan dependency under Guaimar IV.
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. However, in 1131, it was reduced by King Roger II of Sicily, who had been refused the keys to its citadel. The Holy Roman Emperor Lothair, fighting in favour of Pope Innocent II against Roger, who sided with the Antipope Anacletus, took him prisoner in 1133, assisted by forty-six Pisan ships. The Pisans, commercial rivals of the Amalfitani, sacked the city; Lothair claimed as part of the booty a copy of the Pandects of Justinian which was found there.
In 1135 and 1137, it was taken by the Pisans and rapidly declined in importance. A tsunami in 1343 destroyed the port and lower town, and Amalfi never recovered to anything more than local importance.
In medieval culture Amalfi was famous for its flourishing schools of law and mathematics. Flavio Gioia, traditionally considered the first to introduce the mariner’s compass to Europe, is said to have been a native of Amalfi.
The town was one of the first centers of paper making in Europe, the skill having been acquired by the Amalfitans from the Arabs. Amalfi is also a known maker of a hand-made thick paper which is called “bambagina”.
Amalfi has a long history of catering for visitors, with two former monasteries being converted to hotels at a relatively early date, the Luna Convento in the second decade of the 19th century and the Cappuccini Convento in the 1880s.
Here we will meet our professional tour guide, see Saint Andrew’s Cathedral (Duomo), Museum of Handmade Paper (Museo della Carta).
We will eat lunch* in town, you will have time to wander this beautiful city and then we will return to our villa for another amazing dinner by Le Cordon Bleu Paris Alum Chef Walter and the AGA staff.
After our delicious breakfast, we will head to Pompeii for a half day guided tour. Pompeii was an ancient Roman town-city near modern Naples. Pompeii, along with Herculaneum and many villas in the surrounding area, was mostly destroyed and buried under 13 to 20 ft of volcanic ash and pumice in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The site was lost for about 1,500 years until its initial rediscovery in 1599 and broader rediscovery almost 150 years later by the Spanish. The objects that lay beneath the city have been preserved for more than a millennium because of the lack of air and moisture. These artifacts provide an extraordinarily detailed insight into the life of a city during the Pax Romana. During the excavation, plaster was used to fill in the voids in the ash layers that once held human bodies. This allowed archaeologists to see the exact position the person was in when he or she died.
We will eat lunch in a local restaurant* and then return to the Villa for a relaxing evening and gourmet dinner by Le Cordon Bleu Paris Alum Chef Walter and the AGA staff.
Today, after breakfast we will be spending a day at sea, or at least all up and down the Amalfi coast. After boarding our privately chartered luxury boat, the skipper will take us along the coast so we can enjoy the view from sea, take time to swim and snorkel and eat lunch* in a restaurant we can only reach by boat. We will spend an hour or so on the island of Capri and then we will return to port so we can come back to the Villa for a delicious gourmet meal prepared by Le Cordon Bleu Paris Alum Chef Walter and the AGA staff.
Another gorgeous day on the Amalfi coast takes us to Positano with it’s pebbled beach and amazing shops and views.
Positano was a port of the Amalfi Republic in medieval times, and prospered during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. By the mid-nineteenth century, however, the town had fallen on hard times. More than half the population emigrated, mostly to America.
Positano was a relatively poor fishing village during the first half of the twentieth century. It began to attract large numbers of tourists in the 1950s, especially after John Steinbeck published his essay about Positano in Harper’s Bazaar in May, 1953: “Positano bites deep”, Steinbeck wrote. “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
Here we will see the church of Santa Maria Assunta features a dome made of majolica tiles as well as a thirteenth-century Byzantine icon of a black Madonna. According to local legend, the icon had been stolen from Byzantium and was being transported by pirates across the Mediterranean. A terrible storm had blown up in the waters opposite Positano and the frightened sailors heard a voice on board saying “Posa, posa!” (“Put down! Put down!”). The precious icon was unloaded and carried to the fishing village and the storm abated.
This is a great town for shopping for Italian linen, cameos, coral, leather sandals and thousands of products made from lemons. We will eat lunch* in town and then return to our villa for another amazing dinner by Le Cordon Bleu Paris Alum Chef Walter and the AGA staff.
After breakfast, we say “Arrivederci” to the Amalfi coast and transport you to the Naples airport or Naples rail station for your journey home or on to your next destination!
*Meals not included in your Adventure cost.
Itinerary subject to minor changes.