5 things to see in Scala
In the heart of the Monti Lattari, just over 20 kilometers from our boutique hotel, lies Scala, the oldest town on the Amalfi Coast. According to tradition, the town was founded in the 4th century AD by some Roman families on their way to Constantinople. The urban structure, typically medieval, is concentrated around 6 districts: Scala Centro, San Pietro (also called Campoleone), Santa Caterina, Campidoglio, Minuta and Pontone. The town is rich in monuments that are both artistically and historically relevant. In addition, Scala is also a good starting point for interesting mountain excursions.
What to see in Scala? Here are 5 must-see things!
The Cathedral of San Lorenzo
Scala’s most important and significant monument is the cathedral dedicated to Saint Lawrence the Martyr, the town’s patron saint. Located in the historic center, it was built in the 11th century, although over time it has undergone several alterations, moving from Romanesque-Gothic to 18th-century Rococo. On the outside, the structure displays an imposing facade while the interior is embellished with valuable works of art. Of great interest is the majolica panel inserted in the floor, dating back to the 19th century. Two crypts, the Purgatory and Paradise crypts, are also part of the complex. In the latter is preserved a striking painted wooden Christ from the 13th century, much revered on the Coast.
The ruins of the Basilica of St. Eustatius
Among the things to see in Scala, we could not fail to mention the ruins of the Basilica of Sant’Eustachio, where Christian and Islamic influences intertwine like the arches of the apse. The church, dating from the 12th century, was built for the noble d’Afflitto family and dedicated to the Roman martyr they believed to be their progenitor. Although reduced to the state of ruins, it still retains its majesty due to its dominant position on a rocky outcrop (from which it overlooks Mount Aureo and the village of Pontone) and its three very tall apses. The remains of a crypt and several terraces enrich the layout.
In the Pontone district, on a spur of rock jutting out into the sea, stands the Ziro Tower. The exact date of its construction is unknown. The earliest records date back to the 12th century, when it is still called “Rocca di San Felice.” The tower belonged to a network of defensive structures scattered along the coast to spot Saracen fleets coming in from the sea. It was once surrounded by crenellated walls, traces of which are preserved. In the 16th century it became infamous because Giovanna of Aragon, duchess of Amalfi, was imprisoned and then executed there with her sons.
The Church of the Annunziata
In the Minuta district, the Church of the Santissima Annunziata, which stands on a promontory overlooking the steep walls of the Dragon Valley, is undoubtedly worth a visit. Dating from the 11th century, it is a typical example of early Christian architecture with fresco decoration. Of particular interest is the crypt below, which is accessed via a staircase in the right aisle. Inside you can admire a magnificent cycle of frescoes from the medieval period (9th-10th centuries), much of which has been preserved. The iconographic repertoire draws on Byzantine-inspired themes.
The Valley of the Ironworks
Finally, hiking and trekking enthusiasts cannot miss the Ferriere Valley, one of Italy’s forty-one biogenetic reserves. It stretches from the municipality of Scala to Amalfi and is very interesting not only for its lush vegetation but also for the presence of relics of industrial archaeology. In fact, it is so named for the ruins of ancient ironworks and paper mills, once used for the production of the prized Amalfi paper. The valley, which has preserved its subtropical microclimate unchanged over time, is crossed by several hiking trails.
Foto © Jensens – Wikipedia