Positano is located on n the western end of the Amalfi Coast, therefore, it is the first municipality of the Divine...
The inhabited center of Scala is about 400 meters above sea level and geographically it is separated from the center of Ravello by the valley of the Dragone torrent which flows into the nearby Municipality of Atrani. Although it can be considered less famous than the neighbor Ravello, Scala is defined the oldest city on the Amalfi Coast since tradition states that Scala was founded as early as the 4th century by some Romans who shipwrecked while heading to Byzantium to then take on a relevant role during the Maritime Republic of Amalfi. The Municipality of Scala is made up of a built-up area and the hamlets of Santa Caterina, Campidoglio, Minuta and Pontone; outside the center the various houses scattered throughout the area are surrounded by terraces mainly cultivated with vines and lemons while the hills are covered with chestnut woods. Anyone who visits Scala is struck by the historical and landscape beauties since you can admire Ravello in front with part of the Amalfi Coast and the blue sea in the distance. An invitation is to go to the highest viewpoint of Scala which is located in the hamlet of Campidoglio: it allows you to observe the center of Ravello and the gardens of Villa Cimbrone overlooking the Gulf of Salerno.
Tourists who visit Scala find a scenario of immense peace and tranquility in the green of the Lattari Mountains and offers the opportunity to make numerous excursions on foot on the various paths, in particular in the State Natural Reserve of the Valle delle Ferriere.
HOW TO GET THERE
You can get to Scala by taking the Strada Statale 163 in Vietri sul Mare, taking the Amalfi direction and then continuing on the former Strada Statale 373 just before reaching Atrani. To avoid the summer traffic of the SS163, from the A3 Napoli-Salerno motorway it is preferable to exit at the Angri tollbooth and continue on the Provincial Road 1 following the signs for Ravello.
Scala is also called "Chestnut City" due to the presence of numerous chestnut woods in the area. Just the chestnut is the basis of numerous desserts such as chestnut tarts and chestnut calzoncelli but the typical dish of Scala can be called the "Gamboncello with herbs". It is the muscle of the foreleg of the pig seasoned with escarole, savoy cabbage and wild fennel and which is prepared especially for lunch on 10 August, the feast day of San Lorenzo, the patron saint of the city of Scala.
According to tradition, in the 4th century some Roman families while heading for Byzantium, were overwhelmed by a strong storm and took refuge in the Amalfi hills, founding the town of Scala. However, the period of greatest splendor occurred during the Maritime Republic of Amalfi where many Scalese families, as well as the Amalfi ones, were enriched for the important commercial traffic held mainly with the east. During the same period, the territory of Scala became part of the defensive system of the Amalfi Republic and ancient medieval walls can still be observed today. As early as the 11th century, the Scalesi had created a commercial colony with a church located near Porta Nolana in the Neapolitan area.
Scala followed the events of the Republic of Amalfi: in 1073 it was set on fire by Roberto il Guiscardo and subsequently suffered the sacking and destruction by the Pisans who sanctioned the end of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi. In 1210 Scala suffered the assault by Brunswich's troops and then in 1283 he underwent further looting during the wars of Sicilian Vespers. From 987 to 1818 Scala was the Episcopal See and from the studies it emerged that the Diocese of Scala was established by the will of the Amalfi aristocracy in contrast with the appointment of the opposite Ravello as Episcopal See. In Scala there were several noble families such as: Muscettola, D'Afflitto, Coppola and Sasso and a member of the latter family, Fra 'Gerardo Sasso, in the 11th century founded the Order of the Hospitallers of Jerusalem, which later became Sovereign Order Military of the Knights of Malta.
In the XVIII century Sant'Alfonso Maria De 'Liguori visited the town of Scala and Amalfi and, after having constituted the Order of the Redemptorist Fathers, in Scala he founded the Order of the Nuns of the Most Holy Redeemer which is still active today thanks to the presence of several nuns. It is said that Sant'Alfonso founded the Order of the Nuns of the Most Holy Redeemer after seeing a beautiful and ancient statue of the Madonna in a chapel in Scala and who, in prayer, advised the Saint to found the Order.
WHAT TO SEE
As stated, Scala is the oldest town on the Amalfi coast and, precisely because of its millenary history, offers tourists the opportunity to visit numerous monuments with valuable historical and artistic beauties. Immersed in the green of the Lattari Mountains and for the conformation of the territory, it boasts a series of paths that are used by many trekking lovers especially in spring and summer. Scala is the ideal destination for those who want to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and be surrounded by unspoiled nature and an atmosphere of tranquility.
Among the many monuments to visit and various excursions can include:
· The Cathedral of San Lorenzo;
· The eighteenth-century fountain in the Piazza del Duomo;
· The Church of the Santissima Annunziata;
· The ruins of the Basilica of Sant'Eustachio;
· The Ziro Tower;
· Excursion in the Valle delle Ferriere
· The Church of San Giovanni Battista
It is located in the hamlet of Pontone and was built in the XII century. The Moorish bell tower is also of great value;
Duomo di San Lorenzo
The Cathedral of Scala is dedicated to San Lorenzo who is also the patron saint of the coastal town. It was built in the 11th century and over the years it has undergone several restorations undergoing Romanesque-Gothic and Rococo influences from the 1700s. The interior is made up of three naves divided by round arches resting on the pillars; the bell tower is quite massive and has three levels and just the size of the Cathedral compared to the surrounding square testify to the importance that Scala assumed in the past, especially under the Duchy of Amalfi. In this period several shops were born and in some of them gold was worked thanks to the Byzantine and especially Arab influence and, in the Duomo of Scala, an ancient silver chalice of the fourteenth century and a bishop's headdress, the miter, are jealously preserved donated by Carlo d'Angiò on the day of San Lorenzo to celebrate the victory over the Saracens in 1270. The facade is rather dark and contrasts with the white of the internal walls characterized by a rather simple but very elegant style, typical of Italian rococo. The ceiling displays beautiful and colorful paintings that depict episodes from the life and martyrdom of San Lorenzo and which are always highlighted by the white walls. Of particular beauty is the majolica floor and at the height of the transept is shown the grill which is the symbol of the martyrdom of San Lorenzo surrounded by angels and flowers. This representation dates back to 1853. In the center there is a rose window depicting the lion and the staircase, symbols of the city of Scala.
On the right nave of the Duomo you can see a large gate that protects inside a shelf composed of nine niches which each contain a statue of a saint. In turn, each statue preserves a relic of the Saint that it represents. The work as a whole is Renaissance.
The Duomo is made up of three levels since there are two crypts: the Crypt of Paradise and the Crypt of Purgatory.
The Crypt of Purgatory was discovered by chance only in 1958 and is located between the Crypt of Paradise and the Duomo. At the time of the discovery, many human bones were found there.
The Crypt of Paradise is of Gothic style and differs from the low and rather dark Crypts of the other Cathedrals of the Amalfi coast because, thanks to the very high cross vaults, it is very bright. On the central altar there is a wooden Christ that dates back to the second half of the thirteenth century. It represents the deposition of Jesus from the Cross and, thanks to a recent restoration, has again acquired the brilliance of the colors. Throughout the year, the Crypt of Paradise is a destination for many faithful.
Also in the Crypt of Paradise there is another ancient monument: the tomb of Marinella Rufolo. It is a Gothic monument with a double slope, adorned with spiers and embellished with marble bas-reliefs. In 1300 the marriage between Antonio Coppola and Marinella Rufolo was celebrated in the Cathedral of San Lorenzo: Antonio was a member of the Coppola di Scala family and Marinella was a member of the Rufolo di Ravello family. It is said that the wedding was organized for political reasons and to smooth out the conflicts that arose between the two most important families of Ravello and Scala but after the wedding between the two spouses a great and intense love broke out.
The Church of the Santissima Annunziata
The Church of the Santissima Annunziata was founded in the 9th century, is in Romanesque style, is located in the hamlet of Minuta and is considered the oldest church in Scala. It is preceded by a beautiful portico where the city parliament once met. The church is made up of three naves divided by six columns on each side which support round arches. From the right aisle you enter the Crypt which has a rectangular shape and retains several medieval frescoes. The church is perched on the hill and from the square you can observe a wonderful panorama: in front of you can see Ravello and its wonders while in the valley you can see Amalfi and Atrani and the blue sea in the distance. Still below you can see the hamlet of Pontone and the ruins of the Church of Sant'Eustachio.
Ruins of the Basilica of Sant'Eustachio
Currently only part of the apse of the Basilica can be admired since all the rest has collapsed. The Basilica was built in the twelfth century, also has a crypt below and is oriented towards the east. From the ruins, however, you can admire a wonderful panorama on part of the Amalfi coast.
Located on Monte Aureo, it overlooks the cities of Amalfi and Atrani and rises on the territory of Scala. Like the many watchtowers built throughout the Amalfi Coast, the Torre dello Ziro also served to promptly identify the arrival of pirates from the sea. The scenario is truly unique.
There are dating problems for the Torre dello Ziro. Scholars do not exclude that it could be the reconstruction of an older work of the Duchy of Amalfi, the "Turris de Sancto Felice", mentioned in a document of 1151.
It underwent renovations and transformations in 1292, 1305, 1335 and 1480 It appears that at the beginning of the 18th century it was in a state of efficiency and equipped with cannons but shortly afterwards it was abandoned and deprived of care. In 2006 he received conservative restorations.
In the early 16th century the Torre dello Ziro was the scene of one of the bloodiest episodes in the history of Amalfi because inside it it was first locked up and then fiercely executed with its three children Giovanna D'Aragona, called "la Pazza", duchess d'Amalfi, accuses of having contracted a morganatic marriage with his secretary.
Excursion in the Valle delle Ferriere
Among the different accesses to visit the Valle delle Ferriere, there is also the one that starts from the Piazzetta di San Giovanni in the Pontone hamlet. Pontone can be reached by turning at the crossroads on the former Strada Statale 373 which from Strada Statale 163 leads to Scala and Ravello. When you reach the small square of Pontone, you cross the first alleys of the city and some arches under the houses and then continue along the town road which delimits some terraces mainly cultivated with lemons and vines. At the end of the paved stretch, you meet with the path that comes from the Chiorito di Amalfi hamlet: in fact, walking through nature you can observe the center of Amalfi from above. Continuing on, you come to a fork: the right path leads to the upper part of the ironworks valley while the left path leads to the ironworks, a large building currently reduced to ruins.
The Valle delle Ferriere is that valley which extends into the green of the Lattari Mountains and which also partly belongs to the Municipality of Scala and which arose along the course of the Canneto stream which subsequently flows to Amalfi. The main element of the Valle delle Ferriere is water: in addition to influencing the climate and vegetation of the valley, in the past water has been a great asset since it fed the machinery of the various paper mills and the ironworks. The metal arrived by sea to Amalfi from the Island of Elba and then was transported to the ironworks where it was worked. The cool and humid climate present in the ironworks valley thanks also to the abundance of water and waterfalls are the ideal conditions for the proliferation of a particular fern: the "Woodwardia radicans". In fact, in the upper part where there are many plants of the "Woodwardia radicans" fern and the beautiful waterfall, the area has become a reserve and you must contact the Visitor Center of the State Forestry Corps in Pontone to access it.
It is preferable to either go back and reach the square of San Giovanni a Pontone or go down and follow the path that leads to Amalfi. Before reaching the hamlet of Amalfi Madonna del Rosario, the path runs along the waters of the Canneto stream and you can admire the old paper mills that have made Amalfi famous also for its handmade paper.
To return to Pontone, you can take the Sita bus and choose the ride from Amalfi to Pontone.
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