Out & About: Doorway to Paradise

Ravello is a small and relatively level city, which means you can walk most of it without having to go up or down a ridiculous amount of steps. But there are a few parts of the city that are worth the hike up or down the steps or the steep, curving road. The city is full of beautiful surprises! One day while out exploring, I happened across what surely is the most evocative door I have ever seen. This is the entrance to the Hotel Parsifal, which leads to a terrace with one of Ravello’s justly famous views of the Amalfi Coast. A door like this just begs you to go in!

Ruins of the Basilica di Sant’Eustachio

Since starting Ciao Amalfi last month, I have already had the pleasure of meeting so many friendly and interesting people who, like me, share a love of this part of the world. Reader Chef Chuck, whose family heritage is from the Amalfi Coast area, left a comment to a post earlier this week asking about the ruins of the Basilica di Sant’Eustachio. The conversation inspired me go through the photos I have taken over the past two years and pull out some of the best of Sant’Eustachio. Click on the slideshow above to see the photos larger.

The ruins are located in the city of Pontone, in the mountain valley above Amalfi. Sant’Eustachio was built in the second half of the twelfth century, and is an excellent example of the architectural exchanges between Italy and Sicily in the Middle Ages. The exterior apse is often compared to the stunning Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily, which was constructed at about the same time. The colorful details you might notice in my photographs on the exterior of the Sant’Eustachio are likely from the restoration work done in 2002 to stabilize the ruins. Photos prior to that show a more monochromatic facade. But don’t get me started on the topic of restoration! The ruins are a short walk from Scala or Pontone, and from there you have several options for where to continue your hike. When I see the ruins of Sant’Eustachio, perched as they are dominantly overlooking the valleys of Amalfi and Atrani, I imagine just how impressive the basilica would have been when it was built, with its colorful decorations, inlaid stonework and rows of marble columns. It must have been an imposing representation of the power and prestige of the important families that built Sant’Eustachio.