Tempting Tuesday: Scala Porte Aperte

As those of you who have traveled in Italy already know, it can be difficult to get inside smaller churches and historical sites. This is the case especially in small towns. Here on the Amalfi Coast, many towns have four, five or more smaller churches in addition to the one major church. Those of you reading for awhile have already been along with me to Torello, to Ravello, and to Sorrento. So you can imagine my glee (and I mean kid in a candy shop glee) when I saw the sign above last week advertising Scala Porte Aperte, or Scala Open Doors. I nearly (or maybe I did) jump up and down as I read the list of all the churches that would be open. No surprise then that I was dressed and ready to go first thing Sunday morning with my camera fully charged.

La Piazzetta S. Giovanni di Pontone

Sunday was beautiful and sunny as we drove all over Scala stopping at six churches and a courtyard to a 17th-century palazzo. Then we headed down to nearby Pontone to see a few more churches and stop by the tasting of local foods and wines that was set up in the Piazzetta San Giovanni. Let’s see . . . architecture, free samples of local wine, cheese, salami and pancetta, and a booth selling strawberries and herbs . . . that is certainly my equivalent to a candy shop! Here are few photos from Pontone to wet your appetite:

Display of local wines

Ceramic display

Display of local pasta made in Gragnano

As I have been delayed and distracted by technical difficulties here (complications with our new wireless internet), the church photographs will have to wait until the coming weeks. Check back soon for a series of posts on the churches of Scala!

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Tempting Tuesday: Ravello Festival 2009

Tempting Tuesday: Sorrento’s Surprising Duomo

Tempting Tuesday: Fishing Boats in the Springtime

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.