Dalla Carta alla Cartolina – A Unique Paper Experience in Amalfi

There’s one thing I remember loving for as long as I can remember. Surely you have something like that, right? For me it’s paper. There was magic held in the pages of my favorite picture books I read as a little girl. Hours spend folding colorful pieces of paper into impossible origami shapes (with varied success). Cracking open a brand new textbook on the first day of school and taking a good long whiff of that new book smell. In later years my love of paper led to a passion for printing, the history of typography, and words in art. This fire was later fueled by jobs working at small paper stores while in college and grad school. So file it under “funny how life works out sometimes” that I would end up living in town that is famous for — yes you guessed it — paper!

A new paper store and museum located in a historic paper mill

Amalfi has a long history with paper making that dates to the Middle Ages when the town was a rich maritime republic with vast trading connections all over the Mediterranean and east to Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire. Amalfi’s merchants brought back the knowledge of paper production, which flourished in the river valley above town. While most of the paper mills lie in ruins among the Valle delle Ferriere, there is still handmade paper produced in some of Amalfi’s mills.

 

 

 
 

 
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One of these paper mills, which you can spot with the curved roof just above the bridge, was a functioning paper mill until the 1990s. Thankfully this important piece of Amalfi history was saved by Andrea De Luca, who is the mastermind behind the beautiful La Scuderia del Duca paper stores in Amalfi. The paper mill and much of its historical elements have been restored and transformed in a gorgeous store that is hard to categorize. It’s a multimedia experience that brings the history of Amalfi’s paper making tradition to life and showcases products created with the handmade paper as well as a rich collection of historic postcards, prints, antiques, and ceramics. In essence, it’s my idea of heaven.

The multimedia experience projected on sheets of Amalfi paper

Just inside you’ll find a working mill that spins and a few steps leading up to a darkened room with evocative scenes created out of paper and historic items. Here you can choose from a variety of postcards and insert them into a mailbox to see videos and hear stories (in Italian and English) as travelers, artists, and writers extol the beauty of Amalfi, remark on major events, and share travel experiences. Look around and you’ll also find elements of the original paper mill and antique pieces like a stereoscope set up with a stereogram of Amalfi tucked away in an alcove.

Left: A stereotype set up to view photos | Right: Part of the historic paper mill

Dalla Carta alla Cartolina, which translates as From the Paper to the Postcard, is more than the multimedia experience, which is certainly worth a trip in itself. However, take time to explore the entire two level shop, which is decorated with antiques and a beautifully curated selection of paper items, prints, and artwork.

Entrance to Dalla Carta alla Cartolina

Continue up a few steps to the upper level in the back, which was originally a church in the 13th century dedicated to Santa Maria de Flumine. The name flumine indicates “river” and refers to the importance of the stream running down the valley that was an integral part of local life. The church was eventually transformed into the paper mill, which once sat alongside the river. While the river is today covered by a road, you can stop outside nearby and hear it rushing below on its way to the sea.

Look up on the right for a replica of an important historic icon

In the shop you will find a small replica of the important icon of Santa Maria de Flumine from 1290 that is now one of the oldest pieces in the medieval collection of the Museo di Capodimonte in Naples. Until I visited recently, I had no idea about the history of this building and how it was once a church. Discovering the layers and layers of history in Amalfi is something that never ceases to amaze me.

This old postcard came home with me!

Given my love and paper and photography, it will come as no surprise that I adore old postcards. Tucked away in the shop I happened across some boxes of old postcards. I could have been there for hours and know I will be going back to flip through all the cards again and again. In the meantime, I found this gem (above) that shows Amalfi from the mountains on the west side of town, which is a bit more unusual. I later realized that we can spot the palazzo where my husband grew up and our little apartment in Amalfi where I am writing these words. It’s the perfect addition to my little collection of old postcards, because it will always remind me of the day looking through the postcards together with a good friend.

Ceramic collection on display at Dalla Carta alla Cartolina

When I stopped by recently, there was a collection of ceramics on display by the artist Antonio Franchini (1923-2006). But everywhere you look there’s something interesting. Of course there are a lot of paper temptations, which you can also find at the La Scuderia del Duca store near the waterfront (Largo Cesareo Console 8) and in Piazza Duomo in Amalfi.

Stationary and journals created with Amalfi’s handmade paper

You’ll find the perfect gifts at Dalla Carta alla Cartolina just like at La Scuderia del Duca. I love how their products capture an important piece of Amalfi’s history in such an elegant manner. If you have any paper lovers in your life (or are a paper nut like me), this is a place you won’t want to miss in Amalfi.

Amalfi paper, glass pen, and ink set – a beautiful gift from my friends

Dalla Carta alla Cartolina is easy to find by walking up Amalfi’s main street from Piazza Duomo. Just keep on going up into the valley and you’ll come across it on the left after walking about 5 minutes. (Keep on going up the valley after to visit the Museo della Carta, the town’s paper museum, too!)

You can find out more information about Dalla Carta alla Cartolina and follow along on their social media posts (they write interesting comments in Italian and English) on Facebook and Instagram. Or check out the La Scuderia del Duca shops online here.

Dalla Carta alla Cartolina
www.carta-amalfi.com
Via Cardinale Marino del Giudice, Amalfi
Tel. 089/872-976
10am-7pm Monday-Saturday

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La Selva Handmade Soap from Positano

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A gift box of 4 soaps from La Selva (Photo courtesy La Selva)

High in the mountains above Positano there is an enchanting place where you can experience the natural beauty, sights and scents of the Amalfi Coast in an untouched setting. That special place is called La Selva, and I’ve shared about it here before since it’s setting for Sole Yoga Holiday’s annual Positano Yoga Retreat. La Selva is the creation of Martha and Cristiano, who have worked hard to make a place that respects nature – and highlights it at the same time. This is perfectly encapsulated in Martha’s new line of handmade soaps. And, yes, you can order them online!

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Handmade soap from Amalfi Coast grown lemons and olives (Photo courtesy La Selva)

I’m always on the lookout for locally produced crafts that capture essence of the Amalfi Coast. I’m also dedicated to living as natural as possible on a daily basis, which is a continual evolution and wonderful journey. This summer while at La Selva for the Positano Yoga Retreat, I was excited to learn that Martha had created her own line of soaps. I had the pleasure to sit down with her and learn more about the process while I was there. The soaps are made with local olive oil from the first cold press along with other natural oils. Walking around La Selva, a meandering pathway leads through a beautiful terraced olive grove. Everywhere you look are the beautiful natural plants and herbs that Martha uses to make her soaps.

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La Selva’s olive grove overlooking Positano with the Li Galli islands in the distance

In fact, the soaps are all natural and include traditional Mediterranean scents like lemon, orange, mint and rosemary. Ingredients are all sustainably sourced and the soaps are produced in small batches completely by hand using a “cold process” technique before being air cured and hand cut.

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Hand cut soap drying (Photo courtesy La Selva)

There are a variety of scents to choose from: Limone e Oliva (Lemon and Olive), Agrumi (Citrus), Menta e Rosemarino (Mint and Rosemary), Propoli e Miele (Propolis and Honey), Iperico e Tea Tree (St. John’s Wort and Tea Tree) and Mirto e Arancia (Blueberry and Orange). I’ve tried out three of the soaps above and love them all. I’m excited to try out the new Lemon and Olive oil soap this winter!

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Lemon and Olive oil handmade and all natural soap (Photo courtesy La Selva)

If you love the Amalfi Coast and natural products, this is the soap for you! You can find out more and order directly online from Martha at the La Selva Positano Cosmetici Naturali Facebook page.

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Dadini – Jewelry Inspired by the Amalfi Coast

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The Amalfi Coast is endlessly inspiring to me. Whether I’m writing or out taking photographs, there’s always something that I’m trying to capture to share or remember. I love seeing how this beautiful landscape inspires so many different types of artists. When I spotted Dadini, a local jewelry company started by Salerno native Alessandra Sessa, the influence of the Amalfi Coast in her lovely designs made me smile. What a beautiful idea! Dadini was inspired by the colors and emotions of the Amalfi Coast and, of course, the strong tradition of ceramics in the area. Each majolica cube has a design that reflects the Amalfi Coast – the blue of the sea, multi-colored homes, yellow lemons and the intricate tiles you’ll find all up and down the coast.

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Many of the colorful designs in their Amalfi Coast Collection are even named after towns along the Amalfi Coast, like the Positano, Ravello or Conca dei Marini. All the designs are charming, but it will come as no surprise that my favorite is the Amalfi! I have my eye on a few other designs to add to my collection, which I know will grow. How can you resist these colorful little designs?

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I love the joy and color captured in Dadini’s designs and in everything they do. Just look at this video, which tells a charming story. On their website it says, “Once upon a time, there was a Dadini that traveled along the Amalfi Coast from Vietri sul Mare to Positano, along the way meeting other Dadini to create a colorful bracelet.” What a fun little visual story!

 

 

Curious to find out more? Visit Dadini.com to see all their designs. You can order from the website and get free shipping in Italy, but they also ship worldwide. Add a touch of Amalfi Coast charm to your look this summer with the colors and design of Dadini!

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Disclosure: Dadini very kindly sent me the necklace featured in this blog post, which was a lovely surprise! However, the opinions in this blog post are entirely my own. I love supporting and sharing about local companies and small businesses. Shop local and support artists whenever you can!