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

Criscuolo Arte e Bijoux in Amalfi

Over the quiet winter months many shopowners take advantage of the down time to rearrange, redecorate or repaint their shops to have them looking great when the spring season begins. I was very excited to see the work that my friend Michelangelo and his family had done in their lovely shop called Criscuolo Arte e Bijoux. For weeks the windows were covered on the inside with paper, and peeking inside I saw some major redesigning going on. When they reopened this spring, I was thrilled to see that they had created a beautiful gallery space highlighting the work of the artist Luca Mancini and with beautiful jewelry and ceramics dotted throughout the store. On a sunny day recently, I stopped by and snapped a few photos to share.

Luca Mancini is an artist from the province of Asti in northwest Italy who has lived and worked extensively on the Amalfi Coast. With fine detail and intense colors, his paintings really do capture the beauty of the Amalfi Coast. His stylistic range is quite varied, from a dreamy and hazy feel to paintings so finely detailed I had to look closely to make sure they weren’t phtoographs.

I found the jewelry displays quite beautiful and effective in their simplicity. I loved how the vibrant coral picked up the colors of Mancini’s paintings on display around.

The shop displays paintings by Luca Mancini and reproductions of his work carried out under his careful control. There is also a selection of jewelry and ceramics on display throughout the shop and in the window displays.

I love how memorabilia of Amalfi has been incorporated into the displays, including historic photos, cameras, postcards and some early printed publications about Amalfi.

You’ll find Criscuolo Arte e Bijoux on the main road as it goes through Amalfi in the pretty little Largo Scario with a fountain.

Warm wishes to Michelangelo and his lovely family for success in their new endeavor!

Market in Amalfi

When I first started spending time on the Amalfi Coast years ago, I wondered often about where the locals bought certain things, such as plants or any number of household items from sheets to slippers. All those questions were answered the first time I visited the mercato, or market, in Amalfi. Every Wednesday morning trucks arrive in town and set up stalls selling just about everything you can imagine – shoes, clothing, kitchen supplies, fabrics, fish, fruits and vegetables, olives and, yes, even slippers!

Market Day in Amalfi

Anyone who has ever hiked up to the market in Amalfi, which was located way at the top of the town, will remember the walk. Just when you thought you’d never get there, you’d see a truck selling mozzarella cheese and then the first stalls set up around the next curve in the road. While I was in America last month, an old building near the market area collapsed, and the market was temporarily moved to the long parking area behind Amalfi’s port where it was located many years ago. The area at the top of town has yet to be cleared for the market again, so for the time being it will be held in the parking area in Amalfi.

Market Stalls in Amalfi

For visitors to the market, this is a nice change! Before the stalls were located in a narrow road where cars and scooters had to squeeze past shoppers. I’ve been bumped by a car before when I couldn’t move out of the way in the tight space fast enough. Now you can walk along the stalls peacefully, without having to worry about being run over. Always nice!

Market in Amalfi

The market is now located in the part of town that the Amalfitans refer to as “dietro al porto,” which means “behind the port.” This large pier is what defines the harbor of Amalfi, and it’s also one of the favorite spots for a passeggiata, or walk, in Amalfi. So now on Wednesday mornings you can enjoy a stroll along the port while doing your weekly shopping!

Market at the Port of Amalfi

Weekly markets like the one in Amalfi take place in different towns along the Amalfi Coast. On Tuesday mornings you’ll find the mercato in Ravello located in the two level parking area below Piazza Duomo. On Thursday mornings the market in Minori is set up along the waterfront. The largest weekly market on the Amalfi Coast takes place in Maiori on Friday mornings, and can be found by following the main road called the Corso Regina toward the top of town. The markets are generally set up by 8am and close down by 1pm. Even if you don’t find anything you need to take home with you, visiting the mercato is a great way to experience a bit of daily life on the Amalfi Coast.