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Amalfi (ämälˈfē) [key], town (1991 pop. 5,589), in Campania, S Italy, a small fishing port on the Gulf of Sorrento. Built on a mountain slope, it is also a picturesque seaside resort. According to legend, Amalfi was founded by the Romans; it later became (9th cent. A.D.) an early Italian maritime republic. It rivaled Pisa, Venice, and Genoa in wealth and power and had a population of about 70,000. Amalfi's maritime code, the Tavole Amalfitane, had wide influence until the 18th cent. Amalfi reached its zenith in the 11th cent. Thereafter it declined fairly rapidly; it was captured (1131) by the Normans and sacked (1135, 1137) by the Pisans, and in 1343 a storm destroyed much of the town. Of note in Amalfi is the Sicilian-Arab cathedral (11th cent., with numerous later additions), which has an imposing facade, fine bronze doors cast (1066) in Constantinople, and a stunning cloister ( chiostro del Paradiso ). The Amalfi Coast, running from Salerno to Sorrento, is famous for its rugged scenery.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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