VILLA LA MADONNINA: Experience history/culture
One of the beauties of a vacation at the Amalfi coast is the fact that it’s not only very scenic and you get excellent Italian food, but the area has also a history of 2600 years which can be experienced in an unmatched way.
It spans from the impressive traces of Greek civilization documented in the well preserved Greek temples in Paestum, the remains of Roman civilization in Pompeii and many other places, to the period when Amalfi was independent (839 – 1131) and was one of the navels of world and the traces of many different occupations from the French, Spanish, Langobards in the following centuries.
For those interested, more exiting places are to be discovered that you can manage to see within one vacation. All places can be reached in a one-day excursion from the villa. You may want to explore them yourselves, which is very easy or take a guided tour, which is offered by different operators. If you want to book a tour, check with Nino Gorga. Tel.: 089 871046.
Before I point to the historical sites I must talk about a great series of events with classical music in Ravello and sometimes in other places like Praiano and point to the Opera house in Napoli.
Ravello chamber music:
It’s a wonderful experience to listen to classical music in a beautiful setting in Ravello and in other towns along the coast (From March – November and around Christmas and New Year). See the program of the Ravello concert society: Ravello concerts
Opera house in Napoli:
For all lovers of classical music and especially operas another highlight is the opera house in Napels: Teatro di San Carlo – the oldest working opera house in Europe opened in the year 1737. See the web site Teatro di San Carlo. You also can order tickets on line there. Teatro di San Carlo
The eruption of the Vesuvio beginning with the 24th of August 79 b.c. was for some a fatal experience for the inhabitants of Pompeii and Ercolaneo but for us it gives us the opportunity to get an impression how the Romans lived more than 2000 years ago in a small town and experience the high standard of their civilization. Look at the excellent official web site of the sopraintendenza archeologica di Pompeii: Pompeii
For all who are interested in history and ancient architecture it’s a must to see Pompeii. Some say that Ercolaneo is more interesting to visit but I found Pompeii more impressive. I would take a personal guide to do a tour of three hours. But of course you can easily spend a day there too. The guides are normally available at the entrance. Agree on the price and the time he spends with you. A good and thrilling preparation for a visit is to read the excellent novel Pompeii from Robert Harris. It is a fiction about the time of the eruption of the Vesuvius, but very much based on historical fact.
Directions: From our Villa la Madonnina you drive to the autostrada via Positano or Agerola, then take the autostrada in the direction of Napoli. Then take the exit of Pompeii nord. It takes about 60 – 75 minutes to go there from the villa.
Many of the best pieces of sculptures and mosaics found in Pompeii and Herculaneum and other places around Napels can now be seen in the world famous National Archaeological Museum in Napels. See the official Website: Archeological Museum Napoli
For those of you who do not have too much time but still want to get an impression what luxury meant in Roman times I recommend to visit Villa Pompea in Oplontis. Ashes covered it by the same eruption of the Vesuvius as Pompeii. Now it’s completely excavated and well preserved. It’s a wonderful experience. You can very well imagine the architecture of the villa and the different rooms, you see how rich people made their life comfortable at that times, with a huge swimming pool, areas for workout and to relax and beautiful, well preserved paintings in nearly all rooms.
Opening hours, tickets and reserve a guide here: Oplontis tickets, guide
Directions: First same as to Pompeii. After the exit from the autostrada Pompei nord you take the street on the right and enter the town Torre Annunuziata. After about 3 km (2 miles) you find the villa Oplontis. From the villa it takes about 60 – 75 minutes to go there.
There are not many places where you get such a good impression about the capability of the ancient Greek to build monumental temples. The three temples in Paestum were built between 550 – 460 b.c. and are the best preserved Dorian temples in the world in a beautiful green setting. A must is also the museum with many sculptures and with the famous tomb of the diver. For more information see following website: Paestum
Directions: To visit Paestum from the Villa la Madonnina you drive the beautiful Amalfitana to Amalfi and then Salerno. From there you follow the coastal road to Paestum, which cannot compare with the Amalfitana. Then follow the signs. From the villa it takes about 2 hours to go there.
Local artist: PAOLO SANDULLI
Paolo is working in the Saracen tower, which you can see from Villa la Madonnina. It is worthwhile visiting him and watching him at his work, talk with him and if you like his works buy a painting or terracotta sculpture. He ships worldwide.
Many of his terracotta cotta pieces show people or scenes he sees around him. So he made a series of heads portraying local fishermen many of them with characteristic, impressing faces. Unfortunately some of the fishermen did not like this, though none of them ever visited him to see their portrays. Two of them don’t greet him anymore.
Paolo made also a series of heads of girls, which serve as a pot for different plants. See one of them, which you find in the villa, in the photo gallery below. We also have several paintings and other small sculptures in the villa.
A nice collection of the girls with the plants on the head you find in the garden of the five stars hotel Pallazzo Murat in Positano.
Contact information: Paolo Sandulli, Torre a Mare, 84010 Praiano, (Tel.: +39 08987 4149 or +39 3394 401008) Paolo Sandulli.