Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Recently, I visited the village of Minori, a few picturesque bays along the Coast from Amalfi. I went to have a hair cut, but took the open-topped tourist bus to get there. Only €3 - a bargain, for the view and the breeze in your (yet to be made perfect) hair. I enjoyed my mini-visit to Minori very much, and sat down to write this blog post about it -- and found that on that very day The Telegraph in London had a story on Minori - it seems that it's the home town of UK-Italian celeb-chef Gennaro Contaldo. He waxes lyrical on the beach and the mountains, and gives some recommendations for eateries.

One of the the things I like about Minori - strangely, Gennaro doesn't mention this - is the name of its patron saint: Saint Trofimena. The story I heard was that an effigy of the Saint was washed up on the beach at Minori, and that's why the town adopted her. Wiki gives an enhanced version:  "Saint Trofimena was a young Sicilian martyr whose bones were found on Minori's beach and carried by a small herd of white heifer to the area where locals built temple to honour the martyr."

Santa Trofimena's Basilica

Inside the Basilica.
A quiet doorway in Minori.

Santa Trofimina and the beach crowd.
Whether it was her bones or an effigy, Minori does have a large and sumptuous Basilica dedicated to Saint Trofimena (where there are some of her relics), and a statue of her on a tall column on the beachfront. The history of Saint Trofimena is rather convoluted and exists in a few versions, but generally its agreed that her family forced her to marry, while she wanted to become a nun - very sadly, she became an early version of an honour killing. Having washed up on the shores of Minori, she was a popular saint along the Coast, since for a while she was the only one for whom the Amalfitani had any actual relics. These were stolen, recovered, lost, and re-found:
Today, Trofimena's relics are housed in the basilica in Minori. A medieval church was built around c.700 on the original basement of an ancient Roman church; was remodelled in the 12th century; and this was superseded by a complete rebuilding in the 18th century. In the crypt of the Basilica, on the main altar, the remains of Santa Trofimena are kept in an alabaster urn designed by the sculptor Gennaro Ragazzino in 1722. (source)
But I digress. Minori is a small but delightful village, clustered around the River La Rheggina,  for which the ancient Latin name was Rheggina Minor - hence the village's name 'Minori'. Further along is the somewhat larger village, distinguished from its smaller neighbour by the name 'Maiori'. Minori was, like Amalfi, a paper-producing town in medieval times, and its river is now covered for much of its course through the town, like Amalfi's - Corso Vittorio Emanuele marks the old river course.

Café with the locals in Minori.
Minori also boasts a reasonably well-preserved Roman villa, the Villa Romana -- the Romans liked to build swanky summer houses along the Amalfi Coast, though most were lost when Vesuvio erupted.

The hair-dressing excursion having been successfully completed, I enjoyed lunch along Corso Vittorio Emanuele at the pretty Ristorante Giardiniello - here Gennaro Contaldo and I have a meeting of the minds. Check out their website, if only for the passionate description of their little town:
Minori, Ancient Rheginna Minor, city of taste, is a small casket keeper of art, history, archeology and gastronomic traditions. In the maze of narrow streets the scent of earth and sea. At the Giardiniello restaurant, since 1955, thanks to the Di Bianco family that runs it with care, is always ready for the old recipe of Minori housewives. In the gorgeous garden, the triumph of the tastes of the sea of the Amalfi Coast, in the cool wine cellar prestigious regional and national labels.
La Giardiniello.
Excellent ravioli.

Under the pretty pergola: Ristorante Giardiniello.
Minori boasts quite a wide, open stretch of beach, and in the time of the Amalfi Maritime Republic it was a boat-building centre for the merchants of Amalfi. Today it's a pleasure lido for visitors and locals, dotted with colourful umbrellas and cafés along the esplanade.

The beach: Minori.
Local ceramics.
The view from the excellent bus.
Yes, I enjoyed my short visit to Minori. Then it was back on the open-top bus to listen to the music of Eddie Oliva, a local Amalfitano whose music the bus company thoughtfully provides as its passengers enjoy the coast breeze in their newly-primped hair.

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