SCALA, superlative Amalfi Coast

The Amalfi Coast defines itself by superlatives when referring to its various towns. Smallest, largest, coolest, smartest, quirkiest… all the locales along this sun-kissed strip have a little something to set them apart. And Scala – set 400 meters above sea level in the province of Salerno – is certainly no exception, with undisputed status as Amalfi’s oldest town.

The provincial pulse can be traced at least 1000 years back, meaning that the land and legends of Scala are founded in a rich, fertile soil of both historic and natural glory. In its ancient economic splendor, Scala was home to no less than 130 churches, a fact still felt when visiting this old bourg, with its still-standing structures and remarkable ruins all bearing testament to religious traditions and monastic meditation. Situated at fitting equinox between mountain and sea, Scala bears a classic Amalfi Coast seal of diversity in its natural homogeny, and nomination as one of UNESCO’s prized World Heritage Sites.

Nature walks, ranging from seaside to hill to mountaintop, are a unique feature of Scala’s terrain – and although other Amalfi destinations such as Positano do include access to hikes and trails, Scala stands alone in its sheer number of options and astonishing list of habitats for nature-lover enjoyment. It’s easy to let Scala become your point of departure for all kinds of adventures, and the best word of advice when coming here is to bypass hotels and hostels entirely – go instead for life as a local and choose an Amalfi Coast rental apartment or villa, which will give you not only the bird’s-eye view but also the best version of a Scala sojourn. Where to begin once you arrive? Try a sampling of Scala’s architectural roster-of-relics, including medieval ruins, a Moorish bell tower, an Arab bath, and more.

After admiring the footprints of Scala’s faithful, set out to blaze your own trail through the many and marvelous nature walks. Scala is home to State Natural Reserve Valle del Forriere, which basically means there a lot of cool stuff to see if you like hanging out with flora and fauna – including “living fossil” ferns, carnivorous flowers, famed chestnut trees (Scala celebrates these with an annual chestnut festival), striking salamanders, buzzards, otters, and even a prehistoric cave festooned with stalagmite and stalactite formations. As usual for an Amalfi Coast excursion, a brief overview never does justice to a particular locale… so if Scala sounds like your style, check out the many wonderful online guides and lists for more specifics on this stunning ancestral spot.

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