Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi ☆☆☆

The Arsenale di Amalfi installed with the Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi, Museo Arsenale di Amalfi, Amalfi, Italy (Photo by Centro di Cultura e Storia Amalfitana)
The Arsenale di Amalfi installed with the Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi

The little civic and naval museum of Amalfi showcases the city's impressive marittime history

The Codice Foscariniano containing the Tavola Amalfitane, the world's first international marritime code, Museo Arsenale di Amalfi, Amalfi, Italy. (Photo courtesy of the Museo Arsneale di Amalfi)
Some tarì, medival Amalfi coins, Museo Arsenale di Amalfi, Amalfi, Italy. (Photo courtesy of the Museo Arsneale di Amalfi)

Recently moved from its old location in the city hall to the Arsenale, the impressive vaulted stone halls where Amalfi's ships were once built, the Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi ("Musuem of the Compass and of the Marritime Dukedome of Amalfi") is dedicated to the city's rich seafaring history.

Pride of place is occupied by the Codice Foscariniano, a 17th century compendium of nautical rules and history that contains one of the earliest examples of the Tabula de Amalpha—or Tavole AmalfitaneThese 66 chapters of bylaws and rules, drawn up in Amalfi between the 11th and 14th centuries, represent the world's very first international maritime code, which contineud to act as the common law of the High Seas until 1570.

Among the historical oddments are various antique nautical instruments, some passable paintings by local artists, and traditional costumes for the Regata Storica delle Quattro Antiche Reppubliche Marinare, the hisotrical boat race between Amalfi, Venice, Pisa, and Genova. The race itself takes place the first week in June, rotating between those four host cities (Amalfi will have it next in 2020, 2024, 2028, etc.).

Interestingly, for a while in the 10th to 14th centuries, Amalfi minted its own money from the Ducal papalce. A few of these tarì are on display (appropriately enough, looking a bit like embossed sea shells). They were officialy worth 1/4 a dinar, or a Byzantine coin, and were made of 12 carat gold. For a sense of value, in the 11th century a pergola of vines outside Ravello cost 15 tarì, a three-story seasisde house in Amalfi cost 3,000 tarì, and a comerical sailing ship was valued at 4,000 tarì.

And then there's all the fuss about the compass. Amalfi desperately wishes that its favorite son, Flavio Gioia, invented the compass in the early 1300s. Sorry, Amalfi. No dice. At best, Amalfitani mariners were merely among the earliest European adopters of this well-documented, thoroughly Arab navigational innovation.

Photo gallery
  • The Arsenale di Amalfi installed with the Museo della Bussola e del Ducato Marinaro di Amalfi, Museo Arsenale di Amalfi, Italy (Photo by Centro di Cultura e Storia Amalfitana)
  • The Codice Foscariniano containing the Tavola Amalfitane, the world
  • Some tarì, medival Amalfi coins, Museo Arsenale di Amalfi, Italy (Photo courtesy of the Museo Arsneale di Amalfi)
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Tips

How long does the museum take?

It really only takes about 20 minutes, though to peruse everything and read all the placards you might stay 45 minutes.

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).