la casa del baglio
It is a typical amalfitan residence situated on the upper part of the Baglio Hill.
It originated in the centuries of medieval times when the Maritime Republic of Amalfi
dominated the waves and developed in the following ages. The vaste blue sea is visible
from its big terraces, sweeping from the high peaks of the Lattari Mountains down
to the view of Amalfi dipping its feet into the water in the hot summer. An Amalfi
with its white vouted houses and terraces lemon groves recolling to poetic fantasy
the mythical Garden of the Hesperides.
The comfortable welcoming house, heated in all seasons by the warm amalfitan sun,
has storage areas and stables covered with barrel vaults and pointed vaults on the
groun foor. These are medieval catodea, probably datating back to the 12th century.
The original medieval part is raised on another two floors: on the first floor a
room with lowered vaults is clearly visible, obviously built during the same period
as the room below; on the second floor there is a cross vault made with crossing
barrels. So this three-storey complex with three vaults is the oldest building,
datable to the first part of 12th century. The building, definitely a rural one,
belonged to a small landowner of Vettica Minore, a village that extended between
the sea and hill along the western border of the jurisdiction of the city of Amalfi,
was extended durin the Renaissance, especially after the tower of Cape Vettica was
built (1568). The tower assured better protection from the invasions of the Barbary
pirates. The room on the second floor with lunettes vaults, the barrel vaults and
the grey tuff at the root and limestone at the key, held solidly by lime and pumice
mortar are proof of this. Further enlargements during the 18th century are represented
by the vaults on the first and second floors.
In the sixteenth century the building became the residence of a wealthy local man.
And rightly so, considering the rooms just described and also because of a kind
of "baglio" (beam) made of a thick wall facing the entrance and the grotto
of St. Nicholas above (where prehistoric remains were found in the past) and strengthened
with solid lime, sand and pumice mortar. This wall has trilobate crenelation and
four struts from which the occupants of the building could shoot with arquebuses
on any attackers coming from the sea via the public stairway. This is where the
name "baglio", referring to the whole street, came from. This private
military post is included in the list of the amalfitan "tower-houses"
referred to since the 11th century and represents a unique example of viceregal
self-defence. It had a fundamental role of protection and communication among the
public towers of Cape Vettica and the distinguished one in San Pietro a Dudaro-Torre,
coming from the beach of Santa Croce.
The intelligent restoration of the whole historical building is an example to follow
in the area. It also shows the great passion of the present owners, worthy sons
of those sailor-farmer forefathers who had "one foot on the boot and the other
in the vineyard". They are also the couteous hosts of those foreign travellers
who are colled "tourists" today, willing to have them relive the fascinating
stories of a glorious past.
prof. G. Gargano - amalfi historian