Villa Alba d'Oro is a typical Amalfi 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 Mediterranean 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 vaulted houses and terraces lemon groves recalling to poetic fantasy the mythical Garden of the Hesperides.
The comfortable welcoming house, heated in all seasons by the warm Amalfi sun, has storage areas and stables covered with barrel vaults and pointed vaults on the ground floor. These are medieval catodea, probably dating 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 during 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 Amalfi "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 courteous hosts of those foreign travelers who are called "tourists" today, willing to have them relive the fascinating stories of a glorious past.
prof. G. Gargano - amalfi historian