The tradition places Amalfi as the place of an eternal spring, of an earthly paradise, where history and legend merge and become inseparable.
The myths about his foundation are numerous. Hercules, god of strength, loved a nymph named Amalfi, but she had a short life. He wanted to give him a burial in the most beautiful place in the world, he built a city, to which he gave the name of his deceased beloved.
The Greek geographer Strabon (1st century BC) evokes the origins of Amalfi, explaining that in pre-Roman times, the Amalfi Coast was almost uninhabited, with a single installation on the eastern border of the Amalfi Coast, on remains of the Etruscan state of Marcina, which coincide with the contemporary city of Vietri sul Mare.
The various historical sources agree on at least one thing, the Roman ascendancy of the city, attested by discoveries of archaeological remains of imperial age, such as the ninfeo (basin) of a villa probably built at the time of the Emperor Tiberius.
Among the legends revolving around the origins of Amalfi, the most widespread tells the epic adventure of a group of Roman families who, in the time of the Emperor Constantine, left for Constantinople. Navigating the Ionian Sea, they were surprised by a violent storm that forced them to take refuge near Ragusa in Dalmatia. After a brief stay, they resumed the sea, and between Palinuro and Pisciotta, founded a coastal village named after the river that flowed there, Melphes (present Melfi).
Frequently threatened by the incursions of the Vandals, they took refuge in Eboli, where they remained while continuing to explore the neighborhood. They discovered a place well protected and rich in water, Scala. They decided to settle there. Later, they founded two towns in the lower valleys to which they gave the name of Amalphia (“A-Melphes”), in memory of the abandoned village of Melphes, and Atranum, that is to say ” darkened “, because of the rocky cliffs that overlooked the narrow valley.
However, another hypothesis suggests that the origin of the name of the city could correspond to that of a Roman family of the 1st century of our era, the Amarfia.