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Museo della Carta

On the borders of the Valle delle Ferriere stands the Amalfi Coast’s Paper Mill Museum. It stands as testimony to a time long gone, when papermaking was a closely guarded secret, and the method of producing those blank sheets so painstaking and tedious that it was considered as much an art as the words and illustrations that later be written on them.

During the 10th century, Amalfi was a sea power with a wide network of trade routes, and a high demand for paper to document the transactions made between the merchants. While the Arabs closely guarded the secret of papermaking (which they had learned from the Egyptians), the technique was eventually discovered, and perfected. Amalfi became one of the regional centres for this craft.

Unfortunately, the Amalfi paper industry eventually dwindled, and all that remains is the Paper Mill and Museum on the Valle delle Ferriere. It was established in 1959, by the local papermaker Nicola Milano. His family (one of the oldest and most respected names in Amalfi) had been in the papermaking business for generations, and in the Museum he captures the history that his forefathers helped to create.

The Amalfi Paper Mill and Museum houses various antique equipment and machinery. There are old wooden mallets, that would pound the materials into a pulp. There is a hydraulic wheel, that would propel the mallets. There is the Hollander, which was first brought into the Mill in 1745, and the press that would squeeze away as much of the water residue as possible from the sheets of pulp.

In the adjacent room, there is a very extensive exhibit on the history of papermaking, a library with all the historical documents related to its development, and an explanation of the paper making technique.

Visitors can arrange for a tour of the Amalfi Paper Mill and Museum, accompanied by the guides fluent in English, Italian, German and French. The tour includes a step-by-step walkthrough of the papermaking process, as demonstrated by the machines. All the antique papermaking equipment have been restored to working order; in fact, at the end of the tour, you will see, if not written proof, a blank sheet — made in the Mill itself — on which to document it.

The Amalfi Paper Mill and Museum preserves a moment in history when paper was hard to come by, when manuscripts were all lovingly written by hand, and the height of technological achievement was learning how to harness the power of water to mobilize the machines.

For this reason, a visit to the Amalfi Paper Mill and Museum is absolutely essential, if only to make us realise how much has changed since the advent of the internet or even the fax machine. Today, you can send a message to millions of people (many of whom you have never met) just by typing in a message in a small box on a computer screen, and then clicking “send”. But centuries ago, this was the only way of documenting ideas and experiences. Making paper was a labour of love.

Address: Via delle Cartiere
Phone Number: 328 318 86 26
Cost of Entry: € 3.40
Opening Hours: Daily from 10:00am – 6:00pm


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