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
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
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
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exhibit on the history of papermaking, a library with all the historical
documents related to its development, and an explanation of the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.
Via delle Cartiere
328 318 86 26
Cost of Entry:
Daily from 10:00am – 6:00pm