We are now looking up the coast toward the west, as the map shows. Beneath us on our left are the roofs of Amalfi, ranged along precipitous streets and giddy lanes, which reverberate continually with the thunder of the sea.
That hotel, nestling on a narrow ledge of rock overhanging a tremendous precipice hundreds of feet above the sea, was a delightful old house. Living there was like living in an eagle’s nest, perched on the mountain’s crest. The hotel is approached by a long and break-neck flight of steps from the sea, which may be seen in front of the further end of the hotel if you look to the left of the lower portion of the first side pole of this balcony beneath which we are standing. Some distance beyond the cliff, up which those steps ascend, can be seen another cliff at whose feet dash the waters of the sea.
Only in more recent years has that building served as a hotel. It was built as a monastery in I2I2 by Cardinal Pietro Capuano for the Order of the Cistercians, but in 1583 it passed into the hands of the Capuchins.
The 22d of December, 1899, will ever remain a dark and terrible memory in the minds of the in-habitants of the little town below us, for on that day the spacious hotel was precipitated into the sea. Fortunately sufficient warning was given to enable most of the inmates to escape, but some were overwhelmed in the fearful catastrophe.
You can’t help but fix your eyes upon the young American girl seated upon the coping of the gallery, so there is no need of my telling you to look at her. If we look a little above and to the right of the young girl, in fact between the second and third poles beyond the one against which she is leaning, you can see the pillars of the cloisters belonging to the old monastery, and by looking along this vine-covered walk and past the figure of a man standing in the shadow and half concealed by the magnificent foliage by which he is surrounded, you may see the end of the same cloister.
From those cloisters we have just pointed out in the hotel, there is obtained one of the most awe-inspiring views to be found anywhere in the world – a scene that cannot be described. It must be seen to be appreciated. We shall go there now and look back to the town beneath us, and the rugged coast hidden from us here. The map shows that we shall be looking east toward Salerno.