Like the rest of the region, the Amalfi Coast lies in a Mediterranean climate, featuring warm summers and mild winters. It is located on the relatively steep southern shore of the Sorrentine Peninsula, leaving little room for rural and agricultural territories.
The coast comprises 11,231 hectares between the Gulf of Naples and the Gulf of Salerno. The only land route to the Amalfi Coast is the 40 kilometres (25mi) long Strada Statale 163 which runs along the coastline from the town of Vietri sul Mare in the east to Positano in the west. Thirteen municipalities are located on the Amalfi Coast, many of them centered on tourism.
First mentioned in the 6th century, Amalfi soon afterwards acquired importance as a maritime power, trading grain from its neighbours, salt from Sardinia and slaves from the interior, and even timber, in exchange for the golddinars minted in Egypt and Syria, in order to buy the Byzantine silks that it resold in the West. Grain-bearing Amalfi traders enjoyed privileged positions in the Islamic ports, Fernand Braudel notes. The Amalfi tables (Tavole amalfitane) provided a maritime code that was widely used by the Christian port cities. Merchants of Amalfi were using gold coins to purchase land in the 9th century, while most of Italy worked in a barter economy. In the 8th and 9th century, when Mediterranean trade revived it shared with Gaeta the Italian trade with the East, while Venice was in its infancy, and in 848 its fleet went to the assistance of Pope Leo IV against the Saracens.