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Atrani is on the Amalfi Coast, just 700 meters away from the more famous Amalfi. It is the smallest comune in Southern Italy.

View of Atrani and the Amalfi Coast

Understand[edit]

Atrani was founded by the ancient Roman aristocracy, and later became the residence of the upper crust of society in the Republic of Amalfi. Unfortunately, the town lost importance as a result of invasions by the Normans and Pisans.

Atrani is a small fishing town today.

The town is located between the Civita Hill and Aureo Hill. Atrani is along the valley of the river Dragone, named for a legend saying there once was a terrible dragon that would breathe fire and would hide himself there.

Though it is part of the Amalfi Coast, it is the only town along the coast to preserve intact its antique, traditional characteristics.

The initial houses face the beach directly. They are grouped around the square and move around the church of San Salvatore and the marble fountain before going up towards the valley and climbing along the rocky mountain and crossing the gardens and the lemon fields. Atrani is isolated from automobile traffic because it is protected by its antique houses with flowered balconies. The central square of Atrani leads directly to the beach and the sea by crossing an antique passageway created to save boats from sea storms.

Climate[edit]

Atrani has a Mediterranean climate, with mild and rainy winters and summers that are moderately hot, very sunny and almost never foggy.

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Map of Atrani

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  • Church of San Salvatore de' Birecto: Built in the 10th century, the church has a square plan with front porch and is divided into three naves with barrel vaults. It used to face west with an entrance in Via Arte della Lana. In the Baroque period the current facade was built with the clock, the staircase and atrium. At the time of the Amalfi Republic, the church was the palace chapel where they were crowned the suchi and where they deposited their ashes. The oldest pieces in the church are a tombstone of the 14th century, depicting the noble lady Atranese Filippa Napolitano and a marble slab of the 12th century, depicting two peacocks. The peacock, sacred to Juno, was revered by many Eastern peoples as a symbol of vanity and pride, well represented by the people and goods of Amalfi. The peacocks are also a symbol of resurrection. Doors of bronze, made in 1087, were donated to the church by the noble Atranese Viarecta Pantaleon. The door is divided into tiles of depicted scenes, containing the image of Christ, the Madonna and some saints. It is now housed in the church of Santa Maria Maddalena.
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception: Next to the church of San Salvatore de' Birecto, It consists of a single nave with a barrel vault. The main altar in polychrome marble is facing west, in contrast to the medieval model. Embedded in the wall there is a Roman cinerary urn used as a water reservoir. The bronze doors of the church of San Salvatore de' Birecto were made for this church.
A view of the Collegiate Church of St Mary Magdalene
  • Collegiate Church of St. Mary Magdalene Penitent (Santa Maria Maddalena): Collegiate Church of St Mary Magdalene was founded in 1274 on the ruins of a medieval fortress on the initiative of Atrani. Over time the church has undergone considerable restoration. In 1669, the sacristy was equipped with an external counter. In 1753, as the population grew the church was enlarged and expandedt. It was during this work that the fortress was demolished in order to free up additional space. The church is decorated with two transepts. One ceiling is covered externally with tiles; the other has a flat roof. There are numerous statues and paintings placed in various side chapels: "The Madonna" shepherdess (famous sculpture of 1789) and "The Incredulity of St. Thomas" (work of the 16th-century Salerno Andrea Sabatini). The facade of the church is considered "the only example of Rococo on the Amalfi Coast". The terrace of the sacristy overlooks the Gulf of Salerno as the Belvedere of Villa Cimbrone. The bell tower, with its brown tuff, is reminiscent of the Madonna del Carmine in Naples.
  • Church of San Michele Arcangelo ("Camposantino"): This is St. Michael's Outside the Walls because it is located outside the ancient walls of the city, near the North Gate, bordering Ravello. It was built between the 11th and 12th centuries. It is reached via a flight of stairs and at the top there is the bell tower. The interior of the church is trapezoidal and shows the sloping walls of the rock. The church was used as a cemetery until 1927, and was a mass grave during the plague of 1656. The altar was created in the Baroque style and is a painting of Cretella dated 1930, depicting the Holy Warrior. To the left of the altar, a staircase leads to a small chapel, very similar to the chapel in the abbey of Santa Maria Oleari.
  • Torre dello Ziro: The fortress is on the Monte Aureo, overlooking the town of Amalfi and Atrani and is located on the territory of Scala. The date of construction is unknown, but may have been in the 15th century. The structure, flanked by bastions and turrets, was made in conjunction with another castle on the north, near Pontoon. The ruins of this castle can still be seen.
  • Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel: Built in 1601, the church's façade is quite simple, though bell-tower built in Moorish style is valuable. The interior is decorated in Baroque style, consisting of a single nave with a barrel vault. On the altar is a 15th-century fresco depicting the Madonna. The building houses a Nativity scene, set up during the holiday season, whose characters are faithful reproductions of Atrani men and women during this period. The location and size of the statues are directly proportional to the wealth represented: they were in fact the same people who commissioned and paid the characters.
  • Cave and House of Masaniello
  • Church of Santa Maria del Bando: This church was built in the 10th century on top of Mount Aureo. Restoration was carried out between the 12th and 13th centuries and therefore it has motifs typical of that era. The church has a single nave with a small sacristy. The floor was constructed in the 19th century, with square tiles with geometric patterns, from the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena. The church is so named because legend tells that the Virgin pardoned a man, who was banished unjustly and sentenced to be hanged. The incident is depicted in the fresco above the altar, which depicts the Madonna and Child on the left and a man about to be hanged. Inside the building is preserved cinerary urn of white marble, dating from the Julio-Claudian dynasty, belonged to a freedman of Claudius or Nero. The inscription of the urn testifies to the liberation that an imperial freedman, a noble of the royal family, granted to a woman who therefore, it is often assumed, has become her master's wife (a custom particularly common in the period between Augustus and Marcus Aurelius).
  • Grotto of the Saints: Below and not far from the Tower of Ziro is the Grotto of the Saints. It is a small natural cave, which opens onto a terrace planted with lemon trees. Its perimeter is an irregular quadrilateral and the walls are decorated with Byzantine-style frescoes, dating from the 12th century and depicting the four Evangelists. This cave is what remains of the Benedictine monastery of Saints Quirico and Giuditta male, founded in 986 by Archbishop Leo I.

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