Atrani Travel GuideIntroduction
Atrani is a town on the Amalfi Coast in the province of Salerno in the Campania region of south-western Italy. It is located in the south of Amalfi, less than half a mile, and just several a short drive from the coast. It is the smallest city in southern Italy, and in fact, in 2010, it was estimated that the local population of Atrani was only about 900 people.
Nobody’s really sure about how or when Atrani started out, but archeologists have discovered ruins from the 1st century AD, and Roman villas are known to have existed along the Almafi Coast that were covered in debris and ash from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. The first documented proof of the existence of Atrani can only be found in a letter by the Pope Gregory I to Bishop Pimenio of Amalfi which was dated 596 AD.
Nowadays, Atrani is known for its Mediterranean climate, with its mild and rainy winters, and summers that are only moderately hot. It is often very sunny and almost never foggy.
This charming little town is great place to visit for those who would like to get away from the crowds. Besides being away from traffic, the crowds here are also much lighter, even during the busy summer months.
What to See
The Collegiate Church of St. Mary Magdalene Penitent
Founded in 1274 on the ruins of a medieval fortress, It has undergone a lot of restoration and reconstruction over the centuries, and today, visitors can find many beautiful statues and paintings placed in its various side chapels. These include the famous sculpture, The Madonna Shepherdess from 1789, as well as The Incredulity of St. Thomas which was made by the 16th century artist Salerno Andrea Sabatini. The church’s facade is considered also considered by many to be the only example of Rococo on the Amalfi Coast.
Torre dello Ziro
A fortress on Monte Aureo that overlooks the town of Amalfi and Atrani, its exact date of construction is unknown, but research suggests that it was built in the 15th century. Here, you can find bastions and turrets, as well as the ruins of an old castle.
There is an interesting story behind its construction, where it is said that Joan the Mad, or Joan of Aragon, the illegitimate daughter of Henry’s illegitimate son, Ferdinand I of Aragon, was having an affair with a commoner. In order to cover the scandal, she was imprisoned by her brothers in this tower, along with her children where they were starved to death. Her story has inspired many a tragic novel, including one by the famous Italian writer Matteo Bandello.
Grotto of the Saints
Not far from the Tower of Ziro is the Grotto of the Saints. It is a small natural cave that opens onto a terrace with lemon trees. Its walls are decorated with Byzantine-style frescoes that date as far back as the 12th century, depicting the four Evangelists. This cave is actually the remains of the Benedictine monastery of Saints Quirico and Giuditta which was founded in 986 by Archbishop Leo I.
The Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Built in 1601, the church’s exterior is quite simple, but its bell tower which was built in the Moorish style is considered very valuable. Meanwhile, inside, the church is decorated in the Baroque style, with a 15th-century fresco depicting the Madonna. The church also houses a Nativity scene that is displayed during the holiday season, whose characters are actually portraits of prominent Atrani men and women from the 15th century.
The Church of Santa Maria del Bando
It was built in the 10th century on top of Mount Aureo, and according to legend, the church was dedicated to Mary to commemorate an incident where the Virgin Mary pardoned a man who was unjustly sentenced to death by hanging. Inside the church is a preserved urn of white marble that dates back from the Julio-Claudian dynasty. It is said that the urn belonged to a freed man of Claudius or Nero, and the inscription on the urn tells us the story of how this person was granted their freedom.
The Churches of San Salvatore de’ Birecto and the Church of San Michele Arcangelo
Both of these churches were built around the 10th and 11th centuries and feature interesting sculptures and paintings. San Michele Arcangelo also has a bell tower that visitors can climb to get a fantastic view of the Amalfi Coast and the surrounding areas.
Tips and Advice
- Atrani is a quiet little town, even during the height of the summer season. There are fewer tourists here than other nearby locations, so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, you simply wish to get away from the crowds, consider taking a few days just lounging around here.
- Make sure to try the local seafood and cuisine! Still a fishing town, all the seafood here is guaranteed fresh, and is usually paired with produced that were grown in the gardens of local farmers.