Atrani: a charming, tiny village with an ancient heart
Less than a kilometre from Amalfi, Atrani's geographical position makes it a strategic point for exploring the entire Amalfi Coast, of which it forms part.
An ancient world in miniature, we are in the smallest Italian municipality by surface area, rich in history that attests to the passage of many peoples.
The only town on the Costiera to retain the fascinating atmosphere of a fishing village in the south of Italy, Atrani is distinguished by its handful of small houses that cluster on the hillside from the beach.
An inspiring place, then and now
The village of Atrani is of Roman origin, at which time it was called Atranum. Afterwards, everyone passed through here: Etruscans, Greeks, Normans, Swabians, French and Spanish, attracted by its position as a vantage point over the sea, along the valley of the river Dragone with the high, impregnable mountains behind it.
The landscape has always been the same, and the view is one of the most evocative on the Coast. Take a leisurely stroll through narrow alleyways, courtyards and walkways protected by arches, along the ups and downs of steps that all converge on the sea. This is enough to explore the places most steeped in history. Leave your car behind, and if you feel like a scenic walk, you could walk straight from Amalfi. There is peace in this natural hollow of the Amalfi Coast, protected from noise and traffic.
A coffee in the piazzetta
Head towards Piazza Umberto I, better known as the piazzetta, and sit down for an espresso coffee in this welcoming spot, looking out towards the sea since it was created as a mooring for boats on stormy days.
Visit the Church of San Salvatore de' Bireto overlooking the square: it was first built in the year 1000, although today it is in pure Neoclassical style. It was here that the investiture of the Doges of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi took place.
Marvel at the number of small churches in the village, peek inside to admire their paintings and statues. Make sure not to miss the Church of the Carmine and the Church of S. Michele Fuori le Mura, among others.
At the trattoria
Even the eating establishments here in Atrani exude the scent of history, and a gastronomic stop provides an authentic taste experience in an inspiring setting. Take a seat at a table in the open air, under umbrellas or in the discreet glow of the lighting in the evening. Some taverns set up tables under arches used for sheltering fishermen and storing nets.
If you are in the area in July, head to Atrani on the 22nd. On this date, celebrations are held in honour of Santa Maria Maddalena and the typical celebratory dish is the Sarchiapone: cannelloni made from cylinders of long pumpkins, stuffed with minced meat, fried and bathed in tomato sauce.
Atrani also has a long tradition in the production of fresh pasta. Come and enjoy it here, flavoured with the bounties of the sea. And at all hours, including the end of the meal, try the pasticciotto.
The people of Campania claim that the best is that of Atrani: a crumbly pastry, which in the local version contains a filling of custard and sour cherries.
A dip in the bay
The sheer cliffs surround a small beach of sand mixed with fine gravel, partly free and partly with bathing facilities, divided in half by the Dragone river.
The sea is clear and calm, somewhere between green and blue. Take a swim and look up for a glimpse of the village with its small colourful houses and churches; beyond, you can see the verdant, towering mountain.
And head back there in the evening to watch the fishermen set off to fish for lampreys.