Atrani is an authenic small town just down the road from Amalfi. Want to experience the Amalfi Coast. This is it. The small Piazza Umberto is the real thing.
If the tourists on the Amalfi Coast get too much, take a 10-15 minute walk from Amalfi to the town of Atrani 1 km from Amalfi for a totally different experience. Today it is a small fishing village but in its past Atrani had the same grand history of Amalfi, although on a smaller scale.
I have always enjoyed walking past this town, and spending some time to walk the maze of small alley ways exploring the town that is built into the cliffs. The old clock, and the beautiful piazzeta are regular places to see on our frequent visits to the Amalfi Coast.
On a recent trip to Atrani, in 2010, one moring I was in the town, taking some pictures of the piazzeta and commenting to myself how pleasant and "untourist-like" the small town is. I would stop on my walks, enjoy a coffee and a brioche, look at the fountain, and then make my ways up the steps back to the road that would take me back to the Hotel Villa San Michele just down the road.
Often travelers will pass by Atrani on their way to Amalfi, however, the stacked white houses built into the sides of the hill of the ravine make this an interesting town to explore. There is a good restaurant in town, La Piazzeta, which is noted in a number of travel books as a place to get a good meal for a reasonable price. For me, I have stopped for a cafe in the morning and usually just walk about the town.
It was unreal to return the next morning, after the major rain storm and disasterous flood, to see the peaceful town of Atrani so damaged by the ravege of the water.
During the previous evening a very heavy rain occured. We were out returning from Ravello and walking down the highway and had to take shelter in a restaurant to wait out the storm. The roads filled with water within minutes.
Well for Atrani, a stream flows under the narrow road that runs from the valley under the town. The stream over-flowed, the small alley-road became in essence a pipe delivering water into the small piazzeta. Water swirled around the piazzetta like the action in a washing machines. Cars and all all were swept into the piazzetta and then out to the beach and the sea.
Returning in the morning was a sureal experience, and it was hard to actually take in the devastation. The fountain, that dates to the 12th century was still intact, the piazzeta tiling was destroyed, the wrecked bodies of cars were thrown about. There was over a foot of sand and dirt that got washed down into the square. Businesses were trying to open their doors, all blocked by the sand and dirt and see what could be rescured.
It was in Atrani, during the height of Amalfi power, where once the doges of Amalfi were crowned and buried. The Collegiate Church of Saint Maria della Magdalena, built in 1274 is in a dominating position overlooking the gulf. With a baroque façade, inside it preserved precious paintings by Andrea da Salerno and Giovanni Angelo D'Amato.
If you want to visit the place where the Doges were crowned, you have to get to the chapel of Saint Salvatore di Bireto (from the name of the dogal cap) a little above the small and characteristic square Umberto I°.
San Salvatore de Birecto has been in some form since 940, although it has been rebuilt many times since. The main door was made in Costantinopoli in 1087. The church was used by the aristocracy of Amalfi for the elections of the Dogi della Repubblica Amalfitana.
There are no major buildings to tour, just a maze of alleys and narrow streets with vaults and arches, small squares and courtyards. We hope the rebuilding the the piazzeta will take place as soon as possible and we look forward to returning to Atrani on a future trip to the Amalfi Coast.
Back when the Amalfi Coast was the Maritime Republic of Amalfi, Atrani was the home to various noble families. The Church of St. Salvatore de' Birecto dates to the 11th Century and some of the highest government authorities, the Dogi, were crowned here. The church has bronze doors cast in Constantinople in 1087.
If you are into more substantial walks, use Atrani as your starting point to take the endless stairs to Ravello, Scala or Pontent. The views as you climb are incredible. In 2012 I thought I was taking a short cut, but not, ended walking quite high up the hills. Breathtaking physically and visually!
My Travels In Italy | Travel Journal | Glenn & Karen Marcus