5 things to see in Atrani
“A brief smile of houses / on the grim face of the Coast / mouth to mouth with the breath of the sea“. With these verses A. Raviele describes Atrani and all the nature of the place. Located just over 10 kilometers from our boutique hotel, Atrani is a splendid village that has preserved much of its original structure, made up of narrow streets, arches, small squares and the characteristic “staircases”. Despite being similar in many respects to nearby Amalfi, it is far quieter, more authentic and pervaded by a profound sense of community.
What to see in Atrani? Here are 5 unmissable things!
The Church of San Salvatore de’ Birecto
The town has its center in the fascinating Piazza Umberto I, overlooked by the beautiful Church of San Salvatore de’ Birecto. It was built in the first half of the 10th century but today presents itself in its 19th century guise. At the time of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi it was the chapel where the coronation of the highest government authorities took place with the delivery of the chlamys and the cap, symbol of ducal power. Surrounded by a mosaic of buildings, it presents a notable decorative apparatus with furnishings of great value and rarity. Among these, a polychrome wooden group depicting the Madonna and Child stands out. Also interesting is the bronze door, cast in Constantinople in 1087 by the noble Pantaleone Viaretta.
The Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena
On the slopes of the mountain, in the same place where a small watchtower once stood which was later incorporated into the transept, stands the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena. It was built in the 13th century as thanks of the people of Atrani to the Madonna for having freed the town from the occupation of Manfredi’s Saracen mercenaries. But over the centuries it has undergone significant restoration work. It currently has a lively façade from the Baroque era, a majolica dome and an elegant bell tower in brown tuff with a square plan. Inside you can admire numerous eighteenth-nineteenth century statues and paintings. The Feast of Santa Maria Maddalena is celebrated on 22 July, with the traditional procession.
The Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Bando
At the top of Mount Aureo, in a place of enchanting beauty, there is the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Bando, an ancient chapel which can be reached by climbing hundreds of steps. It is documented for the first time in 1187 but probably already existed at the time of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi. According to legend, it is so called because the Virgin granted grace to a bandit who was about to be unjustly executed. The episode is depicted in a fifteenth-century fresco above the altar. According to another hypothesis, the name derives from the fact that the announcements, i.e. the public announcements, were proclaimed here. The structure has a beautiful majolica floor coming from the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Maddalena.
The Masaniello Cave
Near the Sanctuary of Santa Maria del Bando, surrounded by dense vegetation, there is the Masaniello Cave. According to tradition, it would have been the last refuge of the captain general of the Neapolitan people, before being betrayed and then killed in the Basilica Santuario del Carmine Maggiore in Naples, on 16 July 1647. The cavity, which adapts perfectly to the profile of the rock that hosts it, is divided into two parts: the lower one has an independent access while the upper one retains some elements that lead back to domestic life. Below the cave is located the maternal house of the famous people’s leader, who was therefore half Atranese.
The Cave of the Saints
Just above the old pedestrian road that connects Atrani with Amalfi there is the Grotta dei Santi, a small natural cavity that opens onto a terrace planted with lemons. Presumably it is all that remains of the ancient Benedictine monastery of Saints Quirico and Giulitta, founded at the end of the 10th century by the future archbishop Leo I. The cavity has no wall structures but a pictorial decoration in Byzantine style consisting of two theories of saints which extends over the entire internal surface. The state of conservation has compromised the identification of the saints but their creation is interesting. The site is private property and can only be visited upon request to the owner.