Atrani is a small seaside village, the smallest municipality in Italy by extension. Nestled between a rocky wall and the sea, this place offers its visitors a truly unique spectacle. The origin of the name is uncertain: some suggest the Latin adjective “Ater” – dark, corresponding to the village view, akin to a cave enclosed by steep rocky cliffs overlooking the sea. Others derive the name of the settlement from the founding Greek settlers, coming from Atria. This picturesque village, with a typically medieval structure, forms a beach amphitheatre which is now run through by the state road. At the bottom of the square stands the remarkable Moorish fountain by Luigi De Bartolomeis. From the square and along Via dei Dogi, we arrive at the main course, diving into the heart of the village, where we find a kaleidoscope of white houses, arches and flowery balconies. Take the time to visit the church of San Salvatore de ‘Birecto, dating back to the tenth century, where the Doges from nearby Amalfi were elected and crowned.
Atrani is also known for the richness of its typical cuisine, whose top-notch product is the blue fish, caught with artisanal nets created by fishing light attractors on boats that every night leave the beach to go offshore and illuminate the sea. In order to taste it, just come to Atrani at the end of August, during the festival, when the whole town is adorned with fishing nets and colored lights climaxing in the evening fireworks show on the water. During the feast, the blue fish, mostly fried, is passed out to all visitors and residents, who often procure some themselves in an old-fashioned way, by dumping wicker baskets from their windows. For those who go to Atrani at this time of the year, the suggestion is not to miss a dish of freshly made seafood pasta (handmade pasta) and a small cassata of sponge cake stuffed with traditional cream of the Amalfi’s “Sfusato” lemon. If you visit Atrani in warmer weather, the advice is to try a tasty plate of pasta and beans with blue fish. The symbol of Atrani is “O Sarchiapone”, a green pumpkin stuffed and baked in the oven.
ATRANI, THE ESCHER VILLAGE
The evocative village of Atrani and its alleys are on numerous prints by Maurits Cornelis Escher, who landed on the Amalfi Coast in 1923, where he made 110 works called “practical exercises”, depicting the entire coast. It was Atrani, however, to exert a particular charm upon the artist: “the hamlet”, as he liked to define it, attracted him the most with the magical atmosphere of its alleyways.