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A few steps from Amalfi, in the so-called the Valle del Dragone, there is a small jewel, the smallest village in Italy which is also the Salerno municipality with the highest population density.

by Barbara Iovine

The Amalfi Coast is full of surprises, and today I want to share with you one of Italy’s best-kept secrets: Atrani.
It is located just a few steps away from Amalfi, between the sea and the high cliffs, in the so-called Valle del Dragone.
Atrani is the smallest village in Italy, and it is the municipality with the highest population density in the province of Salerno. 
With just 0.12 km² and 800 inhabitants, this small fishing village still retains its typically medieval soul and amazes all visitors with its unspeakable simplicity.

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A nativity scene on the Costiera

Once on the Amalfi Coast, a visit to this little city is highly recommended because Atrani is enchanting! Its medieval structure with arches, courtyards, alleys, the typical stairways, and houses set in the rock, makes it look like a natural nativity scene.
Try and imagine, together with this wonderful sight, the smell of the sea mixed with the scent of the citrus groves that grow on the coast... This is how Atrani has entered not only the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites but also the hearts of those who visit it!.


The beach

Visiting the village through the lemon scent

Reaching these little corners of paradise by bus or car is not often the best choice. You risk losing hours stuck in the summer traffic of the crowded Amalfi Coast. It is a far better choice to take advantage of the fast ferries serving the area perfectly: this way you will avoid a stressful journey and the show by the sea is among the most fascinating in the world.

Getting off the ferry in the nearby Amalfi, you can get to the small Atrani with a 10 minutes walk. Less known by tourists and preferred by the locals, here there is a small beach surrounded by rocks overlooking the crystalline sea: an astonishing view!

Feel the hot sun kissing your skin and breath the briny air of the sea: it will be like entering an alternate dimension, and the outside world will only be a far memory.
Fun fact! During the day the beach is a corner of peace to cool off from the summer heat, while at night it becomes a starting point for the lampare: the small fishing boats. They shine in the dark with their trembling lights and take back to shore delicious fish, which is served in the excellent restaurants in the area.
However, there is much more to see in Atrani besides the scenic beach. It may be the Italy’s smallest village, but with all the charming churches that hold valuable works of art, together with the breathtaking views, it will make your stay unforgettable. Take a moment to admire the spectacular sight of its ancient houses surrounded by the scented lemon groves: it’s one of a kind!
Moving from the beach you will get directly to the meeting point of the village, the piazzetta. With its stone fountain, bars, and restaurants it looks like a postcard from the past. I suggest you take a break and taste the local specialties while looking at the crystalline sea from the arches all around the square. It is a not-to-be-missed experience once in Atrani!


Atrani -  the village

Atrani and its churches

If you would like to stay a few more hours to visit the village of Atrani, I recommend some places of cultural interest, such as its remarkable churches. Maybe you can enjoy a refreshing spritz in the square and then go and visit the most representative building of Atrani, almost suspended on the street: the Chiesa di San Salvatore de Birecto

The outside of the church is already an impressive view, and it seems to invite you to climb its modern staircase. If you decide to visit it, do not forget to check the opening hours!
This cultural tour of Atrani can continue visiting the Chiesa della Madonna del Carmine and its Moorish-style bell tower. After that, there is the Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena Penitente: with its majestic majolica dome enchants all the visitors. Besides, its panoramic terrace, which overlooks the wonderful Gulf of Salerno, glows brightly when the sun reflects both on its white walls and the sea below: you are going to be dazzled by the amazing view!

I also suggest the Grotta di Masaniello, next to the Collegiata, and the Grotta dei Santi, which is accessible from a lemons’ terrace: it is another unforgettable spot.

Last but not least, just a few steps away from the Grotta di Masaniello and the Torre dello Ziro, there is the Santuario Santa Maria del Bando, accessible through a few hundred steep stairs. This number may scare you but, trust me, the effort will certainly be rewarded by the breathtaking view on the top!
Atrani is definitely a small pearl on the Amalfi Coast, with its views and the many beauties around the city. I am sure it will hold a special place in your memories.


Chiesa di San Salvatore de Birecto

Collegiata di Santa Maria Maddalena Penitente

  • In Torre dello Ziro, Giovanna D'Aragona - called "La Pazza" (the crazy) and illegitimate heir of Ferdinand I of Aragon - was imprisoned and executed together with her children, guilty of having lived an overwhelming love story with her butler.
  • Masaniello, the famous revolutionary Tommaso Aniello d'Amalfi, who led the revolt of the Neapolitans against the taxes imposed by the King of Spain, was the son of an Atranese woman and took refuge here, in the famous cave of the same name, to escape capture at the hands of the soldiers of the viceroy of Naples.

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