Monday 26 November 2012

Praiano-Amalfi Coast | Sinuous Shoreline Highlighted by Emerald Waters.

Praiano is one of the several beauties of Italy along the more than wonderful  Amalfi Coast,an enchanting  place on a sinuous shoreline highlighted by emerald waters.

Situated halfway  between the historic former Marine Republic,the beautiful Amalfi and the marvellous Positano (I wrote a post about that sublime place)you can find in that resort a paradise with an  unique  scenery,the Costiera Amalfitana so famous worldwide for its magic atmosphere,unforgettable landscapes and those colours composed by a spectacular Mediterranean vegetation, limpid and crystalline waters with a tonality of colour unique,tiny natural bays and hidden coves.

All that melted together are the exaltation of an artistic work and masterpiece of nature framed by outstanding views all around,that place is so loved all around the world for that features and much more,it is one of those classic places in the world which once visited the traveller is waiting for to come back very soon or in some cases difficult to leave once ended the stay. 

A corner of that paradise is that town Praiano which with its about 2,000 inhabitants although not very populated is one of those magic places you can not miss to visit when you are discovering the unique beauty of that coast of Campania,so loved in ancient times by the first Greek colonists and Roman Emperors who immediately could resist to the fascination and charm of such place.

Situated at just 8,0 km from Positano,reachable in about 10 minutes driving,the resort is located in an authentic Eden between the charming promontory of Capo Sottile which with its picturesque silhouette embraces the magnificent Conca dei Marini,a spectacular bay which is one of the most scenic places of the local area a place where you can stay all day.

Simply to admire the rock formations,imagining a Sirens planet as in the ancient Greek legends,when those creatures crossed the Aegean Sea reaching the Tyrrhenian and landing on the cliffs of Capri,narrated in several legends along all the Sorrentine Peninsula and Amalfi Coast.

Praiano has always kept its real identity and image,although it was for long time favourite resort of distinguished people in the past,such as the Dukes of the Marine Republic of Amalfi and the Venetian Dogi,who discovered that corner kissed by mother nature during their trips by sea from North to South along the Italic Peninsula.

Those noble Venetian Leaders decided to choose Praiano as favourite haven for its position,mild climate all year and because far from the most populated centres of the coast,a refuge of peace and serenity to contemplate that enchanting set composed by  its small houses perched on the local headland and others descending gently on the shore of its small and romantic gulf.

The name Praiano derives from the ancient name Pelagianum which means high sea,same name of that group of Sicilian Islands in the province of Agrigento (Linosa,Lampedusa and the tiny Lampione),The Greeks and later the Romans usually gave that name to those places where the horizon seemed endless looking around and away from the coast.During the medieval era the name was changed in Plagianum under Amalfi rule and later took the current name Praiano.

In the course of its history the current resorts lived different periods with changed of rulers,originally a  Hellenic and Roman settlement,part of Amalfi Republic bur also under Angevins influence and after that French Dynasty conquered the Southern Italy over thrown the Swabians.

Praiano was already pretty known to be a very famous centre for silk production with its active small textile factories and it obtained by Charles of Anjou King of Sicily and Naples a large autonomy and a relevant privilege it was also Universitas,in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies that title was granted only and exclusively to those centres which deserved a autonomy at the behest of maximum governor,due to productive,commercial and economic merits.

The historical steps of the town continued with the incorporation in the Bourbon Reign under Spanish rule in the 19th century and in the year 1860 with the campaign led by the Savoy House sending Giuseppe Garibaldi to release those lands Praiano joined the Kingdom of Italy.

The town has a sort of magic aspect,every visitor fall in love at first sight,in its dawn when the sun arise,in its sunny mornings when the light of the sun reflects on its inviting waters,in its wonderful sunsets when it is as a hymn to the most beautiful rainbow which is a sort of multicoloured fan.

The evenings and sweet nights are always delighted by that unique Mediterranean breeze and all that is accompanied by the view of the lights of its houses which crown all the town with its splendid Marina which is one of its most captivating highlights.

From a side of the promontory of Capo Sottile,the view is something absolutely to immortalise in thousands of pictures,with that stunning view across the gulf of Positano and the great image of the island of Capri.(I also wrote a post about that sublime islands in the case you are interested)

The small centre is a series of narrow streets,coloured houses and many steps leading to unforgettable view points where the visitor can admire picturesque endless horizons and beautiful landscapes.It is mainly arranged behind the coastal road Via Roma which runs from east to west in correspondence of the National Road the Statale SS 163,while the core is developed along Via Umberto I a long avenue which embraces another important local artery Via Flavio Gioia,inside them start the beauty of the heart of that resort.

The altitude is from 80 metres to the 190 metres over the level of the sea, dominated by the Monte Tre Pizzi,the highest mountain in the surrounding which increase with its view the charming natural environment of that spectacular corner of Amalfi Coast.. 

You can start the visit of the town from one of its most important historic monument the Chiesa di San Luca Evangelista,a Church dedicated to St.Luke the Evangelist,built in the late 16th century,exactly in the year 1588 probably over a previous medieval religious building dating back the early 12th century.

Thar charming white Sacred Temple was totally restored in the 18th century, developed on a wide rectangular plan,it is a construction in Baroque style in light colour with a central doorway and other two on its sides surmounted by an ample arched window placed under a huge pediment.That Religious building is flanked by a high bell tower developed on a square plan and elevated on three blocks,in the second was placed a large circular watch while the third in the upper section is occupied by the belfry.

It consists in a three nave,a central and two aisles in which were built six chapels on both sides,the main highlights are inside consisting in a silver bust of the Patron Saint St.Luke and a beautiful coloured majolica floor a typical artistic work dated the 17th century and notable are also the arcades along the central nave leading to the altarpiece.

Very interesting also some frescoes dating back the 16th century by Giovanni Bernardo Lama a Renaissance Neapolitan painter active in particular in the city of Naples and in Salerno where he worked with Andrea da Salerno famous to be one of the pupils of the great Raphael.That painter was considered for the use of perspectives combined with a creative choice of colours one of the most talented local artists in that period.

The Chiesa di San Giovanni Battista is another Religious building situated in the centre of Praiano,it is a Church dedicated to St.John Baptist probably erected in the 11th century and ended two centuries later. Built on a rectangular plan,it presents a gable facade with a rectangular doorway,in its interior austere but with charming lines you can admire its altarpiece located in the apse beneath a sinuous domed vault.

Another Church is the Chiesa di San Tommaso,dedicated to St.Thomas,it is a small Religious construction with a nave erected on rectangular plan,very sober is the facade with an ample pediment and a rectangular portal,the highlights are in its interior with a crucifix of Neapolitan school dating back the 18th century and an altarpiece painted by an unknown artist of the 16th century,depicting the Virgin Mary with Jesus Child,St.Thomas and a Pope.

Marina di Praia,is one of the most panoramic local places in sunny days,it is as a shining jewel to admire on the coastline if you are sailing along the route Amalfi –Capri and in addition to that relevant detail,the great views it offers over the bay.Famous for the formation of its beach,between two impressive and big rocks and dominated by a tower called Torre a Mare erected in medieval period as check point during the period of  the Republic of Amalfi,when all the coast suffered several attacks by Moorish and Saracens pirates.

Close to the Marina you can see a Church,the Chiesa dell´Annunziata (St,Mary of the Annunciation),that religious building was totally destroyed in the year 1924 by a flood and rebuilt thanks the offers of the locals,it contains a wooden statue of the Virgin dating back the 18th century which was re found during the work of reconstruction.

From there in a short time by boat you can reach the stunning marine caves of Dell´Africana and Suppraiano,caves which were well known since the Roman times,that one of Suppraiano is very suggestive for its arched entrance,absolutely spectacular for the contrasts of soft lights and the waters inside which gave the rocky walls in its interior depending of the sun rays entering in that space,the light generates some charming colours which changes of tonality depending by its intensity,a strong gray to a tendency to a clear mix of light blue.

Those grottoes are also called the Grotte Incantate,(Enchanted Caves) the ancient Romans thought they were inhabited by Gods who during their trips found refuge inside them and furthermore with the echo and the flow of the waters penetrating inside they generated divine sounds.

The town is also famous for its steps,where the visitor can enjoy unforgettable landscapes just like in Capri or Positano.Those long steps permit to reach wonderful corners of the promontory over the town immersed in a splendid Mediterranean vegetation,the Passeggiata di Terramare (walk of Terramare) is probably one of the most suggestive promenades of the coast with a total view of Praiano and the coast overlooking Torre a Mare.

In the area there are many other splendid excursions to enjoy one of them is the visit of the small district of Vettica Maggiore,famous for its beautiful views towards Capri and for the presence of the Chiesa di San Gennaro a  Church dedicated to that Saint.It was built in honour of the Saint Patron of Naples Bishop of Benevento and it is  a beautiful example of Amalfi architecture

.Erected in the 16th century,notable is the Renaissance style of that Temple with a charming facade flanked by an imposing bell tower with a splendid stylish roof.Developed on Latin cross with three nave,the beautiful highlight is a majolica tiled dome in correspondence of the apse and in its interior a marvellous majolica floor.

The beauty of Vettica Maggiore furthermore is particularly visible if you enjoy an excursion by boat admiring its houses from the side of Capo Sottile descending as a terrace in steps to the shore of the Mediterranean and very close you can admire another tower part of the local historic patrimony the Torre di Grado built under Spanish rule during the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies as check point in the period of the Bourbons.

From that tower starts the magnificent Passeggiata di Grado,a promenade descending until the Spiaggia di Gavitella, a beach which is considered one of the most beautiful of the entire Amalfi Coast and famous to be also considered the sunniest due to its position and its long exposition to the rays of sun for long time during the day.

Naturally if you are spending your holidays in that great place,you can enjoy one of the most spectacular walk along the iconic Sentiero degli Dei,the Path of the Gods,all people who enjoys that unforgettable walk comes back home with those sublime images in his eyes and mind,for its unique scenery that scenic trail offer,something simply unique and unforgettable,it is also a great experience to admire the sinuous shoreline of that divine coast from different points and the views are simply magic.

The charm of that trail is to admire the coast from another perspective from the local heights a place which seems an Eden,a paradise of colours,divine nature and views very difficult to forget.A very suggested route is starting from Praiano reaching the Colle Serra,a scenic hill situated at 579 metres of altitude,in a marvellous trail between a magnificent vegetation and with impressive rocky walls.

You will reach descending towards the Convento di San Domenico,an old Monastery dedicated to Saint Dominic and from there going down furthermore you will reach Nocello at an altitude of 430,0 metres,where you will note the natural changes with the presence of  plants and Mediterranean bushes.

The path from there has an gently alteration in alternate slopes always between the 430,0 and 450,0 metres until ending to Montepertuso where you are at an altitude of 352,0 metres and in that point you can continue until Positano.(I wrote something about that wonderful path and those places in the post of Positano if you want to know more).

The Sentiero degli Dei is so called because in ancient times it was believed that trail was inhabited by the divinities venerated by the polytheist religions embraced by Greeks and Romans and from those hills the Gods saw and observed everything including the coast and to decide their will.

The proximity to Positano,Amalfi and all the beautiful places along the Costa Amalfitana offers the visitor a multitude of unforgettable endless list of visits such as,Sorrento and its peninsula which are not far and towards south apart the city of Salerno,rich in history and art you can explore and discover the beautiful and wild Costa del Cilento reaching the border of the Region Basilicata,very recommended for its wild landscapes which will show you something of really impressive in a unspoilt scenery all to remember.

The town also hosts very suggestive events,the procession of the Virgin Posa Posa of Positano also touches the municipality,there is also an event called Full Moon Lights,the Notti di Luna Piena,which has a very particular charm with local traditional stories,narrations,in something also mystical but all its linked to the old popular local traditions with music and the light of torches admiring that enchanted scenery.

Another event very famed called I Suoni degli Dei is probably for its scenic location the most captivating,celebrated on the Path of the Gods close to the square of a Church called Santa Maria di Castro,a great appointment in a very lively atmosphere where it is possible to enjoy concert and performance of divine classic and contemporary music creating a sort of magic atmosphere all around that stupendous and inspiring corner of Amalfi Coast.

The Patron Saint,San Luca (St.Luke) has a relevant importance in Praiano and the town dedicates two days a year a special veneration to its Protector.The first is celebrated in summer the first Sunday of July while the second event takes places in autumn the day 18th October ,all that explains you also the importance of the strong religious devotions of the local population who live those two appointments with extreme passion.

The town is also a Goumet Paradise,there you can enjoy according the most typical gastronomic local  traditions of Amalfi Coast,a cuisine mainly based on healthy Mediterranean ingredients and obviously fish and seafood are undoubtedly relevant highlights.Clams,prawns,mussels and squids are always fresh and often present in sauces,pasta and other specialities.

Some delicious recipes,among the most distinguished and popular plates are the Risotto alla Pescatora,(Seafood rice) Scialatielli all´Amalfitana,(homemade pasta with a delicious sauce),Totani e Patate (big squids with potatoes cooked in casserole style) and Sarde con Patate,(Big sardines with potatoes) and the Calamaretti all´Amalfitana little squid cooked with garlic,olive oil,pepper and tiny slices of bread.

Do not miss yo try a succulent plate the Spaghetti alla Marinara (seafood spaghetti) and the traditional  Migliaccio Praianese,pasta cooked with eggs.The Minestra Maritata is a soup which combines a stock of chicken meat with the Pezzenta a local pork sausage,that plate has a long tradition and history it was born in that gastronomic category classified as "poor cuisine" and continue to be a relevant local plate.

The local cuisine is also characterised by an use of herbs as parsley,thyme,mint,laurel and vegetables,the Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta with beans),the Sarchiapone is another traditional local plate consisting in pumpkin rolls filled with minced meat and cheese and cooked in a tomato sauce.

Caciotta cheese often present as starters or snacks,there are others simply exquisite such as a local Ricotta,Provola and Fiordilatte very appreciated for their high quality and taste.

Among cakes you can taste and enjoy the famous Sfogliatella,but also the Babá al Limocello a sort of flavoured Limoncello Bigné.The lemon of the coast is another of the most important local products,so famous for its flavoured taste and to be very juicy is the basic ingredient to make the iconic and emblematic local Limoncello.

About wines,there is an excellent selection of a great reputation and quality worth to be mentioned Furore,Ravello and Tremonti,smooth wines produced by grapes cultivated on hills at a high not superior of 650 metres of altitude,that cultivation of vineyards produce unique flavours,wines with body,very appreciated immediately for a taste which is very palatable and including very eclectic because they can be combined with a wide variety of food. 

It is not difficult to reach the resort,from Naples by car,you can take the A3 Motorway in direction Castellamare di Stabia continuing from there to Salerno.Once you are in Positano follow the signals Praiano,after 8 km taking a road called Via Croce you will come at destination.By bus from Sorrento you can take at the local station of that famous resort one of the vehicles managed by SITA Network with destination Amalfi and stopping  in Praiano.

Discovering Praiano is one of the most great experiences in Amalfi Coast,apart the most celebrated Amalfi,Positano,Ravello,Maiori there are many other places to visit and enjoy in that universe of absolute beauty,one of of the them is of course that marvellous diamond,along that sinuous shoreline which is a marvel of nature and those emerald waters are something so special and sublime which you will undoubtedly remember for ever.

Francesco Mari

Recommended Accommodations in Praiano

Hotel Le Sirene
Hotel Casa Angelina
Hotel Margherita
Hotel La Perla
Hotel Smeraldo
Hotel Onda Verde
Hotel Le Fioriere
Grand Hotel Tritone

Recommended Restaurants in Praiano

Ristorante la Strada
Ristorante Smeraldo
Ristorante Da Armandino
Ristorante Tramonto D´Oro
Ristorante Costa Diva
Ristorante Il Pirata

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Thanks a lot to read and note.