PRAIANO, THE COUNTRY WHERE TIME HAS STOPPED
Praiano today extends from the upper part of the town properly called “Praiano” to the lower part called “Marina di Praia” up to the hamlet of Vettica Maggiore which looks towards Positano.
A fishermen’s village with very ancient origins (Plagianum, open sea, was its original name), Praiano was an important outpost of the Maritime Republic of Amalfi (9th and 12th centuries) and a renowned laboratory for the processing of silk, flax and especially coral. The doges of the republic chose it as their summer residence for the refreshment of the mind and body.
Praiano boasts some beautiful historic buildings such as the Church of San Luca Evangelista (patron saint of Praiano), a Baroque church with a late 18th century majolica floor and the Church of San Gennaro, in nearby Vettica Maggiore, with its majolica dome, the protagonist of some of the most beautiful photos of Praiano. A little further away is the Convent of Santa Maria a Castro, an ancient building surrounded by nature.
The squares overlooking the sea are also wonderful, such as Piazza Costantinopoli or the Piazza of the Church of San Gennaro itself.
Another characteristic of Praiano are the numerous votive shrines (sacred altars built by families to protect the house and affirm the right to live in the property) that decorate practically every street in the town. Added to these are the beautiful ceramic works depicting the typical elements of the place and which are part of the 8 artistic itineraries of the Naturarte Project that have made the town an open-air museum with 150 works of contemporary art.
The streets and squares of the town take on a particular charm on the occasion of traditional festivals. The Luminaria di San Domenico at the beginning of August with its suggestive torchlight procession, the Feast of San Luca Evangelista (first Sunday in July and October 18) with its beautiful fireworks and the patronal feast of San Gennaro on the first Sunday of May and 19 September.
• In the locality of Praia it is still possible to see the ancient “monazzeri”, small houses used by fishermen to dry boats and take shelter when the sea conditions did not allow fishing;
• In the “Devil’s Grotto”, on the state road leading to Positano, it is possible to admire a permanent artistic nativity scene (by the artist Michele Castellano) which reproduces the ancient town of Praiano with shepherds representing the typical characters of the place such as fisherman pulling nets and the bride looking out on the balcony waiting for him;
• In the famous nightclub of the African Cave, Jaqueline Kennedy spent an evening of her holiday on the coast in 1962;
• Famous in Praiano is the legend of the “Janare”, according to which at night these women gather on top of the trees to wait for the fishermen returning from the sea to seduce them and then offer them as a sacrificial victim to the sea and nature. The legend is inspired by the women of Praiano left alone by their husbands engaged for a long time at sea, who, due to loneliness and melancholy, would turn into janare;
• In ancient times, when there was still no street lighting, the numerous votive shrines in Praiano (the oldest were built between 1700 and 1800) were the only source of lighting and orientation in the town;
• The ancient coral fishermen of Praiano (the corallari) wore an earring in the ear lobe according to an ancient Saracen tradition;
• Under the great lime tree of S. Gennaro in Vettica, between cunti and songs until 1700, the women of Praiano (the nets) worked the twisted thread, that is the hair nets that were very popular at the time to contain the “tuppi”;
• When in the postwar period the Amalfi Coast became the Italian Hollywood with directors and actors engaged in sets all over the coast, Praiano also had its moment of glory. Roberto Rossellini, in fact, strongly wanted Domenico Fusco, known as “Rumminico R’oro”, a fisherman from Praiano with a very long beard and a shabby appearance, a singular character who despite the poverty and lack of education had a surprising capacity for language that impressed several directors of the time.
HOW TO GET TO PRAIANO
Praiano is about 65 km from Naples and about 40 km from Salerno, the two major cities from which you usually travel if you come from outside the region.
• From Naples: take the A / 3 Salerno – Reggio Calabria motorway, exit at Castellammare di Stabia and take the SS145 towards Sorrento and then merge onto the SS143 Amalfi Coast.
• From Salerno: go towards Vietri sul Mare, take the SS163 and arrive in Amalfi to continue following the signs for Praiano.
• From Naples: from the central station – Piazza Garibaldi, take the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento (https://www.eavsrl.it/web/). Here get off and continue to Praiano using the SitaSud Sorrento – Praiano line (https://www.sitasudtrasporti.it).
• From Salerno: from the station take the SitaSud Salerno – Amalfi bus at the terminus. Once in the center of Amalfi, change and take the bus to Sorrento and get off at Praiano.
From Naples Capodichino airport, the closest to both the Amalfi and Sorrento coasts, it is possible to hire a private transfer to directly reach the final destination or to reach the central station – Piazza Garibaldi in Naples using public transport (Alibus line), rental or taxi service.
At the central station take the Circumvesuviana towards Sorrento (https://www.eavsrl.it/web/) and from there continue using the Sorrento – Praiano bus line of the SitaSud company (https://www.sitasudtrasporti.it).
From Salerno, Sorrento and Naples it is possible to use the ferries and hydrofoils to Amalfi and from here take the SitaSud Line direct to Sorrento or the rental service to reach Praiano.