The way through Atrani.Don’t make a wrong turn when the creek is rising.

Two garden tours and I still had a mission. We had missed the actual Ziro Tower the day before and I had an idea that we could walk to it from Ravello and then back down to Amalfi for another bus back home to Scala. Burt humored me. Our only obligation was to get home for a group dinner at 6:00.

We plunged down the stairs off into the abyss towards the tower. Guides on the internet said the Torre dello Ziro was easily reached from Ravello. I had my eyes peeled for a route that contoured around and wouldn’t require a steep descent to the sea and another 1,200′ climb up. There was no such route. After 40 minutes of stairs and switchbacks Burt and I reached Atrani, the smallest land mass of any town in Italy and home to less than 900 people. On our way we passed a tire repair shop wedged into a cliff and were nearly run over by a bus. The tower was at least seven stories, maybe twelve, above our heads. I was done going up. I’d finally had some heart palpitations after averaging more than 8 miles a day for 10 days. It was time to stop.

Happily, Atrani was worth the visit. Coming into town from the uphill side feels like sneaking in the backdoor. We passed gardens and the walls of secluded homes grew up around us. There were no people. Soon we were following small arrows that pointed down. I noticed green arrows pointing up. Those were showing the escape route in case of flood. Atrani is wedged so deeply in a narrow slot canyon you have to know how to reach high ground. Water can some in from above and below. There have been recent rain fueled floods and a tsunami.

The town plaza is a story above sea level. Burt and I found our way to the bus stop at the seaside road and were told we had to go back up to the plaza to buy tickets. I sent Burt. He came back to tell me we had to walk to Amalfi because it was a holiday and the bus wouldn’t stop in Atrani. Amalfi is 3 km away by road or up and over a cliff that would nearly require walking to our villa. People must have gotten tired of this a long time ago because there is a tunnel of only 1 km that pedestrian and emergency vehicles can follow. The tunnel cuts right through the cliff the Torre dello Ziro sits upon. Somebody should put in an elevator.

It was another 10 mile day. The only joints that didn’t hurt from the waist down were my ankles. Knees, hips, toes: ow. If I had an opportunity to return here I would stay in Atrani. Nestled between the two famous towns of Amalfi and Ravello it remains hidden and Italian. All the sights are easily accessible in Atrani and, unlike our bird’s eye perch, it has stores and restaurants and the ocean. Instead of busing back home every afternoon a traveler could bus up in the morning and walk home.

Street art in Atrani
Street shrine in Atrani
Atrani kids with ice cream sandwiches.
Street Art in Atrani
Street Art in Atrani
Atrani from the sea. Ravello is up on that cliff.
Atrani from the sea. Ravello is up on that cliff.

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