Set on the slopes of Monte Tre Pizzi and cascading down the hillside to the sea, the charming town of Praiano is proud to be the top tourist destination of the whole Amalfi Coast. Even back in the time of the Maritime Republics, the Doges of Amalfi chose this place for their summer residence.
Set in a perfectly central location along the “Divine Coast”, Praia has since its earliest beginnings been divided into two main areas: the upper one of Praiano and the lower one in Vettica Maggiore.
In ancient times, this division also characterized the work and trade of the residents: the upper part enjoyed a flourishing cultivation of citrus fruits and vegetables that still distinguishes the area; while the lower part was the village’s confirmed fishing area, as visitors will find it today.
The people from Praia were not only skilled fishermen and farmers; they were also major producers of fishing nets and retine, the small nets used by women to adorn their hair. They were also famous silk producers and experienced hands in bleaching of linen, manufacturing yarn and salting anchovies, in addition to being shrewd sailors and coral divers.
Following this double route into the two ancient town centers, the surrounding area continues to show you everything Praiano has to offer.
Watched over by the mighty and ancient Saracen tower, the main attractions of Praiano are focused on Praia’s distinguishing beach, once a bustling trade center for the village.
The tower now houses the prestigious “Africana”, the most famous nightclub on the coast. It annually hosts a number of international artists and is also available for organizing your own events.
Heading to the beach, and crossing the romantic path that comes before it, we arrive at the “Pirata”, a charming restaurant and bar nestled on a steep precipice directly over the sea.
In addition to all the fun your little ones can have playing in the clear waters of the beach, the Marina di Praia offers young people the chance to take classes in windsurfing and kayaking. Rentals are also available, as well as the incredible experience of immersing yourself fully in these seas at the diving center, Centro Sub.
Moving on to Vettica Maggiore, the lavish and colorful majolica-tiled dome of the Church of San Gennaro immediately dominates your view.
Here, every year between July 31 and August 4, Praiano “lights up” with the large number of enchanting candles lit for the feast of St. Dominic. It is the “Luminaria di San Domenico”, an ancient tradition that aims to recreate the dream the Saint’s mother had before his birth of a dog with a torch, spreading light throughout the world.
Although the church of San Domenico is located in the upper part of the village, the piazza di San Gennaro has become the real heart of the festival: here the sparkling designs are recreated and the characteristic lanterns are released into the sky.
Heading down to the sea, Vettica Maggiore is home to the exclusive La Gavitella beach, with its efficient transportation services from Marina di Praia.
But the real value of this beach lies in its being the only one on the entire Amalfi Coast to enjoy every last ray of sunshine, from the first light of dawn until the final orange glow of the romantic sunset.
Numerous tiny churches are to be found throughout the entire region around the small village, while the picturesque streets and stairways studded with small shrines are evidence of the population’s great sense of devotion.
Praiano also offers an alternative hiking route for those who want to walk in nature without hiking the full Sentiero degli Dei, or “Path of the Gods”, uniting Agerola to the village of Positano higher up.
In recent years a fascinating initiative has been undertaken called, not surprisingly, “The sound of the Gods”. This event, which takes place mainly in the evenings between May and October, combines hiking with the chance to attend concerts of classical, modern or traditional music, where the “boxes” are spread along the route of the aforementioned path.
Thus, Praiano offers many possibilities ranging from fun for your little ones on the playground to entertainment for young people at the numerous nightclubs. Plus let’s not forget the experiences to be had by adults in the serenity and tranquility that has always characterized this delightful village.
It is likewise unthinkable to visit this region and not savor its culinary delights, starting with Migliaccio, a kind of frittata of mixed pasta, semolina, sausage and cheese; and then moving on to a rich dish of totani [squids], stuffed or accompanied by potatoes; and finally to the typical coastal products such as Limoncello and Pastiera.