Famous throughout the world for its evocative landscape and for its almost unnatural calm, which pervades the soul of the most disenchanted traveller, Priano is joined with Vettica Maggiore, a splendid urban agglomeration of terraces of lemon groves and golden sunsets.
Two villages in one overlooking the sea: from one side the eye follows the winding coast to the tower of Conca, from the other there are open views as far as the hills of Fontanelle. But the dizzying thrill of breathtaking scenery is not the only essence of these places.
Indeed we need only descend to the seaside of Praia to re-acquaint ourselves with reality. Here, via a small road which hugs the sea, you reach the Tower of Praia, an ancient fortification which, like so many others along the coast, was built to defend the towns from the Saracen threat.
The history of Praiano can also be reconstructed through its religious monuments. Climbing back up to the main coastal road, follow directions to the Chiesa Parrocchiale di San Luca Evangelista. Inside is a relic of Saint Luke, a silver bust of 1694, paintings by Giovanni Bernardo Lama (Madonna col Bambino and SS. Luca e Francesco di Paola); the Madonna del Carmine, la Circoncisione; paintings by Padovano di Montorio from 1572.
Of importance are the wooden pulpit with paintings depicting Saint Peter and Saint Paul; the main altar, the floor with its 18th-century riggiole, painted tiles depicting angels, putti, coats of arms and flowers. The church of Santa Maria di Costantinopoli and the monastery of Santa Maria a Castro, perched on the mountain overlooking the village of Vettica, are also of interest.
Lastly, the parish church dedicated to San Gennaro. Dating back to the 1400s (it was subsequently rebuilt in the 1600s) it has several works of art, including an Annunciation of 1696, the Martyrdom of Saint Bartholomew by Giovan Bernardo Lama and a Holy Family (late 16th-century).
Images: Rosalba Irace, Jensens, Fiore Silvestro Barbato, pumaianoale, Gilbert Bochenek, Mihael Grmek