The Internet's most comprehensive Travel website for Italy
Use quote marks to search for exact names eg "Hotel Florence"

Piazza in Atri by Karl Baer

Cathedral cloister, Atri

Landscape near Atri
by Karl Baer

Campanile of the Cathedral in Atri

Welcome to Atri
From Jesse's Journeys in Italy

Population: 11,500 (2001)
Official website:
Wikipedia: Atri

Today, Atri is one of the most important historical, cultural and artistic centers in the Region of Abruzzo.  In antiquity it was also a  powerful city holding a strategic position above the roads and river following the basin of the Val Vomano.  It is well worth a visit by those exploring the Adriatic coastal areas of central Italy.

The city sits upon a high, three pointed hill, looking over the Adriatic to the east, and with the majestic peaks of the Gran Sasso behind it to the west.  The surrounding rough and dramatic landscape features precipitous canyon-like gulleys whose soft earthen sides are riven with fissures and caves.

Atri was settled by as early as 800 BC by stone age peoples.  Later the harbor below Atri was one of a quartet of principal Greek harbours on Italy's Adriatic coast.  Later, the area that comprises most of present day Abruzzo and Molise came to be dominated by the Sabines, a powerful Italic tribe that later found themselves in a life and death struggle with the emerging Roman civilization.  The Sabines gave as good as they got until finally the Romans prevailed in the decisive battles of the Italic wars around 290 BC.

To maintain control over the area, the Romans made Atri a Roman colony which they called Hatria - a name which many historians say is the name from which the Adriatic Sea derived its name.  (Others maintain the Sea was named for Atria - an Etruscan city in Veneto Region).

After the fall of Rome, the region was subjected, along with most of northern and central Italy, to a long period of violent conflict.  Ultimately, in the 6th century, the Longobards  succeeded in establishing hegemony over the area, and Atri and other parts of Abruzzo found themselves annexed to the Duchy of Spoleto.  The Longobards were displaced by the Normans, whose noble Acquaviva family ruled for decades from about 1393 before merging their lands into the Kingdom of Naples.  The rule of the Acquaiviva's marked the highpoint of Atri's greatest power and splendor.

The most important monuments in modern Atri include the 13th century Duomo - the Cathederal of Santa Maria Assunta, which was built on the remains of an earlier Romanesque church, and the Palazzo Ducale, the palace of the Acquaviva's which is built on the highest point of land in the city.

The Cathedral incorporates an impressive 56 meter high campanile, or bell tower, and a very handsome cloister.  Inside is a very impressive frescoe cycle by the 15th century Abruzzi painter Andrea de Litio (or Delitio).  The Diocesian museum is also located in the Cathedral.  The Palazzo Ducale now houses offices of both the municipal and Provincial (Teramo) governments.

There are remnants of the medieval walls with three gates, the Porta Macelli, the Porta San Domenico and the Capo d'Atri.  Also worth seeing is the Museo Capitolare, the Chiesa San Francesco which features a flight of stairs in the Baroque style, and the Chiesa San Domenico which contains two good 17th century paintings by Giacomo Farelli.

There are many other things to see in Atri as one explores the precincts of the centro historico - or historical center.  These including the usual array of old churches among them San Agostino (14th century); San Nicola; Santa Chiara (13th century); San Spirito (12th - 18th century); and San Andrea Apostolo (14th century).  Among the fountains in centro are the Fonte Pila and the Fonte della Strega.  There are a number of very ancient and still unexplored grottoes, and not surprisingly, their are remains of a Roman Theatre.

Visitors will find the ancient alleyways of the old city, cool even on a hot summer's day, a great pleasure to walk through.  The Villa Comunale, a municipal park and garden is a beautiful place to stroll and rest under a plethora of shade trees.  And time should be taken to gain the Belvedere off the Viale Vomano, which offers astounding views of the valleys and sea below.

Visitors should keep an eye out for some of the local shops that sell Atri glass ware - which is well known among aficionados the world over.

Written by Vian Andrews on July 30th, 2006 and used as the initial article for the City of Atri in Wikipedia on the same date.

Abruzzo Region

Alt: 485 m


By Car: L'Aquila - 80 km; Pescara - 32 km; Chieti - 47 km; Ortona - 65 km; Campobasso - 200 km; Ancona - 143 km; Perugia - 245 km; Rome - 195 km; Bari - 340 km



Coat of arms, Atri