The artistic masterpieces
While strolling around the church, it is possible to see numerous maybe works dating various periods. For example, we have Roman urns and funerary stumps, medieval burial slabs, inscriptions, spiral ceramics, and even typical bells from the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th. Right at the entrance, there is a large bronze bell dating back to 1299. Similar to these are the ancient bells that have been found in Castello Arechi, Villa Rufolo, and the monastery of San Lorenzo. On the marble pluteus, there are relief sculptures of peacocks from the 12 century with Byzantine features that refer to themes such as resurrection and the soul’s immortality. Various paintings adorn altars and chapels: they date back to the XIX century, and, even if the artistic quality is not the greatest, they have an essential value for the town citizens. Inside the church, it is possible to see two different sculptures of the Virgin Mary with child: one is an example of the 15th-century art that has been linked to the Neapolitan studio of Pietro e Giovanni Alemanno. The other one is an 18th century wooden Madonna with child and Angels that recall Giuseppe Sammartino and Giacomo Colombo’s nativity scene. “This church has always shown a clear identity to me, even if the documents about it were scarce. Studies have shown that this building had an important role in the relationship between Atrani and Amalfi and how it was a significant center of reference for the area. Also, given the economic value of the artistic works present inside, it shows the financial power that surrounded the church at the time. It would mean a lot to bring back to life the story of this place to deepen our knowledge on the Middle Ages,” says Lina Sabino, area officer for twenty years and art historian for the Salerno Superintendency.
Renovation and the FAI support
Thanks to the strenuous and expensive restoration work that lasted almost 30 years and led by the Superintendence of Salerno, it was possible to present once again to the visitors a brand new vision of the building in 2012. The struggle they faced was to renovate the walls of the church and understand the role that this monument used to play in the lives of the community. A series of initiatives to promote the monument, currently managed by Don Carmine Satriano, has been taken on still in 2012. For example, 8000 people took part in the sixth edition of the “Luoghi del Cuore” census promoted by FAI in collaboration with Intensa Sanpaolo to renovate the wooden Madonna’s face with Child whose features had been seriously damaged. The project, made possible thanks to the support of “Luoghi del Cuore”, the Cavaliere family, and the Parish of Santa Maria Maddalena, was carried out using non-invasive technology. The work was led by the Soprintentenza per le Belle Arti, the Paesaggio of the provinces of Salerno and Avellino, in collaboration with the MiBACT Regional Directorate. It was also carried out by the Spada company of the Cava Dei Tirreni.
Following ancient traditions, the Amalfi Coast celebrates on the 30th of August and on the 1st of September Byzantine New Year. This festivity used to mark the beginning of the fiscal and legal year during the Byzantine Empire. To commemorate this anniversary, Atrani and Amalfi in 1997 started to celebrate it with a high cultural celebration that still takes place today. The event is organized by the Municipality of Amalfi, in collaboration with the municipality of Atrani and Centro di Cultura e Stria Amalfitana. On the 1st of September, you can follow the historical procession that brings the Magister from Amalfi to the Jarvis of the Chapel of San Salvatore de’ Birecto, where the investiture ceremony takes place in the presence of the Archbishop. Then, following the cheering procession, the Magister reaches the impressive staircase of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in Amalfi for the official presentation to the citizens. A great reenactment that represents a significant attraction and that brings lots of tourists in the area.