Our spring exploration this year, which involved a road trip from the Lunigiana to Sicily, included a stop in Atena Lucana in the Salerno province of Campania. We stayed at the Grand Hotel Osman, which you’ll find (if you’re lucky) on a side road at edge of the Vallo di Diano.
The Osman brought us back to our golden age of travel in Italy, the 70s, the time before the infrastructure could catch up with the tourist demand. There were abundant elements of kitschy baroque in the place. The dining room was more formal than it should have been, complete with a hovering waiter we couldn’t get rid of despite the fact the place was empty on a blustery March evening.
Atena Lucana might be seen to have absolutely nothing for the tourist, save the fact that the old town sits high on a hill, overlooking the vallo di Diano and the National Park of Cilento. Yes, the views are pretty nice.
Still, there was something wonderful to be said about walking down the deserted cobblestone lanes of Atena Lucana in early evening as the cold settled in. Muffled voices of children arguing vociferously in the little houses brought back memories of old black-and-white movies about the south. Smells of fragrant sauces bubbling on the back burner edged out of cracks around windows.
Then, as we walked up, down and around the town we stopped under the lights of Hotel Villa Torre Antica, a hotel built inside a renovated tower in a fabulous position overlooking the valley on the edge of Atena Lucana. We peeked inside at the elegantly set tables stuck in nooks, crannies, and private little rooms.
It is then, you realize, that you must see a menu.
Here in this place you can eat the best of the Cilento at a reasonable cost. Our short stay prevented us from taking part, but it was an invitation to come back. The place is, after all, near Padula and the Certosa di Padula
Many things to see and contemplate! That’s why I’ll always be the perpetual traveler.