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Atena Lucana

General Info

Atena Lucana is located on the Northern side of Vallo di Diano area, close to the border with Basilicata region; the name takes origin from the latin “ater” (black), probably from the name of the river that crossed the city; the specific name of “Lucana” was added in 19th century, linked to the cult of Goddess Atena.

Atena Lucana is the most ancient city of Vallo di Diano; built on a hill at 625mt of altitude, and already inhabitated since 7th century BC, and area of intense trading with the major cities of Magna Graecia.

At the end of 5th century BC there was the arrival of population from the closeby Lucania region, which deeply modified the social and cultural structure of the city, making of Atena one of their twelve state-cities of the confederation; Atena ended under Roman domination following the war against Pirro (280-275BC), and was interested by the assignment of lands, as proven by founding of two boundary stones used to create borders.

Atena became later an important “Municipium” of the empire, as the territory around the city was knows as “Campus Atina”, including also the nearby municipiums of Consilinum (today Sala Consilina) and Tegianum (Teggiano).

The city had many important public offices, as testified in documents now conserved in the Civic Archeological Museum; the roman amphitheatre, located just outside the medieval wall perimeter, encourages to imagine the power of the city that, with its temples dedicated to Jupiter, Penati, Cibele and many other important figures and Gods, made of Atena one of the most important Roman cities.

Moreover, a large basilica, the only one known between Pompei and the southernmost tip of Italy, was built in Atena; later it was destroyed after barbaric invasions, and later on the same site was built the Church of S.Maria Maggiore, still existing today.

During the medieval times, after the longobards and normans dominations, Atena became part of feuds of the local Sanseverino Family; during their time in command, the defensive system was upgraded, with the construction of a tower in the Castle property that, according to the legend, was possible to see even the sea; moreover Roberto Sanseverino, nominated by Pope Innocenzo VIII head of Vatican military troops, made a pinwheel of fire spin for every battle won, same as happened in Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome.

Atena Lucana remained under the dominance of Sanseverino Family until 1507, when Ferrante Sanseverino, the latest lord of the dinasty, saw its properties being seized and sold at auction; after decades under the dominance of different rich families, in 1656 Atena Lucana saw its population drastically reduced due to a plague, which hit the entire territory of today’s Vallo di Diano.

Later on, from 1811 until 1927, Atena became part of the District of Sala Consilina, and is today an indipendent Municipality.

Monuments and Locations to visit

Religious architectures

• Church of Santa Maria Maggiore

It is located in the same area of the Forum of the ancient roman city of Atina, and the first mention of this building is dated 967AD when, under Pope John XIII, the Church was listed as part of the diocese of Capaccio, while in the “Rationes Decimarum” (a register of the tithe paid to the catholic church) of 12th and 13th century it was designated as “Ecclesia Archipresbyteralis Sanctae Mariae Majoris”.

From 1741 onwards there were important works to renovate and upgrade the structure of the Church, as testified by the inscription on the main entrance door, which totally cancelled the rests of the previous phases; internally, works of painting were made by local artists, financed by Abbey Nicola Sabini Del Sole and offers from closeby churches and religious institutions.

Also the bell tower, built in 14th century, got revamped; in the internal area can be found ten altars where are conserved wooden or marble simulacrums and statues put by the most important families of that time.

Later, in 1751, seven oval paintings were made by the local painter Nicola Peccheneda, illustrating the Apostles, plus four oval paintings located in the apse representing the Annunciation, the birth of Holy Mary, her introduction to the temple and the visit to St.Elizabeth.

Behind the main altar from the 19th century, made of polychrome marbles, is possible to see the beautiful painting, of unknown author, representing the ascent of Holy Mary to Heaven; to end, between marbles and gold, is the counter-front: on a wooden tambour frescoed with a painting of the Holy Mary, there is a gold and wood chamber of a magnificient pipe organ, originally from 18th century. Interesting is also the pavement, made out of roman stones and shredded crock, where are located the tombs of the richest families of the city during the medieval times.

  • Sanctuary of St.Ciro (previously Church of St.Michel Archangel)

Among the most ancient churches in Atena Lucana; first proofs are from 11th century, where on a roman temple dedicated to the goddess Cibele, this church was built.

Until 1965, the Church was dedicated to St.Michael Archangel, and its origins have to be considered “unmemorable” as the inscription on stone located on the main entrance says: TEMPLUM HOC AB IMMEMORABILI CONSECRATUM ET DIVO MICHAELI DICATUM DECENTIUS ET COMMODIUS REDACTUM/ R. D. SILVERIO ABB. BARRILE RECTORE A.D. MDCCXXXIX.

From the romanic architecture we can see the facade and the basilica-like plant with three aisles; the main altar was made in 1861 by marble-artists from Salerno, while on the central part there is a painting from 1862 representing St.Michael Archangel while defeating the devil, while among the lateral chapels, of particular interests are the ones dedicated to St.Ciro, with a polychrome marble altar and a statue representing the saint, and the chapel of Sabini del Sole family with a painting of Feliciano Mangieri from Brienza representing the Virgin of Carmine between St.John Baptist and St.Vito marthyr.

In 2013, in occasion of 150th anniversary of the miracle of St.Ciro in Atena, the Church has been upgraded to Sanctuary.

• Church of St.Nicholas

The church was built between 9th and 10th century AD, inside the walls of the medieval city and, as all churches built before 1000AD, has the abse towards east in order for worshippers to give their back to the west, symbol of sin.

It was parochial church until 1600AD, when it was incorporated to the parish of St.Angel; the structure, with a single aisle ending with a square-shaped abse, with a vault of 14th century.

The main altar is made of stone and inlaid marbles and dated 1790AD, and was part of the ancient parish of St.Michael, as shown by the bas relief representing the arch angel; behind the main altar there is a painting representing the miracle of St.Nicholas from Bari, dated 1645AD.

The church structure has been heavily renovated during the 19th century, when the inside was remade in neo-classical style, and in 1863 was venue of the miracle of St.Ciro, when a dying young girl bow down in front of the statue of St.Ciro and got healed; the event is mentioned on a stone posed on the 150th anniversary of the miracle, in 2013.

• Chapel of St.Joseph

Is a chapel of medieval origin, as shown by the fresco of 14th century above the entrance gate. Previously dedicated to St.Catherine of Alexandria, the chapel changed entitlement at the beginning of 19th century as requested by the family Pessolano Filos which bought the property. Inside there is an altar made of local stone, with the emblem of the family on the sides, while on top of the altar, an elegant bust in wood representing St.Joseph embellishes the sacred area.

• Chapel of purgatory souls or St.Sophia

This chapel was built close to the roman amphitheatre and initially entitled to St.Sophia; during the 18th century it was entitled to the “Souls of Purgatory” and later became property of Mango family and restored by the priest Don Lucantonio Mango in occasion of his ordination.

• Sanctuary of Holy Mary of the Colomba

The sanctuary is located outside the inhabitated center, and is dedicated to the cult of the miraculous apparition of the Virgin to a shepherd whom lost a bullock and found later on bowing in front of a sacred image of the Virgin inside a cavity of a tree; legend says that a snowfall made the perimeter of the chapel, right in the same location of the apparition.

Before 1861, the convent was domicile of Franciscan friars.

The entrance is a stone-made door from 18th century, with a dove sculpted and two angels on the side; beside the main structure, there is a bell tower with three bells used not only to call the worshippers for functions, but also to calm the storms. Before entering the votive chapel, there is a cloister, enlarged in 1840 to host the corps of deceased people once it became illegal to bury them inside the inhabitated area; below the archs on one side of the cloister, infact, it is still possible to see the hatches which were used to open/close the sepulchrar rooms.

Other religious architectures:

  • Chapel of SS. Sebastiano and Leonardo or Holy Mary of Health (15th century)
    • Chapel of the Virgin of Carmine (18th century)
    • Chapel of Virgin of Costantinopoli (14th century)
    • Chapel of St.Anthony agli Arnici (16th century)
    • Chapel of St.Joseph in Atena Scalo (18th century)
    • Chapel of Jesus Heart (20th century)
  • Parochial Church of St.Michael Archangel (20th century)
    • Ruins of the Paleochristian church of St.Pancras (6th century)
    • Ruins of Virginian Monastery of St.Ippolito (9th-10th century)


Civilian Architecture

  • Caracciolo Palace (16th century)
    • Marino Palace (1781)
    • Pessolano-Filos Palace (1802)
  • D’Alto Palace (XIX secolo)
    • Caporale Palace (1866)
    • Spagna Palace (1809)
  • De Benedictis Palace (17th century)
    • Gargano Palace (17th century)
    • Pessolani Palace (18th century)
    • Vincenzo Curto Palace (1765)
    • Gaetano Maria Curto Palace (1819)
    • Civic Clock (1899) close to St.Nicholas Church
  • Atteone’s Monument (1739)

Military Architecture:

  • Castle ruins from 11th century
  • Medieval Towers (14th century)
  • D’Aquila Gate (Roman age, then medieval)

Archeological Sites

  • Archeological area in Serrone
  • Megalith Walls (4th century BC)
  • Epigraphic track inside the historical center (epigraphs of the roman city, with taglines)

Prodotti tipici

Piatto unico

Frittata di Scammaro

Piatto unico

Migliaccio Praianese


Costata alla pizzaiola

Piatto unico

Patate e Sciuscielli




Uscita autostradale di Atena Lucana sull’A3 Salerno-Reggio Calabria.
Inizio della Strada statale 598 di Fondovalle dell’Agri.
Strada statale 19 delle Calabrie, che attraversa la frazione di Atena Scalo.
Strada statale 166 degli Alburni, che attraversa la frazione di Atena Scalo.
Strada Provinciale 99 Strada Provinciale 99 Innesto SS 166-Stazione di Atena Lucana.
Strada Provinciale 217 Strada Provinciale 217 Atena Lucana-Braidella.
Strada Provinciale 232 Circumvallazione di Atena Lucana.
Strada Provinciale 352 Strada Provinciale 352 Malaspina-Piane-Cannavali(S.Arsenio).


Stazione di Atena sulla Ferrovia Sicignano degli Alburni-Lagonegro (Servizio sostitutivo con bus).
Stazione di Atena Lucana (FCL) sulla Ferrovia Atena Lucana-Marsico Nuovo (Tratta soppressa).


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