About 10 km from the town of Lettere, in the province of Naples, there is the Municipality of Gragnano. The town is located in a panoramic position and stands at the foot of the Lattari Mountains. Its population is around 30,000 inhabitants, while its altitude is 140 meters above sea level.
Gragnano has a history that revolves around the ancient white art of pasta, but not only. It is a destination for many visitors, fascinated by a thousand-year history and well-established culinary traditions.
Because Gragnano is between Naples and the Sorrento peninsula, it is easy for the tourist to visit it. He can discover a pictorial and romantic town. The territory is divided into various areas. In particular way the mountain portion is rich in karst caves, springs and streams, small waterfalls and with a fauna rich in faces, rabbits and hares.
The findings of ancient Roman villas show us that the population of this area was devoted since ancient times to agriculture, in particular to the cultivation of olive trees, vines, wheat and fruit.
Among the churches to visit in Gragnano there is certainly that of Corpus Domini dating back to 1555 and contains a painting by Luca Giordano. The Church of San Giovanni Battista is instead located in the hamlet of Rosario and houses an imposing bell tower dating back to the nineteenth century, as well as housing other ancient paintings.
Also worth seeing is the cloister of San Michele Arcangelo dating back to 1306 when it was a monastery of Benedictine nuns.
Then there are the church of Santa Maria dell’Assunta, where an ancient Romanesque sculpture is kept, the church of Madonna del Carmine and the parish of Sant’Erasmo.
Do not miss the town walls, with the 5 towers and 2 gates that attest to the ancient origins of Gragnano. Then visit the Napoleonic arch, the only one in all Campania region. The famous artistic nativity scene is also very suggestive. It is a work made by various local craftsmen in 1969. The latters, very devoted to tradition, placed it in an extremely rural area, giving it a realistic context.
From Gragnano you can leave for excursions in the area to discover the “Valle dei Mulini” (Water mills Valley). You can enjoy a rural environment still uncontaminated, following the path that from the historical center has led to Amalfi since the Middle Ages. Here there are the remains of ancient water mills, operating until the last century. Near Gragnano you can also visit the medieval village of Castello, where time seems to have stopped. Here it will be possible to buy typical products such as cherries, wine or oil.
Gragnano is however famous all over the world for the production of excellent pasta which is celebrated in September with the “Macaroni Festival”. In Italy it is in fact the town that produces and exports the largest quantity of pasta, especially macaroni. The production of pasta which made Gragnano famous throughout the world, dates back to the end of the 16th century when the first family-run pasta factories appeared. But the production of maccaroni became truly important only from the mid-seventeenth century when most of the Gragnanese people devoted themselves to the production of pasta, favored by particular climatic conditions, such as a light moist air that allows the slow drying of the macaroni, and the quality of the spring water that fed the mills and contributed to confer a particular taste to the dough.
To visit Gragnano and fully understand it, you must therefore visit the various pasta factories along Via dei Pastai. Some of them still have the ancient presses for grinding wheat, as well as characteristic images of the pasta “laid out” to dry it along the streets of the town. Today the pasta factories aim at a quality production and offer tourist itineraries to discover the production of that pasta that has made Gragnano famous all over the world.