Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast

by Gerardo Russo

Erchie is a small village in the Amalfi Coast, part of the Municipality of Maiori, surrounded by Lattari Mountains. The inhabitants are about a hundred, but every summer the population multiplies with the many holidaymakers fond of the tranquility of the small town. Very close to Cetara, is instead about 9 km from the center of Maiori. The only way to access Erchie is a detour of the SS163, the well-known Amalfi State Road. The village is characterized by being, almost entirely, a large one pedestrian area.

Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast
Erchie from above.

Between two towers

According to tradition, the name of the place derives from the mythological figure of Hercules. The village attracts many bathers in the summer for its lovely coastal location and the clear waters. The main beach is bordered by two towers, to the east we find Torre La Cerniola, while to the west are the ruins of another ancient tower, known as Tummolo, inside an old quarry. There are also other beaches in the area, accessible only by boats.

Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast
Torre La Cerniola.

In the Middle Ages there was a Benedictine abbey, which was later destroyed by a storm. Today, at the pedestrian entrance to the village, there is the Church of Santa Maria Assunta.

Pedestrian friendly

What characterizes Erchie, making it even more "unique" than the other Amalfi villages, is that it is naturally protected from pollution and urban chaos. The particular morphological conformation means that the heart of the village is accessible only through the stairways, which lead to small pedestrian streets. Once you enter Erchie you are in fact forced to leave your car in one of the mega parking lots located after the first curves and then continue on foot on the steps in the open air. In the high season months it is sometimes completely impossible to access, because the car parks quickly run out of places.

Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast
A staircase of Erchie.

A village for families

Erchie is thus composed of a set of houses connected to each other only through pedestrian paths. The impossibility of driving in the center of the village has made it the ideal place for families and their children. Even the youngest tourists can reach the beach quickly in Erchie from one of the many small houses rented in the summer months, without encountering complicated road crossings or the gigantic buses that connect the coastal towns.

Erchie is so perfect for children who want to play outdoors, free to discover that little world on their own. There is also no risk of getting lost, given the small size of the village. In short, it is really the ideal place for the very young who learn to take their first steps away from home.

We are far from the glittering cars that occasionally parade along the Amalfi state road, near Positano. Erchie is more hidden than any other coastal village, as only pedestrians can enter it. So families choose the village for their summer holidays, children learn to swim there and as adults they will remember Erchie as a place linked to their childhood, where to be able to become children again.   

Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast
The main "play area" of Erchie.

The Arcobaleno Chalet

In the village there are very few commercial businesses. There are several bathing establishments active in the summer months, while there are just a few restaurants. A delicatessen, a newsstand and a few other shops complete the life of Erchie, which in winter is animated by the sound of the sea alone.

Once in Erchie there was a sort of teenage nightlife, in a place known as Rainbow Chalet, fondly remembered by residents and historic vacationers. It was a meeting place located a few meters from the shore and from any other corner of Erchie, delimited and protected by simple straws and tarpaulins. A few video games, tables for playing cards and above all an iconic one jukebox, symbol of the summer holidays of more than a generation of teenagers who have passed that part. There was obviously also a circular space in which to dance.

Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast
The space of the Arcobaleno Chalet, now empty.

Young and very young people chose the songs they wanted to listen to, or dedicate, in a continuous coming and going between the dance floor, tables and external wall, on the tiny bridge that crosses Erchie. The music also came quietly outside. A surreal atmosphere at the Happy days in Amalfi sauce.

Look at Erchie from the seafront

In Erchie there is no real seafront, but only a small scenic route that leads to the former quarry. Walking along it you move away from the beach and indeed, turning from there it is possible to admire the coast as if you were looking at it from the sea or from a boat. At the foot of this "semi-seafrontIn fact, there is a cliff located a few tens of meters from the beach. To admire Erchie in its entirety, one must therefore detach oneself from it and then look behind oneself.

Erchie: the pedestrian-friendly village of the Amalfi Coast
Erchie seen from the seafront.

The panorama of Erchie can only be grasped looking back sufficiently. In this way, it is possible to appreciate a village that is continually dedicated to one's childhood, which naturally preserves the spaces for playing and running. Today the Rainbow Chalet is no longer there, in its space there is a melancholy empty space. However, nothing prevents us from diving into its past with some music of other times, using a modern mobile phone as a jukebox.

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References:

AA. VV .; Naples and the Amalfi coast; 2019

United Association for Erchie

Municipality of Maiori - Historical notes

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