Italian land and nature: Maratea
- WTI Magazine #100 Feb 17, 2018
In a panoramic position on one of the most inspiring expanses along the Gulf of Policastro rises Maratea, magnificent city in the Region of Basilicata. Built on the rocky Monte San Biagio, the city faces a spectacular stretch of the Tyrrhennian Sea. Maratea is a calling for travelers in search of a relaxing seaside vacation marked by Italian landscapes, tastes and culture.
In Maratea’s old town center, the Medieval urban plan still survives, with its narrow roads, and artistic and architectonic testimonies. Maratea is also known as the city of 44 churches, given its numerous religious constructions - from chapels and monasteries, to hermitages and even caves -that are disseminated everywhere throughout the area, all of them quite valuable for their splendid artworks, and all of them open to the public.
See the 11th-Century Church of San Vito, one of the oldest, as well as the Basilica di San Biagio, dedicated to the city’s Patron Saint and erected at the top of Monte San Biagio – also the location of what remains of ancient Maratea. The Church of the Immaculate, ornate with precious frescoes, the Church of the Annunziata, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Church of the Madonna degli Ulivi are all worth visits.
The Grotta dell’Angelo is also a draw: hidden within the clearing on Monte San Biagio, it is considered by many to be the habitation for a hermit. It is said that Maratea was the first place of Christian worship in the territory, and it shows.
Beaches inlaid between promontories, clear-as-clear waters and rich vegetation invite vacationers to a setting of complete relaxation. Natural beauty is at its utmost here, with a coast covered in Mediterranean maquis, and an alternation of promontories and coves that abound with fine-sand beaches.
Of course, the beaches are many and are one of the traits most appreciated by tourists. Many, however, are only accessible by sea, and are plunged right in the thick of Mother Nature at her most untamed. Still, others are easy to get to, well-equipped and the best option for travelers with comfort and simple beach fun on their minds.
Not only, but Maratea has plenty to offer in the way of scuba-diving excursions, boasting brilliant and pristine seabeds inhabited by a rich variety of species.
Climbing to the top of Monte San Biagio to see one of Maratea’s most beautiful attractions – its symbol, in reality – is a unique experience that could only be matched by a trip to Brazil: Maratea’s Christ the Redeemer Statue dominates both land and sea from on high. He is second only to that in Rio de Janeiro, at 72 feet in height, and standing atop the 2,133-ft mount, enjoying a magnificent panorama over the coast.
Still hungry for contact with nature, even after standing on top of San Biagio? Take a day to visit Pollino National Park, and to appreciate the characteristic villages within - or travel a bit further to the Cilento and Vallo del Diano National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Those in Maratea can also choose to spend a few days enjoying some of the Region of Calabria’s coastal offerings, particularly Tropea, another exquisite Mediterranean sea resort steeped in beauty and history.
And for who should want to stay on to delight in some of the local delicacies, try Maratea’s famous sausages. They are zero-kilometer, high-quality musts, whether freshly-cured or aged, under oil or in suet.