Itinerary: discovering the Ionian coast and its hinterland

Arte e Cultura

Enclosed by the Ionian Sea, the flat, sandy coastline is the last golden fringe created by the sloping hills of Matera, repeatedly awarded both the Blue and Green Flag, an important recognition given by pediatricians for child-friendly beaches.
There are many villages in this area, from those on the coast to those inland, all of which are worth a visit as they tell of ancient deeds and modern virtues.
In addition to Policoro and Metaponto, the village of Scanzano Ionico also boasts ancient origins, as evidenced by the numerous archaeological remains found there. Thanks to these findings we can also state that the agricultural and fruit and vegetable vocation of Scanzano, defined as the California of the South, has been well established over the centuries, even since the area was occupied by the Mycenaeans. There are important archaeological traces of this presence: in Termitito, in fact, the remains of a settlement dating back to the 13th-11th century BC can be seen. Scanzano Jonico is also renowned for its citrus, vegetable and tobacco plantations as well as for its welcoming bathing establishments.

The town of Bernalda, which overlooks the expanse of countryside and cultivated fields from the hill with its typical castle, also owes its fame to the famous American director Francis Ford Coppola, whose grandparents came from the town. The director fell in love with Basilicata and Bernalda in particular, so much so that he opened a luxury resort here that he visits several times a year.

The itinerary to discover the Ionian coast includes a stop in the ancient Bollita, now known as Nova Siri. The original toponym remains on the tower, erected in 1520 to sight the ships of the Saracens, built in Marina di Nova Siri. The city boasts a famous ancestor, Diego Sandoval de Castro, alleged lover of the young Valsinni poet Isabella di Morra. Theirs was only a literary bond, but this was enough for the Morra brothers to assassinate them both.

Moving inland, a few kilometres away you can visit Pisticci, better known as the “white city” for its lime-painted houses with characteristic red roofs, lined up in long lines in the striking “Dirupo” district. In Marina di Pisticci there is the second port on the Ionian coast, the Porto degli Argonauti, a strategic point of departure for boat trips (for day-trips or longer), with fully equipped boats and skippers. The Porto degli Argonauti is also a landing place for small-medium sized boats, including those longer than 30 metres, and can accommodate up to 450 vessels.

Overlooking the Ionian Sea is the rounded-shaped village of Rotondella, known for its panoramic position as the balcony of the Ionian. The oldest part of the city is known for the “Lamie” of Bitonte, architectural features consisting of 17th-century vaulted stone arches located under the floor of the building owned by the Bitonte family, from which they take their name.
Going further inland there are two villages where poetry is the star: Tursi and Valsinni. In fact, both towns are the birthplace of two illustrious poets, Albino Pierro and Isabella di Morra.

Tursi is the birthplace of Pierro, twice nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. The village stands on a sandstone hill between the Agri and Sinni rivers. The poet has repeatedly praised its millenary beauty in his famous verses in the Tursitano dialect. Reading his words, one can easily imagine the evocative charm of the Arab quarter of Rabatana, consisting of steep alleyways and winding steps leading to plunging precipices, called Jaramme by the poet. A Literary Park has been dedicated to him, from which you can enjoy a beautiful view over the badlands towards the Sanctuary of Santa Maria D’Anglona, a real jewel of medieval architecture.

The ancient Favale, now known as Valsinni, was the town of the talented but ill-fated poet Isabella di Morra. In the distant 16th century the village was the scene of the unfortunate “love story” between the poet and the lord of nearby Bollita, Diego Sandoval de Castro. Morra’s life was short and tormented due to her platonic love and the atrocious act of her brothers. Her story remains indelibly imprinted in the castle where she lived, which dominates the small town, and in the Literary Park dedicated to her, where the life and verses of the poet are staged every year.

The Ionian coast is not only characterised by the crystal blue sea and by the golden expanses of soft sand, but also by badlands, clayey formations with an unmistakable morphology that recall a lunar landscape. The Regional Reserve of Montalbano Jonico Badlands is a landscape area of unparalleled beauty. It is the largest in Basilicata and has geological, plant and animal rarities that make it unique in the world. The reserve is based in Montalbano Jonico, a city famous for the cultivation of citrus fruits and vegetables in the so-called gardens of Montalbano.

The itinerary among the gems of the Ionian coast ends with the village of Colobraro which stands on a hill from which it dominates the entire Agri valley, so much so that it is known as the “sentinel of the Val d’Agri”. From there you can enjoy an extraordinary view of the village of Valsinni and splendid views of the entire valley, equally striking at any time of the day and evening.

Food and wine route in the Agri Valley

Arte e Cultura

The way that nature has expressed itself in this area is enchanting, with high peaks that encircle, almost protectively, an entire valley made up of small villages that let their voices resound with loud historical-archaeological notes that spread among the beeches, turkey oaks, maples, chestnuts and firs, crossed by the numerous waterways that distinguish the area. It is the land of the Agri, a river that was once navigable; it is the land between the Vulturino and Sirino mountains, recognised in 2007 as the Lucano Apennines – Val d’Agri – Lagonegrese National Park. It is here, among lakes, dams, green expanses and woods inhabited by the most varied animal species, that the magical association between mother nature, history and the flavours of the area takes place, the latter being the keystone in the path to discovering the territory. An innovative way of getting to know places is, in fact, to start with the table, the dishes that give it its colour and the flavours that characterise it. Elements that can guide our knowledge of a people and their culture much more than we think. The morphology of the territory, as well as the socio-economic conditions that have characterised the different historical periods, are the contributing factors to the development of a particular type of food, favouring the emergence of unique and recognisable typical dishes over time.

Getting to know the villages scattered around the Agri Valley, discovering their essence and bringing back memories is an experience that also involves the dinner table. After all, as the German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach asserted, ‘man is what he eats’; the culture of each people, its identity, the traditions that define each community, are also reflected in food, which over time becomes one of the main vectors of cultural identity. An unmistakable symbol. Its preparation is culture, the tradition from which it originates is culture, and the moment it is eaten is also culture. Amidst the lush, wild forests, lake habitats and the many rivers that run through the Val d’Agri, there are small villages with an interesting history, with fragments of an ancestral past that still shine through in their architecture, art and even food and wine traditions. The smells that intoxicate this area are those of authenticity, goodness and handmade products. It is the smells of local tradition that take us on an unparalleled sensory tour. They are the combined result of history, tradition and nature.

A land of vineyards, the Alta Val d’Agri proudly produces fine wine, praised in the past by Pliny the Elder, described as a ‘divine beverage’ in the pages of Homer and known to the Romans as ‘lagarina’. The wine-growing and wine-producing tradition has its roots in ancient times and takes us back in time, sipping a nice glass of local red wine, to distant times that go back to Ancient Greece, through the Romans and all the various peoples that have followed. In fact, in its early days, the red nectar of the Lucanian mountains was produced according to techniques belonging to ancient Enotria. It is said that Greek colonists pioneered wine-growing practices in Lucania as early as the Iron Age. With the development of Greek colonies on the Ionian Sea, in particular Siris and Sybaris, wine production also spread inland and, after the destruction of Sybaris in 510 BC, the Sybarites settled permanently in the river valleys of the Lucanian Apennines, importing into this area the tradition of the Aminae, a particular type of vine known for its production yield and the durability of the wine to the point of becoming a household name. Later, around the 1st century BC, the Roman Marcus Valerius Messalla Potitus set up a proper farm with vines from the Ionian fortress of Lagaria, from which wine was named ‘lagarina’, with medicine of the time attributing it a number of therapeutic properties. The Terre dell’Alta Val d’Agri wine now carries the DOC label, and is mainly produced in the areas of Viggiano, Grumento and Moliterno. It is a blend of 40% Cabernet and 40% Merlot, with the remaining part of a Lucanian grape variety of choice, which further distinguishes its flavour. The areas involved in wine production are sites that can offer not only sensory emotions but also a real journey through time. Just consider the veneration of the Madonna of Viggiano, from its birth to the development of the entire tradition, the archaeological jewel of Grumentum with its reference to Roman history, or the origins of Moliterno: a village of white houses that is said to have been built following the destruction of Grumentum by the Saracens. For more than a century it was ruled by the Normans, whose majestic castle we can admire today, including the remains of the quadrangular tower divided into three floors, each occupied by a single room: the prison cells. But the ruins of the castle atop the highest spur are not the only point of historical interest in the small town. A series of elegant aristocratic buildings catches the eye even before you get to the Roman archway leading to the fortress: these are Palazzo Parisi, Palazzo Giliberti, Palazzo Mobilio Giampietro and Palazzo Lovito. Another attraction is the well-known MAM (Musei Aiello Moliterno) museum system: a series of museums scattered throughout the town, created thanks to the work of the Aiello family and home to works of art created by Lucanian artists (Palazzo Aiello 1786 Museum and Casa Domenico Aiello Museum) and contemporary and modern exhibitions (via Rosario Contemporanea Museum), entire collections of ceramics (20th Century Ceramics Museum) and, again, the history of books told inside an Art Nouveau structure (Biblioteca Lucana Angela Aiello library). Also not to be missed are the Hall of Maps and the Hall of Earthquake History. The tour of food and wine excellence takes us to another typical Moliterno product, the famous Pecorino Canestrato, recognised as a PGI product and the star of the Sagra del Pecorino festival, which every year attracts many dairy product lovers and curious gourmands. This is a very flavoursome cheese, made from goat’s milk mixed with sheep’s milk, enriched with aromatic herbs and preserved in reed baskets (hence the name ‘canestrato’ – ‘canestro’ means basket), which became famous and a source of income for the people of Moliterno in the 18th century. Its production, moreover, is closely linked to the toponymy of the municipality. The name ‘Moliterno’ is said to derive from the archaic ‘mulcternum’, which translated into English means ‘place where milk is made’. Our journey to discover the most significant flavours of the Agri Valley takes us to Sarconi, with its PGI bean. There as many as 20 varieties of local ecotypes of the delicious bean derived from the Cannellini and Borlotti plants. Every year there is a festival dedicated to the product which, for a long time in the distant past when agriculture was the only means of living, was the only source of food. Its tastiness is undoubtedly due to the climatic conditions and the sandy soil, rich in nitrogen but lacking in limestone. The alluvial soil that characterises the area reminds us of the important presence of water, which has a great effect on crops. Just think of its use in the past, with the construction of the Roman aqueduct “Cavour”, which can be visited today, built in 1867 in Roman style. Near Sarconi, there are other small places that serve pulses as part of their typical dishes, offering a winning combination of food and culture that will satisfy the minds and curiosity of even the most spirited visitors. This brings us to Spinoso. A pleasant “terrace” overlooking the Lago del Pertusillo lake, romantically overlooking the nature of the Val d’Agri. Here, too, you can enjoy excellent chickpeas cooked with vegetables or combined with homemade pasta. All of which is peppered with historical references that are impossible to avoid. The Mother Church, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and dating from 1583, is remarkable. In Baroque style, with a Latin cross plan, it houses valuable paintings by well-known Lucanian artists and anonymous masterpieces, as well as unique wooden altars.

In the Basento Valley | Between Roman remains and trendsetting architecture

Arte e Cultura

The city of Potenza is surrounded by a dense scrub of beech, oak, chestnut and pine trees, and dotted with various green spaces that give local neighbourhoods a space to play and relax. Between city parks and the immediate surroundings, some of Potenza’s views can be enjoyed in a pleasant harmony between nature and architecture.
● From bridge to bridge
The synergy with which nature, history and the drive towards futuristic horizons have created singular corners such as the Basento River Park is captivating: an exploratory walk by the river allows immediate immersion in a completely new and unexpected dimension, detached from the urban bustle, in a stretch of the city between two significant architectural structures, antithetical to each other, the Ponte San Vito bridge and the Ponte Musmeci bridge.
The Ponte San Vito bridge, of Roman origin, was built in the Diocletian era in the second half of the 3rd century AD. Its solidity comes through the stone with which it was built and from the three-span structure that characterises it. A founding element of this area, for centuries it has witnessed the slow flow of the waters of the Basento, offering those who cross it the feeling of coming into contact with past eras. From here, the pedestrian path runs along the river, ideal for walks and runs in the open air in perfect symbiosis with nature.
Following the entire promenade along the river, you will reach the Ponte Musmeci bridge, a real work of art with a muscular and plastic structure, designed in the late 1960s by the architect from which it takes its name. Its design is unique: a single vault with a thickness of only 30 cm is supported by 4 spans whose profile recalls that of an enormous crumpled leaf, whose tips act as support pillars. Suggestively lit in the evening, it overlooks the point where the Basento bed becomes wider, making way for small waterfalls and shady clearings
● In an ancient Roman villa
From Viale del Basento you can easily reach the Malvaccaro district, where another important piece of Potenza’s cultural heritage is found. This is the Roman Villa dating back to the 3rd-4th century. It is spread over several levels and its stunning rooms can all be visited, enriched by polychrome mosaics and often used for cultural events.
● On the escalators to the city centre
In this same district there is access to the well-known escalators, the longest in Europe, not to be missed. They connect opposite parts of the city allowing you to get to the historic centre in just a few minutes.
In this way you can stop off in the centre and visit the Dinu Adamesteanu National Archaeological Museum, where you can retrace the succession of peoples and cultures that have characterised Basilicata, from the Greek colonisation to the Roman conquest.
After having spent the morning amidst historical reminders and a few small tastes of Lucanian nature, you can think about trying the local delicacies cooked with care and attention to tradition at the city’s various trattorias, historic places for the Lucanian palate and a place to recharge for visitors, before setting off to discover the green and more playful side of the city and its immediate surroundings.
● From the WWF Oasis of Pantano di Pignola to the woods of Rifreddo and Sellata
A few kilometres from the urban perimeter, nature reigns supreme. The splendid natural oasis that arises around the Pantano di Pignola lake will enchant with the wealth of flora and fauna that inhabit it. Green expanses unfold at the foot of the tall mountains of the Lucanian Apennines, stretching to the edge of the oasis and creating an area crossed by paths usually frequented by lovers of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding.
Continuing to climb in altitude, you enter the woods of Rifreddo and Sellata, where picnic areas and the possibility of doing outdoor sports both in winter (thanks to the presence of ski facilities) and in summer, make the area suitable for tourists of all ages.

Itinerary "In the historic centre of Potenza | in the footsteps of Saint Gerard, among the voices of a wise architecture"

Arte e Cultura

Dedicating a day to visit the Lucanian capital can be a very interesting experience, a real journey back in time to the heart of the historic centre where, moving on foot, you can follow the footsteps of the patron saint of Potenza. A journey that, between legend and history, between the architecture of the past and today’s innovations, leaves plenty of opportunity for wonder and discovery, curiosity and knowledge.
Entering the centre from the side of Porta Salza, a location whose name derives from the presence of the main entrance gate (demolished at the beginning of the 19th century) to the medieval city, you can’t help but visit the narrow streets that intersect the main street, Via Pretoria, scattered with references to the ancient medieval village. Squat buildings alternate with noble palaces and modern structures. Narrow alleys follow one another, parallel, crossed, dead-end or communicating, in grey stone, with the wood of the doors of the past and adorned with coloured flowers that overlook from balconies and windowsills. Characteristic public fountains and noble coats of arms intensify the atmosphere of the typical alleys of this area, contained in that perimeter marked by the ancient gates (some still visible: Porta San Luca, Porta San Gerardo and Porta San Giovanni), once the only access to the area within the walls. Fragments of history that make the corners of the centre unique, emanating a sense of warmth and authenticity.
The historic centre is dotted with several sacred places, emblems of the past from which the city we know today emerged: the Church of Santa Lucia, that of San Michele, the Cathedral of San Gerardo and the Church of San Francesco are examples of important, symbolic and eloquent architecture, accompanied by the presence of interesting artistic works:
The first, the Church of Santa Lucia, of medieval origin, stands surrounded by the hovels of the ancient village and preserves a splendid nineteenth-century statue of the local artist Busciolano and various decorative elements worth seeing in person, such as the heraldic coat of arms dating back to 1586.
The church dedicated to San Michele Arcangelo, dating back to 1178 and custodian of works of art such as the “Annunciation” (1612) by Pietrafesa and “Madonna of the Rosary and fifteen mysteries” (1569) is a masterpiece of Romanesque art. by Antonio Stabile.
Imposing, with a soaring bell tower and a façade dominated by a precious bronze door sculpted by the Calabrian Niglia in 1968 and depicting the most significant events in the history of Potenza, the Cathedral of San Gerardo encloses a highly evocative atmosphere within its walls, offered by elements such as a series of Baroque frescoes and oils on panel, the sarcophagus containing the remains of the Saint or the impressive crypt datable between the 4th and 6th centuries BC with the function of “Martyrion”, a place used to preserve the bodies of martyrs.
Behind the Cathedral stands the Diocesan Museum, where you can admire precious objects, valuable examples of art and faith as well as a rich collection of furnishings from the Cathedral.
The Church of San Francesco is one of the oldest in the city, dating back to the 11th century, its simplicity and architectural sobriety fully reflecting the type of religiosity by which it is inspired. Noteworthy are the works housed inside, such as “The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” by Giovanni Todisco.
Continuing along the route, you arrive at Piazza Matteotti, overlooked by the town hall and a small sacred building, the Tempietto di San Gerardo temple. A milestone of the Potenza walk, and originally a snow house, it protects a Neo-Renaissance style bust depicting the Saint between its columns topped by a singular dome.
In one of the alleys adjacent to Via Pretoria there is another noteworthy place of worship hidden and covered with red bricks, the Beato Bonaventura Chapel, the birthplace of friar Bonaventura, sanctified by Pope Pius VI in 1775.
For lovers of figurative art, it is worth visiting the Civic Gallery, to which the rooms of the Celestini Chapel are annexed, both housed in one of the most important noble palaces in the city: Palazzo Loffredo, formerly the venue of the Dinu Adamesteanu National Archaeological Museum. Here unique exhibitions of Italian and European authors can be visited every year. Opposite, and recently opened to the public, is the “Palace of culture”, a place dedicated to hosting events and exhibitions and the seat of the municipal tourist information point.
Between one visit and another, a stop at the meeting place of Potenza, Piazza Mario Pagano, is highly recommended, made even more pleasant by enjoying a rich aperitif at one of the bars overlooking the square. The historic F. Stabile theatre, a jewel in the centre of Potenza and the oldest and most prestigious theatre in Basilicata, overlooks this large space.
Walking along the central road to the end, you reach another significant historical element of the city: the Guevara Tower, what remains of the majestic castle of the same name.
And after this journey through the history and architecture of the capital, you can taste something authentic and local in the many cozy little restaurants and historic trattorias in the historic centre. A riot of flavours and colours that illustrates the Lucanian food and wine tradition: meats and cheeses accompanied by grilled vegetables lead the way to a varied offer of typical dishes. From the tempting cruschi peppers, which enrich the first courses of homemade pasta accompanied by fried breadcrumbs, to the tasty meat sauces that flavour ravioli stuffed with fresh ricotta, to the grilled meat that is the star of the main courses, followed by desserts of various kinds and locally produced bitters.

“Discovering lagonegrese” itinerary

Arte e Cultura

From the charming Maratea, Lucania’s only outlet into the deep blue Tyrrhenian Sea, just a few kilometres away is a completely different landscape. The villages in the hinterland are decidedly more hilly and mountainous in appearance, and differ in morphology and landscape, all with their own story to tell.

Not far from the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea is the “garden city”: Trecchina. Famous for producing chestnuts, the unique flavour of the sweets and ice-creams made from this fruit will tantalise the tastebuds of anyone who stops here. But Trecchina offers more than just sweet temptations. Outdoor enthusiasts should not miss the Parco delle Stelle park. Located on the mountain of Serra Pollino in an extraordinary natural setting that allows you to admire the Tyrrhenian coast and the Gulf of Policastro from above. The exciting Parco delle Stelle is unique in its scenic beauty and offers a variety of thrilling, adrenaline-pumping attractions, as well as the opportunity to enjoy outdoor sports, cycling, horse riding and simply to relax in the green surroundings. On the mountain of Serra Pollino, at 1099 metres above sea level, the Sanctuary of the Madonna del Soccorso can still be admired. You can get to the place of worship by leaving the village and following a path that is one of the most scenic in the Lagonegrese area, immersed in the untouched green of nature.

From Trecchina we continue to the pretty village of Rivello, located on a hill overlooking the Valle del Noce valley. The small village has a peculiar urban structure, both because it extends over three hills, Motta, Serra and Poggio, and because its origins are due to the establishment of two distinct settlements, as in the past the village was fought over by the Lombards and Byzantines. This division can still be perceived today in the architecture, rituals and town planning. There is in fact a Latin area built around the Mother Church of San Nicola and another Greek area extending from the Mother Church of Santa Maria del Poggio, both dating from the 9th century. Among the various places of worship in the area, the Convent of Sant’Antonio deserves a special mention. Dating back to the 16th century, it is embellished with valuable frescoes by the Todisco brothers. Giovanni Todisco is responsible for the fresco of the Last Supper, located in the refectory, whose peculiarity lies in the fact that it shows absolutely non-canonical dishes belonging to the local food and wine tradition. Handicrafts are also very important and the village is famous for making iron and copper objects.

Going further inland, our gaze is caught by the hilly scenery of Lauria, the town of Blessed Domenico Lentini. With its illustrious past, it is remembered for its heroic resistance in the attempt to stop the advance of Napoleon’s army, which led to the burning and sacking of 1806, a resistance that earned it the title of Semper fidelis from the Bourbons. The town is also known for the presence of the Sanctuary of the Madonna Assunta, an ancient Basilian monastery, as well as the ruins of the Ruggero castle, named after the bloodthirsty Aragonese admiral, famous for having emerged victorious from all the battles he fought. Visitors to the town can delight their tastebuds with many typical products, including the otto, viscuttini c’u naspru and anginetti biscuits, recognised as Deco products.

From Lauria, the route heads towards Nemoli, a picturesque town characterised by a network of alleyways, stairways and eighteenth-century buildings, located a few kilometres from Lake Sirino. The picturesque water basin, surrounded by greenery and the houses that literally overlook it, is ideal for relaxing and refreshing walks in the heat of summer days, while in autumn it becomes a favourite destination for foliage lovers. Several times a year it is the natural stage for various shows involving the interplay of light and sound directly on the water.

The last stop in the area is the city of Lagonegro, characterised by its medieval layout. It has a peculiar urban structure, seemingly clinging to a cliff dotted with steep, narrow streets and many churches. In the oldest part of the village, the remains of the feudal castle are still visible and dominate the entire town. The city is famous for being the birthplace of the famous and sadly missed Lucanian singer-songwriter Pino Mango and also because, according to a legend, the remains of Da Vinci’s famous muse Mona Lisa are said to have found their eternal home in the Church of San Nicola, where, according to popular tradition, she died during one of her journeys.

Discovering the pearl of Thyrrenian, Maratea itinerary

Arte e Cultura

Back in history
The origins of Maratea go back a long way, with a strong Greek influence that can already be felt from the place name, which is said to derive from Marathia, a Hellenic term meaning a place where fennel grows, but for the Greeks it was also known as Thea maris, the Goddess of the Sea.
The Tyrrhenian city guards archaeological treasures on land and on the seabed. It has always been on the ancient routes of Greek and Roman ships, so much so that its coast has been a landing place for various peoples since ancient times.
Ancient migrants used to stop at the nearby island of Santo Janni, where a trove of Greek and Roman anchors and the remains of tanks used for the production of garum, a sauce made from fish entrails used by the Romans to flavour food, have been discovered.
Maratea’s ancient history can not only be discovered along the coast, but also at another site of historical interest on Mount San Biagio, in a place known as the castle. Basilian monks founded a monastery here around the 6th century and later refugees from Blanda who were forced to leave their town took refuge here. Over the centuries, this strategically located area was also inhabited by the Lombards and Normans, who gradually transformed the area into a fortified citadel.
In the area there was also the first inhabited settlement of Maratea Superiore. Later on, due to the demographic growth of the population, the inhabitants migrated downstream around the 11th-12th centuries, forming Maratea Inferiore, the present-day historical centre. The two settlements remained distinct until 1808, when, following the French attack of 1806, the walls and most of the fortified town of Maratea Superiore were destroyed, so that the survivors were aggregated with the population of Maratea Inferiore to form a single municipality, today’s Maratea.
In fact, the history of the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea is said to have already begun in prehistoric times, since lithic tools, clay material and the remains of huts have been found, bearing witness to the presence of man in the area forty thousand years ago.
Further evidence of the existence of the settlement in different periods of history are the coastal watchtowers, built by the Saracens along the cliff to defend themselves from sea raids. The most well-known are Torre Apprezzami l’asino, Torre dei Crivi, Torre Acquafredda, Torre Filocaio, Torre Santavenere and Torre Caina, which formed a substantial defensive system.
Then, in the hamlet of Castrocucco, on a hill overlooking the coast of Maratea and the entire Gulf of Policastro, you can marvel at the fascinating ruins of a castle subject to monumental protection by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.
The numerous finds unearthed on the seabed near the islet of Santo Janni, such as amphorae, anchors, vessels and other artefacts, can now be seen in the exhibition “Dal mare alla terra. Archeologia subacquea a Maratea” (From the sea to the land. Underwater archaeology in Maratea) in the halls of the 18th-century Palazzo De Lieto, which together with Villa Nitti, once the summer residence of the great Lucanian statesman, are two of the most valuable artistic sites in the area.

The city of 44 churches and of Christ the Redeemer
Maratea is known as the city of 44 churches. There are many places of worship scattered throughout its territory, twenty of which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary, so much so that the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea can be defined as a Marian city, although the real devotion that characterises Maratea is that linked to its patron saint: Saint Blaise The “beautiful lady” of the Tyrrhenian Sea has an irregular territory, which does not develop homogeneously only in the town, but expands up to Mount San Biagio, marked by the symbol of the town: the statue of the Redeemer. The Christ of Maratea, commissioned by the industrialist Rivetti in 1965 and created by the artist Bruno Innocenti, stands proudly at the highest point of the town, dominating the entire Gulf of Policastro, with its blinding white colour created by the purity of Carrara marble and its 22 m height standing out against the intense blue of the sky. Accessible via a path of winding bends with breathtaking views, it is second in size only to the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro.

An enchanting coast
From Maratea’s highest point, its territory slopes down to the coast of Castrocucco, passing the port and the hamlets of Fiumicello, Brefaro, Acquafredda, Massa, Marina, Cersuta and Santa Caterina. There are many beaches along the coast, some of which are small and accessible only by sea, as well as natural caves, such as the Grotta delle meraviglie (Cave of Wonders) in Marina di Maratea, a unique natural spectacle with stalactites and stalagmites created by the relentless action of the water. Its thirty kilometres of coastline have been awarded the Blue Flag several times and are a veritable Eden on earth, wild and unspoilt at times, with a play of ravines, gorges, inlets and delightful coves that offer an exclusive relationship with nature. On the Acquafredda stretch of coast there are the beaches of Anginara and Luppa, divided by a cliff with dark sand and pebbles, Grotta della Scala, Porticello and Marizza. One of the most popular has always been the d’u Nastru beach in Cersuta and the I Vranne beach in Porto. The Fiumicello and Castrocucco beaches are larger than the others and more suitable for children, given the ease with which they can be reached. Distinguished by the dark colour of its sand, the Spiaggia Nera (Black Beach) is framed by dense Mediterranean vegetation that extends almost to the sea. The beaches in the Marina di Maratea district, including Illicini, Cala Jannita and Macarro, are noteworthy for their morphological peculiarities and beautiful landscapes.
The unique Secca beach has a shallow seabed and rocky outcrops, which in the past were the cause of several shipwrecks, as evidenced by the many archaeological finds from the sea.

The port
The port was the setting for trading, especially during the 18th century, Maratea’s golden years, and is now one of the most attractive tourist ports in the Mediterranean. It can even be accessed by large boats and is a link between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the hinterland. It is the starting point for a number of trips to admire the most secret corners of the coast, beaches that can only be reached by sea and for various activities such as night-time squid fishing. Today it is an excellent tourist destination, thanks also to the many bars and restaurants overlooking the picturesque bay.

Typical products
Last but not least, we must mention the typical products that make Maratea a paradise not only for the eyes but also for the palate. How could we not mention the red, juicy and gigantic tomatoes, mozzarella, treccia and caciocavallo cheeses from Massa, as well as gilò (the elongated red aubergine), carob, salted capers, salted anchovies, aliciocculi fish, and garum once produced on the island of Santo Janni. These products were the first to obtain the municipal denomination ‘Maratea De.C.O.’, a mark that highlights their link with the history and traditions of the pearl of the Tyrrhenian Sea.