Set in the Gulf of Policastro, Maratea is the only Lucanian outlet on the Tyrrhenian Sea, of which it is called “the pearl”.
Its thirty kilometres of coastline have been awarded the blue flag, and have always been among the most celebrated in Italy. Its fame dates back to ancient times, the Greeks called it Thea maris, the Goddess of the sea. A real Eden on land, sometimes wild and unspoiled, with its jagged coasts overlooking the sea, ending in delightful coves that offer an exclusive relationship with nature.
That of Maratea is a very diverse territory, which does not develop homogeneously only in the village, but expands upwards to the statue of the Redeemer and the ruins of the castle and then slopes down to the coast of Castrocucco, passing through the port, Fiumicello and the hamlets of Brefaro, Acquafredda, Massa, Marina, Cersuta and Santa Caterina.

The beaches, caves and the island of Santo Janni
There are numerous beaches and coves that characterise the coast, some small and reachable only from the sea.
On the stretch of coast of Acquafredda, we find the beaches ofAnginarra and Luppa, divided by a cliff with dark sand and pebbles, of Grotta della Scala, Porticello and Marizza. One of the most celebrated beaches is the one calledd’u Nastru in Cersuta, while in Porto that of I Vranne.
Larger than the previous ones and also more suitable for children, given the ease with which they can be reached, are the beaches of Fiumicello and Castrocucco.
Made particular by the dark colour of its sand, the Spiaggia nera (Black beach) is framed by the thick vegetation of the Mediterranean scrub that extends almost to the sea.
The beaches of the hamlet Marina di Maratea are noteworthy for their morphological peculiarities and their scenic beauty. Among them, Illicini, Cala Jannita and Macarro.
The Secca beach is the only one of its kind, with its shallow seabed and numerous rocks that, in the past, caused several shipwrecks as evidenced by the various archaeological finds that emerged from the sea.
The coast of Maratea is also characterised by numerous natural caves, such as the Cave of wonders in Marina di Maratea, a unique naturalistic spectacle, with stalactites and stalagmites created by the tireless action of water. One of the smallest and best preserved tourist caves in the entire national territory. Other noteworthy sea caves are the ones called Sogno, Fogiaro, Zu Monaco, Colonne, Pipistrelli and Dragone, real works of art in limestone.
Deserving a separate mention is the island of Santo Janni, a rocky islet used since Roman times, as evidenced by the numerous finds of amphorae, anchors and basins, for the production and trade of garum, a typical sauce used in the antiquity and made with fish entrails.

The Cristo Redentore
Among the symbols of Maratea there is certainly the statue of Christ the Redeemer, with its white and bright shape that rises above the sea from the top of Mount San Biagio. Reachable through a path made of winding hairpin bends with breathtaking views, it is second in size only to the statue of Rio de Janeiro, with a height of 22 meters, an opening of the arms of 19 meters and a face that is 3 meters wide. Made of white concrete and Carrara marble chips by thew Florentine sculptor Bruno Innocenti, it was installed in 1965 and dominates the entire Gulf of Policastro.

The port
Having become one of the most picturesque tourist destinations in the Mediterranean, the port of Maratea can also be reached by large boats and constitutes a connection point between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the hinterland. Numerous excursions depart from here to the most pristine and secret corners of the coast. In the summer, the port reveals its soul as a real “tourist lounge”, welcoming holidaymakers to the many bars and restaurants that overlook the small bay.

Few traces remain of the ancient Maratea, the fortified citadel that was built on Mount San Biagio in the early Middle Ages, most likely on a previous Roman settlement. The ancient inhabited area was called “castello”.
In reality, the history of this Tyrrhenian pearl would have already begun in prehistoric times, as lithic tools, clay material and the remains of huts were found that would testify to the presence of man in the territory already forty thousand years ago.
There are also numerous findings of underwater archaeology that are now on display in the exhibition “From the sea to the land. Underwater arcaheology in Maratea” in the halls of Palazzo De Lieto.
Further evidence of the existence of the village in the different historical periods are the coastal watchtowers, built by the Saracens along the shore to defend themselves from raids by sea. Among the best known ones are Apprezzami l’asino, Crivi, Acquafredda, Filocaio, Santavenere and Caina, which formed a real defensive system.
In the hamlet of Castrocucco, on a hill overlooking the coast of Maratea and the entire Gulf of Policastro, we can admire in all its charm the ruins of a castle subjected to monumental restrictions by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage.

The Borgo
The village of Maratea has the typical beauty of small Mediterranean towns: romantic, elegant, authentic, with softly coloured houses and alleys that lead to picturesque small squares. The old town has a medieval layout, as the houses decorated with loggias still show today, built one next to the other and divided only by narrow alleys.
The oldest part of the village is located in via Capocasale, where the first houses were built between 1200 and 1300 and from which we can walk to the ruins of the castle.
Noteworthy is the famous Piazza Buraglia, often compared to the Piazzetta of Capri, and the Belvedere della Pietra del Sole from which we can see an enchanting panorama from the valley to the coast.

The churches
Maratea is known for being the city of 44 Churches. Indeed, there are many places of worship, including shrines, churches and chapels, scattered throughout its territory.
The oldest, built between the 11th and 12th centuries, is the Church of San Vito, located in the historic centre. Noteworthy are also the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore, built between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Church of the Annunziata, with a remarkable wooden choir dating back to the fifteenth century and the bell tower and dome covered in green and yellow majolica, the seventeenth-century Church of the Addolorata and the eighteenth century Church of the Immacolata from whose basements the remains of a fourteenth-century church have re-emerged.
Worth a visit are also the convent with the adjoining church of Minor Observants and the Convent and Church of Sant’Antonio. A separate mention, for its spectacular panoramic view and the importance it has in the religious context, should be made of the Basilica of San Biagio, erected at the foot of the statue of the Redeemer.

The palaces
Palazzo De Lieto is a noble building erected, at the behest of Giovanni De Lieto, in 1734, to house the first hospital in the city. Later, however, the hospital was moved and the building abandoned. Restored in the 90s of the twentieth century, today it is owned by the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and hosts important exhibitions and events. On the first floor there is a permanent collection of underwater archaeological finds recovered from the seabed of the islet of Santo Janni, while the second floor houses the Picture gallery of painter Angelo Brando, from Maratea, with a permanent exhibition of some of his paintings.
In Acquafredda di Maratea we find Villa Nitti, purchased by Francesco Saverio Nitti in 1918 and summer residence of the family of the great Lucanian statesman. A prestigious artistic place, it enjoys a panorama of unparalleled beauty and is now part of the artistic and cultural heritage of Basilicata. Thanks to the latest restoration, it has been reopened to the public.

Celebration of San Biagio
Every year, as per tradition, there is the celebration of the patron saint of Maratea, San Biagio. The celebrations, which last for four days, culminate on the second Sunday of May.
According to legend, the relics of the saint miraculously reached the island of Santo Janni from the sea in 732. One of the key moments of the festival is that of the procession, through which the statue, covered with a purple-red cloak, is carried from the Basilica in “Maratea di suso” (upper Maratea, where the Statue of the Redeemer is located) to “Maratea di giuso ” (lower Maratea, the current inhabited centre). The two parts of the city have always disputed the paternity of the celebration and the red mantle symbolises the neutrality of the saint towards this dispute.

Food and wine
Maratea is a rich town also from the standpoint of flavours, and indeed the area offers a number of typical products. The famous gigantic and juicy red tomatoes or the mozzarella, treccia and caciocavallo from the hamlet of Massa di Maratea are worth to be mentioned. These, in addition to the gilò (the elongated red aubergine), Carob, salted capers, salted anchovies, aliciocculi garlic and garum were the first typical products to obtain the municipal denomination “Maratea De.CO”, a brand that highlights their link with the history and traditions of the Tyrrhenian pearl.


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