Elegant and delightful, Maratea attracts international cognoscenti, fascinated by the medieval centre and the romantic squares, but also by the crystalline sea and the pristine beaches. The coast extends over the Tyrrhenian Sea: all the charm of rocks, stacks, tongues of sand, award-winning beaches, as well as ancient hamlets and traditional food.
Marina di Maratea is famous for the dark sand of “Cala Janniti”, the “Illicini beach” (between a series of rocks and entirely covered with stones) and for the “Caves of Wonders”, where stalactites and stalagmites have fun creating imaginative embroideries and the columns, together with the calcite draperies, fantastic decorations, hence its name. In particularl, some filiform stalactites, called ”spaghetti” in speleological jargon, so thin they break easily: a slight noise is enough. It is one of the smallest (an extension of 90 meters) and the only one accessible to tourists.
The hamlet of Castrocucco stands out for the Caina Tower, which stands on a vertiginous rock overlooking the sea.
Everywhere the pristine sea beds, particularly appreciated by divers, are populated by a variety of fauna (spirographs, starfish, yellow gorgonians) and preserve remains of antiquity (vases, amphorae from the III-IV century BC), of which only a small part has been brought to light.
Beside the sea, it is the historic center that characterises Maratea. A dense and colorful cobweb of narrow streets between the flowered balconies, the red roofs and the multicolored walls, the majolica of the domes of the many churches, draws the charm of the medieval village.
Fun fact? The balconies of the houses facing the mountain testify how the old inhabitants were not fishers. The town was built, in fact, by shepherds and the local dairy tradition confirms this: above all the famous mozzarella di Massa (a mountain village on the slopes of Mount San Biagio) and Caciocavalli cheese.
You move on foot, in the rarefied car traffic, stopping here and there in the shops that sell handicrafts such as woven straw and wicker baskets or ceramic objects. Here the artisans are not only architects but also masters of ancient techniques and secrets.
For a tasty break, don’t miss the “Bocconotti”, delicious short crust pastry filled with chocolate, cream or black cherry jam, from the Panza pastry shop. There is usually a queue, but it’s worth it.
In the evening, the atmosphere becomes even more romantic among the hundreds of lights of restaurants and clubs with outdoor tables. And after having tasted the local gastronomy, it is worth taking a stroll to the “Belvedere della Pietra del Sole”: from here, the view sweeps across the valley and the coast.
How to get there: About three hours away, Naples is closest airport. You can also reach Maratea by direct train from Naples or Rome.
When: Outside August, when it tends to be overly busy, anytime is good. Spring and Autumn temperatures are ideal for walking and exploring.
Best for: combining wonderful seaside with ancient local traditions, wonderful walks and genuine food.
Beyond Maratea: Nature enthusiasts may find the immediate surroundings rich in parks and nature reserves. Among the most famous: the Lucanian Dolomites, the Murgia Regional Park which extends between Matera and Montescaglioso, and the San Giuliano Nature Reserve, a protected area from WWF.
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