Known as the “pearl” of the Tyrrhenian Sea due to its natural “setting” in the Gulf of Policastro, Maratea is the only Lucanian window on the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Characterized by a high and jugged coast, the town of Maratea owns the colours and the smells of the mountain on which it is born, to mix them with the flavours and the blue of the sea.
Rich in caves, coves, inlets and islets and with lush vegetation it is among the most popular tourist destinations in the region.
Suggestive and panoramic, it extends on 32 km of coastline in the localities of Acquafredda, Cersuta, Fiumicello, the Black Beach, the Secche, and Castrocucco.
Beautiful and particular are the beaches with their coloured pebbles contrasting with the inland reliefs, with the steep slopes covered by the Mediterranean scrubland.
It is a kaleidoscopic land, maritime on one side and mountainous on the other. A real naturalistic, cultural and tourist richness with all the possibilities that such a varied territory can offer…
The splendour of the Maratea’s landscape is, in fact, an invitation to enjoy regenerating walks through the many paths that once were trodden during the pastoral transhumance as well as acting as a link between the various villages.
Maratea is also the ideal place from which to start an exploration of the naturalistic richness of Pollino and Cilento National Parks or the history and traditions of the Lagonegro’s hinterland and the characteristic small towns of Basilicata.
The inhabited centre was built on a spur, surmounted by the statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Mount San Biagio, a mountain dedicated to the patron saint of the city, around which a very vivid cult exists. From here it is possible to see the many urban agglomerations that gravitate around the ancient village but not only. The vegetation, that climbs up to the top hiding the strong presence of the bush in the identity of the place, suddenly gives way to the spectacular sea of the Gulf which, with its reflections and its infinite movement, captures the gaze distracting from the green on the rock.
It is a game of colours that alternate and mix and making Maratea unique and magical!
Kwown as the “town of the 44 churches”, due to the presence of numerous small churches , it has ancient origins dating back to prehistoric times.
Indeed, traces of human settlements dating back to over 40,000 years ago have been found in the area, particularly in the caves adjacent to Fiumicello beach. The finds identified in LocalitàTimpa, a hill near the Port of Maratea, date back to 1500 BC approximately.
The etymology of the name is also interesting and suggestive: from Thea-maris (“goddess of the sea”) to Mar-ar-Ethea, whose meaning is “City of the Great Etys”, a population who initially settled on the shores of the Black Sea, later moved to the western regions, and presumably also to the territory of the current Maratea. But next to the poetic theory there is another more rational and linked to the local flora: Marath-ia, “the finocchiaia” that is “Land of fennel”, to underline the copious presence of wild fennel plants.
The current emblem of Maratea depicts three towers that stand out against a blue background, emerging from the water with a double-headed eagle on the central tower. In fact, two of these towers are still visible: one is located in the lower part of the Historical Center, while the other has been incorporated into the Mother Church, of which it constitutes the choir. Any third party is usually identified with the Passeri house, in front of the current Piazza Buraglia, halfway between the other two.
CULTURAL AND ARTISTIC HERITAGE
CHRIST THE REDEEMER
The cultural and religious heritage that offers the “goddess of the sea” is large, with sacred monuments, places of faith, chapels, monasteries, built in different eras and styles, culminating in what is the symbol and the pride of the marateoti, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, sculpted by the artist Bruno Innocenti in 1965 by the will of Count Rivetti and placed on the summit of Mount S. Biagio, at 640 meters above sea level, where a panoramic overlook opens up with a breathtaking sea view.
Preceded by a striking stone staircase, the statue is 21 meters high, among the highest in the world, (it is situated in the third place, after the one in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil with its 38 meters and the one in Cochabamba, Bolivia, 33 meters of height) built in two years with Carrara marble (it was completed in 1965) and donated to the citizens in place of the commemorative cross of the Resistance of Maratea.
It has a 19-meter arm opening and a face measuring 3 meters; in addition its particular configuration gives the impression that it faces the sea, even though it does not.
Under the statue a Renaissance three arches-portico is noticeable, which preserves a Baroque chapel from 1619 and a 18th century marble bas-relief.
The celebrations in honor of San Biagio last one week, between the first and the second Sunday of May. The saint’s silver bust , covered with a red cloth, is taken through a path to the village, where it is delivered to the Mayor of the city who, after removing the cloth, shows it to the believers.
FOOD AND WINE
Curious is the food and wine tradition of the place that, despite the many influences suffered by the neighbouring regions, continues to favour “poor” dishes, made with simple ingredients, fruit of their land and their own sea.
Among the first courses we find, in fact, homemade pasta, which reflects the oldest of the Lucan traditions in the kitchen! And so, fusilli, tagliatelle or lagane with chickpeas, ricotta-filled ravioli, sausage and parsley, pappardelle with mushrooms and gnocchi with wild fennel ragù.
Here it’s also strong, as in the most parts of the Valle del Noce, the vocation for grilled meat, with a particular devotion to pork meat. The maratean luganega is famous, among the most ancient dishes, born from the combination between sausage and soppressata.
And yet, we find a vast list of seafood dishes including Malvasia sea bass, fusilli with baby squid and chili pepper and trout with cherry tomatoes.
Chili pepper is omnipresent on the marateota table, and makes the local dishes even tastier, made even tastier by the presence of legumes, cereals, vegetables and local aromatic herbs, among which stand the lampascioni, a particular variety of wild onion with a strong taste, that you can eat solely or in combination with other dishes.
Vegetables are also widely used, grilled in appetizers and often served as a first course, then along by vegetables or pasta.
In a land widely mountainous there is obviously no shortage of cheeses and dairy products, with specific reference to Caciocavallo and Treccina di Massa.
And at the end of the meal, room for liqueurs and rosoli! The latter is drink obtained with honey, rose oil and various flavors infused in alcohol. It is an ancient recipe that requires lemon peels (now also of oranges) are alcoholic-infused for about 30 days; they need to be peeled by hand in order to avoid the inclusion of the underlying white base, characterized by a bitter taste.