The two seas: Maratea and the Tyrrenian coast

Spiaggia Fiumicello Ogliastro – Maratea – Photo © www.villacheta.it

Basilicata is unquestionably a region of strong contrasts so clear even in the nature of the different types of land. The scenery is truly unique.

Mainly mountainous, it faces the Tyrrhenian Sea on the south-west on the natural scenic beauty of the Gulf of Policastro.

To the southeast, we have the Jonian Sea of the Gulf of Taranto.

Maratea is the unchallenged jewel of the Tyrrhenian coast while Metaponto and Policoro, important reference points as old as the Magna Graecia when the Ancient Greeks founded colonies here, dominate the Jonian coast.

Today major attractions of Lucanian tourism, the three towns are focusing their efforts on even greater achievements through the reappraisal of the natural environment and of their ancient past.

Maratea and the Tyrrenian coast

The Lucanian Tyrrhenian coast of Basilicata comprises a 30 km stretch running from Punta del Crivi, just north of Acquafredda, to the Spiaggia “d’a Gnola”, south of the Secca di Castrocucco.

Approaching from the Valle del Noce, coming through Trecchina, all of a sudden the verdant landscape of woods in an exciting leap plummets to the sea. An unbroken chain of coves, promontories and islets stud the deep, deep blue of this stretch of the Tyrrhenian. Maratea scattered over the mountains and along the coast seems to have been part of the land forever.

The coast of Maratea is surrounded by mountains and a mantel of woods, it is the destination of tourists in search for a place that offers rare natural beauty. Maratea has been frequented since the 1960s.

Yet Maratea’s natural surroundings are only the scenic backdrop to a land steeped in history and culture. A stay here offers the visitor the chance of a new awareness.

Is still uncertain when Maratea was founded. Probably of Greek origin, as in the VIII century B.C. a group of Greek colonies established a bridgehead on Mount San Biagio, Maratea seems to be the remains of the lost Roman town ‘Blanda Julia’, which for a much well-supported theory today would seem to have been located around the mouth of the river Noce on the bottom slopes of Mount Castrocucco.

It is certain that the surroundings of Maratea were bustling with life, this is demonstrated by the fact that the small island of Santo lanni which is found a few meters off the coast was used in Roman times for the trading of  ‘Garum’, a fish sauce held very dear by the Romans.

The enthusiasm and forbearance of the archaeologists who carry out on-field digs in the area has brought to light a series of tubs in ground earthenware, ideal for marinating the fish used in the preparation of Garum, as well as a collection of breeding tubs in the area to the south of the island.

The search was prompted by what can only be called a bed of anchors, dating back to 300 B.C. located in the stretch of sea around Santo lanni. The result of this fascinating research can be seen in the ‘Museo Comunale di Maratea’ (Maratea Town Hall Museum).

The sea of Maratea is one of the cleanest in Italy thanks to the fact that Maratea is equipped with one of the most avant-garde waste reclamation system in Europe, and the coast is studded with hordes of small beaches and grottoes engulfed in uncontaminated surroundings.

The rocky sea bed is very deep almost from the coast and is ideal for observing the sea life. And by the way, you should know that it has been put forward a proposal for a marine park in the stretch of sea above Castrocucco to safeguard the eco-balance and the archaeological finds including a Roman villa with tubs like those found in Santo lanni, near Capo la Secca.

Navigation is facilitated by a tourist harbor in Maratea, very well-equipped and capable of mooring even large vessels.

The center of Maratea, with its characteristic medieval district offers a very pleasant stroll through the ‘vicoli’ (lanes) which not only offer the visitor the chance for some shopping but also a series of international, cultural entertainment with art shows, concerts of classical music as well as jazz and folk events. There are many excursions organized from Maratea throughout the entire Basilicata.

Another interesting feature of Maratea is the monumental statue of Christ the Redeemer, 21 meters high and an arm span of 19 meters. Dominating from mount San Biagio the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooks the entire panorama where the view includes the coast and some of the hinterland. To complete the description, hotel accommodation in Maratea is quite remarkable. The restaurants are a treat and offer a range of the local Lucania cuisine.

Where to stay in Maratea

Hotels, apartments, B&Bs and villas can be searched and reserved here.